Earlier this year we introduced you to Fledge, a start-up incubator founded by Seattle techie Michael “Luni” Libes that’s working with non-tech focused “conscious companies.” These companies, Libes explains, are looking to address the needs of increasingly health, environment and sustainability-conscious consumers in a variety of ways.
The first group of “Fledglings” have been selected and are now hard at work at the Fledge bootcamp where they’re being mentored, networking, and working on building their businesses. It’s all in preparation for their upcoming Demo Day at the Playhouse/Intiman Theater on September 23, where the teams will present as part of Seattle’s Next 50’s celebration of commerce and innovation.
Here’s a brief introduction to the inaugural Fledge teams and what they’re working on:
BURN Manufacturing: BURN manufacturing’s goal is to be the sole manufacturer of fuel-efficient biomass cookstoves in Kenya and East Africa, significantly reducing the number of deaths in those regions from respiratory diseases related to indoor cooking smoke. CEO/Founder Peter Scott of the Vashon-based company explains his company’s inspiration and vision here.
Community Sourced Capital: Community Sourced Capital’s model is like a mashup of Kickstarter and Kiva that benefits local businesses. Businesses can submit a project idea to the site, and residents of that community can choose to lend money to the projects. The goal is to help small business that otherwise couldn’t get funding, while forging deeper connections and relationships within the community. Co-founders Casey Dilloway and Rachel Maxwell say this model will allow you to “build the main street that you want to have.”
HERE: HERE’s founders Sean Keane and Nina Carduner want to help people better connect to the places where they are living. Carduner was inspired to work on the project after she was severely ill one day and realized she knew no one in her immediate vicinity who could help her. “People are now connected online to people from their past, but in real life they’re not connected to their own neighborhoods,” she says. Partner Keane had previously launched 345eldert, which served as a building-specific community site for his New York apartment. The success of that project and the community that flourished around it encouraged him to look at expanding the idea of hyper-local connectedness. Says Carduner “We want to make something meaningful about how people relate to space.”
Learning Lights: Learning Lights’ goal is to teach people how to generate their own power. Co-founded by Alma Lorraine Bone Constable and Mike Greenberg, the company was created as an effort to provide communities with low-cost, healthy ways to light their homes. Their solar kits enable people to build reading lights using recycled materials (such as plastic bottles). By teaching these skills and encouraging innovation “we are promoting energy independence,” says Constable.
Local Tools: Local Tools helps people set up and manage lending libraries. Co-Founders Gene Homicki and Peter Dunn started (with the help of some friends) the West Seattle Tool Library, the popular tool-sharing program in West Seattle that’s now over 1,500 tools strong. By providing infrastructure for the rental industry, the company founders envision a world where the sharing and reuse of items will be the first choice for communities looking to be more sustainable.
Personify: Personify takes the idea of local and applies it to volunteerism. Founder Chuks Onwuneme has created a social platform that enables people to connect over a shared desire to help, whether it be cleaning up a street, painting over graffiti or other similar causes. Onwuneme describes Personify as a sort of “Eventbrite for social good” and hopes it will help people truly think globally, act locally. Read a Geekwire Startup Spotlight interview with Chuks Onwuneme.
Trash Backwards: Trash Backwards is working on a searchable database of materials that might otherwise be discarded to provide artists, teachers, crafters and other makers with access to free or low-cost materials, and to give ideas for how the materials might be used. The founders were inspired to create Trash Backwards when they and their children noticed the enormous amount of plastic washing up on the shores of their Puget Sound island home. The Trash Backwards app is slated to launch soon — for now you can follow their Pinterest boards to see what clever things you can do with your trash.
In all, Fledge is a diverse group of folks working to address a variety important issues that share some common threads: community; sustainability and connection. Follow the teams’ progress on the Fledge blog, connect with them via Twitter and reserve your free tickets to watch them present on Demo Day.
Michelle Riggen-Ransom is a curious writer, a passionate start-up founder and a lifelong teller of stories and adventures. She runs Social Glu communications consulting and spends much of her time drinking coffee, looking out at the unending majesty of Puget Sound and thinking about going to hot yoga.