From human waste disposal to homegrown food storefronts, meet Fledge’s socially-conscious startups

Audience members talk with the "fledglings" after their presentations at the Hub Seattle.  Host Luni Libes said the location was special because it's also where the ten-week Fledge course took place.

Audience members talk with the Fledge participants after their presentations at the HUB Seattle. Fledge founder Luni Libes said the location was special because it’s also where the ten-week Fledge course took place.

fledgelogoNatural soap, online groceries, cell phones, volunteer training, drip clips, human waste, point rewards, and your old tennis shoes. Wondering what these things have in common?

They’re all concepts for Fledge’s sophomore class of socially conscious startups.

Fledge, an incubator program led by Michael “Luni” Libes, held its second-ever Demo Day at the HUB Seattle Thursday night, as eight groups demoed the work they’ve been doing for the past few months.

Michael "Luni" Libes

Michael “Luni” Libes

Fledge is a TechStars-like accelerator, but with a focus on “conscious companies.” To be part of Fledge’s program, each company must demonstrate a socially-conscious mission and model.

Libes said about half the companies arrived to the program without much more than an idea. Ten weeks and fifty mentors later, those ideas looked a lot more like a business.

“Almost none are doing what they first thought of,” Libes said.

After helping seven groups get off the ground in last year’s inaugural Fledge program, Libes was happy with another good turnout this year. He said all seven teams from last year are “alive and kicking.”

Apart from the “socially conscious” focus, there’s really no other defining characteristic that ties these startups together. Featuring everything from a comprehensive plan for human waste, to a city-specific point-rewards system of local businesses, each company presented something a little different.

Here’s a run down of the new companies:

Shift Labs founder Beth Kolko said one of the largest barriers to finding effective devices for underfunded clinics lies in the gap between the prototype and the product.

Shift Labs founder Beth Kolko said one of the largest barriers to finding effective devices for underfunded clinics lies in the gap between the prototype and the product.

Shift Labs

Founder Beth Kolko aims to create affordable medical products that can serve in low-budget clinics around the globe. She’s already distributing a prototype called the Drip Clip, a portable tubing clip with built-in precision measurements. In low-budget clinics where nurses are counting drips and doing the dosage equation in their heads, Kolko said products like the Drip Clip could make a huge impact on clinic efficiency.

AlchemList 

Founded by Fledge’s own program manager, Jennifer Teehan, AlchemList aims to match the items Americans either donate or throw away with global, national, and local aid organizations. Using an online interface, non-profit organizations can list the items they are most in need of, whether they’re clothing, furniture, or anything else. Those who wish to donate can then go to the site and look up the organizations whose need descriptions match the products in their own home they’d like to get rid of.

For both the organization and the donator, Teehan said the plan could help streamline the process by placing donation materials directly where they’re needed.

Tansa Clean

Business partners Anisha Shankar and Mario Varon look to streamline the process of human waste disposable in India with TansaClean. The company looks to implement a pathogen-free system of human waste disposal in Indian communities where the waste management infrastructure is missing. Without an effective, constant process of management, Shankar said human waste is dumped in areas where it pollutes water supply and other essential facilities.

Using existing bio-digesters as grounds to properly dispose of waste, TansaClean hopes to create more efficient and safe management. When waste is disposed of with other natural waste materials like bovine feces and grasses, it can decompose properly and keep deadly pathogens out of drinking water supplies.

Originally from FLorida, Snohomish Soap company founder Cindy Todd said she hopes to strike a balance between "scaling and remaining local."

Originally from Florida, Snohomish Soap company founder Cindy Todd said she hopes to strike a balance between “scaling and remaining local.”

Snohomish Soap

After finding business success of her own with the concept, founder Cindy Todd hopes to expand her natural soap business around the nation to empower stay-at-home and single mothers who have a hard time finding a job. Todd said the company is one where mothers can make money without having to leave their home, which could help a number of women who are disabled or are taking care of young children.

Having already found success is Seatte, Todd’s soaps are now distributed at Bartell Drugs, but she hopes to expand the business nationwide.

Kodeza

Kodeza aims to use cellular phones to aid developing countries in building businesses and honing community progress plans. According to founders Rowan Oloman and Chantel Bunkers, about eighty percent of the world now has access to cellular devices. By tapping into the wide-spread technology, communities in the developing world could create comprehensive plans to capture local business goals and solutions.

Serve Smart

Founder Ryan Richards said there’s an overwhelming amount of volunteering going on in America, but without the proper training, there’s not much point to it all. Serve Smart is an online training course for people who are interested in global volunteering. By teaching things like cultural intelligence and sensitivity, Richards said volunteers will be more prepared to travel abroad, thus becoming more effective volunteers.

UbrLocal currently has a community board in Wallingford where people can post on a map where they are located and what they are growing.  Patel hopes this will jumpstart hyper-local food sales.

UbrLocal currently has a community board in Wallingford where people can post on a map where they are located and what they are growing. Founder Kamal Patel hopes this will jumpstart hyper-local food sales.

UbrLocal

Kamal Patel’s UbrLocal looks to combine the allure of hyper-local food with the convenience of the internet. Through an online storefront, Seattle’s urban growers can sell their homegrown items to customers in their own city. Patel said with Seattleites being legally allowed to sell up to $15,000 worth of food out of their own kitchens, eating locally, even within 10 miles of your home, shouldn’t be a problem.

The convenience of an online store front will help growers reach potential buyers, and will allow farmer’s market regulars to do their shopping from the comfort of their couch.

Localista

Using a point system, Erin Nelson’s Localista helps connect local businesses with local customers. When a customer gives money to participating businesses, he or she receives reward points which eventually add up to a free gift from another local participating business.

Customers are more encouraged to buy local goods and in turn, businesses develop a better understanding of their client base. Through point comparisons, businesses can see where else their clients are spending money and how better to reach them. All the while, Nelson said money is being kept in local circulation, making Seattle less dependent on corporate products.

Previously on GeekWire: Here comes Kick, an ‘inclusive incubator’ where tuition must be paid via crowdfunding 

Alisa Reznick is a University of Washington student working as an editorial intern at GeekWire this quarter. Reach her at alisa@geekwire.com or on Twitter @AlisaReznick.

  • http://twitter.com/ngohring nancy gohring

    is the dude’s name Lunes? Libes? Lubes? you call him all three :).

    • Taylor Soper

      Hi Nancy, it’s Libes. Thanks for catching that. We just fixed the post. Have a great weekend.

  • lunarmobiscuit

    Most everyone just calles me “Luni”. For those of you who missed the show, we’ll have the video of the talks up on fledge.co in a few days…

  • Chantel Bunkers

    Kodeza.com is the missing website from the list above

    • Taylor Soper

      Thanks Chantel, just added the link.

  • Ubr Local

    Do you guys mind changing our biz title to UbrLocal in our description. You have it spelled as UberLocal.

    • Ubr Local

      and thanks for the awesome article!

    • Taylor Soper

      Sure, just fixed. Thanks!

  • Thiago

    That’s awesome, way to go Fledge. Are most of these start ups still going strong? I sure hope so; it’s not often we see such worthy business endeavors getting the support they deserve! Thiago | http://wasteservicesofcentralflorida.com