Student Achievement Systems Joins Conquer Accelerator Cohort

Michigan-based accelerator provides funding, mentorship and network opportunities to emerging entrepreneurs

EAST LANSING, Mich. –– Conquer Accelerator announces its second cohort in Grand Rapids, in partnership with The Grand Rapids SmartZone LDFA. The 10-week accelerator welcomes five selected teams to its Grand Rapids program: Ascending, Revolin Sports, SBE Medical, Smart Bridge Medical, and Student Achievement Systems. 

“Grand Rapids has proven to be a great hub for startups. This second cohort is a great representation of the caliber of entrepreneurs the region has to offer and we’re just happy to be a part of the next step in their journey,” said Thomas Stewart, program director. 

Designed to support both newer and established companies, Conquer Accelerator supports selected startups by providing $20,000 in funding, access to mentors, access to follow-on funding, and other essential resources. The program is hosted and managed by Spartan Innovations, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Michigan State University Foundation.  

In addition to receiving $20,000 in seed funding, selected startups receive tailored mentorship from leaders within their respective industries, a collaborative working space, as well as access to a network of angel and venture investors. Once companies move on from the accelerator, they become part of Red Cedar Ventures’ investment portfolio.

“Red Cedar Ventures is excited to again partner and invest in the Conquer Accelerator Grand Rapids cohort,” said Jeff Wesley Red Cedar Ventures Executive Director. “Our team looks forward to the new cohort and guiding these extremely hard-working teams and their companies to successful commercialization.” 

Spartan Innovations through its Conquer Accelerator has already successfully launched 35 startups since 2015. Those companies have gone on to raise over $31 million in additional funding.  Twelve of the companies have been led by underrepresented founders and to date Conquer has had 5 successful exits. The 2021 cohort includes three companies led by underrepresented founders. “I’m thrilled to continue being a part of the program and I’m excited to coach these five teams this year,” said Stewart. 

2021’s Conquer Accelerator – Grand Rapids Teams

  • Ascending is the career community empowering new grads with the interviewing resources and connections to confidently land their first developer job.
  • Revolin Sports designs, manufactures, and sells high performance sporting goods that are much more sustainable than existing options, starting with vibration dampening pickleball paddles.
  • SBE Medical is developing a new female catheter that saves time for clinicians, eliminates the chance of UTIs, and dramatically increases patient comfort.
  • Smart Bridge Medical is developing respiratory management devices that prevent accidental ventilator disconnects, known clinically as “pop off.”
  • Student Achievement Systems is the creator of Pulse, software that helps educators monitor the “pulse” of their virtual classrooms and remote student performance, in real time.

For more information about the teams, visit Conquer Accelerator can be found on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. 

About Conquer Accelerator 

Launched in 2016 by the Michigan State University Foundation, Conquer Accelerator has invested over $500K into its startups. From medical devices to AI-assisted language learning, Conquer Accelerator accepts committed entrepreneurs who are ready to take their startups to the next level. Bringing together business and industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and university experts—not to mention angel and venture investors—Conquer alums have access to a powerful network. Learn more at is external).

About the Michigan State University Foundation

Established in 1973 as an independent non-profit, the Michigan State University Foundation is committed to the commercialization of cutting-edge technologies invented by MSU faculty, staff, and students. The MSU Foundation’s overarching goal is to support research, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the University. Additionally, the MSU Foundation operates Spartan Innovations, Red Cedar Ventures, and Michigan Rise. More information on the organization’s notable achievements, services, leadership, and history are available at is external).


About the SmartZone LDFA

The SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) supports 
high-technology entrepreneurs and businesses. The SmartZone captures increased property tax dollars and reinvests that money back into the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Grand Rapids to provide incubator spaces and connections to support services to advance Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

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