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Valley Venture Mentors Names 12 Finalists Competing for $250,000 in Startup Funds

SPRINGFIELD — Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) recently named the 12 finalists who will compete for their share of $250,000 in prize money at the organization’s first annual Accelerator Awards on April 30. During the awards ceremony, the finalists, which include startup companies from wide-ranging industries, will be in the running for grants of up to $50,000. The event runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m. and will include a networking reception and showcase of startup teams, as well as a dinner and awards program. Finalist startups include Artifact Cider Project, BeTH, EDENIS, LLC, Food on a Truck, Lobster IT Limited, LocalTable, MachineMetrics, Olive Natural Beauty Inc., PetSimpl, White Lion Brewing Company, Wonder Crew, and Worksafe Technology Inc. More than 120 teams from all around the valley, the state, and even around the world applied to the program. The top 30 were accepted and engaged in a series of 72-hour monthly training boot camps in downtown Springfield. A total of 29 teams made presentations recently in preparation for the awards. VVM program participants then judged each other on their customer segment, sales and marketing, scale, profitability and size as well as their revenue model and cost structure to determine the finalists. “VVM takes a lovingly critical approach to training its startups,” said Paul Silva, co-founder and president of the organization. “We put the entrepreneur first in every endeavor. I’m extremely proud of what these entrepreneurs and their mentors have been able to achieve.” During the four-month Accelerator Program, startup teams collectively raised more than $1 million dollars, hired employees, negotiated partnerships, secured and grew accounts, and increased product orders. “We provide comprehensive, effective resources for our teams,” Silva added. “Our real aim is to provide our groups with preparation beyond the presentation. We want them to build their businesses for the long term.” This year’s Accelerator Program is funded by Mass Mutual, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Mass. Technology Collaborative with the mission to support an entrepreneurial renaissance in Springfield and the Pioneer Valley.

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