A Missoula tech firm joined six other startups from across the state to participate in the inaugural HpyerAccelerator program hosted by Early Stage MT, and came home better prepared.

Superior Traffic Services of Missoula, founded by CEO Jeff Hollenback, will advance next month as the seven companies vie for a $50,000 equity investment offered by the Frontier Angels fund.

“We got a lot out of it and it was really insightful,” Hollenback said of the accelerator program. “We went in with a business plan that was pretty conservative. It exceeded my expectations, really.”

Superior Traffic Services was one of seven Montana companies to emerge as a regional winner in a showcase of early stage businesses earlier this year. For advancing, the firms received a 50-hour intensive program to help enhance their business plans and explore ways to finance their growth.

Taught by expert instructors and 30 mentors, the modules explored value proposition, strategic planning, market sizing, sales strategy and messaging, among other topics.

Pat Lapointe, managing director of Frontier Angels, described Early Stage MT as a collaboration of 10 Montana groups , including the Missoula Economic Partnership.

Together, he said, they're working to help emerging tech companies get the training, mentoring, exposure and funding needed to grow faster and create jobs in Montana communities.

“The HpyerAccelerator is a program we've borrowed from our good friends at Rockies Venture Club in Denver to help companies get a jump-start on some of the key elements to building strong plans and working effectively with investors,” said LaPointe. “We'll continue offering this program in the future and augment it with even more mentorship initiatives statewide."

While Superior Traffic Services is mired in the busy season, it's working to prepare for next month's final competition. Hollenback said the accelerator program helped hone his company's business plan and reveal its full potential.

“We have a real-time traffic management system – a patented system we use to control our portable traffic signals, message boards and work-zone traffic control devices,” said Hollenback. “We're starting to expand our footprint, and we're doing a lot of things nobody else is doing.”