Startup secures $23K in services


A screen shot of the mobile app by Holland-based Conpoto, a web-based service for remotely buying "treats" for friends and family. Image via 

Recognizing the growth potential of a startup’s approach to keeping it local through its gift-giving platform, a regional economic development nonprofit has awarded it $23,650 in services.

Marketing digital gifts

Lakeshore Advantage in Zeeland said last week that it has approved the engagement for Holland-based Conpoto through the state’s Business Accelerator Fund, or BAF, to expand the startup’s "local currency programs."

Conpoto’s mobile and online platform allows people and businesses to send treats or perks to employees, clients, prospects and friends.

Through Conpoto, merchants can create custom gift certificate programs, helping to increase the amount of money kept in the local community.

Angela Huesman, director of new venture services at Lakeshore Advantage, said the services will help Conpoto to improve their marketing and implement an overall marketing strategy.

“Lakeshore Advantage was able to make a case for Conpoto as a candidate for the BAF, as we understood they are a company that utilizes technology to solve a unique problem in the marketplace,” Huesman said. “Conpoto is one to watch. They are well positioned for rapid growth.”

Market analysis

Matt Ahearn, chief operating officer of Conpoto, said both Lakeshore Advantage and the BAF engagement helped the startup analyze the market and enhance its services.

“Their guidance and assistance in navigating funding opportunities helped us achieve our goal of expanding into new business sectors,” Ahearn said.

Conpoto has worked with Lakeshore Advantage for the past two years, which has resulted in a total of $38,000 in BAF engagements for the startup.

Chamber programs

Huesman said chambers of commerce can use Conpoto to impact their communities.

For instance, the Michigan West Coast Chamber partnered with Conpoto to create West Coast Cash last month. The currency program benefits 60 participating organizations throughout the Holland and Zeeland area.

Business Accelerator Fund

As a 21st Century Jobs Fund program, the BAF is managed by the Michigan Small Business Development Center, with support from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and a statewide network of 13 participating business accelerators, including Lakeshore Advantage.

The program allows early stage technology companies to connect with a participating accelerator organization to receive business consulting, entrepreneurial education and build relationships with other companies across industry sectors.

Accelerators offers various services under the program: marketing studies, intellectual property assistance, licensing agreements, technology development, design engineering, product testing and outlining marketing plans.

Companies chosen to receive services through the BAF program are selected based on their ability to impact economic activity in the region and high potential for success, according to the Michigan Small Business Development Center.

Companies may receive up to $50,000 in accelerator services. Organizations accepting more than $15,000 are required to pay a 10-percent fee to the participating business accelerator. 

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