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A few years ago, Danny Potocki got to wondering. New York City was, of course, home to a kazillion impact startups and social entrepreneurs. But what about the area just north of the city? Wasn’t there a sizeable number of fledgling social enterprises? And wouldn’t they benefit from a new startup accelerator?
With that in mind, with funding from Empire State Development Corporation, among others, he recently launched Accel7, a nonprofit accelerator program for early-stage tech-focused impact enterprises in the Hudson Valley. The Accel is short for accelerator and the seven refers to the counties in the Hudson Valley the program targets.
“We’re bringing startup culture to the Hudson Valley,” says Potocki, who is managing director and previously led business development for two companies.
Based in White Plains, NY, the accelerator is an outgrowth of the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation, a 15-year-old group that provides training and education for entrepreneurs.
The focus is on education, wellness, mobility and sustainable food energy, but also accepts enterprises in other industries. And, while the accelerator is all about the Hudson Valley, the goal is to help cohort members scale nationally. Plus, startups outside the area are also applying. Accel7, which takes an equity stake in its cohort companies, provides $50,000 worth of support.
Potocki first got thinking about environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues when he was working several years ago on a consulting project involving ETF mutual funds. That led him to become interested in applying such goals to startups. “Our time would be better spent solving, say, education problems than helping a founder build an app to find an outfit for cats,” he says.
Companies work out of KOI Creative Space, a White Plains co-working facility. There’s also CO, a Rhinebeck, NY co-working location.
The first cohort includes five companies. Example: Mt. Vernon, NY-based Lessonbee, which aims to transform health education with a new platform of health and sex education materials. According to founder Reva McPollom, her goal of building better health education will have a profound impact on schools. “The educational system is unhealthy. And health education now makes kids feel awkward and isolated,” she says. “We want to help schools create the opposite, helping students feel confident, connected and worthy of health and success.”
The other four enterprises include Capri, an online education platform supporting girls’ financial literacy; Cruz Street, which aims to democratize data for businesses and communities through its data management platform; Domain, a co-working, conference and community space backed by locals giving back to their community; and SportsHi, a team management app for high school students and coaches allowing them to be active and engaged with both sports and their communities.
June 30, 2019 at 12:51PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs