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Companies sparked by festival start up

Group working with Shad Khan helps businesses get going

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They started as a spark and now are businesses.

On Wednesday, four companies that participated in the One Spark Crowdfunding Festival earlier this year in downtown Jacksonville got off the ground.

They're set up in a warehouse across the street from the old Duval County courthouse for the next 16 weeks.

And the young businesses are now getting some help from Jaguars owner Shad Khan, as well as some University of North Florida students.

Lee McAlilly and Zack Lever created Original Fuzz. The musicians came up with a way to keep their guitar equipment safe and easy to travel with. Their business plan was good enough to place high in the One Spark festival, and it caught the attention of a group working with Khan known as Stache Investments.

They will join three other companies and work out of the loft downtown with the oversight of a company called KYN, which will act as a mentor of sorts.

"This will kind of be our headquarter of operations, and we can focus on all the logistical problems associated with distributing these types of products," Lever said.

For 16 weeks, they will get guidance from those in the business industry.

"We will work with them, providing them with a tremendous amount of mentor support," said Elton Rivas, of the Apprentice Program. "We got dozens of mentors on board ready to support those companies. And on a day-to-day basis they also have access to our apprenticeship program that we partnered with the University of North Florida on to train students on design and development."

It's more than a $1 million investment by Khan and his Stache company, as well as an investment by KYN, which will make a profit if these companies succeed.

"We closed the deal just last week, and we are going in full-time on Monday," McAlilly said. "It was a quick turnaround, but we are ready to dive in, join KYN and be part of the family."

The money from Khan will also help ensure the future of One Spark so more companies will be able to join these ranks in the future.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.