Meet Our New Incubation Companies
Our 2020–2021 Incubator cohort includes 8 companies from a variety of industries. Learn more about these innovative startups and their goals for the next year.
We’re proud to announce the new cohort for our 2020–2021 Incubator. The yearlong Incubation Program focuses on engaging early-stage businesses and nonprofits from any industry. Before granting admission to the Incubation Program, fourteen companies were invited to participate in an intensive three-day, virtual boot camp. During our Bootcamp Program, companies learned how to deliver 4-minute pitches to communicate their product and service effectively, developed their business models, and participated in interactive workshops with peers. Companies also had a chance to meet one-on-one with experts and mentors in Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurial ecosystem who provided helpful feedback and resources. After completion of Bootcamp, eight companies were selected to join the Ascender Incubator.
Benefits of our Incubator include in-depth coaching, mentorship, educational programming, access to a network of industry experts, and all the amenities included in Ascender’s membership. These program benefits equip companies with core business skills, strategies, and tools for building a self-sustaining business.
“Ascender is a well-regarded name in the Pittsburgh startup scene. It’s truly an honor and a privilege to be chosen as a cohort member. In my vision of building a company that seeks to create jobs and value throughout the Pittsburgh community, there’s no better program to align my efforts with.”
— Mark Sotomayor, Founder of Treecup Tea
This year’s cohort includes startups from various industries, including education, food & beverage, finance, energy, technology, and personal care. Learn more about the newly-accepted companies and their goals for the upcoming Incubation year below:
Be the Change, powered by beamdata, is a citizen engagement platform that facilitates voter education and communication between elected officials and constituents. Based on the user’s address, the app informs constituents about who all their elected officials are and provides information about legislative updates. The app also provides a location-based reporting mechanism for constituents to access and inform elected officials about neighborhood-level challenges such as water quality, air pollution, potholes, discriminatory practices, or over-policing.
- Grow meaningful partnerships with elected officials and grassroots organizations
- Increase engagement with the Be the Change app and create a pathway for participatory democracy across Pennsylvania
Convertsation is a digital platform for educators to structure multi-party, online conversations for their students. The platform connects classrooms across the world and encourages conversations between students with diverse backgrounds, helping them gain perspectives.
- Improve the company’s sales strategy models for high school and middle school markets
- Build a company culture that is mission-driven and values team growth, leadership, and cohesion
Farm to Flame Energy produces universal biomass generators capable of utilizing many bio-waste feedstocks in smokeless combustion for the most efficient biomass power generation. Farm To Flame’s fuel is sold at a price of half that of diesel.
- Launch a Beta product of a 10 kilowatt unit by September 2020 and conduct rigorous testing of the generator’s performance
- Seek funding from multiple science-based research organizations to help further the company’s mission of providing clean, affordable, and reliable electricity
LittleMoochi is an app that helps children develop healthy eating habits by “raising” an AI-powered digital pet. A child snaps a picture of their plate; the app’s deep learning-based AI engine recognizes the ingredients, analyzes the nutrients, and provides the child with personalized food suggestions.
- Acquire 10,000 users with the ultimate goal of having every child in Pennsylvania have a LittleMoochi pet on their device
- Raise $500,000 in funding
With MoneyStack, users don’t need to be a millionaire to have a financial advisor. MoneyStack’s app allows users to build their own answers to financial questions. The platform also connects users with a vetted financial professional for a second opinion with the simple tap of a button.
- Raise additional startup funding, launch the MVP, and run a 3-month Beta program with a small group of financial professionals
- Help 1,000 consumers get answers to their financial questions
Revitalize takes artificial tears and adds the perfect energy punch. Its formulation provides instant energy upon application that lasts longer than a cup of coffee but less than a 5-hour product, without the negative side effects. This combination of eye moisturization and added energy fights eye fatigue and keeps users refreshed, refueled, and revitalized. Revitalize’s formulation uses a blend of compounds such as anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, metabolites, and supplements to deliver this safe and long-lasting energy. Revitalize is designed to be the perfect multi-use, performance enhancer that fights tired eyes while giving individuals the added energy they need.
- Establish an online distribution channel and deliver the first round of products to customers
- Create partnerships with reputable online influencers to test and promote the company’s products
The Center for Empathy Education provides emotional intelligence centered professional development in the form of consulting — in-person workshops, webinars, and independent coaching — and through an online learning platform. The platform is available to the general public with membership options, while organizations have the option to commission customized platforms for their institutional needs. Additionally, the company leases space on its platform for researchers to sell their own courses.
- Complete additional customer discovery and carry out a pilot project
- Formally launch the company’s programming and secure new revenue-generating customers interested in workshops and speaking engagements
Treecup Tea is a new-to-market iced tea company that plants one tree in Haiti for every bottle sold. Bottles are produced with organic and ethically sourced loose-leaf tea leaves in Evans City, PA. Treecup currently offers nine different products, which include delicious spins on green, jasmine, chai, turmeric, matcha, and black teas.
- Complete a successful crowdfunding campaign through DonorSee in addition to securing a convertible note of at least $200,000 by the end of the incubation program year
- Build a sustainable selling model for the company