“Any free food today?”
“Nope, not today. You missed the brownies yesterday!”
I hear some variation of this conversation every week at the coworking space I work for in Charlotte called Hygge (hoo-ga).
And to the 10 student-entrepreneurs participating in the ImpactU
accelerator this summer, I’m known as “free food” girl.
ImpactU has mentored companies in Charlotte each of the last three summers. The program is aimed toward young entrepreneurs, mostly college-age, who come in during the prototype stage of their business. The accelerator is organized by Queen City Forward
, a non-profit focused on social entrepreneurship, and last Thursday night, five companies graduated from the summer program.
During their time at Hygge, these startups grew their businesses with the help of QCF mentors, learned the many facets of entrepreneurship and developed a nose for free food in the Hygge kitchen.
Seven companies were admitted to the program, but two dropped out before it finished.
If you missed ImpactU Demo Day, here are the final companies:
While I have never applied to medical school, I’ve heard the process is quite difficult. In fact, it’s even more difficult than I imagined.
co-founder Patrick O’Shea
applied to med schools twice and was denied twice. And he was denied because he didn’t have enough clinical experience, which is hard to come by. Though he was eventually accepted to UNC's school of medicine, he and co-founder Anne Steptoe
, who he met through the MBA program at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, were inspired to start a business to help prepare students for med school. MedServe matches students with primary care physicians in underserved communities (Think Teach for America) over a two-year period, so they can get that critical clinical experience.
It’s a cost-sharing structure where clinics invest time, resources and money in fellows, while MedServe matches them with philanthropic community projects.
This month, 13 fellows began the program, but MedServe wants to serve more. Demand was higher than the number they could serve.
Since working in Charlotte, MedServe landed a partnership with Carolinas Healthcare. Now, O’Shea, Steptoe and their team want to expands to other regions and primary care work forces. MedServe is looking for more community partners, clinics in the Charlotte-area and Western Carolina and more philanthropic sources invested in improving healthcare.
The self-storage industry is $33B, but Yoshi Tsuji and Alex Wenger aren’t building a traditional storage business. They’re targeting $7B of that industry. Their company, Winkel, is essentially the Airbnb of storage. It matches people who need storage space with those who have available space in their house, garage, basement, guest room, etc.
Unlike traditional storage units, renters only pay for the space they actually use. So if someone wants to store a couch, they can pay for the 6x6 space the couch takes up instead of a 10x10 storage unit. Winkel promotes its flexibility and targets college students who need storage space during the summer and middle-aged couples whose children have left the nest, leaving behind unused storage space. It will offer insurance as well as a review system on Facebook to build trust around where you store your items.
Winkel has initial customers in Indiana since Tsuji and Wenger are from Indiana University, but the company plans to expand to Charlotte in the next month and to college campuses in the coming year. Winkel will have student representatives at colleges across the U.S. and Tsuji says they have 27 colleges signed up so far.
Winkel is looking for funding for marketing, infrastructure and app development.
Dwight Johnson Jr. studied mechanical engineering at UNC-Charlotte. He also worked at a Nike store and struggled with income volatility. Each month, he faced overdraft fees and insufficient funds as he waited to get his paycheck.
targets college students with part time jobs—all 16+ million of them—by helping with cash allocation and timing. The app tells users what their spending limit is and analyzes cash flow so they can avoid running out of cash or facing overdraft charges.
It also tracks partial bill payments, pre-sending alerts in hopes of improving financial literacy.
Wize Money just launched its website this week, but already has more than 100 people signed up to beta test. It will make money through referral fees and licensing partnerships.
The main difference between Wize Money and its competition is that Wize Money focuses on cash flow, while others focus solely on budgeting.
Wize Money’s go-to-market strategy will start with financial literacy seminars on college campuses. It’s looking for funding to develop the marketing plan, test and add more team members.
Wize Money has an interview for Wells Fargo’s accelerator program soon.
is combatting the lack of diversity in tech with InTech
, a non-profit that teaches middle-school girls in underserved communities how to code.
InTech hosts five-day summer camps, one-day camps and one-hour mini camps where InTech scholars go into classrooms and teach girls about technology.
Braswell got her bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University in computer science and her graduate degree from UNC Charlotte in information technologies. She was just named 30 under 30 by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce and is going to work for Apple in California this fall.
InTech will continue to grow here in the Carolinas with the help of Braswell’s team.
It’s a Friday night and you want to grab a quick bite to eat, but “quick” is hard to come by. You visit three restaurants and they all have one-hour wait times. Krouded solves the guessing portion of this. It’s the Waze of restaurant wait times. It crowdsources user input, so users that are at a restaurant can tell other app users what the wait looks like. Users can search wait times by location and party size, and look for deals.
Houston Downes, Matt Walker
and Julius Hatcher IV
are rising juniors at Davidson College and got the idea for Krouded after searching for a place to eat in the Southpark area.
Krouded already launched its NoDa Wait Times app
in the App Store. It has around 100 users thanks to word of mouth.