UnLtd USA Launches in Austin, Targets Social Venture Startups

8/1/14Follow @angelashah

A new accelerator called UnLtd USA has come to Austin, focused on on entrepreneurs focused on social and environmental problems.

The accelerator is the latest, and the first American perch, of a program originally started in the United Kingdom. Accelerators have also been launched in three other countries, including India. UnLtd starts its program tomorrow in Austin with six startups in the social venture arena, with projects such as a composting, efforts to mentor girls and students, and an app that creates healthy recipes on a budget.

Judges will decide at a pitch day on Saturday how many of the startups will get between $5,000 to $10,000 of seed funding and a year’s worth of mentoring. The selection committee includes Randall Kempner, executive director of ANDE at The Aspen Institute; Steve Wanta, program director at the Whole Planet Foundation in Austin; and Jason Seats, managing director of Techstars Austin, among others.

UnLtd USA is headed by Zoe Schlag, who previously worked with the accelerator’s India branch in Mumbai and some microcredit projects in South America. In the accelerator’s first and oldest program in London, 76 percent of the startups are operating after three years, she says.

Schlag was part of a group that traveled around the US last year, hosting pop-up bootcamps for entrepreneurs in eight cities as a way to determine where UnLtd would want to set up its American headquarters. As a non-profit, the accelerator does not take an investment stake in the startups, she says.

Here is the first group of UnLtd USA startups:

PelotonU: The website blends online education and in-person mentorship to help working students get a college degree without the pile of debt that often comes with it.

Compost PedallersA bike-powered compost-recycling program that makes composting simple and rewarding. Because of a lack of convenient composting options, people trash this organic material, while nearby gardeners are in need of the potential fertilizer.

Stretch: Made an app that generates a shopping list using discount coupons based on a budget and recipes entered by the user.

Ten Acre Organics: Aims to build the most sustainable and productive 10-acre urban micro-farm in the world, and then replicate it near cities aside from Austin. The farm would reduce water usage by up to 90 percent.

Mentegram: Wants to improve the treatment decision-making of mental healthcare professionals through more robust, and more engaging daily patient-tracking tools. Right now, only 11 percent complete these forms.

GirlsGuildHas a marketplace that provides girls and women with real-world apprenticeship opportunities with female leaders in their chosen field, enabling them to build skills and confidence.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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