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Cherwell Software founder creating accelerator focused on security technology

August 18, 2017 Updated: August 18, 2017 at 5:30 pm
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Vance Brown, Arlen Feldman and Tim Pfeifer (left to right) were the co-founders of Cherwell Software in Colorado Springs. (Jerilee Bennett, Gazette file)

Former Cherwell Software LLC CEO Vance Brown is starting an accelerator aimed at turning entrepreneurs' ideas for cybersecurity, block-chain currencies and artificial intelligence businesses into thriving Colorado Springs-based companies .

The Exponential Impact accelerator will begin accepting up to 10 clients next spring for a program that includes a one-week "launch camp" at a ranch west of Colorado Springs, three months in the accelerator with coaching and mentoring from Brown and other staff members and a two-day event where entrepreneurs can pitch their companies to potential investors. Brown hopes to make a deal with the National Cybersecurity Center to house the accelerator in the center's permanent location in a former manufacturing plant that is now being renovated.

"I have been working on this since I stepped down as CEO and became executive chairman of Cherwell on Sept. 1," Brown said Friday. "I am trying to build an ecosystem, like Boulder has, that will attract high-technology entrepreneurs and organizations to Colorado Springs. I have done that twice now with FrontRange Solutions and Cherwell, so I believe we can be successful. If we can bring high-tech talent to Colorado Springs it is a win for everybody. This is needed here. Colorado Springs has a history in security-related technology. This seems to be a good fit."

Exponential Impact plans to accept two classes a year for the accelerator, and, depending on what stage of development the company has reached, the founder will be able to choose between free room and board for the three months or getting between $30,000 and $120,000 from a fund connected to the accelerator in exchange for between 5 percent and 8 percent of the company, Brown said. The three-month program will focus on the company's story and innovation, the entrepreneur's health and wellness, awareness of strengths and weaknesses, leadership, operational excellence and mentoring.

Entrepreneurs must apply on the accelerator's website, exponentialimpact.com, and agree to move their company to Colorado Springs or elsewhere in the state. The five-day launch camp will be used to further vet applicants and will include mentoring, networking and workshops, Brown said. The staff for Exponential Impact includes Brown as CEO, "The Thorn" production creator John Bolin as chief marketing officer, Brown's wife and The Classical Academy cofounder Betsy Brown as chief culture officer and Peak Startup President Chris Franz as chief development officer.

The accelerator will launch its operations in November by cosponsoring the Governor's Cyber Symposium, a two-day event at The Broadmoor hotel that will feature retired Army Gen. and former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus as the keynote speaker at the opening banquet.

Brown has donated $100,000 to get Exponential Impact started and is seeking additional support from foundations and institutional investors for the nonprofit once it is formed. Donations are now accepted through a special fund operated by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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