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'The Farm' helps Atlanta tech startups grow quickly

Ten startups spend 12 weeks in this new startup accelerator located at The Battery Atlanta. Applications are open for the next session.

ATLANTA — Building a business from scratch can be a wild ride.

“I thought it was going to be hard, and it’s harder than that,” said Michael Vogel, CTO of the tech startup Fanaticus.

Fanaticus uses hardware and software to provide immersive, mixed-reality experiences for fans at sporting events.

The creators of Fanaticus are hoping their idea catches fire.

They’ve developed a Harry Potter-inspired broom that uses virtual reality to make you feel like you’re flying.

"We are creating immersive entertainment experiences that are based in people's favorite story world,” Vogel told 11Alive’s Jennifer Leslie. “This brings them into the story.”

Fanaticus is one of a select group of tech startups that are growing quickly through a new accelerator program called The Farm. It’s located at The Battery Atlanta.

"You'll see a lot of white boards around here because we’re all about idea generation, creativity, innovation," said Burunda Prince-Jones, managing director of The Farm.

The Farm hosts two startup groups a year for 12 weeks. Each group typically includes 10 startups in the very early stages of development.

When entrepreneurs walk in the door, the countdown starts.

“You have 90 days to really focus on your business and accelerate that growth in a different way that you wouldn't normally have,” Prince-Jones explained.

The FARM is part of Comcast NBCUniversal and is operated by Boomtown Accelerators.

Startups get a custom-designed curriculum, coaches and access to tech.

“I’m a strong believer in failure is not an option,” said Seth Braddock, CEO and Co-founder of Kilter Rewards, another starup at The FARM.

Kilter Rewards allows companies to encourage employees to improve their health by rewarding them with donations to their favorite charities.

“Traditional wellness programs typically used cash incentives,” Braddock said. “Our plug-in solution creates meaningful engagement. People want to work for employers that enable them to give back to causes they’re passionate about.”

Kilter Rewards is enjoying some early success.

The startup recently launched a paid pilot focused on employee wellness engagement with Comcast Cable’s division and regional headquarters operations, both located in metro Atlanta.

“Mentorship is important, but we also get a lot of emotional support here,” said Eohan George, Co-Founder and CEO of SkyMul.

SkyMul is another Farm startup that's testing cutting-edge drone and computer vision technologies to solve industrial-sized problems for construction companies.

"We use the mobility of drones to get from one place to another," George explained. "Our focus is to get it to the point where it's automated."

Getting ideas off the ground is not easy, but The FARM is designed to be a fertile launch pad.

The application process for The FARM’s Spring 2019 accelerator program (March 4 – May 23) is open from now through December 15th.

Startups accepted to the program receive $20,000 in exchange for 6% common stock equity.

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