SpringBox Labs helps companies take to the skies with the right environment

If you ever doubt that Columbus is a great place to start a business, come over to TechColumbus and spend time with our clients and resident entrepreneurs.

One of the first things to catch your eye is a drop-down banner saluting the entrepreneurial companies who have graduated from SpringBox Labs — the business accelerator at the heart of operations at 1275 Kinnear Road.

As you turn down the hall, you’ll hear the entrepreneurial buzz of the more than 30 technology companies in residence at SpringBox. These entrepreneurs are doing everything from testing prototypes in the fully equipped wet labs, to working with the venture acceleration team honing business strategies, to meeting with early adopters and potential customers.

Continue down the hall, and you’re likely to bump into a cross-section of Columbus’ entrepreneurial community.

X-Squared Angels keeps office hours here. Members of Ohio TechAngels come here to review deals. C-level executives from some of our region’s largest corporations meet with entrepreneurs to explore potential relationships. More than 40 service providers from Columbus’ leading legal, accounting or marketing firms come to SpringBox to participate in Expert Network, providing pro bono or reduced rate services to acceleration clients.


Raising capital for growth

You would think, then, the impact of SpringBox wouldn’t come as a surprise, but recently, when I was analyzing some data — I’m always looking at data — something jumped out at me about 2013. It was like stepping on a rake.

We reviewed 400 new companies last year, 158 of those accessed our venture services and/or investment resources. The 72 portfolio companies that raised money — $64 million from our funds and others — averaged $400,000 a round (60 percent of all venture deals in the region went to our portfolio companies).

Here comes the stepping on the rake part.

I compared the capital raised by the portfolio companies that aren’t in our facility to the capital raised by the SpringBox companies in residence here — firms led by entrepreneurs who work side-by-side with our venture advisers and who also “bump into” those angel investors and potential customers.

The SpringBox cohort raised a little more than $1 million per round. That’s nearly 2.7 times the average round of the Columbus companies that are not located in SpringBox.


Leveraging resources to reduce risk

Part of the reason they are able to raise more capital is because they leverage the resources of SpringBox to reduce risk and reach the milestones that produce early-stage revenue — $32 million of it.

One of the SpringBox graduates is Syscom Advanced Materials, a startup that creates metal clad fibers that are a lighter and stronger replacement for copper wire.

Last year we learned that Syscom’s product is aboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. This year Syscom expanded into new office and laboratory space to accommodate additional testing and production, plus the firm’s two-dozen employees.

With the momentum going in SpringBox and in the rest of Columbus’ entrepreneurial community, the sky really is the limit … or maybe there is no limit at all.