Ozark Angels Connecting Startups

First Ozark Angels Meeting – 5 Startups To Watch

Ozark Angels is a new organization out of Springfield, MO focused on growing startups in the midwest.  Thursday November 16th at 6:00 PM their first event kicked off.  It was standing room only at the Route 66 Car Museum who hosted the gathering.

Five great startups presented to an excited audience.  Each was unique in their product, strategies, competition, obstacles, and needs.  After the presentations there were short question and answer segments.


Wait, What is Ozark Angels?

Ozark Angels Logo

Ozark Angels is a new platform for startups with growth trajectories to be able to present their businesses to the community.  Initially Ozark Angels events will take place quarterly, and continue scaling as demand increases.  Think “Shark Tank” without investments taking place during the actual events.

The concept is simple.  Awareness is being built by curating exciting startups in the local ecosystem and empowering them with a positive platform to present.  A win by any of these companies is a win for ALL companies in the region. As area founders and investors start to network with each other, startup growth in the midwest will grow exponentially.

Ozark Angels Websitehttp://ozarkangels.org (Sign up for their newsletter!)


So, Which 5 Area Startups Presented?


1.) JobShakers

JobShakers Company logo

Kevin Fryer, CEO of JobShakers started off the presentations.  His experience running an accelerator in Kansas City and the quality team that has rallied around his idea have built an amazing product!  Kevin’s company is also solving a huge problem.

Employers need quality employees.  Finding applicants isn’t hard, but finding the RIGHT person for a job is.

What better people to help refer them, than a business’s current employees and high performers?  Employees will refer quality candidates who are likely fit into the company culture, save recruitment money, decrease turnover, and increase productivity.

The JobShakers app is a simple collaboration app.  It creates a seamless connection between HR hiring needs and an employee’s phone contacts.

The Human Resources department sets up company wide job listings in the app.  By swiping a friend’s contact information in the app, an employee can connect their friend with a job opening at their company.  The referral is made in a near frictionless manner.

JobShakers is focused on the skilled hourly employment sector and specifically designed for a mobile – minded, socially connected workforce.


Mobile Phone Employee Referral System

Next steps to world domination:

They have developed a product that is completely functioning and tested.  The next steps are focused on sales and marketing to grow awareness and user adoption and scale their technology.  With their solid concept and revenue models, I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about JobShakers.

JobShakers Website: https://www.jobshakers.com


2.) Anchor

Anchor Logo

Zach Hatraf is the capable CEO of Anchor and presented his St. Louis based company to Ozark Angels.

What’s better than having a boat?  Having a friend with a boat!  Anchor is “Your friend with a boat”

Maybe the simplest way to describe it is a combination of Uber and Air B&B for boats.

Anchor looks to solve two major problems in the recreational watercraft industry.  The first problem is that boats end up spending a lot of time sitting around generating no income.  The second is that most recreational boaters don’t want to feel like they are working a job piloting a rented boat.  Instead of focusing on safe navigation they would like to be able to enjoy themselves too.

Anchor leverages the on-demand economy to match boat captains with users.

Water captains take a Coast Guard approved boat license course to become qualified Anchor captains.  Then they can be hired on via the Anchor app to allow them to make money in their off time.  Captains manage their own schedules and work when they want.

Customers can focus on having fun.  Operating a boat as a designated driver is a thing of the past. The safety benefit is enormous because instead of having an amateur with only an automobile driver’s license navigating the watercraft, a professional trained captain handles this task.

Boat owners can set their boats up in conjunction with captains to create repeatable, re-bookable experiences.


phones For Anchor Dock Pickups

Next steps to world domination:

Local market penetration (Lake of the Ozarks) has been incredibly successful from an adoption, safety, and demand perspective.  Growing sales and marketing and moving forward into larger markets such as Tampa is the next step for Anchor to grow the user base and cash flow.

Anchor Websitehttps://www.anchorrides.com


3.) Carbon Cycle

Carbon Cycle Logo


Omar Gala, the Founder and Design Engineer of Carbon Cycle, out of Mansfield, MO, gave an interesting presentation.  As opposed to the previous two presenters who had apps, his product is a physical building which makes use of amazing cutting edge science.

Carbon Cycle is a specialized waste processing plant.  I would call it the landfill with the midas touch.  Not only is the business focused on being green, their revenue model is plenty green as well.

Large manufacturing plants currently pay to have enormous quantities of waste disposed of. Now, instead of just burying it in a landfill, they can hire Carbon Cycle to process this waste .

The Carbon Cycle plant processes it, and uses a portion of the disposal as fuel to break down the remainder.  This method that has been engineered is extremely energy efficient.  The end product is one of a few popular carbon products including things like charcoal and crude oil!

That’s right, they get paid to dispose of waste, and then they get paid to sell crude oil they make from that waste.


Carbon Cycle Service Description

Next steps to world domination:

Expanding the capacity of the current plant, which is set up near some local manufacturing centers, is their first priority.  Once that scalability is mastered, Carbon Cycle will focus on building additional plants across the nations to turn bulk waste into needed products.


4.) MowBotix

MowBotix Logo
Meagan and Lee Hicks co-presented MowBotix, a Springfield, MO based startup.  They have developed a retrofit option to turn existing gasoline or electric lawn mowers into self-driving automated mowers.

When looking at startup growth potential, things like total market size and ability to capture recurring revenue are essential, and opportunities in both these arenas are plentiful for MowBotix.

Grass isn’t going to stop growing anytime soon, and it constantly needs to be cut.  Currently, the seasonality of turf-management occupation create labor problems which threaten consistency.  Companies can utilize MowBotix technology to circumvent the workforce issues allowing them to have a competitive edge in the market.

While there are some automated mower competitors in the market place, those products have cost prohibitive set up requirements.  They typically require burying cable, or putting up ugly placards with machine instructions to outline the barriers of the area to be mowed.

What if an automated lawn mower could mow an entire golf course or park in the evening with perfect lines and have it ready to go again the next morning?

MowBotix Lawn Automation

Next steps to world domination:

To get to the next level, continual development and racking up beta tester hours for safety and reliability data is required.  As more and more data comes in, product acceptance in the marketplace will grow.  This will unlock additional opportunities to connect with established brands for add-on sales opportunities or white label licensing.

Entering the large commercial mowing space is their natural first step, eventually expanding into more residential options could be a possibility.  Someday soon maybe you can turn your lawnmower on then go back inside to watch Netflix.

Mowbotix Websitehttps://www.mowbotix.com  (Lots of videos with product in action)


5.) Engine, LLC

Engine Logo John James, the CEO of Engine, made the trip up from Fayetteville, AR to share his startup with Ozark Angels.  He is no stranger to the startup space, having created successful companies in the past and being a key organizing member in the Fayetteville Angel community.

What does Engine do?  Engine is an E-Commerce solution for large online stores typically doing over a million dollars in annual revenue.

If you’ve ever bought something online, you’ve gone through some sort of online store to do it.  There is a current gap in the marketplace where a retailer grows out of their early stage tools, but it doesn’t yet make financial sense to have a custom product developed from scratch by programmers to meet their new needs.

This is where Engine saves the day.  Using state of the art technology (like Kubernetes), they create scalable solutions to keep busy online storefronts ringing those cash registers.  John and his team developed this system using their in-the-trenches knowledge accrued from previous startup successes.

According to a recent study, nearly half of online retailers are looking to switch platforms within the next two years! Customers are not happy with the current options out there and Engine is aimed towards being the right solution.


Next steps to world domination:

They are going to continue signing large E-commerce clients and performing customized store set ups. As growth continues eventually Engine will be automating this process making their product more accessible and improving profit margins and growing scalability.

Engine Websitehttp://www.engineinsights.com



The first Ozark Angels event was a great success.

I can’t wait to see how this continues to grow and hope it encourages entrepreneurs to build amazing things here in the Ozarks.  As accredited investors see the range of quality startups in the area, maybe they will begin reaching out to them and consider investing in the riskiest but most rewarding asset class that exists – startup angel investing.

Who were your favorite presenters?  

Who do you think is going to “make it” and why?  

Let me know in the comments.