Startup accelerator Impact Engine announces first class

Chicago’s newest startup accelerator and 1871 tenant, Impact Engine just announced today its first eight startups to enter into its 12-week growth and development bootcamp.

OpenTable founder Chuck Templeton established Impact Engine to offer $20,000 in seed capital and mentoring to international companies focused on “finding solutions to today’s societal and environmental problems through market-based business ideas.” More than 175 companies from 15 states and nine countries applied to be a part of the inaugural class, according to a release, which states the program will begin in September.

From Impact Engine’s Chuck Templeton:

“I am excited to welcome these companies into the program. It is inspiring to be around entrepreneurs who use business principles to address the societal and environmental challenges we face. To see people building business models around water purification, sustainable employment, or services for the underbanked is seeing capitalism at its best.”

Impact Engine’s inaugural class, known as Impact 1, includes: 

Azadi – More than 300 million women living in rural India face financial, educational, and social challenges because they do not have access to hygienic menstruation products. Azadi creates biodegradable sanitary pads that are both accessible and affordable to this population. 

Collaborative Group – Collaborative Group aims to provide sustainable employment to artisans in need around the globe, from Guatemala, Kenya, India, and beyond. It advocates for artisans and underserved populations by sourcing goods to socially conscious retail partners and distributors in the United States. 

Effortless Energy – McKinsey estimates that cost-effective residential energy efficiency measures constitute a $230 billion market, yet adoption has been extremely low. By addressing the financial, operational, and behavioral market barriers, Effortless Energy makes home energy efficiency a snap. Customers pay a reduced monthly energy bill while Effortless Energy does the work to analyze, coordinate, and finance smart home upgrades at no cost to customers.

Ithaca Education – Ithaca Education helps teachers deliver personalized and rigorous literacy curriculum to students through its web-based platform, CERCA. This tool aligns to the new Common Core State Standards by focusing on argument-based teaching methods. CERCA lets teachers build and share lessons, track growth, collaborate with students, and create academic portfolios online. 

Light Up Africa – Light Up Africa (LUA) provides renewable energy to marginalized populations in Kenya through The Zoom Box, an efficient and affordable kinetic energy storage device. The Zoom Box easily attaches to bicycles, motorbikes, livestock, and boats in order to provide electricity for small personal devices, such as cellular phones and lamps. 

POMS – Approximately 80 million consumers in the United States lack access to a payment card (credit/debit) or do not have an official banking relationship. But traditional financial services for the underbanked population have limited reach and predatory fees. By integrating into existing retail terminals, POMS provides real-time payment transfer solutions to the underbanked that are significantly cheaper than today’s options.  

Portapure –  Portapure invents, designs, and manufactures affordable, easy-to-use water filtration products for the nearly one billion individuals who lack access to clean drinking water.   

Raise5 – Raise5 is a fundraising platform that lets people raise money for their favorite charities and non-profit organizations through micro-volunteering. Users can donate a small service or task—logo design help, copy editing, etc.—in exchange for $5 to the charity of their choice. 

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