Banking & Finance  July 30, 2021

Longmont Startup Week: Entrepreneurs too often overlook government funding opportunities

LONGMONT — Startup companies often cast a wide net when looking for working capital, from begging a rich uncle to participating in pitch slam competitions to securing a meeting with a venture capitalist.

One source they often overlook is the government, panelists at Longmont Startup Week said Friday. 

“Sometimes businesses are so busy that they don’t realize there are federal and state funding programs available,” Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade advanced industries manager Katie Woslager said during the “Leveraging State and Federal Funding Resources” panel.

Colorado companies have access to three OEDIT fundraising programs that provide non-dilutive capital.

The proof-of-concept-stage program provides up to $150,000 to companies developing technologies in partnership with Colorado universities. 

The early stage capital program provides up to $250,000 for small businesses and startups developing products in advanced industries. Those industries are advanced manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience, electronics, energy and natural resources (including cleantech), infrastructure engineering, and technology and information.

The collaborative infrastructure program provides up to $500,000 for later-stage companies looking to build public-private partnerships.

These programs are “very competitive,” Woslager said, but even if a company isn’t accepted, founders get important feedback from the industry experts who review applications.

On the federal level, the Small Business Administration offers one grant program and three loan programs aimed at startups that export products or exporters looking to jump into new markets, according to SBA export finance manager Patty Brewer.

Companies can participate in multiple programs and “mix and match depending on how you want to use the funds,” she said. 

Funding can be used for a variety of things such as training and legal fees related to issues such as foreign copyrights.

Government agencies can not only help with money but with education, logistics, connections and research.

For example, OEDIT has a program to help Colorado companies access trade shows. The state can provide stipends, market research, booth set-up assistance and connections with buyers, Woslager said.

For exporters, the SBA can help companies with due diligence on foreign buyers or potential partners. 

“You need to know you’re working with a true company that will pay its bills,” Brewer said. 

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC

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