Patrick Crenshaw, left, and Steven Caldwell will attend later this month Brandery, a four month accelerator startup program.
Patrick Crenshaw, left, and Steven Caldwell will attend later this month Brandery, a four month accelerator startup program. The duo's company, Crosstek, was one of 10 startups selected to attend.

Crosstek selected for accelerator program

Published 11:16am Tuesday, June 10, 2014

For one Vicksburg-based technology company, the future is about to get a lot brighter.

Crosstek Solutions, a software development company founded by Steven Caldwell, was one of ten businesses selected out of more than 1,000 applicants from 50 countries to participate in Brandery, an intensive four-month mentorship, investment and networking program aimed at providing resources for innovative tech startups to expand their product.

The brainchild of Caldwell, Crosstek began in 2008 as a side project to his day job as a software engineer at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

In 2011, Caldwell met Patrick Crenshaw who, at the time, was also working at ERDC. The two immediately recognized each other’s skillset and hit the ground running.

Three years later, the two are preparing to participate in one of the most prominent seeding-stage programs in the nation.

Crenshaw and Caldwell will head to Cincinnati in about two weeks to begin the four-month program.

“I’m excited about it,” Caldwell said. “We’ve gotten to read about it a lot. We got to go up to Cincinnati to get our feelers and figure out what the office was like. I’m excited. I know it’s going to be 16-hour workdays.”

Since its inception in 2010, Brandery has helped raise more than $44.5 million for 35 different tech startups that participated in the program.

The Brandery is a seed stage startup accelerator widely considered one of the best in the nation. Each of the 10 companies selected receive $20,000 in seed funding, a team of mentors, design assistance and will eventually pitch their product to investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program.

Though the mentorship is a major portion of the Brandery program, the company’s $20,000 investment makes this more than training, Crenshaw said.

“They are invested in you,” he said. “They don’t just say, ‘Okay, here you go. Good luck.’ They make sure that you’re pushing.”

Brandery’s total investment based on resources provided for each company totals about $200,000 and receives a 6 percent warrant in companies participating in the program.

At the end of the program, Crenshaw and Caldwell will make their pitch to technology executives in Cincinnati, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago.

“They cram about three years of work and development into four months,” Crenshaw said.

Perhaps even more impressive, Crosstek turned down an opportunity with AlphaLab, another top-10 nationwide startup accelerator.

Though they turned down the Pittsburgh-based program, Caldwell compared the offer to having to choose between two Ivy League colleges. That also told Caldwell and Crenshaw something that any entrepreneur wants to know.

“That’s one of the best things about the whole process — the validation of our idea,” Caldwell said.

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