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New Mexico Gas Company gift benefits Arrowhead Center’s Sprint accelerator programs

New Mexico Gas Company, an Emera Company, recently awarded Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University $100,000 to promote economic development in New Mexico. The gift was announced at NMSU’s Giving Tuesday event, a global day of giving, led by the NMSU Foundation. With the most recent funding, Arrowhead Center at NMSU was provided the opportunity to continue the startup accelerator programs created through a previous NMGC award.

Man speaking to a group
New Mexico State University President John Floros speaks during the presentation of a $100,000 check from New Mexico Gas Company to NMSU during the Giving Tuesday event in November. (NMSU photo by Justin Santiago)

Arrowhead built a family of programs called Sprints, which are cohort-based business startup accelerators. The Sprints were developed with forward-looking vision and specific attention to New Mexico’s growing economic sectors – to support emerging innovation and workforce development in the nexus of water, energy, agriculture, and IT, as well as healthcare.

Businesses such as a mobile vegan food service and a one-of-a-kind jewelry company have also participated, as representatives of the state’s rich creative economy. Each cohort spends between five weeks and five months receiving entrepreneurial education and training – along with mentorship from business experts – as they start or expand their small businesses.

“I really appreciated the quality mentorship provided,” said Zhennovate founder Di Yi. “In mentorship meetings, I got to experience firsthand in this process what leadership as an entrepreneur really means. I got to learn that it is very important to make decisions without fear.” Zhennovate, headquartered in Los Alamos, provides training and resources to tackle stress management.

Two of the programs focus on specific sectors – agricultural and healthcare technologies – while the third focuses on export-based ventures. The programs work to bridge university and community development by connecting innovators with university resources. Between AgSprint, HealthSprint and BizSprint, Arrowhead Center has run seven NMGC-supported accelerators in which 54 New Mexico-based ventures have participated.

Prior to the latest gift, NMGC had awarded the organization $350,000, one-third of which has been dedicated directly to the startup businesses participating in the program. Further, ventures supported by the program have raised more than $600,000 in follow-on funding from sources such as grants and venture capital investment.

“The HealthSprint Accelerator program was an incredible experience,” said Ed Kline, founder of Radphysics, a company that provides software to oncologists that reduces medical errors. “I’m surprised at the level of detail in the organization in exposing the participants to venture capitalists, to guidance from experts in the field about how to grow your company.”

Over the life of the program, Sprint ventures have represented one-third of New Mexico’s 33 counties. The program has also demonstrated great success in engaging with populations traditionally overlooked in business startups: 74 percent of ventures to date have been led by women, armed services veterans and minority founders.

“When you consider that the national average for non-traditional startup founders is just 25 percent of businesses, it becomes clear how important the inroads the Sprints are making into diverse entrepreneurship and business ownership are,” said Zetdi Sloan, director of Arrowhead’s business incubation programs and lead on the Sprints initiative.

To learn more about Arrowhead’s Sprint accelerators, contact Sloan at zrunyan@nmsu.edu.