Tech Startups Shaping the World
These innovators are diverse and inspiring. Their innovations shape the way we interact. From apps, to kiosks, to supply chain, here are stories from tech founders working with Incolo.
- BatteryXchange’s “Redbox for battery rental” keeps society charged on the go especially in colleges, universities, and healthcare clients such as Atrium Health.
- The Black Dollar Corp’s directory showcases 1,100+ black-owned businesses and also runs a retail arm supporting those without physical retail space to sell their products in downtown Raleigh with more locations coming along with a co-manufacturing arm.
- Blue Gas Marine’s hybrid natural gas conversion kit for boats burning 100 or 1,000 gallons of fuel per day is more efficient than gasoline & diesel and solves major environmental problems for waterways & the air we breathe
- BNNano’s Boron Nitride NanoBarb™ can make space ships up to 40% lighter and they’ve landed some major top tier clients and partnerships — Huneed, TER Group (German chemical distribution company), DOD labs, the US Navy, Kairos,True Velocity, and several others
- Cardstalk’s print on demand greeting cards from local artisans helps you deliver a personal touch, helps artisans thrive, and takes up way less space for retailers
- GreenLifeTech™’s tech to solve food waste extends fresh produce life by up to 5x and is initially rolling out as a consumer product, but imagine its economic & environmental impact on refrigeration freight transport
- Josh Terry BitVault’s partnership with MiningStore.com allows anyone to be part of Web 3.0 by getting into Bitcoin mining operations
- Simpliworks’ software serves 3rd party Amazon and other eCommerce sellers — they even helped a company scale from $0 in revenue to meaningful sale of their business (exit) in less than 1 year
- Trilliott’s RFID IoT software is transforming logistics and supply chain in a big way — enabling them to track all of their things in real time
Time to dive in!
Desmond Wiggan from BatteryXchange (BXE) was one of the 1st founders I worked with after starting Incolo. He and Aubrey Yeboah (co-founder) early on in BXE’s journey had already managed to land 1,000 paying users with 90% saying they would use BXE’s ‘Redbox for battery rental’ on a weekly basis. To start, Desmond, Aubrey and team leased out batteries for cell phones while they stood behind the kiosk to educate consumers.
Yet even with their traction, they could not get investment funding. “You’re too early” was a common theme from the funding groups they approached. So they approached their community and landed over $100K from 90 investors. Flash forward less than 2 years later after funding and they grew 500% 2021 vs. 2020 and the crowd has also opened doors at top universities, healthcare entities, and professional sports teams.
The main reason I value my relationship with Desmond is his impact model. He told me early on that while BXE’s financial model is leasing kiosks & advertising, their impact model is finding that one kid who had never been told they could be a tech founder. “Growing up in black communities we weren’t exposed much to being a tech founder. Even when we got into the space we still didn’t see many people that looked like us, so it’s a question of “who do we learn from?” If I can find that one person who looks like me and they become a tech founder, BatteryXchange has achieved success.”
How’s that for building the #FutureEconomy!
The Black Dollar Corp
#BlackDollarNC & #BlackFridayMarket
Johnny Hackett, Jr., Founder & CEO of The Black Dollar Corp, Inc. launched the startup in 2019 with a free online directory of black owned / operated businesses across NC, #BlackDollarNC with a goal of expanding and monetizing it to reach more businesses it could serve.
In Sept 2020, I get a call from Johnny — “Hey Will, we’re opening a retail store in the heart of Raleigh, NC. What do you think?”
“Awesome!” I replied.
3 months later, in the middle of the pandemic in December 2020, Black Friday Market was born to provide commission-free retail space to small businesses. (Note: Johnny wants everyone to know the store supports all small businesses who need access to shared retail space regardless of color.)
In the 1st 10 months, the storefront was profitable generating $315K in sales for small businesses and #BlackDollarNC’s director has grown to 1,100+ members, generating over $300K for business owners through events.
Collectively, The Black Dollar Corp’s team has generated over $600K in sales for 200+ businesses in 10 months.
Now they are on a mission to grow the directory to reach 100k business owners and offer paid services that have been demanded from their existing 1.1k member audience such as paid ads.
Johnny’s ninja power is that he’s likable by everyone and authentic to the core of building partnerships.
Blue Gas Marine
Miguel, Founder & CEO of Blue Gas Marine (right), Boating with Natural Gas
Miguel Guerreiro, Founder and CEO of Blue Gas Marine loves the water. His startup created a portable gas dispensing solution used by breweries, airport hangers, and large utilities. Even more exciting is that they have also commercialized a hybrid conversion system for boats, enabling gasoline engines to run on 100% natural gas — far more fuel efficient, less expensive, and clean. Their tech for diesel engines which are far more polluting than gasoline engines is almost complete and once released has major potential to solve HUGE pollution issues plaguing waterways and cities
Yes, it may sound crazy at 1st, but a ton of coastal city air pollution issues are linked to tugboats & freight ships which can easily burn 1,000 gallons of diesel per day.
“Will, we have to get our natural gas hybrid solution to more locations. I love being on the water and to be able to provide a cleaner solution that’s more efficient and safer [is vital].”
I agree. Miguel leading his company to successful station roll out with their hybrid solution is vital to the #FutureEconomy and our planet’s future.
BNNano’s nanotubes are a game changer for industrial commodities such as plastics and metals. Their Boron Nitride NanoBarb™, a nanotube encased in multi-crystal h-BN that looks like a piece of rock candy, makes the metals & plastics used in airplanes, spaceships, and cars lighter and stronger just to name a few of the applications. They have even made aluminum as stiff as steel at a fraction of the weight, and they are just getting started.
100+ use cases have already been identified and they have top tier clients and partnerships with Huneed, TER Group (German chemical distribution company), DOD labs, the US Navy, Kairos,True Velocity, and several others that cannot be listed due to NDAs.
It is exciting to work with such an innovative company. BNNano is:
- Integral to rebuilding local communities harmed by globalization by bringing manufacturing back to the US — manufacturing in Burlington, NC
- Reduce environmental impact by reducing the amount of materials needed in manufacturing
- Free from supply chain limitations (100% US produced and readily available)
- Creating new novel solutions such as water purification via their nanotubes
- A growing US National Security asset
- And more…
Did I mention that BNNano is already community owned? They were the 1st venture ready NC company to run a $1M+ investment crowdfunding round. I remember Steve, Co-Founder & CEO, telling me “Will, it just makes so much sense to be community owned. We’ve grown from the beginning as a company supported by an investor crowd of friends, family, and those who love building cool things.”
Co-founder and CEO, Steph Prime, is no stranger to the tech space. Co-founder Brandon Prime and her are ex-Amazon engineers. Their startup, Cardstalk, makes the software and kiosks to help you and me find a greeting card we actually want to give.
How’s it work?
- Select a design from a local artisan,
- pay, and
- print in less than a minute.
Earth Fare in Asheville, NC partnered with them on their 1st location and others are in flight. In less than 2 months after deploying their 1st kiosk, over 100 cards had been printed with local artisans sharing in a cut for their art usage. What I love about Steph and Brandon is that they absorb a ton of information, organize, and process it to constantly test and improve.
More importantly, I remember vividly Steph & Brandon telling me, “Will, we started Cardstalk because we knew we could do work which could truly impact the local community & planet — [artisans being paid fairly, consumers having more options, local business owners having more traffic driven into their stores].”
They know they have high scale potential, and their mission includes generating local impact everywhere their kiosks are deployed!
The team has built some really meaningful tech to solve food waste by extending fresh produce life — up to 5x. Even prior to their product launch, they created a community of 112 investors ($100 to $100,000) who are ambassadors of the impact GreenLifeTech™ can create.
Initially they are rolling out a consumer product, but it’s more than that. Imagine the tech’s economic & environmental impact on refrigeration transport. There’s numerous ways the tech can be applied.
What really drew me into their team was their giveback component. I still remember when Bruce told me, “Will, I’m donating 50% of my equity ownership in the company to charity. If we’re successful, that’ll have a lasting impact on that charity’s work.” This is an essential component of the company’s values. Who knows how many seeds that were planted in other founders and other investors — to think about how they can expand their impact by simply allocating part of their ownership in great companies they help build to non-profits serving those most in need. Let’s make GreenLifeTech™ successful to drive scaling ROX in the world [X=your definition of impact].
“Josh Terry BitVault”
Josh Terry (@joshterryplays) TikTok | Watch Josh Terry's Newest TikTok Videos
Josh Terry (@joshterryplays) on TikTok | 20.8M Likes. 1.2M Fans. Click below for cool stuff. Watch the latest video…
Josh Terry is a master of deep reflection and thought. His audience of 1.2M people and counting on TikTok value his regular insights. His passion for combining forces with JP Baric and Drew Kulak from Miningstore.com came from his desire to spread the decentralized economy.
When I asked Josh why, his answer was simple, “Everyone should have access.”
Josh, JP, and Drew are innately curious and I imagine this venture is only the 1st of many that may be to come. For now though, in true decentralized fashion, they are opening the ability to become part of a Bitcoin mining operation to the masses.
Raise Disclaimer: Incolo proudly has a stake in Josh Terry BitVault and serves as a paid business consultant.
Malik McCray, CEO & Co-founder of Simpliworks shared with me that their Ad/MarTech helped start, grow, and exit the startup of a new founder who started with $0 in sales to selling their startup for over $800K to one of the large Amazon business aggregators in less than 1 year.
Simpliworks — a startup that began less than 2 years ago in 2020 is scaling quickly themselves and already helped another business achieve a meaningful exit in less than 1 year. Progress can move at lightning pace in the startup world. (Here’s a super fascinating podcast about those taking a play on Amazon without investing in Amazon).
Malik and Keith both share a similar passion. They exist to help the small business owner on Amazon who is riddled with marketing expenses, and soaring inventory costs plagued with super high interest rates (some would call it ‘predatory lending’).
Trilliott’s team is part of the 4th wave of computing — Internet of Things (IoT) & Radio-frequency identification (RFID). Founder & CEO Booth Kalmbach wrote the original software and Trilliott’s clients include some of the largest & well known manufacturers in the world. Their software and devices enable large B2B supply chains to operate more effectively — giving control back to companies to know exactly how much and where their ‘things’ are.
Trilliott SmartSITE™ is an RFID-first supply chain and warehouse management service for businesses to digitize inventory and assets, improve accuracy, and manage asset lifecycle
The 1st wave of computing birthed Silicon Valley, so it’s exciting to see the 4th wave is being propelled in North Carolina. e.g. A major chip manufacturing eyeing this region with $40B+ ($40,000,000,000) potential investments is improving and attracting a ton of talent and innovation to add to what we already have in the area.
Oh so many memories to share about Booth ;-), especially since he was one of the 1st founders I started to work back when I was starting Incolo in 2019 (then known as CrowdfundNC). I think my favorite was when Booth and I were talking about past experiences. Get this! He literally wrote the algorithm that allows our phones to talk to each other. Let that sync in for a bit…
That’s some pretty cool & vital innovation coming out of the region.
…and this is just a subset of the teams we work with. We can’t wait to share all the stories.
If you like this, clap, but more importantly let us know what you’d like to see more of. Also, we’re always happy to connect others directly with the founders we work with. We use a double opt in. Just let us know, hello (at) incolo.io.
Note: No company listed here should be assumed to be raising capital or planned to raise capital unless specifically mentioned. Not all of the companies we work with run investment rounds.