A lot of things must go right for an early-stage startup to thrive. Now after six months of milestones and mentorship, eight student-led startups (detailed below) have the runway to succeed as graduates of the UW Foster School’s Jones + Foster Accelerator. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship program awarded $187,500 (up to $25k per team) in no strings attached follow-on funding to the 2018 cohort. Overall, the J+F Accelerator has awarded more than $1.2 million since the program began in 2010.
“Our program mentors raved about the work these startups put in to bring their products and services to market,” said Sarah Studer, program manager for the Jones + Foster Accelerator and the Dempsey Startup Competition (formerly the UW Business Plan Competition). “What were once student projects and ideas are now early-stage ventures ready to make waves in the Seattle ecosystem and beyond.”
Fifty-five startups have now earned awards through the Accelerator. Including the 2018 cohort, 48 are still in business today—improving the development of pharmaceutical drugs, working with the department of energy to build a better battery, partnering with the NFL, empowering thousands of young girls, creating rustic gear for the modern adventurer, and opening a chocolate factory at Pike Place Market while selling in stores around the world.
Keep an eye out for these exciting startups from our 2018-2019 cohort:
Astrolabe Analytics: Astrolabe Analytics offers software solutions that make battery testing and report generation easy and fast with a B2B software-as-a-service offering. “If you believe Elon Musk, we must have 100 Gigafactories churning out batteries to build all the EVs and grid-scale batteries we need to transition away from fossil fuels,” founder and CEO Robert Masse told Geekwire. “I’m interested in using technology to help create real-world solutions.”
BridgeCare Finance: BridgeCare Finance is the workplace benefit that makes quality child care and education more affordable for working parents. Their employee benefit package includes simple, hassle-free products to help families of all income-levels invest in quality care today and kick-start college savings for the future. “BridgeCare built this new and innovative employee benefit program during the Jones + Foster Accelerator,” said co-founder and CEO Jamee Herbert. “We will be launching in Seattle and Austin with select pilot customers in April 2019.”
Culture Bites: Culture Bites helps managers strengthen their team’s culture through a subscription box service. Inside each box is a binder with four 15-minute activities on a theme such as Fearless Feedback or Bye Bye Burnout—no pre-work necessary. “Bite-size is the right size for building culture,” say co-founders Rob Goehrke, Tegan Molloy, and Dave Bergart. “During the program the team went from early prototype into a polished product with paying customers.”
Lonely Produce: Lonely Produce works with local farmers and business to reduce food waste by providing access to excess goods through an online marketplace. “It turns out, neither the farmers nor restaurants are happy with how the produce ordering process currently works and they had few affordable alternatives,” co-founder and CEO Andrew Clapp told Geekwire. “We understand that both farmers and restauranteurs are on the go and need a mobile friendly solution that’s quick and easy to use.”
SclObo: SclObo is a streetwear brand that uses an innovative combination of art, gaming, clothing, and storytelling to revamp the image of the modern-day gamer. “We’re more than a t-shirt company, we have our stories, our artwork, and people are loving it,” said co-founder and CEO Niko Richardson. “We got into Emerald City Comic Con and also recently received our first major endorsee, NFL player Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints.”
Seattle Strong Coffee: Seattle Strong Coffee offers ready-to-drink cold brew in a variety of packaging options and works with local distributors to supply several tech, consulting, and construction offices across the region. They’re now expanding into retail across the greater Seattle area and offering an additional chai flavor, growing their offerings with several independent and local grocery chains and working on marketing to grow their brand awareness.
Sugar + Spoon: Sugar + Spoon created a safe-to-eat cookie dough snack and expanded its footprint in the Seattle market and through online distribution. “The day after the Accelerator program ended, we signed a lease with Westlake Mall for full access to the plaza every day of 2019 for our food truck,” said co-founder William Hubbell. “We are also in negotiations with an FDA approved co-packer that will allow for greater and more efficient online sales and distribution.”
Vita Inclinata: Vita Inclinata technologies controls the chaotic swinging of loads during helicopter operations with the Load Stability System. This device uses drone technology to completely mitigate the swinging—bringing safety and efficiency to an otherwise dangerous operation. Over the course of the Accelerator, the startup raised more than $1.3 million in its latest investment round, entered into partnerships with the U.S. Army, and was accepted into the Air Force sponsored TechStars program in Boston.