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Investing in Success

Making Columbia the Spot for Developing Entrepreneurs 

Bill Turpin, CEO and President of the Missouri Innovation Center listens as employees of Global Hiker give a presentation Tuesday April 4, 2017 at a class called Venture Investing and Startups (Photo: Don Shrubshell/COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE)

This article originally appeared in the Columbia Daily Tribune on Saturday, April 8, 2017

By Jodie Jackson Jr.

In a lightning-round sort of critique, teams of students in Bill Turpin’s Venture Investing and Startups finance class offer concise observations about the entrepreneurs that have applied for funds through the Missouri Innovation Center’s accelerator fund.

The University of Missouri students play a crucial role in helping answer a $50,000 question.

One tech company, which has created a communication app, is already established but is seeking a $50,000 infusion for further development and to reach new markets. Another company will meet a niche market in the United States, but a much broader market in Europe. The founder of one startup has been especially responsive to emails even though he’s out of the country. The pricing model for another startup is unclear.

Senior Bill Vega offers his team’s take on a company that wants to collaborate with Lifeblood, “another startup that we obviously had faith in.” Lifeblood, a software development firm, was among five startups that received a $50,000 boost in February. The company works out of space in the MIC, which operates the MU Life Science Business Incubator in conjunction with MU.

The vetting process and research is part of the due diligence needed to convince investors to part with their cash. The accelerator fund stands at just more than $2 million from public and private sources and has already provided money for 10 startups.

Vega is pursuing a dual business degree in finance and economic development. He’s eyeing a possible career in finance or as a business owner. Either way, Turpin’s class has given him a good start.

“You get both sides of it,” Vega said. “I think that’s part of the appeal of the class.”

Turpin's background as a serial entrepreneur and angel investor in Silicon Valley put him front and center in the world of venture capitalism. Now the CEO and president of the MIC, Turpin has founded or invested in several businesses – two of which “crashed and burned,” he said – and was entrepreneur-in-residence at Redpoint Ventures for six months of the 25 years he was in California. Turpin has been on all sides of buying, selling and financing businesses.

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