SPRINGFIELD — Starting and growing a small business can come with a number of challenges in today’s world, but there is a way to get help in that journey.

This all started when Missouri State University’s E-Factory got a grant from the Missouri Technology Corporation. With that money, they wanted to revamp their mentorship program, and businesses are already benefitting from it.

The E-Factory has brought in nine local business professionals with a really broad range of experiences and backgrounds.

• Dan Cobb, co-founder and former chief technology officer for HealthMedX LLC, which sold in 2016, and a current startup mentor;
• Tamara de Wild, deputy general counsel and vice president of legal services for O’Reilly Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: ORLY);
• Luke Kuschmeader, co-founder of Kuat Innovations LLC;
• Chris Lazzaro, managing director of solutions engineering for Associate Electric Cooperative Inc.;
• Jordan McAdoo, a developer at Stitch Fix;
• Teresa McGeehan, owner/operator of 19 central and southwest Missouri McDonald’s restaurants;
• Scott Rogers, system director of performance integration and innovation for CoxHealth;
• Jeff Schrag, owner of Mother’s Brewing Co.;
• Jim Wilson, co-owner of Good Spirits Concepts LLC.

Since the new mentorship program at the E-Factory launched last month, Program Coordinator Paige Oxendine says the variety of mentors has helped business owners get the direction they need.

“People are really good at the one thing they got in business to do, but hardly anyone has that truly well-rounded skill set that they also know how to do all of the accounting, or all of the marketing, or all of the HR functions, or take care of all of the legal work,” Oxendine says.

The great thing about this program is that any small business looking for guidance can get it, but even some of the businesses within the E-Factory already have taken advantage of what the program has to offer.

Tim Baynes is the CEO and Founder of Compatio. What they want to do is to improve the efficiency of something that just about anyone who has shopped online can relate to.

“Compatio is building a product database of compatibility – what goes with what,” Baynes says. “So if you’re looking at a product on a website, a lot of times you’ll go down to the bottom it will say ‘Customers that bought this product also bought…’ some other stuff that probably doesn’t have anything to do with what you’re actually looking at. We will show you the things that actually go with the product you’re looking at, and it will be technically correct.”

Baynes and his team have spent the last year and a half building their platform, and are now starting to engage with the market.

They are starting out simple with bicycle parts and outdoor recreational products, but thanks to a mentoring session with Cox Health’s Scott Rogers, they are realizing their technology can also be taken into the medical field. Really, the possibilities are endless.

“It opened the door to some avenues that we really hadn’t thought we could cover,” says Baynes.

Over 20 sessions have taken place since the program launched last month, and it is free to apply for a 30-minute mentoring session.

You’ll be able to read up on the different mentors and get matched with the one that will best suit your needs.