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Going Public: Codefi Community Director Sarah Gant Discusses Annual 1ST50K Entrepreneur Competition


  Codefi is hosting their annual 1ST50K Startup Competition this August, and recently announced their list of finalists, which includes innovations in artificial intelligence manufacturing, and application programs to benefit fashion, housing, and medical industries.


The competition provides the winning business a $50,000 grant award, as well as a location in Cape Girardeau to get started, and grow their company. 


The competition is not limited to location, and accepts entries from across the entire world. This year over 200 applications were submitted.


Sarah Gant, Community Director at Codefi explains that leaving the entry open to all businesses is purposeful and provides a higher range of opportunity to create growth in the local economy and job market.


"We do believe that we have a lot to learn from companies all over the country, so there's really no reason to focus on a certain region," said Gant. "The best way to create jobs is either bringing companies to this area, or helping create companies in this area, so those are the two approaches that we take."


While the competition benefits the businesses by providing them startup funding, training experiences, and new customers, winners of the competition from 2019 have provided the town with nearly 40 jobs and generated over an estimated $2 million in economic impact.


Gant explained that opportunities like the 1ST50K competition is exactly what Codefi's business statement stands for.


"Our mission wouldn't make sense if we didn't have this competition,” said Gant. "What we're trying to achieve is the creation of jobs in this area. Everything that we do here at Codefi and all of our different programs are about creating jobs and training folks to be able to fulfill the job positions that are created.”


After the competition Codefi works alongside the winning company through a mentorship program providing them the tools and space they need to begin growing and developing their future endeavors.


Finalists were welcomed to Cape Girardeau in late July and proceeded with their competition pitches. Award winners will be announced in early August, and once competition results are in, teams are expected to begin working from Cape in September. 


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