Ascender’s 2021–2022 Incubator
From fashion to AI and social enterprises to hardware, meet our most diverse cohort to date.
Our community for entrepreneurs continues to grow with the acceptance of 11 startups into our 2021–2022 Incubator. The free yearlong Incubator provides companies with more than $12,000 in business assistance through in-depth coaching, mentorship, educational programming, access to a network of industry experts, and all the amenities included in Ascender’s membership. After reaching milestones tailored to their businesses, companies are also eligible to receive up to $5,000 in equity-free direct funding.
Founders for each early-stage startup were selected from a competitive pool of more than 55 innovative companies and completed Ascender’s Pre-Incubation Bootcamp, a multi-day intensive program combining virtual workshops and coaching. By the end of Bootcamp, the participating companies had refined their business ideas, pitched to a panel of community advisors, and connected with other entrepreneurs on similar journeys.
“A great idea only gets you so far. Beyond an innovative business solution, the eleven companies joining our Incubator have the passion, grit, and hunger for learning that makes an entrepreneur successful,” stated Ascender’s Executive Director, Nadyli Nuñez. “The entrepreneurial lifestyle can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. This cohort is not only focused on advancing their ventures, but they’re also committed to lifting up their peers along the way. It’s a privilege to work with these founders and their teams as they grow.”
This year’s cohort is Ascender’s most diverse to date in terms of industry, stage, and founder’s background; 64% of founders identify as BIPOC and 82% of the companies are founded or co-founded by a woman. The selected startups represent a wide variety of industries, from fashion to AI and social enterprises to hardware. “We don’t claim to have expertise in every industry,” said Annia Aleman, Ascender’s Innovation Director. “But, we believe that at an early stage, startups of all shapes and sizes face similar challenges, and our team is very experienced in navigating that journey.”
The newly-accepted companies are:
Conscious Unbias is an accountability tool that creates transparency of underrepresented and marginalized employees’ by providing a safe space, free of retaliation, to share their workplace experiences.
Curieye makes museums and businesses more accessible for people around the world by leveraging telepresence robot technology and a unique service model to create live, curated, and virtual experiences.
Hardly is a software/hardware technology that helps workers take control of their alerts across all apps and easily change them according to their needs.
IMIHI Designs is a womenswear brand that creates fashionable custom formal pieces and ready-to-wear garments for women of all shapes and sizes.
Kloopify is the only holistic compliance platform for the electronics industry and makes compliance with ecolabels digitized, automated, and navigable.
Mamalux is a game-changing postpartum nightgown that makes it possible for nursing women to sleep in comfort and features built-in (yet removable and washable) contoured pads to keep leaking in check.
re:Bloom connects skilled volunteers with small businesses and nonprofits to help them enhance their overall technical infrastructure and build simple, clean, and easy-to-maintain websites.
Selling Later puts time and transparency back into the murky world of real estate by connecting future home sellers and buyers directly, up to a year before a house hits the market.
Sustainible’s proprietary data-driven Venture Feasibility Engine helps determine the likelihood of business success and provides customized evaluations and suggested refinement strategies to increase the overall impact of an enterprise.
The Tea engages a new generation of college students through virtual games, events, and campus resources by providing simplified, customizable, and interactive technological solutions for residence life staff.
The Woven Kente supports vendors and artisans that have strong ethical, social, and environmental values by producing and curating a collection of small-batch and handcrafted products for the African American millennial market.
For the next year, the companies will work with a coach, Ascender’s network of experts, and more than 60 Incubator alumni to launch, build, and grow their businesses. Daniela Osio, co-founder of Kloopify and a member of the new cohort, stated, “Kloopify is honored and excited to join the 2021 Ascender Incubator program. Working together will open an endless amount of opportunities and enable Kloopify to continue its growth journey. We are eager to learn, grow, and give back to Pittsburgh’s community for entrepreneurs.”
For more information and a list of previous Incubator companies, visit www.ascenderpgh.com.
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From fledgling tech companies, healthcare innovators, and nonprofits to makers, creators, services and shops, Ascender is for Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurs. We help businesses of all types in the Pittsburgh region start and build a business through education and connectivity. See how Ascender can help you.