By Maddy Kennedy – Minne Inno, Mar 6, 2020
Lunar Startups, an accelerator supporting entrepreneurs from underserved or underrepresented backgrounds, has selected more than a dozen startups to participate in its third cohort.
Lunar Startups is one of the Twin Cities’ newest startup accelerators. Powered by an investment from the Knight Foundation, Lunar launched in 2018 with support from American Public Media, the parent company of Minnesota Public Radio.
Lunar does not take equity in the participating companies but asks that entrepreneurs pay $100 a month during the year-long program. In exchange, startups receive workspace, mentorship, potential connections to capital and other business benefits.
Each company will also receive a $5,000 cash stipend to spend on marketing, technology and travel. Additionally, founders will have access to Lunar Everywhere, a new digital asset library and learning hub with resources for businesses.
Participants will also have access to the Lunar Expert Network, which will provide more than 25 hours of free personal coaching, advising and counseling from the community’s business leaders. The accelerator selected 15 companies to participate in its third cohort. This is more than twice the size of the previous class, which had seven startups. “Cohort 3 is the next step in our movement to make more Minnesota millionaires,” Managing Director Danielle Steer said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to work with such an impressive group of founders and dive into the big problems they’re working to solve.” Here are the 15 companies in cohort three, with descriptions provided by Lunar Startups:
Bim Bam Boo – Curbing climate change and empowering health with the first bamboo toilet paper designed for women.
CheqrPay – Streamlining the giving process for non-profit organizations by fully utilizing mobile wallet technology.
Coconut Whisk – A proudly vegan baking mix company giving back with every sale.
Cytilife – A smart campus solution for higher education that integrates non-academic factors of student success to increase retention.
Events by Lady K – Partnering with mission-driven clients to create mission-centered events where every attendee feels welcomed, celebrated, and included.
Feminist Book Club – Building feminist communities and promoting women-owned businesses with a monthly subscription box.
Imagine Deliver – A consulting firm for the new majority, building better strategies that center users as the most important designer.
Minneapolis Craft Market – Elevating designers and makers of the North and spurring local economic activity with pop-up craft markets.
NEOO Partners, Inc. – Helping cities, local non-profits and small businesses do the right thing, the first time in commercial real estate and urban planning.
Peach Mindfulness – Harnessing AI technology to create the world’s first intelligent meditation guru.
Rocky Robinson, a brand for girls – Encouraging black girls to be their very best with Rocky Robinson, a character featured in online content, games, and more.
Safe Resell – Increasing integrity and reducing crime on a cashless, user-driven marketplace.
Schoolz – a suite of alternative tools helping teachers serve all students with relevant content and curriculum.
We Sparkle – An AI-powered social enterprise dedicated to helping small businesses care for their customers + communities.
Yonder – Preparing kids for their first visit to the dentist using entertaining and educational content.
The new group was selected from an applicant pool of 90 startups, according to Lunar Startups. More than 67% of cohort three startups are led by a woman, 60% are led by a person of color, 33% are led by a woman of color and 7% are led by a person who identifies as LGBTQ+. “This diverse group of participating companies in cohort three continues to demonstrate the palpable energy that is growing in downtown St. Paul’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Jai Winston, Knight’s St. Paul director, said in a release. “With the changing demographics of our landscape in Minnesota, St. Paul residents are seeing themselves reflected more in the opportunities to drive economic growth in the region.” Lunar said that founders from its first two cohorts have created 34 new jobs to date, and 80% of these positions receive full benefits. “With twice as many startups, we can’t wait to see how this next cohort of entrepreneurs will contribute to the economic vitality of our community,” Steer said. Lunar Startups’ third cohort will officially kick off March 9 and run through February 2021.