By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
One of the first companies to receive a new type of economic development grant from the state of Wyoming has started operations in Cheyenne.
Nymbl, financed in part by a $50,000 startup grant from Kickstart: Wyoming, uses its proprietary software to help companies sell and deliver small quantities of imprinted merchandise.
The service is particularly valuable to small companies that may want to sell imprinted products such as coffee cups and T-shirts but do not want to keep large inventories of the goods on hand, said Chris Mickey, Nymbl’s director of marketing and outreach.
“We want to give people who have a small business or small following a chance to merchandise,” Mickey said. “Our platform makes it so they don’t have to have any inventory at all.”
Users of the system, a band, as an example, can set up an account at the company’s website, nymbl.io, and select from a list of products what it wants to put on the market. Using the software developed by Nymbl CEO Zac Folk, users can virtually apply a logo or design and then preview how the products will look.
After linking the product page to their own website, users can then direct visitors to the Nymbl site, where visitors can select the product they want, right down to size and color, and then place and pay for the order. Manufacturers used by Nymbl the handle the shipping.
Kickstart: Wyoming is a Wyoming Business Council program that provides grants of $5,000 to $50,000 to startup companies with a high growth potential and fewer than 50 employees.
In addition to the state financing, Nymbl received an investment from Breakthrough 307, an organization created to provide capital to Wyoming companies.
Breakthrough 307 is made up of 20 investors who have put money into an account to invest in small Wyoming companies like Nymbl, said Jerad Stack, one of the group’s founders.
“We are really excited about Nymbl,” Stack said. “It’s a high growth space, a value-added e-commerce platform that will solve a really big problem. We’re looking for companies that solve problems in really big markets and Nymbl is definitely that.”
Such private sector involvement was identified as crucial to economic development efforts by the “Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming” or “ENDOW” program created by former Gov. Matt Mead.
The program’s primary goal was to identify ways the state can break away from the “boom and bust” cycle of its energy industry. In 2018, the group released its 20-year plan.
Stack, who serves on ENDOW’s executive council, said his group agreed before ENDOW released its report that one of Wyoming’s big problems was a lack of access to capital for entrepreneurs.
“When you go and look at the lists of best states to do business in … Wyoming is consistently 48th to 50th in our ability for entrepreneurs to access capital,” he said. “When you look at venture capital, ‘angel’ capital, early seed stage money, there isn’t a lot of that. We see ourselves as part of that.”
Stack and his fellow investors started Breakthrough 307 about 18 months ago and have made fewer than 10 investments in fledgling companies. The group is very selective in its choices of investments.
“We’re doing this to help Wyoming companies and we also want to make a profit,” he said. “So not every little startup is something you make a profit on. When you look at the statistics on these investments, most fail and a handful succeed. But you don’t know which is which going in. You’ve got to pick what you think are a bunch of winners.”
After investing, Breakthrough 307 provide the expertise of its investors — who include experts in technology, finance and marketing, to name a few areas — to the companies it has invested in.