Spoonflower cutting fabric

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The digital textile printers at Spoonflower, tea-brewing equipment at Mati Energy and Practichem’s Internet-connected scientific instruments will be front and center in a new series of videos meant to showcase the Triangle’s entrepreneurial community to the nation. 
These three Triangle companies, along with Bee Downtown and Envested, are the winners of an Innovate Raleigh contest called “Makers & Doers.” Throughout the month of January, local startups pitched their businesses through video submissions in order to win one of five professionally-produced short films created by Raleigh digital agency Centerline Digital. 

The winners were chosen from dozens of submissions and announced at Innovate Raleigh’s meetup Tuesday night. 
According to Innovate Raleigh executive director Jenny Hwa, the quality of applicants was impressive but the winners were particularly inspiring. Centerline Digital will begin the process of creating the two-minute videos immediately, and the videos will be released throughout the year culminating with the organization’s annual summit in October. 
Here’s a bit of what to expect from the five videos:  


Spoonflower, a startup in Durham that allows consumers to create, print and sell their own wallpaper, gift wrap and fabric (see photo above) was founded in 2008 by two self-proclaimed “Internet geeks” who wanted to create unique designs for their crafty wives. This creative startup now offers the largest collection of independent fabric designers in the world through an online marketplace. 
To bring the designs to life, Spoonflower uses large digital textile printers which have been modified to print fabric. This process creates very little waste when it comes to fabric, ink, water and electricity. These printers also allow designers to use many more colors in their designs, as well as show greater detail in the end product. Spoonflower raised its first outside capital in 2015—a $25 million round led by North Bridge Growth Equity—and has grown its team and added a European operation in Germany. 


UPDATED: Envested will launch on March 4 a patent-pending software platform for engaging Millennials around nonprofits in their communities and helping those organizations raise funds. The company was founded by former J.P. Morgan Chase strategist and Big Pharma scientist Isa Watson on her belief that engagement and transparency are the best way to empower a new generation of philanthropists. The company is based at American Underground in Durham. 

MATI Energy 

The last recipient of the video series is a company that was founded in a Duke dormitory, by then sophomore, Tatiana Birgisson. Birgisson started MATI Energy by brewing teas to help her own productivity and eventually started bottling and selling the teas to other individuals. The company has received funding from investors such as AOL co-founder Steve Case and recently inked a distribution deal with Harris Beverages. Birgisson is in the process of opening her own production facility in Clayton, N.C. 
After working through 1,374 recipes, MATI energy makes three flavors of teas—citrus, cherry and tropical. Not only is the company bringing a healthy twist to the energy drink market, the teas are now one of the top selling energy drinks in the southeastern United States. 

Tatiana Birgisson, Mati Energy
Tatiana Birgisson is founder and CEO of Mati Energy, a Durham healthy energy drink startup with manufacturing in Clayton, N.C. Photo Credit: Lauren Benning, Mati Energy


Practichem is a company looking forward to the future, where scientific instruments like the ones they create, can be operated from anywhere, not just a lab, all through the power of a browser. The company’s goal is to create laboratory technology that is as easy to operate and access as any smart-phone device. 

Founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur and inventor Nick DeMarco, the company has offices in both North Carolina and Wisconsin. The company's main product is the Arista Slice, which is a compact protein chromatography instrument used to separate molecules in a lab. 

Bee Downtown 

Bee Downtown is a Durham company focused on social and environmental responsibility. ExitEvent just profiled founder Leigh-Kathryn Bonner earlier this week—the recent NC State graduate earned a prestigious fellowship from OpenIDEO, a global-in-scope online community of innovators. 

Bonner’s company focuses on building beekeeper approved apiaries that have their own unique flare for urban businesses and offices, which allow consumers to not only learn about the bees, but to observe them in their natural habitats. It is Bonner’s hope not only to educate the community about these pollinators, but also to aid in reversing the effects of Colony Collapse Disorder, an occurrence that cost beekeepers 50% of the hives in 2015 alone. 

Leigh Kathryn Bonner Bee Downtown
Leigh-Kathryn Bonner is founder of Bee Downtown, a 2015 Lulu eGames winner.
These five companies will make up the first season of the Triangle Makers & Doers video series, which will be a yearlong social media campaign aimed at showcasing the entrepreneurial spirit here in the Triangle. The videos will not only be promoted on multiple social media platforms, but to will be used by the companies to showcase their vision, product and services to both a local as well as a national audience.