Meet the Startup Winners of the Alaska Seed Fund Awards

August 9, 2017

12:20 pm

Anchorage, Alaska has more espresso stands per capita than any other city in the U.S. Yes, even more than Seattle. That’s a perfect set up for startup founders as they need the extra fuel to build their businesses in the city.

Looking behind-the-scenes at the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Alaska, one will find Launch Alaska, an accelerator designed to support emerging tech businesses, venture capital funds, the University of Alaska Anchorage Business Enterprise Institute, and more.

The Alaska Seed Fund, which is a collaboration of non-profits that support entrepreneurial activity in the state, held a competition and awarded 10 grants to startups who plan to grow their companies in the state. The National Science Foundation put up $50,000 in grant funding. The big winner took home $20,000 and the remaining winners received around $3,000. According to the Alaska Small Business Development Center, over 70 companies, from a variety of industries, submitted their ideas, prototypes, and solutions.

Company descriptions were provided by the Alaska Small Business Development Center press release via LinkedIn.

The Winners

CognitiveDOC

The winner of the $20,000 prize went to CognitiveDoc. This company offers a virtual caregiver service (“Carebot”) that helps hospital patients improve outcomes after surgery and save money on healthcare. Using mobile phone technology, text messaging, and artificial intelligence algorithms, CognitiveDoc helps patients avoid readmission to the hospital after surgeries like knee and hip replacements – thus improving patient outcomes and potentially saving hospitals millions of dollars in readmission costs.

Here and Now Systems/StepAway

This company is an empirically supported mobile application that helps people “Step Away” from alcohol addiction. The mobile application helps users set a goal and monitor progress through a daily check-in with the app. The app uses algorithms to provide users with notifications at high-risk times when cravings are most likely. Additionally, StepAway teaches users how to manage cravings or when to seek support from a loved one, physician, or other professional.

Activate Alaska

This company reduces the cost of water purification, air purification, and carbon sequestration worldwide by replacing coconut-based water filters with carbon filters made from Alaska Birch trees. The company plans to manufacture and sell activated carbon filters to help municipalities, industries, and consumers filter water by using an inexpensive, proprietary, and chemical-free process. Because the company is using waste birch to make the filters, the company will be competitive internationally even with all shipping costs considered.

Pinga

This company provides software for utilities that makes it easy to maintain microgrid infrastructure in rural communities in Alaska and around the world. The solution also includes an Uber-like crowdsourcing platform connecting local microgrid operators with maintenance professionals in remote communities.  

Pandere Shoes

This company makes shoes for people with medical conditions that affect their ability to find shoes that fit. Millions of people worldwide suffer from medical conditions like diabetes, lymphedema and a host of other illnesses that cause lower limb swelling. Because certain conditions can make it nearly impossible to find shoes that fit, Pandere plans to sell fashionable yet customizable shoes for the wearer.

Attently

This startup addresses the problem that Americans fear more than death – public speaking. Using webcams and the company’s online software, Attently analyzes the attention and emotion of audiences, tells the speaker how engaging their presentation is, and points out areas for improvement. Attently will target the software at public speaking coaches and communications professionals initially, but will expand the capabilities of the software for pollsters, politicians, and mass media.

Heather’s Choice

This startup will advance their line of nutritious but delicious dehydrated meals for adventurers worldwide. The company currently has a menu of 18 options, including wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, and will expand their menu by offering lightweight snack packs for long distance cyclists, runners, backpackers, hunters, fishermen or yoga enthusiasts.

North Arrow Enterprises

This company provides highly insulated, pre-manufactured buildings designed for the harsh Arctic environment. With their proprietary wall panel system, the company plans to increase the energy efficiency of Alaskan buildings while reducing the upfront cost of a building. The company has sold products to the North Slope, and is currently providing products for a 24-unit apartment building.

Coastview

This startup will continue to develop their mobile app that turns an ordinary commercial flight into a flight-seeing experience, and a cruise liner into a kayak tour.  Along with stunning photos, CoastView features information about local ecology, history, and culture bringing to life the striking beauty of the coasts of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon as visitors fly over, cruise past, or explore from the comfort of home.

Culture Story

This startup is a unique online marketplace for carefully curated, high-quality goods from Alaska Native cultures.  Culture Story adds monetary and emotional value to the goods by connecting customers with the artists’ and products’ stories and cultural significance through multimedia. The company plans to expand their service offering to other native cultures around the U.S.

There were also 15 additional companies that received honorable mentions, check them out here.

Read more about the emerging tech ecosystem in Alaska at TechCo

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Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.

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