In-Person Events Help Make Connections to Critical Assets
On Tuesday, June 14th, the Western Mass Founders Network (WMFN) successfully held its first Demo Day. Fifteen scale-ready Western Massachusetts-based startups and local leaders came together to connect, network and celebrate the culmination of WMFN’s eight-month program.
Celebrating Growth and Collaboration
WMFN’s program supports high-growth-potential Western Mass startups with a curated peer-to-peer and experienced mentor network. Over eight months, the program creates a virtuous cycle for scaling executives where they have access to resources in Western Massachusetts, embedding them in the local economy. This first-of-its-kind program is a collaborative effort led by the Western Mass Economic Development Council (EDC), FORGE, Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) and Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC). Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) powered the launch of the Western Mass Founders Network with a $200,000 Pathways to Success Grant.
The following Western Mass startups participated in the inaugural cohort of the WMFN program:
DisruptAR: Technology – Virtual production – Great Barrington, MA
Elateq: Clean Energy – Water treatment – Amherst, MA
IdleSmart: Transportation – Fuel reduction, battery management, and vehicle uptime IoT platform –Lenox MA/Kansas City, MO
Marcellamoda: Eco-friendly female clothing – Northampton MA/New York City
Medzu/TickReport: Public Health – Tick Testing/Surveillance – Amherst, MA
OmPractice: Fitness and Wellness – Online group yoga and meditation classes – Springfield, MA
QuatroMoney: Financial Services – Student finance – Springfield, MA
QuikCord: Military/Outdoor Equipment – Hand-held utility devices
Solablock: Renewable Energy – Vertical solar solutions – Easthampton, MA
Superfrau: Food & Beverage – Upcycled energy drink – Springfield, MA
Sustaine: Renewable Energy – Proprietary software to determine energy savings – Williamstown, MA
Tumult Labs: – Technology – Data privacy protection
United Aircraft Technologies: Aviation – electrical wiring system management/maintenance – Pittsfield, MA/Troy, NY
ZWraps – Eco-friendly food wraps – Easthampton, MA
Each of these startups participated in WMFN’s program to develop and build their business network in Western Mass over the last few months.
State Representative Carlos Gonzales (left) kicked off the event, followed by opening remarks from President and CEO of the Western Mass EDC Rick Sullivan and Megan Marszalek of MassTech. Kevin Moforte, Xiomara DeLobato, and Hope Ross Gilbaldi of program partners FORGE, the Western MA EDC, and VVM emceed. The event was packed with high energy startup pitches, a business showcase and networking opportunities for investors and community members.
The Western Mass Founders Network honored the program winner, OmPractice with ten thousand dollars to invest in their business. Quikcord spoke to the value of, and their commitment to, the program – as well as their work with FORGE over the years, sourcing their manufacturing locally in western MA. Solablock also spoke to the value of hyper local sourcing during their pitch, and United Aircraft Technologies shared their impressive traction to date. DisruptAR demo’d their tech live, and Superfrau offered samples of their beverages at the Showcase in addition to pitching. Victories of multiple startups in the program were celebrated at the event, including major acquisitions and partnerships for both ZWraps and Elateq. Elateq was also recently awarded a competitive grant from the National Science Foundation.
About the High Growth Western MA Companies that Pitched Live
Ompractice, which won a $10,000 grant based on their-end-of-program pitch, is an online wellness platform offering daily movement and mindfulness classes for everyone, from beginners to experienced practitioners. Based in Springfield, MA, the company was founded in 2017. Co-founders Chris Lucas and Sam Tackeoff are both experts in health and digital wellness spaces. Ompractice’s goal is to make effective wellness possible for those who experience geographic, economic and inclusivity barriers by creating accessible practices that actually work. Their platform is used by students, large corporations, massive health systems and even the US Government.
Superfrau, also based in Springfield, fights food waste and climate change with their upcycled energy drink. Made of nutrient-packed whey liquid that usually gets discarded, their fizzy, flavored beverage is full of electrolytes, vitamins and energy.
Quikcord, is a device designed for military personnel to dispense paracord quickly and effectively. Designed by Marine veteran and defense contractor Mathew Adams, it provides a solution to tangled paracord messes. Adams himself frequently experienced this issue during his service. Quikcord saves time in situations where every second counts.
DisruptAR is a virtual production company based out of Great Barrington, MA. They partner with companies including Panasonic, NBC, Disney and others to produce imaginative virtual realities. They work to create live-action virtual production as well as augmented reality 3-D graphics for sports, news and meetings. Entrepreneur Paul Lacombe founded DisruptAR, his third startup, out of a lifetime passion for virtual reality production.
Elateq is an advanced wastewater treatment company based out of Amherst, MA. Their unique electrochemical technology removes pathogens, toxins and contaminants from water without the use of harmful chemicals. Elateq’s treatment process is a portable, affordable and energy-efficient solution to ever-growing water scarcity. Their system is also more sustainable and affordable than traditional alternatives like reverse osmosis.
United Aircraft Technologies
After years of aircraft maintenance left an Army Veteran with carpal tunnel syndrome, United Aircraft Technologies was founded to reimagine electrical wire management. The modern clamps created by UAT not only make assembly and maintenance easier and faster but also increase energy efficiency. Their lightweight material increases fuel efficiency and sensing technology collects information throughout the electrical systems, improving efficiency by 150%
SolaBlock is working to build Net Zero Solar Masonry Units to provide renewable energy alternatives in urban and remote locations. Similar to standard masonry bricks but with solar technology, their Vertical Solar Solution is a new approach to green construction. Based in Easthampton, MA, SolaBlock is working to combat climate change and achieve Net Zero emission status.
The featured startups at the event, in addition to the rest of the cohort, all gained experience, mentorship and community through the WMFN program. At the Demo Day, they got to share and celebrate their successes with the Western Mass business community. We can’t wait to celebrate their future milestones and successes, scaling right here in MA.