Who are the founders behind the startups shaping the #FutureEconomy?
The #FutureEconomy has a lot of words associated with it — Web 3.0, NFTs, Decentralized, etc..
- “Distributed Ownership” — Kristine Sloan, Executive Director, Leadership Triangle
- “The Future is Shared” — Topher Thomas, Founder & CEO, Coram Houses
“Equity” — as in literal ownership and “equitable communities” are the words I use to describe what founders in the Incolo community are creating.
From ghost kitchens to on-demand greeting card kiosks, gasoline to natural gas engine hybrid conversion kits for boats, and more, the founders & teams we work with at Incolo create some really cool & impactful stuff!
Here’s a snippet of their amazing stories you’ll find within.
- 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 store owners than card aisles
- 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
- HUBB Kitchens’ equips food & drink entrepreneurs with what they need succeed through commissary kitchen space & food truck parking to running ghost kitchens in collaboration with global partners.
- 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
Now for a taste of these innovators as we work to add more stories of 20+ startups building a cool & impactful future.
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 expanding to more locations.
Johnny’s ninja power is that he’s likable by everyone and authentic to the core of building partnerships.
Blue Gas Marine
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].
Jason Johnson, is the Founder & CEO of J. Johnson & Company, LLC, better known as HUBB Kitchens. He created ‘co-working’ for food & drink entrepreneurs and his startup landed a collaboration with the REEF & RDU to create the 1st multi-faceted ghost kitchen in an airport in the country coming off his 1st community raise.
I still remember Jason coming to me about the idea and saying, “I know a better way to help food businesses to start, but no one but me seems to see how it can be done.” Jason’s definitely showing everyone now.
Location 1 opened Dec 2020, was profitable in 3 months, & it has not slowed down since. He has hundreds on his waitlist for future spaces (construction is underway for 3 more locations). True to one of HUBB’s goals to support the core business planning and growth of food & beverage founders, they’ve had 4 entrepreneurs in the 1st year of operation grow enough to graduate to their own separate brick & mortar locations.
“Josh Terry BitVault”
Josh Terry (@joshterryplays) TikTok | Watch Josh Terry's Newest TikTok Videos
Josh Terry (@joshterryplays) on TikTok | 20.5M Likes. 1.2M Fans. King of side profile.
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.
Chris Mielke, President of Lonerider Spirits, along with Sumit Vohra, Founder of Lonerider Brewery, started Lonerider Spirits off the passion Chris had for distilling. Chris led teams at Epic Games — you know, the creator of Fornite — for 6 years and then at another company for 3 years before deciding to go all in.
Opening in 2018, the Lonerider Spirits company was born and leveraging Lonerider Brewery’s vast distribution network and a crowd of ‘investomers’ to help them scale.
I remember sitting down with Chris and Sumit to ask why Investment Crowdfunding? After all, between both of them, they’ve raised millions through traditional accredited only networks in the past.
“We believe that people should have access to invest in quality companies with experienced management teams,” was Sumit’s reply. Chris added that “by turning our customers to investors, we hope that it’ll give one more reason for them to bring their friends to visit.”
Learn where you can enjoy a dram, https://loneriderspirits.com.
North Cove Leisure Club
Luke & Kyle, Co-founders of North Cove Leisure Club’s goal is to create “the best outdoor music venue this side of the Mississippi.” They started by buying over 100 acres of land and converting the golf course into a top place for disc golf in the country…in the middle of 2021. Next they are adding a bar / restaurant which will be completed in early 2022. Then, glamping. I’ve personally hiked 1 of the trails as well as toured a good portion of the property.
Dedication to the idea is one thing. Commitment is another. Their purchase of the the North Cove property comes off of Kyle’s vision to create this type of venue at just the right location that he originally conceived back in 2009. Since purchase in 2021, they have been off to the races quickly gathering support.
Standing up on mountain with Luke, Kyle, and a few other founders in December of 2021, I remember looking out and just thinking, this is one of the most spectacular places in #WNC.
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 Crowd Investment rounds or even Traditional Investment rounds. Some bootstrap and grow through revenue.