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Can the Matchstick Alliance Spark the Growth Your Company Needs?

In our interview with members of the Matchstick Alliance we discovered they want to be that friction that causes the spark to ignite new business growth not just in Wichita, KS but across

the region. The Matchstick Alliance will fill the need of “second

stage” startups that already have a viable idea that they are

pursuing and need help growing to the next level.

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Each company is committed to growing the resources available to entrepreneurs in this community, and the alliance believes they can do it more effectively as an integrated team. Their ultimate vision is that the startups they support will be better positioned to grow and secure funding.

Most “second stage” startups need some or all of these key services – technology, consulting, marketing and legal – at some point in order to get to the next level and secure funding.

The Matchstick Alliance is four well-known Wichita companies – High Touch Technologies, AGH, Gardner Design, and Foulston that have come together to offer these key services through a coordinated alliance.

Bill Gardner the owner and president of Gardner Design. started the discussion with a brief idea of the purpose behind the alliance of business service providers. As the leader of Gardner Design since its inception in 1983, Bill has continued to produce effective and award-winning results for clients, with a special place in his heart for entrepreneurs.

The why for this group, that so often work with small growing companies a common problem they see is they haven’t developed all of the elements they need to properly get funding, because they don’t have the experience or knowledge needed for proper branding or legal structure.

Francis Baalmann, an attorney with Foulston says, “The partners have a long history of supporting startups in the community. By bringing together the four services providers, for accounting, legal, technology and branding we can help propel these companies forward to their next stage of growth.“

Francis, Foulston Siefkin partner, represents companies in the Midwest and across the country in start-ups, supply chain management, M&A, and general business. He works with large public and private corporations as well as closely held businesses, and has lead several multimillion-dollar transactions.

Francis is also a serial entrepreneur who founded three successful real estate related companies. Francis also serves as a mentor for the Wichita Launch Prep Program and a finalist judge for the Shocker New Venture Competition at Wichita State University.

Francis believes the group will be a hand up for growth companies across the region: “By aligning as a group of providers, we’ve created what we believe can be a hand up for entrepreneurs with great ideas who are driven to make them a reality.”

An example company they have helped is Profer, a local company with a network of service providers in the real estate and home improvement space. The founders of Profer needed some help, after going thru the LaunchPrep program at WSU to get some additional funding and legal assistance.

According to Francis Baalmann, this group will fuel economic growth by helping companies to get to the next level it will spur employment hires and foster the startup community in Wichita.

Josh Oeding introduced Accelerate Venture Partners a local group of angel investors, “So many times, entrepreneurs walk in the door, thinking they have found the guy with money, when they really first need nine other things to better prepared, vetted and ready to present to venture capitalists. An interesting data point is that AVP has invested in four local businesses and only 15% of the funding came from outside Wichita.

Josh Oeding is the President & CEO of e2e Wichita and the Founder of Accelerate Venture Partners. His passion is working with and supporting early stage high-growth entrepreneurs and growing the Wichita Startup Ecosystem. He spent the previous 10 years with Koch Industries, and held various innovation and leadership roles during that time. Most recently, he was the Vice President, Marketing & Strategy for EFT Analytics, a SaaS analytics company.

Prior to Koch he spent time in small business and startup growth roles. Josh earned his degree in entrepreneurship from Wichita State University.

One of the elements that Josh Odling has worked hard on is to help Wichita to develop a reputation as a startup community.

The group officially launched at the Startup Grind Wichita Pitch Battle in December.

This group recognizes that not every entrepreneur needs all of the services available from the alliance, and they will work with each startup in a way that is customized to their needs.

Each startup must apply to work with the Matchstick Alliance through In addition to offering a one-stop service model, the Matchstick Alliance will also consider deferral arrangements for certain qualified, vetted startups which become payable at an agreed date or when the startup receives its next round of funding.

Other Company points of contact include, Derrick Nielsen, president and CEO of High Touch Technologies and Daniel White, senior organizational development consultant with AGH.

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