First Success Emerges from Startup Tucson’s Thryve Accelerator

When Startup Tucson initially launched Thryve Next, the second stage company accelerator last year. The Thryve team headed by CEO Justin Williams expected to help the companies graduating from the program to achieve new funding or rapid growth in the next 2 to 3 years. Last week, RBar Energy, one of the first companies to successfully complete Thryve first cohort, achieved one of those goals within just 60 days from graduating from Thryve.

Rbar was awarded the Arizona Commerce Authority’s $250,000 Innovation Challenge Grant, and is the only Tucson company to have done so in the spring 2015 award cycle. Rbar, an energy bar maker headed by retired competitive cyclist Brian Cornelius, has shown rapid growth doubling revenues so far in 2015. He has recently inked deals with new major retailers and distributors to land the Tucson made energy bar in stores and airports across the United States.

The Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC), powered by the Arizona Commerce Authority, is a business plan competition that awards qualified, innovative start-up and early stage companies capital to grow their business in Arizona. The ACA awards $3 million every year to the most innovative companies.

According to Cornelius, the Thryve program was a critical part of his company’s growth. “I talk about my company in a completely different way now,“ said Cornelius. “Thryve helped us focus on what made us different, what customers truly loved about our product, and how to validate that customer demand to the satisfaction of investors.”

According to Williams, this kind of growth and expansion is precisely what the Thryve venture development program was created to do.
“We have assembled a powerful team of experienced executives, instructors and mentors to help entrepreneurs take their business to the next level,’ Williams said, “By teaching financial modeling methods, customer focused business model refinement, marketing and specifically how to pitch to investors, Thryve gives business owners the skills they need to grow, and the confidence to stand in front of skeptical investors with the right answers to the right questions.”

ALL_30pctThe Thryve’s growth accelerator program is scheduled to help 100 companies over 5 years under a $1.44 million dollar contract from the US Small Business Administration’s ScaleUp America program.
Taking Applications for Fall 2015
Startup Tucson is taking applications through August 3rd for companies to apply to participate in Thryve Next Fall 2015 cohort. Williams and his team of experienced business executives seek a diverse and dynamic pool of applications. The intensive 8-week program will select 10 new, high-growth companies through a rigorous, highly competitive process. Selected companies will have been in business for at least 2 years and have proven revenues of at least $150,000 per year.

Startup Tucson’s mission is to transform Tucson’s economy through entrepreneurship and innovation, and the Thryve team is preparing to assemble another great cohort of high-growth companies. “Startup Tucson initiatives like Thryve are the economic development strategy Tucson needs,” said Williams, “ We’re teaching executives to launch more success stories like Rbar Energy. All those executives have to do is be willing, and apply to be a part of Thryve.”

To submit a company application for Thryve’s Fall 2015 cohort, visit

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