Bike lock inventors win 50K prize, headed to Cape

Recently, the Southeast Missourian applauded Cape Girardeau's Codefi business incubator, Traverse Ventures and local partners, who collaborated to create 1ST50K, an opportunity for potential entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas and win awards, including as much as $50,000 and professional advice and mentorship. The inaugural competition drew interest from 13 countries and 23 U.S. states in industries ranging from health care to technology and agriculture, to name a few.

After careful due diligence, a committee -- of which Southeast Missourian publisher Jon Rust was a part -- the Los Angeles-based startup Nutlock was declared the winner of the $50,000 top prize.

Codefi co-founder and 1ST50K director James Stapleton offered congratulations: "I join the competition committee in welcoming Nutlock and its founders to Missouri."

We offer our congratulations, as well, and appreciate the reminder that creativity can turn something negative into a positive, which is exactly what Nutlock founders Amir Atighehchi and Mikey Ahdoot did.

After their bike parts were stolen when they were students at the University of Southern California, the two invented a bike lock that drew praise from cyclists and trade publications FastCompany and Bike Rumor, setting things in motion. A crowdfunding campaign that yielded $60,000 meant no turning back. Encouraged by the interest, Atighehchi and Ahdoot entered the 1ST50K competition, made it to the final round, and prevailed.

Committee member Jeff Maurer spoke to the Southeast Missourian's Tyler Graef of the winners' hard work: "The Nutlock founders had gone through 50 designs for their product. ... The degree of customer validation that they had obtained and the supply chain that they'd put in place [impressed the committee]."

The competition is a win for the Californian pair, but it is also a win for our community. As per guidelines, companies receiving investment awards must put operations in Cape Girardeau. We look forward to seeing the handprint of the California-based company on our city as the pair hits the ground running -- or biking as may be the case. They will receive Codefi's assistance as they do so.

Good luck to the entrepreneurs from California. We hope they find great success here in the River City.