Ascender’s 2020–2021 Incubator
The initial year of any new business venture tests most founders’ strength, commitment, and ingenuity. Throw in a global pandemic and an overnight shift to ‘virtual everything,’ and you’ve got a true test of perseverance.
Our 2020–2021 Incubator cohort of eight Pittsburgh-based early-stage companies from various industries, including education, food & beverage, and finance, didn’t shy away from the challenge. Instead, they approached last year as an opportunity to grow and build their best businesses.
“Ascender’s [Incubator], to me, is talented people with passion and great ideas who are ready to take their ideas to the next level,” commented Bobby Zappala, Ascender board chair, during a final cohort presentation event. And take it to the next level, they did.
Just a few of the many accomplishments that the cohort achieved include:
- Raising more than $560,000 in investments and revenue
- Securing more than $100,000 in regional and federal grants, including a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the EPA
- Onboarding more than 7,000 paying customers and users
- Being featured in more than 25 articles by local and national publications like Business Wire, NPR, Pittsburgh Magazine, and the Pittsburgh Business Times
- Adding more than 10 employees to their growing teams
“It’s been a hard year for everyone, but especially for entrepreneurs who have had to adapt to a virtual world, pivot, and change their business models completely. We’re proud of what our 2020–2021 Incubator cohort accomplished and encourage them to utilize the Ascender network they’ve built along the way to continue growing,” said Annia Aleman, Ascender’s Innovation Director.
The growth doesn’t have to stop. Here’s how you can help our companies thrive:
- Make an introduction: Personal relationships are fundamental to the success of any business. Who in your network can help move these companies forward?
- Connect them to investors: Are you or someone you know interested in investing in one of these innovative new solutions? Support the companies’ fundraising efforts to build and scale.
- Share your expertise: Entrepreneurs learn the most from other entrepreneurs. Volunteer your time and skills to provide mentorship to these driven startup founders.
Reach out to the companies directly or contact our team for more ways to get involved.
2020–2021 Incubator Companies
- Allelo: a digital platform for educators to structure multi-party, online conversations for their students.
- Be the Change by beamdata: a citizen engagement platform that facilitates voter education and communication between elected officials and constituents.
- Farm to Flame Energy: producer of universal biomass generators capable of utilizing many bio-waste feedstocks in smokeless combustion.
- LittleMoochi: an app that helps children develop healthy eating habits by “raising” an AI-powered digital pet.
- MoneyStack: a digital platform to help individuals build a financial plan for an upcoming life event, supported by a financial coach.
- Revitalize Energy: produces artificial tears and adds the perfect energy punch.
- The Center for Empathy Education: a consulting firm that
provides emotional intelligence centered professional development.
- Treecup Tea: an organic iced tea company that plants a tree in Haiti for every bottle sold.
Connect with us
From fledgling tech companies, healthcare innovators, and nonprofits to makers, creators, services and shops, Ascender is for Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurs. We help businesses of all types in the Pittsburgh region start and build a business through education and connectivity. See how Ascender can help you.