Preterm and underweight babies who survive their first month can still suffer severe long-term health problems — diabetes, heart disease, developmental delay. Keeping them warm can help prevent those problems. Founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, Embrace Innovations has done just that for more than 200,000 babies across 14 countries with its simple, cost-effective infant warmers. It hopes to help even more babies in the developing world with an assist from its first commercial products.
Jane Chen, Embrace Innovations’ CEO and co-founder, tells NewCo that over the next few years the company wants to help one million babies. It’s created a consumer-facing product — Little Lotus. For every Little Lotus product purchased in the U.S., $25 goes toward the purchase of an Embrace infant warmer for use in the developing world. In the U.S., traditional incubators cost about $20,000; Embrace’s infant warmer costs just one percent of that.
Alta Motors didn’t develop its electric drivetrain technology because it had green ambitions. The electric-vehicle startup, based in San Francisco, wanted to build motorcycles that go fast. Fast enough so that riders could beat their gas-guzzling friends on the course. Fast enough to turn battery-powered skeptics into customers. When Marc Fenigstein, Alta Motors CEO and co-founder, says the company’s motorcycles are “directly competitive or even superior to their closest gas equivalents,” he’s not just referring to emissions, maintenance, or noise. He’s talking about the metrics that customers traditionally care about: performance, safety, control — and speed.
Alta Motors’ Redshift SM won the first two pro Supermoto races it entered. The company’s engineers have designed a drivetrain that’s much smaller and lighter than gas equivalents — typically by a factor of 50 percent, according to Fenigstein. Part of that is due to its battery pack technology, which is already hitting 2020 industry yields in energy density and power. Alta Motors believes that its tech will one day have applications across all vehicles. For now, the company is focusing on gaining more traction in the dirt. It delivered its first electric motocross bike in December 2015. Here are some surprising nuggets we learned from talking with Fenigstein …
Roughly 60 percent of the energy we produce in this country gets wasted. Sure, thermodynamics play a role, but we can increase efficiency through better infrastructure and better energy management. Walker-Miller Energy Services is helping businesses and people in Detroit do the later.
The company provides a broad range of services to help buildings reduce energy usage. By conducting energy audits, it can suggest infrastructure upgrades, design sustainability programs, and provide training to help reduce energy usage.
But Did You Know It Books 2,000 Local Bands Each Year?
A city’s public spaces define its character. When underutilized, public spaces can become eyesores, but mostly they represent wasted opportunities. Off the Grid is focused on identifying those spaces and organizing events, in partnership with food vendors, at underutilized spaces throughout the Bay Area.
Matt Cohen, who founded the Off the Grid in 2010, sees it as a logistics company, one that utilizes what it’s learned about permitting and working with small businesses to put our cities’ underutilized spaces to better use, making them better for everyone. Here are some surprising nuggets from our talk with Cohen …
American schools have been failing students for decades now, and bolting technology on the side of a bad product isn’t going to fix the problem. Technology may not be a silver bullet, but intelligently applied, it can act as a force multiplier, particularly if it’s part of a complete reboot of how schools are run. San Francisco-based AltSchool is rethinking education from the ground up, and hoping its early learnings will eventually create a platform from which all schools can learn.
Max Ventilla, AltSchool’s CEO, says he founded the company “self-servingly.” His daughter will start at AltSchool in the fall and his son will join in a few years. “I wanted an education for them that got better and better, and that prepared them for the future,” he says. “And I wanted to be able to work with the amazing people that were my colleagues at places like Google, and build an amazing experience not just for my children but for all children,” Ventilla tells NewCo.
IndieBio, a San Francisco-based biotech accelerator, believes biology is our most powerful technology — powerful enough to begin a “second domestication,” in which meat is grown in a lab and not on the farm — and flexible enough to put neurons on a chip. IndieBio also believes it can help scientists become entrepreneurs. The accelerator funds startups with at least two co-founders that utilize biology and technology to impact humanity’s most pressing problems. It’s providing startups with a space to help them develop those solutions faster and “make something that matters.”
IndieBio sees the application of biology extending beyond traditional biomedical applications. “Our aim is to accelerate biology as a technology. So, not just limited to the bio-medical vertical,” says Ryan Bethencourt, program director and venture partner at IndieBio. “We view biology as a technology that can be applied in multiple different verticals, across many different industries, including consumer, biomaterials, tools, medical, diagnostic, and therapeutic as well.”
Detroit Experience Factory believes the best way to revitalize its city is to engage its people. It’s doing that with experiential tours. Last year the company took 17,000 people across the city to show them what small businesses are doing, how the city’s past is affecting its future, and what the city already has to offer.
“People hear the word ‘tour’ and think double decker bus. That is not what we do,” Jeanette Pierce, Detroit Experience Factory’s executive director, tells NewCo. Its tours are interactive, focused on meeting local business owners, visiting city landmarks, and providing historical context and meaning for what’s happening in the city today. “We want to help people understand the history, the culture, the communities, the neighborhoods, and have an economic impact on the city of Detroit,” Pierce says.
In May 2015, people watched from the India Street dock in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as The Revolution, a World War II Yard Patrol boat, approached. After boarding, they set course for the city’s lesser-known islands, those that once housed undesirables: criminals, the diseased (“Typhoid” Mary), and what we then called lunatics. Those on the boat paid for the privilege. Between visiting the forgotten ruins of prison camps, psychiatric institutions, and sanatoriums within view of Manhattan and Brooklyn, they drank beer and had lunch while ferrying down the East River. The tour was just one of 150 events in 39 states and 25 countries, that took place on Obscura Day.
Organized byAtlas Obscura, more than 35,000 people have turned out for its events. The events, however, are just a small part of what they company does. Working off the premise that you haven’t seen anything yet, Atlas Obscura is creating an online compendium of “the world’s most curious and awe-inspiring places.” Think of it asNational Geographic for the millennial generation.
What do your friends think about regulating Airbnb in your city? What’s the most important issue the U.S. faces? Can student protests help end racism on college campuses? Brigade applies the social network model to provide everyone, from neophytes to political junkies, a space to talk politics.
Sean Parker, co-founder and executive chairman of Brigade, discussed the state of politics in the U.S. with Mashable, saying, “Democracy was not designed for a world where we have over 300 million people.” That’s where Brigade’s social approach to politics comes in. Unlike Facebook, which along with political opinions publishes baby pictures and life announcements, Brigade focuses on issue-oriented conversations that it hopes will lead to organization and action. Its app aims to re-energize civic participation in the U.S. by providing a forum to articulate and debate political and civic issues.
In June 2014, Brigade announced its acquisition of Causes, the world’s largest online campaigning platform and one of the first apps on the Facebook platform, and political advocacy startup Votizen. A year later, Brigade launched in beta. Its small cohort of testers has taken more than 3 million issue-based positions in the first few months.