Brooks Addington is the CEO of Tost. TOST is an all natural dry sparkling non-alcoholic beverage created to reach every occasion when the consumer is looking for a substantive beverage that is non-alcoholic, yet all natural, low calorie, and meaningful.
This week, we met with Sue Marshall who has helped to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Minnesota, including her own company NetZro. Leaning on the traditional industry of food processing, Sue created a company to decrease food waste. Sue wishes for more policies creating low-cost and free space for research to be done by startups.
To celebrate and support latino entrepreneurs, we met with Robbie Cabral, founder and CEO of BenjiLock. Latino entrepreneurs face challenges such as inadequate access to capital; in fact, only 12% of Latino firms employing more than one person received bank loans, compared to 18% of white-owned firms, 15% of Asian-owned firms, and 14% of Black-owned firms. Despite these challenges, Robbie is thankful for the mentorship and guidance received from SBA’s SCORE programs. He hopes that policymakers can focus on creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs from every walk of life.
Fady Saad is the co-founder and director of Partnerships at MassRobotics, innovation hub and startup cluster focused on the needs of the robotics community. As leader in New England and the U.S., MassRobotics has attracted attention from policymakers, locally, nationally and even internationally - including receiving over two million dollars from the state government.
Amelia Friedman and her team at Hatch Apps empower people around the world to create their own mobile apps. By leaning on a strong tech community in Washington, D.C., Hatch Apps has quickly grown. As an international company, legislation like GDPR has changed the way they do business and deal with data.
Long Island is famous for beaches, bagels and vineyards, but it also has a budding innovation ecosystem. Just outside of New York City, Long Island, Suffolk County in particular is growing into an entrepreneurial powerhouse. Phil Rugile, Director of LaunchPad Huntington, recognized the need for a space to attract talent, host events and build community; he then founded LaunchPad.
Jay Newton-Small has a background in journalism. By utilizing her passion for storytelling, Jay created MemoryWell, a startup that seeks to improve the long-term care of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. She leaned on D.C.'s ecosystem with strong partners in the aging space to grow her company. However, Jay hopes the government will play a bigger role in convening innovators and traditional partners to better support the aging industry.
West Virginia’s mountainous terrain may be a challenge, but certainly doesn’t divide the state’s entrepreneurs, according to Anne Barth, Executive Director of TechConnect West Virginia. TechConnectWV is a non-profit organization focused on driving innovation, cultivating entrepreneurship, and creating greater economic diversity throughout West Virginia.
The immigration process in the United States continues to be confusing, challenging and complicated. Xiao Wang, the co-founder and CEO of Boundless, is working to solve this problem through the use of technology. As Boundless helps with the family immigration process, policy is still need to facilitate entrepreneurs to build companies in America.
Kiera Smalls, Executive Director of Philly Startup Leaders (PSL), is leading the charge as she builds a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem for innovators to thrive. The Philadelphia startup community is partnering with lawmakers to ensure it is reflective of Philadelphia’s diverse population.
Building a business plan can be challenging, but David Krauss, Co-Founder of NoiseAware, believes most startups are missing one key feature - advocacy. David has advocacy ingrained into NoiseAware’s culture. By embracing advocacy as a main focus, NoiseAware has built strong relationships with policymakers and in turn, has brought additional notoriety to his growing startup and developed new partnerships.
June is dedicated as Pride Month, but it’s important to celebrate the ideals of Pride every month. Andrew Lowenthal, Executive Director of Out in Tech, seeks to do this everyday within the tech community. Out in Tech, a global non-profit startup based in New York, works to unite the LGBTQ+ tech community through regular events in 10 cities.
We met with Shelly Bell, founder of Black Girl Ventures (BGV), to discuss how she is working to change ecosystems across the US. Shelly and her team are working to find creative place-based solutions to dissolve the race and gender gap in access to capital. Policy makers have looked at crowdfunding a solution to this issue, but more work has to be done.
The “First in the Nation” state is not always first when thinking of startups and innovation. However, Joshua Cyr at Alpha Loft is working to change that narrative and improve entrepreneurs prospects for successfully launching and scaling innovation-based startups in New Hampshire.
We headed to the Cornhusker State to meet with Grant Stanley, CEO of Bric. As a native Nebraskan, Grant is familiar with starting and growing companies in the state. However, as Bric continues to grow, Grant is looking to new ecosystems to provide opportunities and networks not currently available in Omaha.
This week we talked with Ryan Weber, President of the KC Tech Council, a group that represents tech companies and works to attract and retain players in the tech industry in Kansas City. Weber credit's the area's growth to several factors, including the presence of the health tech industry as well as how easy it is to travel from Kansas City to anywhere in the U.S. On his policy wishlist is a new look at how to train the tech talent of tomorrow.
Last week, the 55th annual National #SmallBusinessWeek (NSBW) was celebrated on main streets across the country. Policymakers from both sides of the aisle expressed support for measures that promote entrepreneurship and provide small business owners with the resources they need to succeed.
Dallas is quickly emerging as national hub of innovation, even in the saturated startup state of Texas. This week we spoke with Trey Bowles about the city’s multi-pronged efforts to develop a robust and collaborative ecosystem. He attributes Dallas’ success to the city’s deep talent pool and regional cooperation but believes that public funding for entrepreneur centers and stronger incentives for early stage investment could further unlock its potential for growth.