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gBETA Chooses Five Alaska Businesses for Accelerator Support

Apr 22, 2024 | News, Small Business

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Five Alaska-based companies have been selected to participate in a statewide startup accelerator program. The cohort will participate in the gBETA Alaska program through national venture capital firm gener8tor.

Growth Potential and Investor Readiness

gBETA Alaska is a free, seven-week accelerator program that includes intensive coaching and access to gener8tor’s national network of mentors, customers, corporate partners, and investors. It previously ran in Alaska in 2021 and 2022, assisting such startups as Elevated Oats, Kartorium, and Sitkana. The cohort selected this spring is the program’s return.

gener8tor received thirty applications for gBETA Alaska. The five selected companies were chosen based on growth potential and investor readiness. The cohort comprises Airvitalize, Blue Collar Design, Foraged & Found, HairVoyage, and Montis Corp.

AirVitalize creates hardware products that capture outdoor air pollution. Founder and CEO Serena Allen already won the top prize of $15,000 from the UAF Arctic Innovation Competition last year for her AiryCherry portable air purification system. AirVitalize has raised more than $70,000 in non-dilutive funding and is launching pilot projects this summer in Fairbanks and Los Angeles. Initial customer segments of AirVitalize include sports teams, airports, commercial properties, the maritime industry, and local governments.

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Blue Collar Design is the maker of the APEX LadderBox, a toolbox that fits on top of a ladder, reducing potentially hazardous climbs up and down, saving construction workers, painters, and DIYers time and energy. Founder and CEO Ross Spencer won a $4,000 second-place prize from the UAA College of Business and Public Policy business plan competition in 2022, a few months after he graduated with a degree in business management. LadderBox also won an award from the United Inventors Association. Blue Collar Design has completed prototype testing, has been awarded a utility patent, and has a waiting list of more than 250 customers.

Foraged & Found harvests wild kelp and manufactures foods such as kelp pickles, kelp pasta sauce, and kelp salsa. Founder and CEO Jennifer Brown sells products wholesale to brick-and-mortar retailers as well as direct to consumers through e-commerce. Since inception, Foraged & Found has generated more than $600,000 in grants and revenue, has sold to 138 wholesale customers nationwide, and recently launched in 133 Whole Foods Markets locations.

The gBETA accelerator sees promise in entrepreneurs innovating in (left to right) air pollution cleanup, toolbox manufacture, aquaculture, personal service workforce training, and weather forecasting.

gBETA

HairVoyage revolutionizes beauty education through a mobile marketplace by eliminating barriers in a traditional and fragmented apprenticeship-based profession. Founder and CEO MaryAlice Turletes aims to empower beauty professionals globally by offering in-person and online job shadowing, while learners take ownership of their career advancement. HairVoyage won Techstars Startup Weekend, raised $65,000 in Angel Funding, and has a waiting list of 160 users.

Montis Corporation provides weather data for airports, ski slopes, transportation logistics operations, and other remote locations. Montis Corporation manufactures and deploys hardware that integrates with its own website and mobile app as well as third-party systems. Founder and CEO Walter Combs bootstrap launched a mobile app and online website and has an active pilot project at Merrill Field Airport in Anchorage.

At the end of the gBETA program, the startup founders will pitch their companies to investors, community partners, and the public at a showcase event in Anchorage on May 30.

“I’m thrilled to get to work with these five incredible Alaska-based companies on their growth,” says Erica Dye, gBETA Alaska program manager. “This program not only supports these five companies but brings opportunity and economic development to the entire state of Alaska.”

gener8tor is a global venture firm and accelerator network that supports startups, workers, employers, artists, and musicians by partnering with companies, governments, universities, and nonprofits. Partners in Alaska include the Alaska Investor Network, Denali Commission, and UAF Center for Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship (Center ICE).

“Center ICE is honored to bring this program to Alaska to support our top entrepreneurs and help grow Alaska’s innovation economy,” says center director Mark Billingsley.

Since launching in 2015, gBETA accelerator alumni have raised more than $741 million in capital and are credited with creating more than 4,500 jobs in the US and Canada.

Another gBETA Alaska cohort is scheduled to be chosen in the fall.

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Best of Alaska Business 2024
July 2024
Welcome to the 2024 Best of Alaska Business special section! For the ninth time we invited our readers to tell us which Alaska businesses they love the most, this year in forty-four categories. Throughout the month of March, you told us who should be featured in these pages, and we're thrilled to be able to publish the results.
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