Michigan State University main website

Conquer Accelerator Startup Program Launches Fourth Season


Five startup teams will have the opportunity to take their business ventures to the next level with the Conquer Accelerator, which launched its 10-week-long program today.

Designed for both newer and established startups, Conquer Accelerator helps entrepreneurs through strategy, planning, extensive mentorship from experienced professionals and structured educational components tailored to each startup team.

The accelerator program is hosted and managed by Spartan Innovations, a subsidiary of the Michigan State University Foundation.

“Startup accelerators are marathons for entrepreneurs,” said Tom Stewart, Conquer Accelerator’s program manager. “Teams devote 10 solid weeks to their companies, often working until 3 a.m. thinking through challenges.”

In addition to receiving up to $20,000 in seed funding, each startup can expect tailored mentorship from leaders within their respective industries, a creative co-working space at the MSU Hatch, as well as access to a network of angel and venture investors. Once companies graduate from the accelerator, they become seamlessly part of the Red Cedar Ventures investment portfolio.

“Nearly 99% of startups fail,” said Paul Jaques, Conquer Accelerator’s program director. “Our program strives to limit the pitfalls associated with startup failure. We provide a launching ground for emerging companies, both from within MSU’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and across the state. We want to prepare these teams to hit the ground running.”

Jaques, who serves Spartan Innovations as the director of student and community engagement, has been working with Michigan State student entrepreneurs for nearly a decade.

“When we launched Conquer Accelerator in 2016, we envisioned a program that empowers young entrepreneurs and puts the finishing touches on startup teams,” Jaques said. “Our team is preparing these companies to provide real value to customers, while helping them scale-up and sustain growth.”


  • Ayuda’s cost-effective software powers personal robots, helping museums develop more immersive, inclusive experiences. With Ayuda, museums can now give multi-lingual tours for a fraction of the cost.
  • GridPane is the world’s first hosting control panel built exclusively for serious WordPress professionals. With a fully automated dashboard and server stack, GridPane delivers all the bells and whistles of managed WordPress hosting at a fraction of the cost. Build servers in minutes and sites in seconds, all of them fast, secure and ruthlessly efficient.
  • HealthOpX is “the Kayak of international medical travel.” The company provides access to a variety of medical treatment options around the world at low cost and great quality.
  • Pairaphrase is a centralized, all-access web-based language translation management system simplifying how organizations produce translated documents. The platform also provides an interactive translation editing interface for team members and translation professionals to produce and complete translations.
  • SKOOP specializes in mobility advertising. SKOOP’s electric bike taxi fleets move passengers from point A to B. Each vehicle has digital advertising displays attached to the exterior and interior. SKOOP’s screens are always on the move, displaying advertising content around town and subsidizing the cost of the ride for the passenger.

“Conquer Accelerator is an integral part of our startup ecosystem,” said Jeff Wesley, executive director of Red Cedar Ventures. “The accelerator is already seeing its companies succeed.”

Conquer alumni, including Avidhrt and Uru Sports from the second cohort; and York Project and Golfler, which was acquired by Supreme Golf, from the first cohort, have all leveraged their Conquer experiences and connections.

Red Cedar Ventures is the venture investment arm of the Michigan State University Foundation.

Conquer Accelerator’s fourth season runs through August 9. For more information about the teams, visit www.conqueraccelerator.com. Conquer Accelerator can be found on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

  • Aaryn Richard, Caroline Brooks via MSU Today

Comments are closed.