Northeastern University’s Roux Institute has announced the 4th cohort of their Founder Residency Program. Each of the ten startups selected for the program will receive a $25,000 grant in non-dilutive funding, extensive curated programming, mentorship from renowned experts in relevant domains, joint research opportunities, a peer community, and more. Most importantly, founders will have access to and the opportunity to collaborate with Northeastern’s vast global network of students, researchers, academics, and investors.
As part of the Roux Institute’s mission to create a diverse and equitable startup ecosystem in Maine, the Founder Residency program focuses on serving founders who come from historically marginalized backgrounds, specifically women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
A program driving global interest, the institute saw applicants from 15 states and 7 countries. Through a comprehensive selection process, the final 10 startups were selected based on various criteria including their team, traction, technology, and how much they could benefit from the Roux Institute’s expertise. The startups will spend the next 12 months at the Roux Institute’s Portland, Maine campus, working among peers, mentors, researchers, students, faculty, and domain experts to mature and scale their businesses. Founders will receive programming that focuses on building a highly scalable tech business, and each startup will be matched with two to five mentors who will help guide them through the process of building and scaling their business.
Founder Residency Director Santiago Zindel Mundet Cruz says that currently, less than 5% of venture capital funding in the United States goes to women, Black, Latino, & LGBTQ+ founders. He emphasized the importance of an entrepreneurship program that focuses on underrepresented populations.
“There are so many inequities in access to entrepreneurship across the U.S.,” Zindel said. “This program aims to create opportunities for underrepresented founders so that we can build up the Maine startup ecosystem in a more equitable way.”
The 10 companies in the newest cohort of the Roux Institute’s Founder Residency are:
Chargely (Portland, Maine): Chargely.app is a mobile-first application that aggregates data across disparate sources and helps new EV drivers navigate to public chargers by recommending the ones that best meet their immediate needs.
EzOut (Boston, Massachusetts): Due to the labor shortage caused by COVID, many stores experienced understaffing, increased workloads, and poor customer service. EzOut offers an AI-powered, low-cost smart shopping cart that increases grocers’ profit margins and personalizes the shopping experience at brick-and-mortar stores.
P3RD (Orono, Maine): P3RD is a material science R&D company commercializing microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) tree-plastic packaging. Using a newly patented molding system of 100% MFC, this ocean-compostable, fish friendly (OCFF) packaging is currently formed into drink lids and straws.
ReachMyTeach (Portland, Maine, USA): ReachMyTeach makes it easy for families, students, and teachers to connect in ways and languages that work for them. ReachMyTeach translates messages and PDFs into over 130 languages and supports on-demand video interpreters, scheduled conferences, attendance management, and districtwide alerts for large communications like snow days.
Small Wins Dashboard (Portland, Maine): The Small Wins Dashboard is a web-based app for educators that converts individual team members’ small win reflections into team-wide evidence of progress. The data helps schools answer, collectively and in real time, “Which of our practices are working for our students?”
Sotira (San Francisco, California): Sotira helps D2C brands and stores optimize the highest returns on excess inventory, unsold inventory, and overstock. Sotira aggregates, recommends, and implements solutions for inventory overstock based on profitability and time constraints and alleviates the time and labor involved in making these decisions.
Thola (San Francisco, California): Thola offers compliance automation for the agricultural supply-chain. This includes the acceleration of auditing and global export compliance certification for farmers and their produce, as well as climate sustainability and quality standards. This is done through Thola’s digital compliance app, which links farmers to a team of licensed Thola agricultural auditors.
Trameter (Denver, Colorado): Trameter is a travel platform that plans a user’s entire vacation in 90 seconds or less. Using a deeply intelligent algorithm that automatically finds and combines the best hotels, flights, and experiences into a single travel package, all based on the traveler’s budget and preferences, users can book an entire trip in one click.
Videsk (Santiago, Chile): Videsk revolutionizes B2C communications in e-commerce by delivering a scalable, plug & play video contact center. Videsk leverages BI to humanize customer interactions, enhance service quality, and enable personalized experiences for sales guidance and customer support.
Zal.ai (Old Orchard Beach, Maine): Zal.ai uses the latest technology in unified API providers, LLMs, and skill ontologies to help organizations of any size implement effective and equitable professional development for their workforce. Uses include helping to cultivate and retain employees, guiding teams through professional development and performance reviews, and providing employees with personalized career advisors.
The Roux Institute is committed to economic opportunity in Maine and beyond. From Start Summits, a low-barrier entry into design thinking, to residency programs, the institute builds and partners to ensure entrepreneurs know that Maine is an ideal place to live and work.