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Excellence in Technology

The efactory is the 2019 Excellence in Technology Community Impact Award Winner

The efactory has emerged as a leader of technology and innovation in the Springfield area and has served as a hub for entrepreneurs and startups. Through their numerous groups and organizations, they've created a community bursting with big ideas.

By Juliana Goodwin

May 2019

Paige Oxendine, Rachel Anderson, Chrystal Irons, Tara Horton, and Lance Coffman with the efactory with Logan Aguirre of Biz 417
Photo by Brandon AlmsFrom left: Paige Oxendine, Rachel Anderson, Chrystal Irons, Tara Horton, and Lance Coffman of the efactory with Logan Aguirre of Biz 417. Purchase Photo

Since it launched in 2013, the efactory has been a leader in innovation. This technology-focused entrepreneurship center serves as a resource hub to assist startups and small businesses and offers continuing education and training to established ventures. It has helped foster Springfield’s tech and business community. From the start, its business incubator program was key and has assisted more than 50 companies who have received free business consulting, office space and access to a mentor network, among other resources.

The success of incubators has translated into more jobs and has advanced Springfield as a state leader in the innovation space, says efactory Director Rachel Anderson. Another program that has been a tremendous asset to the community is the accelerator program. It assists early stage companies through mentorship, programming and a $30,000 investment over the course of a rigorous 12-week program. Since its inception in 2016, 12 companies have completed the accelerator program.

“We had some of the larger employers coming to us saying, ‘We are having some of the same challenges in our organization. We are not a startup, but what can you do to help?”
— Rachel Anderson, efactory director

But that is just the beginning. The efactory is home to a spectrum of technology user groups and annual events such as SPIN66 Innovation Summit, Hack4Good and Startup Weekend. It was the birthplace of Rosie, which was founded by Anderson and Paige Oxendine. Rosie is an advocacy network for female founders, business owners and leaders. Through a variety of events, networking opportunities and professional development resources, more than 1,000 women have connected through Rosie. The efactory was also one of the first to offer co-working space, a great asset to a small business, and every Friday, businesses can drop in and use the space for free. 

Anderson is constantly listening to the business community and tweaking the services based on feedback. One example was the creation of the Springfield Entrepreneurial and Innovation Network. “We had some of the larger employers coming to us saying, ‘We are having some of the same challenges in our organization,’” Anderson says. “‘We are not a startup, but what can you do to help?’” The efactory partnered with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and created the group of innovation champions who meet regularly to share best practices with Springfield’s top employers. 

Partnerships are a cornerstone of the efactory, which is a program of Missouri State University in the division of Research and Economic Development. The facility is home to the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Management Development Institute, and the shared services model allows members to access these resources free of charge. This synergy has helped make Springfield a leader in innovation.

RUNNERS UP  //  The Geek Foundation  •  Jordan Valley Innovation Center

NAILED IT

“Brad Lewis, partner at The Vision Clinic, had a requirement for intake forms for patients. When you go to the eye doctor and fill out paperwork it takes 10 to 15 minutes. We worked with REV360, that’s their EMR [electronic medical records]. We sync with that so when someone makes an appointment, they can fill out the paperwork on a mobile device or at home, so it jumpstarts the intake process. When you walk in, everything is done, and you can see the doctor right away. They can see more patients, and patients don’t have to wait as long.”—Rachel Anderson, efactory director

FAILED IT

“We are never a standalone system. We always work with another management system for data source. It is very important there is an understanding for what the API [Application Programming Interface] provides. When we did this for a company that was looking for an application to fill a gap, we believed we had everything set, but the API was not complete. We spent a lot of time building an application that would not work because we were not getting proper data from the source. It was a major fail. APIs are critical in our world and the world of software development.”—Rachel Anderson, efactory director