Moonshot at NACET’s Third Annual Pioneer Pitch Competition Awards Cash and Scholarships to Innovative Flagstaff Entrepreneurs
Innovation has always had a home in Flagstaff. Whether we’re training Apollo astronauts, making advances in the med-tech industry, or studying astrogeology at the United States Geological Survey, we are a city of risk-takers and change-makers.
This past weekend, Moonshot at NACET awarded cash prizes and scholarships to many local business pioneers during Flagstaff’s Third Annual Pioneer Pitch Competition and Innovate Waste & Carbon Neutrality Challenge kick-off.
The Shark Tank-esque pitch competition events started on Friday night at NACET’s campus with a VIP reception sponsored by Sunwest Bank. Sponsors, city leaders, participants, mentors, and past winners celebrated both past and current pitch participants.
Evan Anderson and Kelly Czarnecki, former state-wide and local Pioneer Pitch winners and the owners of Drinking Horn Meadery in downtown Flagstaff, spoke to the VIP crowd about what winning 2019’s Pioneer Pitch Competition meant to them.
(VIDEO: 2019 AZ Pioneer Pitch Winners, Evan Anderson and Kelly Czarnecki, speaking at the VIP Reception on Friday, November 12 at NACET.)
“One of the best parts about being a part of the Pioneer Pitch is the education you receive after the competition is over,” Kelly said. “Not only did we get the opportunity to learn more about how to grow and scale our business, but we also got to know other entrepreneurs who are in our same shoes. Two years later, we still celebrate one another’s successes and lean on each other for support and guidance. Moonshot and the Pioneer Pitch made that possible.”
This year, first prize ($5,000) went to Adam Stephanovic, CEO and Co-founder of PWR Lab—the premier provider of connected sports services. Their technology enables athletes of all abilities to pursue and achieve optimal health, training and performance through wearable device data, connected experiences, and cutting-edge sports science.
Second prize ($2,000) was awarded to Kevin Gurney, a climate scientist, ecologist and policy expert who designed a computer program that measures greenhouse gas emissions in major U.S. cities.
Susan Purrington took home third prize ($1,000) for her crowdsourced app, Inclusive Spaces. The app provides much-needed, crowdsourced inclusivity and accessibility information for marginalized and disabled populations.
In addition to cash prizes, all three top place winners also receive a year-long Moonshot at NACET scholarship valued at $3,000 per year.
Scholarships have also been awarded to the following pitch participants:
Participants whose business ideas qualify for the Innovate Waste & Carbon Neutrality Challenge are moving forward to compete for $30,000 in cash prizes on Earth Day 2022. Applications are still open for the Challenge. Go to https://www.moonshotaz.com/innovate-waste-challenge-2021.html for more information.
PWR Lab will go on to compete against other tour-stop winners for top prize ($10,000) in the state-wide AZ Pioneer Pitch Tour Competition sponsored by APS, Liveplan, and Arizona Commerce Authority. The state-wide Pioneer Pitch tour includes the following cities: Flagstaff, Show Low, Winslow/Holbrook, Globe, Verde Valley, Prescott, and Payson. The state-wide pitch competition will take place on June 17, 2022 during the 2nd Annual Shoemaker Awards at Little America Hotel.
“Each year, the competition gets better and better, and the caliber of ideas, products, and services continues to level up,” said Scott Hathcock, CEO of Moonshot at NACET and founder of the AZ Pioneer Pitch Tour. “We’re thrilled to see entrepreneurs across all sectors thriving and creating jobs in Flagstaff. Our founders are proving, once again, that you don’t need to live in a major metropolitan market to make your entrepreneurship dreams come true.”
Many thanks to the mentors/judges who volunteered their time to mentor, coach, and teach pitch participants:
Thanks, again, to the City of Flagstaff, Nordstrom and Associates, Wanderlust Brewing, Drinking Horn Meadery, APS, Liveplan, and Arizona Commerce Authority for helping make this event possible.
For more information about the AZ Pioneer Pitch Tour, go to https://www.moonshotaz.com/az-pioneer-pitch-2122.html.
For more information about Innovate Waste and Carbon Neutrality Challenge, go to https://www.moonshotaz.com/innovate-waste-challenge-2021.html.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Aug. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- An inventor and avid backpacker working with the entrepreneurial program Moonshot at NACET has landed two major distribution deals for her next-generation bear-resistant food container, including one with outdoor recreation powerhouse REI.
Holly Jaleski said the inspiration for Grubcan came to her while she was out on the trail when her bear-resistant canister in her pack kept "stabbing" her in the back. Frustrated, she told her husband, an engineer, that they needed to create a container that could be easily opened but also fit neatly into a pack like a tent.
With the help of Moonshot, Jaleski went from concept to minimum viable product in record time. In early 2020, she met with Kiersten Hathcock, Moonshot mentor and Shark Tank-winning entrepreneur, to discuss possible avenues for distribution. Jaleski was working part-time at the Flagstaff, Arizona REI co-op at the time and Hathcock discovered that the company was sponsoring a nationwide innovator contest.
More than 500 ideas for products were submitted, and Jaleski was one of 35 finalists chosen to meet with REI buyers in Washington state. Moonshot flew her to Seattle where she secured a vendor partnership. Last December, REI ordered 4000 Grubcan units.
Grubcan is made from the same material as bulletproof windows and fits easily in or tied to a backpack. The unique gravity latch keeps bears from getting into the canister but allows people to open it easily without tools. Grubcan has been certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, which tests bear-resistant products.
The first 200 Grubcan units distributed through REI sold out in two days, and in coming months Liberty Mountain Distribution will begin distributing the canisters to smaller brick and mortar stores across the country. Buyers can also purchase the product on the tuffystuffy.com website.
Jaleski credits Moonshot at NACET for providing the support, education, mentorship and networking opportunities she needed to bring Grubcan to market.
"I loved being part of entrepreneurship class with other startup founders," Jaleski said. "The class content provided a backbone for great conversations with my fellow classmates. We helped one another by offering suggestions and support. To this day, I still keep in touch with and support several Moonshot graduates."
For more information on Grubcan, go to tuffystuffy.com.
For more information on Moonshot at NACET, visit moonshotaz.com.
SOURCE Moonshot at NACET
Related Links: http://www.moonshotaz.com
MOONSHOT CLIENTS: BEE WELL
The Flagstaff City Council adopted a few new programs to help the businesses in Flagstaff during the summer of 2020. This is a celebration of two of the programs and the two Flagstaff businesses on their way to growing in Flagstaff, making the world a better place with a little encouragement from two new small business assistance programs from the City of Flagstaff.
The programs are the Innovate Waste/Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Challenge and the Business Retention and Expansion Incentive. The Innovate Waste/PPE Challenge 2020 is the second year of the challenge that invited entrepreneurs to examine the materials going into the City of Flagstaff landfill, and to then divert some material by converting that material into a product or service that would also launch a new company. When the world got to know COVID-19, the challenge was expanded to invite entrepreneurs to consider a PPE element as well.
A year ago, Bee Well did not exist. Alex Kaufman and Dan Dunn were friends working at a local coffee shop/restaurant. They both had been in Flagstaff for years. Kaufman has been a coach at Flag High, worked at OVRLND, and generally spent time helping people to be their best and to be outside. When Kaufman and Dunn were let go as the coffee shop, like so many other businesses in March and April of 2020, shut down or drastically reduced their employees, they wondered what to do next. As the tragic stories of death were heard every day and in growing numbers, particularly in the Navajo and Hopi populations, Kaufman and Dunn were driven to positively impact those who were without critical infrastructure like running water. As the world learned that washing hands should be done very regularly to stop the spread of COVID-19, what were those families without running water to do? With a background in biology and chemistry and having secured a barrel of isopropyl alcohol, the idea became clear: hand sanitizer.
The Bee Well handmade hand sanitizer kills viruses by using 70% isopropyl alcohol by volume, purified water, and organic vegetable glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, organic geranium and eucalyptus oils, without the strong aroma of alcohol. Their hand sanitizer is great for use where access to soap and water is limited. Bee Well connected with Moonshot@NACET and moved into the facility in July and has been growing ever since. In December, Kaufman and Dunn participated in Moonshot@NACET’s Makers & Shakers Week, which also included the competitive pitch event known as the Innovate Waste/PPE Challenge. Bee Well has been awarded $5,000 in business development funds, which will be used to purchase equipment such as a label machine to streamline the most time-consuming part of their operations: labeling bottles. A testament to its mission, Bee Well has donated more than 1,000 bottles of its products to schools, hospitals, frontlines workers and shelters, so people who don’t have running water can have hand sanitizer. Find Bee Well products around Flagstaff or go to the website https://beewell.care/ today.
READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE:
Biotech is big business as well as big in business. At almost every turn you’ll see its impact, even where some may have thought it unlikely.
For example, SDC Nutrition, a global supplement manufacturer, will use Hemp Synergistics’ THC-free, powdered hemp oil to meet consumer demand for the inclusion of concentrated, broad-spectrum, tasteless hemp into formulations. Bio-Dri™ is a patent pending hemp powder with 50 percent CBD by weight. This gives SDC the opportunity to include a hemp oil containing ingredient with at least eight times higher potency than past “state-of-the-shelf” extraction technology.
(Photo: HudsonAlpha)“Supplements containing hemp are in demand…but two problems have prevented clients from mass production: hemp’s ubiquitous bitter taste and the inability to effectively mix hemp oil with other botanical ingredients,” said SDC Nutrition’s Founder and Chairman Sean Marszalek. “Bio-Dri solves these problems and we view this innovation as a game changer for the supplement and food industry.”
Biotech in the beauty industry might be another surprise.
READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE: https://businessfacilities.com/2020/12/the-biotechnology-industry-prosperous-partnerships/
Original Link: https://indiancountrytoday.com/the-press-pool/navajo-thaw-project-wins-federal-grant-to-support-navajo-entrepreneurs-c0MSXqeiKEKvn4GqWEUPDg
$150,000 federal grant will support Navajo entrepreneurs and existing businesses in the 10-chapter region
Moonshot at NACET
A $150,000 federal grant to provide business planning and entrepreneurship training for Navajo entrepreneurs has been granted to Navajo Thaw, an extensive economic development plan to address the long-term impacts of the "Bennett Freeze" and the forced relocation eras of Navajo History.
The funds, awarded through the USDA Rural Business Development Grant program, will support Navajo entrepreneurs and existing businesses in the 10-chapter region. Moonshot at NACET, an entrepreneurial development program based in Flagstaff, will provide services under the grant.
"We are so pleased to be a part of the Navajo Thaw effort to bring business planning and entrepreneurial services to our neighbors, the Navajo people," said Moonshot President and CEO Scott Hathcock. "The Navajo Nation has great potential, and we look forward to helping to equip the people with skills that will cultivate new jobs and better wages."
Navajo Thaw is a response to the Bennett Freeze, a 43-year development ban on 1.5 million acres of Navajo land imposed by the federal government for the stated purpose of promoting negotiations to resolve a land dispute between the Navajo and Hopi. After decades of economic devastation, the freeze was lifted in 2009. When regional efforts to revitalize the area began last year, all participating Chapters indicated an interest in entrepreneurial development.
Participants in the program will identify business development opportunities, conduct research to understand the marketplace and their potential niche, create financial spreadsheets and projections, gather information on business development resources and, if desired, start business operations.
Navajo Thaw is supported by Native Builders LLC, a Priority 1 Navajo company; Building Communities, a national economic development strategic planning company; and was launched under the leadership of Navajo President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer. The Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office (NHLCO) is the lead organization for the overall Navajo Thaw project.
"We, the Nez/Lizer Administration, have always intended the Navajo Thaw to be about plan implementation, not just planning," said Robert K. Black, Jr., Executive Director for the Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office. "This is one of the first implementation steps for the plan as envisioned by President Nez."
The project, starting this month, is anticipated to take one year. For more information, visit www.navajothaw.com and www.moonshotaz.com.
Cookies, cupcakes, donuts and brownies are not typically considered healthy foods, but Health Coach Karen Russell has found a way to bake for one’s sweet tooth without the processed sugar and gluten.
Owner of Sedona-based Karen’s Gluten Free Living, Russell says her introduction to baking started as a child with an Easy Bake Oven. She recalls making Rice Krispies treats, cookies and brownies. “I was the oldest of seven siblings and I was always hungry, so I made snacks.”
Russell’s pilgrimage into health started in college where she studied nutrition. “I started to eat healthier, but when I was in my 40s, I was diagnosed with chronic insomnia and fibromyalgia. I decided to change my diet to gluten- and dairy-free and threw out all my regular flour, dairy, butter, cheese and sugar and replaced them with gluten-free flour, coconut sugar and other healthier food options,” she said.
As her health improved significantly, she decided to become a health coach, guiding others to a better way to live healthy. During this journey, she published a book called, “Gluten Free Living.”
However, her dissatisfaction with the gluten-free products on the market inspired Russell to begin making her own. “The gluten-free food available didn’t taste fantastic and they were dry and crumbly and full of sugar and processed ingredients. So, I began to formulate recipes that were healthy and tasty.”
Her first product was her Chocolate Chip D-Lites. “I would take my cookies to a party or picnic and people loved them so much I would have to hide a few so there would be some left over for me.”
In 2014, Russell started selling her Chocolate Chip D-Lites at the Sedona Farmer’s Market. She began to add more products such as her Red Rock Energy Bites, Pecan Delights and her Gluten Free Paleo and Sour Dough Breads. “Two years later, I quit health coaching and decided to devote all my time to this business. I registered as an LLC, and sought investors to finance my kitchen packaging/marketing for the products.”
“We love to support local sellers,” said Flagstaff Natural Grocers Store Manager James Rowe. “Previous to working here, I worked at the Sedona store and Karen’s gluten-free products were a big seller. They are selling well in Flagstaff, too. Pecan Delights are my favorite.”
Karen’s Gluten Free Living kitchen is a Certified Gluten Free Kitchen, which means there is no cross-contamination. “I pay a fee and get audited every year; plus, I have to keep paperwork. It’s an involved process, but worth it because people with serious gluten-free health issues such as celiac disease can be assured they have a genuine gluten-free product.”
During the 2019 Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization (VVREO) Moonshot Pitch Event, Russell’s products were a hit. “Her passion for her field and quality of product really shone through,” said Moonshot Vice President of Operations and Finance Amanda Kristinat. “On a personal note, after being given the opportunity to try some samples, I was hooked. My whole family loves Karen’s shortbread cookies.”
A regular shopper at Russell’s weekly Sedona Farmer’s Market, Margaret Weant- Leavitt says she absolutely loves Karen’s cupcakes, cakes and cookies. “I’m a self-professed chocoholic and can’t go a day without these wonderful baked goods. I couldn’t find good bread until I tried her sourdough bread and bagels…they are amazing. When I share with my friends, they are in disbelief that they are gluten and sugar free. Plus, they taste like gourmet baked goods.”
Packaged mixes are available from Karen’s Gluten Free Living, as well. “We have a brownie, muffin, bread and shortbread cookies mix,” said Russell, who plans to add more products.
A heart-warming recollection for Russell was when she was at the Sedona Farmers Market and a young boy walked up. “He was eyeing my cupcakes and told me how good they looked but he was sure he couldn’t have one because of his allergies. His mom came and read the ingredients and he was so happy because he could have one. Those are the moments that make it all worthwhile.”
Born in Japan and raised in Ohio, Russell is married and has lived in Sedona for eight years. She has three adult children and four grandchildren. Her kitchen is currently based out of her home. “Someday, I’d like to grow bigger and get a bigger space.”
By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN
To find Russell’s products, visit karensglutenfreeliving.com or call 928-282-8918.
in-person mentoring, pitch contests and conferences to inspire and mentor budding entrepreneurs in Flagstaff and beyond, is now pivoting to provide that guidance and support in the era of social distancing.
The non-profit is launching Mission Control Startup Pitch, a free service connecting new entrepreneurs with “moonshot” ideas to a panel of successful business leaders via teleconferencing.
“Just like astronauts need Mission Control to provide vital guidance and support during their journeys in space, we want to provide risk takers and change makers with what they need as they take their innovations and turn them into viable businesses,” said President and CEO of Moonshot at NACET Scott Hathcock.
Entrepreneurs are invited to complete an online application on the Moonshot website. A video conference session is scheduled so they can make a five-minute pitch to a panel of Moonshot mentors.
After the presentation, the mentors provide feedback, guidance and in some cases, assistance by providing contacts who can help the entrepreneurs with their business.
An official from the City of Flagstaff, one of the main financial supporters of Moonshot at NACET, noted that these free sessions are both an innovation and an investment in marketing the city to potential businesses and job creators.
“I feel what Moonshot at NACET has put together for their virtual start-up mission control program is beyond next level,” said Director of Economic Vitality Heidi Hansen. “There are so many entrepreneurs globally that are looking for this type of mentorship by experts in the field. Moonshot, along with their partners, is offering an opportunity to put their ideas in motion. I also love that they are not only assisting our locals, but welcoming others from out of the area to come visit, discover and possibly grow in Flagstaff – virtually and someday, in person.”
The virtual pitch is just the latest innovation from an organization that has been encouraging disruptive thinking and the entrepreneurial spirit for more than two decades. The original iteration of Moonshot was a business incubator for homegrown talent that opened its doors in 2001. Its first two clients were Kahtoola and Aspen Communications.
Through the years, the facility grew from a series of offices on Milton Ave. to its own campus on McMillan Mesa with a business incubator and accelerator for startups looking to scale up.
Believing that an entrepreneurial hub should be more than a brick-and-mortar location, Moonshot at NACET began concentrating on programs, education, mentoring and events to support entrepreneurs and their new businesses. It also began to export that knowledge to other communities for a fee.
“We discovered that Moonshot as a program did not have to just live on McMillen Mesa,” said Hathcock. “It could be exported to other communities who would pay for the expertise in growing entrepreneurial ecosystems – and those funds would go right back into programs for local startups.”
In addition to Kahtoola and Aspen Communications, graduates of the Moonshot program include Symple Surgical, POBA Medical, Love You Foods, Mother Road Brewing, Canyon Coolers, War2In, Mosaic and Tepa Burger.
Once the era of social distancing is over, Hathcock said, Moonshot at NACET will continue to grow its programs, including more initiatives designed for high schools and summer camps to encourage entrepreneurship in teens, as well as an expanded focus on women entrepreneurs and women leaders though its W.E. (Women Entrepreneurs) Mean Business initiative.
Understanding that new cutting-edge businesses will not thrive without a matching workforce, Moonshot is also partnering with organizations like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Promineo Tech to develop workforce development training modules with an emphasis on targeting those who are not pursuing secondary education paths or are seeking to shift to careers that require a new skillset.
“This will have multiple benefits,” said Hathcock. “These partnerships will enhance technological talent in communities, which in turn creates access to high paying jobs for employees. For new businesses, it means a tech-savvy local labor force ready to help them grow.” FBN
For more information about Moonshot at NACET, visit moonshotaz.com.
Dan Kasprzyk, founder of startups Symple Surgical and Poba Medical, received the Carolyn Shoemaker Award at the first Moonshot Entrepreneur Awards, presented by Moonshot at NACET, the region’s entrepreneurial development program.
The Shoemaker Award was created to honor entrepreneurs who have graduated from the Moonshot program at NACET and gone on to establish businesses in the greater Flagstaff area that hire local employees. The recipient is chosen by a panel made up of members of the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance.
The award is named for Carolyn Shoemaker, a pioneering astronomer who at one point held the record for the most comet discoveries (32) in addition to more than 800 asteroids and almost 400 minor planets. With her husband, Gene, she established the USGS Center for Astrogeology in Flagstaff.
“Carolyn is the perfect example of entrepreneurship and the process of reinvention,” said Moonshot at NACET President and CEO Scott Hathcock. “She is a trailblazer, a true moonshot thinker in astronomy – a field she didn’t begin working in until she was 51 years old. She perfectly illustrates that with passion and a newly discovered purpose, you can achieve great things.”
Katoohla and Mother Road Brewing Company were also honored with honorary Shoemaker awards as past graduates of the program.
This year, in addition to cultivating entrepreneurs in Flagstaff, Moonshot at NACET held a “Pioneer Pitch Tour” throughout the state, a series of events to identify promising startups in Navajo and Apache counties, Flagstaff, Page, Chandler and the Verde Valley. The tour was sponsored by APS, which selected Drinking Horn Meadery, a Flagstaff brewery, as the overall winning business from the tour.
Russ Yelton, former head of NACET, received the Mission Control award for his past service to building the entrepreneurial program. This award is given to a past or present volunteer or employee of Moonshot at NACET.
The ceremony kicked off a weekend of events celebrating entrepreneurship, including a premiere showing of the documentary series TrueFuture.tv at the Orpheum Theater. The program highlights people in the medical device industry and the communities that nurture their ideas and startups. The first episode featured Flagstaff and local entrepreneurs and innovators, including Kasprzyk.
In addition to APS, sponsors of the Moonshot Awards ceremony included Amazon Web Services, the City of Flagstaff, Foothills Bank, Real AZ, AWD Law, WL Gore, POBA Medical, Kinney Construction, Lowell Observatory, Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization and Little America Hotel, where the event was held.
Sponsors for the TrueFuture Flagstaff screening included Machine Solutions, POBA Medical, Symple Surgical, Wanderlust Brewery, the city of Flagstaff and the Orpheum Theater.
By Cindy May, FBN
One manufactures the next generation of outdoor gear to protect camping and backpacking provisions from being ransacked by rodents, birds and other critters. Another is a band of self-described “renegade recyclers” addressing the problems of plastic waste products. A third is giving the time-honored task of tutoring a facelift with technology.
While the products and services provided by these companies are quite different, they have some notable similarities.They are Flagstaff-based businesses working with Moonshot at NACET, the region’s entrepreneur development program, and they are all mentored by Leonard Quimby.
Quimby is a recent transplant to Flagstaff, having moved here last year. A serial entrepreneur who has started half a dozen successful businesses and sold three of them, he currently is the chairman of Sonherd, a business acquisition company that has 11 brands ranging from a brokerage agency to a school supply store.
“I started out my career in sales – door-to-door, sitting-at-the-kitchen-table type sales,” Quimby said. “A good 15 years in, I realized that my most important commodity was not money but time, and the only thing that affords latitude with time is not having to answer to anyone else.”
It is a philosophy that Quimby is bringing to the companies he mentors – Armored Outdoor Gear, Praxis Waste Solutions and Tailored Tutoring – as he coaches them in starting or scaling their businesses.
Moonshot at NACET has eight volunteer mentors assigned to its entrepreneur clients. Their insights, coaching and expertise are all key to the success enjoyed by Moonshot’s startup clients, said Moonshot President and CEO Scott Hathcock.
“All of our mentors are successful entrepreneurs in their own right, so they have the experience, but we also ask that they have a passion for seeing others succeed,” he said. “In Leonard’s case, he just connects very well with people and he goes above and beyond in his dedication to these companies.”
It is a view shared by the company founders with whom Quimby works.
“Leonard has helped Armored Outdoor Gear and myself more in the last few months than anyone else has,” said Tom Monroe, who started the company with a partner back in 2002 as a side project and only pursued it as his full-time career 10 years later.
The manufacturer is housed in NACET’s business accelerator, and Quimby was introduced to Monroe when the company was undergoing some cash flow challenges. Monroe was working on buying out his former partner and, simultaneously, the company had just won a massive order, but did not have the funds for necessary materials.
Quimby helped Monroe negotiate with banks in order to fund both the buyout and meet increased production demands. Quimby is also helping the company with in-kind services, conducting an email marketing campaign on the company’s behalf to increase awareness of the brand. The result has been a “huge” increase in traffic to the company’s website.
“This is stuff I never would have been able to do on my own and I’m sure it would have cost me an arm and a leg to do it,” said Monroe....
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