Accelerators / Entrepreneurs / FastFWD

GoodCompany Group’s summer 2013 social enterprise accelerator class

The 11 companies come from New York City, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Ecuador, and several are local companies focused on edtech.

The Mayor's Office of Urban Mechanics (Jeff Friedman and Story Bellows) will work with GoodCompany Group's summer class as part of the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership. Photo courtesy of Generocity.

GoodCompany Group announced the 11 companies in its summer social enterprise accelerator Wednesday night. The companies come from New York City, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Ecuador, and several are local companies focused on edtech.

This is the first class of entrepreneurs that will by vying for a slice of funding guaranteed to this GoodCompany class, thanks to a $500,000 investment pledge from Investors’ Circle.

This class will also be an early test case for the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership (PSEP), the $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded initiative that aims to incubate companies that can address the city’s problems. This means that the GoodCompany entrepreneurs will have special access to the City of Philadelphia and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, with an aim of more fully integrating the program in the future. PSEP will put out a call for companies to join its incubator this fall, said Jeff Friedman, co-director of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, another partner in the PSEP.

For Suraj Jain, cofounder of New York City financial literacy startup FinLitthe possibility of raising GoodCompany capital “definitely helped” the decision to apply for and attend the accelerator. But, he added, even without the capital, the program’s unique focus was reason enough to attend. It was the only program he knew of that focused on socially-minded, for-profit businesses, said Jain, who will be splitting his time between Philadelphia and New York during the accelerator.

Notably, three of the companies in this summer class are local edtech startups: Slatethe year-and-a-half-old spinoff of the Northern Liberties web dev team JarvusKnick Knack Learning, the recently launched low-cost tablet from Fort Washington’s Wilco Electronic Systems and Professor Word, a browser-based vocabulary tool that launched in beta last summer.

One unique member of the summer class is Center City’s Here’s My Chance, which is not a traditional startup and rather a marketing firm founded by young David Gloss, who has taken a fancy in the intersection of nonprofits and investment. Here’s My Chance is the team behind the Philly DoGooder video promotion project.

Below, a list of the companies with descriptions provided by GoodCompany Group.

  • Thread (Pittsburgh) transforms trash in the poorest countries into dignified jobs and useful stuff people love. Each month, Thread collects hundreds of tons of plastic waste that blights the communities and canals of Haiti and processes it into a renewed good. This process provides jobs to build struggling economies, cleans the environment, and builds a responsible, transparent supply chain for finished goods. To date, Thread has collected 30 million bottles, sold more than a half a million pounds of recycled plastic into the US, and supplied income for over 1300 Haitians.
  • Slate (Philadelphia) improves data in schools through an open-source platform that links together all the systems schools and students use to support and manage learning. Slate captures every communication, interaction, draft, decision, collaboration, reflection and evaluation to support and track students’ entire learning process in context. With access to the complete set of data about the entire learning process, students and teachers can better evaluate progress and improve skill based outcomes.
  • Dosmargaritas Functional Foods (Ecuador) puts its heart in each step, process and interaction that involves our customers, our workers, our suppliers and our products. By working together, we deliver snacks made of quinoa and other functional ingredients that benefit and delight the customer while being a factor of change in our communities and our world.
  • BlocPower (New York) markets, finances, and installs lighting, smart thermostat, HVAC, solar, and building envelope retrofits in houses of worship, small businesses, non-profits, and light commercial properties in underserved American communities. BlocPower utilizes community organizing, marketing, microfinance, service operations and crowdsourcing techniques to create value for customers. BlocPower hires locally from hard to employ populations, creating local jobs, energy savings, carbon emissions reductions, and returns for investors.
  • FinLit (New York) helps young adults save money and build wealth with a platform of short videos and tools. We create engaging, relevant content and tools in-house and curate FLiCs (“Financial Literacy Clips”) from across the web. FinLit shows our young adult audience a variety of FLiCS, reinforces personal finance concepts with easy-to-use tools, and then suggests products and services that can help them take action to improve their financial situation.
  • Open Cancer Network (San Francisco) is a big data analytics platform enabling identification of unusual patterns causing chronic diseases such as cancer. Open Cancer Network (OCN) platform enables collection of non-clinical data such as lifestyle, diet, lifetime exposures to toxins and stressors, and allows users to better understand their disease, to connect with clinical trials and sources of best available treatment. OCN data will form one of the richest datasets available to any
    researcher in bio-medical and public health fields. We are using Big Data technologies to mine this dataset to identify patterns and correlations that may lead to advances in social epidemiology of cancer and other chronic diseases.
  • MapMedi (Pittsburgh) is healthcare globalization company that offers healthcare solutions from different parts of the world so more people have access to cheaper, faster, and/or more advanced health treatments. MapMedi is currently customizing software to fight depression and anxiety in Asia and is developing a website that presents medical tourism information in a transparent, accessible, customized, and intelligent manner to fight rising medical costs in the U.S., to open up technologies to areas in need, and to fight long waiting times in other parts of the world.
  • ProfessorWord (Philadelphia) will integrate online reading and vocabulary learning into a seamless experience. Students are tired of reading stale content and memorizing wordlists. Currently in development, ProfessorWord crawls the web to find interesting high-quality readings that can be customized for students based on subject, reading ability, and vocabulary level. Our tools help students engage and learn words in context while they read: they click words to get definitions, annotate the article, and save words to an account to create personalized flashcards and review tests. Student performance is recorded on a secure dashboard, accessible by teachers and parents. And our custom recommendation algorithm suggests follow-on readings for students to reinforce the words learned.
  • Here’s My Chance (Philadelphia) is a Creative Agency for good working with nonprofits and corporate brands to rally massive communities around important issues and causes. Founded by David Gloss and Kevin Colahan in 2011, Here’s My Chance (HMC) campaigns have raised over $3 Million for clients activated over 5 Million people to take an action on behalf of a cause. Clients consist of such notable organizations as the National MS Society, the City of Philadelphia, the Human Rights Campaign and others.
  • Knick Knack Learning (Philadelphia) bridges the gap between schools and their need for greater access and exposure to educational technologies by seeking strategic partnerships with innovative educational content and technology providers, converting their products into an app-based user experience, providing assessment and tracking of content products through user generated data, and actively targeting schools that could benefit from these offerings. Through individualized instruction and a focus on academic improvement and enhanced classroom experience, Knick Knack and the tablet “The Knack”, is uniquely positioned to help learning intuitions address the multiple challenges existing in urban education.
  • The New American Tavern (New York) is what would happen if Cheers and a TED Conference had a baby. Our venues offers a new category in hospitality: a gathering place that fosters belonging; a favorite spot to savor food and drink; a community hub where old and new friends can discuss social change and learn about issues affecting their neighborhood and their world. Our mission is to bring the comfort and belonging of the traditional tavern to every American City. Not for the sake of nostalgia, but for the sake of deepening conversations about things that matter in a warm, contemporary and inviting atmosphere that includes good food and drink.

The Mayor’s Office of Urban Mechanics (Jeff Friedman and Story Bellows) will work with GoodCompany Group’s summer class as part of the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership.

Companies: Professor Word / GoodCompany Group / Here’s My Chance / Investors’ Circle / Jarvus Innovations / Wilco Electronic Systems

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