Earlier this month, seven startups joined accelerator program Launch Chapel Hill to help get their businesses off the ground.
The 22-week program is designed to give the budding businesses structure and guidance as they work to turn their ideas into sustainable businesses.
“Starting a business is a lot of work, and there are a lot of challenges, but once you actually have something and it has some value building it and growing it are the hardest part, and that’s where I see the value of Launch,” Patrick Mateer, UNC alumnus and CEO of Seal the Seasons, said. “They are helping us grow in a sustainable healthy way.”
And while the companies continue to settle into their incubator, here’s what they are working on:
Most people don’t know that about 45 gallons of water are wasted each time they wash their car, but a group of UNC undergraduates is changing the game with their new waterless car washing system.
Using a specially designed chemical solution, Waterless Buddy’s provides drivers with an eco-friendly solution to cleaning their cars.
“We have eliminated the water, the bucket and hose. Everything is all-in-one,” co-founder Austin Helms said.
He said the company’s product could provide a vital solution for people in areas prone to droughts, like California, that still want to keep their cars clean.
Helms said that the team is pleased with its success so far, saying they already have a partnership established with the Rams Club to wash members’ cars during football games.
The reason people wear mismatched socks could be more important than it appears thanks to SWAP Socks, a company that purposefully mismatches its socks to encourage a discussion about visual impairment.
Founder Roger Nahum said more than 80 percent of the world’s visually impaired suffer from causes that are easily curable or preventable. SWAP Socks is trying to help them by providing eye care to someone in need for every pair of their socks that is purchased.
“Our socks function as a wearable statement to show support for sight, and in the process they spark a natural conversation about the power and privilege of sight, which so many people live without in countries where the infrastructure isn’t in place for them to receive basic eye care,” Nahum said.
Nahum said the company’s partnership with the Seva Foundation, an organization that delivers eye care services to people in developing countries, allows them to provide eye care to those most in need.
Currently, the company sells its socks through its website, but plans on selling the North Carolina-produced socks in stores soon.
Seal the Seasons
From Piedmont vegetables to Southeastern North Carolina blueberries, North Carolina farmers offer a wide variety of produce, and Seal the Seasons is working to provide them year round.
“It’s a local frozen produce company, and we’re changing the way that North Carolinians can support small family farmers within North Carolina,” Mateer said. “So we worked with these farms to freeze, market and distribute their food to allow North Carolinians to eat their food all year round and in turn support these small family farms all year round.”
Currently, customers can find Seal the Seasons’ frozen produce at Weaver Street Market, but Mateer said the company is working to expand the number of places where it is offered.
BlipMe is not your average application. Instead it offers users the chance to share their real-time locations so that a busy night out does not turn into a lost night out.
“BlipMe is all about making the going out experience simpler, safer and also just a lot more fun,” founder Ricky McMahon said. “The app is built around that and offers features that will improve your social experience.”
A UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School MBA candidate McMahon said the app is currently available on iOS and will be available on Android within the next few months. iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blipme/id981886073?mt=8
After taking a year off from UNC to build their platform, Simon Jung and his Trill Financial co-founder Akash Ganapathi are eager to launch their data analytics software.
Designed to help asset managers, Trill Financial compiles, analyzes and puts out data for asset managers to better look after their money.
“Basically we mine a lot of unstructured news sources, like The New York Times, Stock Twits and Twitter, about financial securities, in this case stocks, as well as quarterly filings that the companies submit to the SEC,” Jung said. “We analyze them and then stick it into a portal for asset managers to use to manage their portfolios.”
With their beta program already launched, Jung said he and his partner are working to not only gain more subscribers but also keep the platform strong.
“We want to help endowments and corporate pension funds bring some of their investments back in-house from hedge funds," he said. "Endowments will be able to serve their students better, and the corporate pension funds will be able to serve their pensioners better."
Designed to help sales organizations improve what they do, Tribal Intel works backwards, taking customer engagements and feedback to figure out the key to a company’s success.
But company CEO and Kenan-Flagler alumnus Scott King said Tribal Intel offers something new to customers — efficiency.
“There’s no one really in the marketplace that does what we do because in one fell swoop we are combining the sales process, sales training, marketing content as well as sales content in one location,” King said. “It’s sort of new, but also intuitive for enterprise sales people.”
Currently the company is in its beta launch but seems pleased with its results so far. King said the beta launch is a web app, but the company plans on launching for both iOS and Android soon.
After founding Textile Solutions in the summer of 2014, Kenan-Flagler MBA candidate Daniel Almirall is ready to give it his full attention.
Textile Solutions works with manufacturing companies within the plastics and textile industry to help them recycle their waste either internally or externally in order to increase their efficiency and sustainability.
“I'm hoping to put the most time and energy into it than I ever have in the past year,” Almirall said. “It’s been pretty low touch, but now that I’ve made the commitment to Launch, I’m hoping to invest a lot more into it.”
Almirall, who comes from a textiles background, said he has been running the business alone since he launched it, and is hoping Launch can help him learn how to hire employees.
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