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Missouri’s Rising Star in Tech and Entrepreneurship

Adriaan Brits



Issac Hicks

In recent years, Missouri has been gaining recognition as an emerging hub for technology startups and entrepreneurial ventures. One notable success story is Issac Hicks, a graduate of the University of Missouri Science & Technology and co-founder of Autonomi, an AI company based in St. Louis.

Autonomi’s Intelligent Approach

Autonomi specializes in designing custom software solutions to help mid-market companies scale to an enterprise level. Their flagship product, Doxci, is an Intelligent Document Processor (IDP) that automates corporate documentation processes. Autonomi’s unique approach allows clients to pay significantly less upfront by giving them the option to sell the intellectual property rights to the solution(s) that they request, which the company (Autonomi) can then resell to other businesses in the same industry.

“We just really wanted to do things differently. If people want to prioritize price, that’s perfectly fine. If they don’t want anyone else getting access to the solution they helped design, that’s fine too.” said Mr. Hicks, Autonomi’s CEO.

Winning Accolades and Investment

Mr. Hicks’ entrepreneurial journey has been marked by notable achievements and recognition. In 2023, Doxci won first place and $120,000 at the Startup Showdown – Nashville pitch competition, beating out over 300 other companies. Subsequently, Mr. Hicks appeared on the national television show Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, where he secured a $225,000 investment from Marc Randolph, the co-founder and former CEO of Netflix. The episode currently has over a million views on YouTube.

“In a hypercompetitive space like AI, Autonomi is certainly showing it wants to make a name for itself,” noted an industry analyst tracking Autonomi’s progress.

A Billion-Dollar Partnership for Africa’s Future

While Doxci continues to grow, Autonomi’s ambitions extend far beyond its flagship product. In a recent development, the company has partnered with H.E. Dr. Princess Asie Ocansey of the royal Ocansey family in Ghana and her company Nekotech Center of Excellence. The joint venture, named Nekotech AI, aims to enroll over 100,000 African undergraduates into various graduate school programs in the United States.

Autonomi’s Role in Nekotech AI

Autonomi will be responsible for building the AI-enabled digital infrastructure to streamline the entire process, from qualifying students and assisting with degree selection to expediting loan applications and facilitating travel logistics.

“We’ll be providing a very wide range of services for this project and are focused on doing whatever is required of us to make sure that these students succeed.” According to Mr. Hicks, “This includes advanced education/training, innovative technology solutions, financial aid, and best-in-class service.”

Backed by Substantial Funding

With endorsements from several African presidents and financial institutions like Prodigy Finance, Nekotech AI has secured over $1 billion in committed funds to serve as non-collateralized tuition loans for eligible students. An additional $25 million has been allocated for prep-school scholarships.

President of Sierra Leone accepting a $100M commitment for the Africa-US Presidential Forum on STEM/AI

Transforming Africa’s Socioeconomic Landscape

The Africa-US Presidential Forum on STEM/AI initiative, which has been in a pilot phase for the past five years, aims to provide African students with better education and higher income-earning potential. Upon graduation, students will work in America for three years to pay off their tuition loans before returning to Africa, significantly raising the value of the domestic labor force.

According to industry estimates, students can expect to earn between $60,000 and $250,000 per year while working in America – figures previously considered unattainable for the average African. There are already some success stories of real students who have completed the pilot program and begun working in well-paying roles in America.


“Africa has a huge potential to change its fortunes by taking advantage of this educational opportunity,” said Dr. Princess Ocansey. “This could be transformative for the socioeconomic landscape of the continent.”

Looking to the Future

The other Missouri-born co-founder of Autonomi, Austin Ambrozi, vocalized his ambitions as well, saying “this is just the beginning of what we have planned; the Nekotech AI venture represents Phase 1 of our new 10-year initiative that we’re calling ‘Autonomi for Africa.’” Mr Ambrozi has been selected as a speaker at the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Festival (GEF) in Nigeria, where he will reveal more details about the project roadmap.

As Missouri continues to nurture its entrepreneurial ecosystem, success stories like Autonomi and its ambitious initiatives focused on education, skills development and economic empowerment are putting the state on the map as a rising star in the tech and innovation landscape. With a bold vision and strategic partnerships, Autonomi is aiming to drive positive change not just locally, but globally as well.


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