The third cohort of the Accelerate V.I. program presented their companies and tech products to investors and during Demo Day at the UVI Research and Technology Park on St. Croix last week.
With Accelerator V.I., the RTPark supports entrepreneurs who are building technology solutions that address economic, social and environmental challenges.
The structured three-month accelerator program is designed to help early-stage companies grow and scale their business from the Virgin Islands, in turn, building a vibrant tech hub and promoting tech-based entrepreneurship. This year, a Pre Accelerate V.I. program was also created to prepare businesses who were not quite ready.
“We looked at best practices around the country, so we didn’t just plop those models down into a Virgin Islands context. We really shaped and molded them in a way that would have the most significant impact on Virgin Islanders. So, this is a program that now has national, even global reach. We attract applicants not only in the Virgin Islands but throughout the Caribbean, the mainland U.S., Asia and Africa, and the program factors prominently in the RTPark now being considered a Best in Class by the International Economic Development Council,” said Executive Director Peter Chapman.
Each cohort consists of seven startup companies. According to Director of Business Attraction and Entrepreneurship Eric Sonnier, six out of seven in the 2021 cohort are Virgin Islanders, and five out of the seven have at least one female co-founder.
President and CEO of MXTZ Wave James Warner is a former music educator and administrator with more than 30 years of experience in the classroom, as a department head and as a college professor. He and his team have developed a patent-pending interactive, fully integrated hybrid platform that can be used for teaching, music and business, providing real-time continuous tools and resources for users to enhance engagement and productivity. During their initial launch, MXTZ will serve elementary school to university students in the Virgin Islands and the Southeast U.S., reaching as many as 11 million students. An IndieGoGo crowd funding page will be launched soon.
Greater Changes founders Tamara Mohammed and Tarik McMillan are licensed counselors. Together, they created a mobile and web-based telehealth platform that connects people in the Caribbean with confidential, affordable and culturally intentional mental health care services. With Greater Changes, users can choose from an array of providers that specifically understand Caribbean culture, available through employee benefits, a subscription membership or insurance.
“It’s not just about finding a provider who understands anxiety and depression,” said McMillan. “It’s about finding a provider that understands the cultural nuances that make Caribbean people unique.”
For more information, visit greaterchangesllc.com.
Founder and CEO Destiny Frett launched Food Companion in the Apple store in August. The goal of the experienced software developer, data scientist and innovator from St. Thomas is to reduce household waste and food insecurity for communities globally. The app keeps track of the meals, food and beverage items the user already has in their kitchen, logs expiration dates, generates recipes based on the food the user already has and keeps a centralized grocery list. The free basic version is available now and a website will be launched in December.
In 2019, the three founders of VI Crawl, all students at the University of the Virgin Islands, hoped to address the untapped potential for cultural tourism in the Virgin Islands and decided to create “a media and education company that designs culturally relevant solutions for V.I. systems,” according to Nyaila Callwood, one of the three founders, along with Torhera Durand and Khalarni Rivers. For the first two years, VI Crawl worked closely with the university, focusing on cultural education and the creative arts.
Now, the team is focused on the V.I. tourism industry with the VI Crawl app, “putting VI culture in the palm of your hand” for an immersive virtual tour experience to see the islands from a local point of view.
The app includes a curated collection of historic hubs and their stories, GPS notifications, local foods, restaurants and more. The beta launch is scheduled for in January.
Status Alert for Emergency
Charmaine Kalpen, a secondary educator in the fields of economics, entrepreneurship, marketing, computer literacy and hospitality and tourism, is the founder and CEO of SAFE, Status Alert for Emergency, using the power of technology to enhance emergency response. The mobile app sends notifications to up to 10 contacts regarding users’ status in case of emergencies. The alert button includes pre-recorded messages and a GPS location. The app is available in the Apple store or visit http://safesmsapp.com. An updated version of the app will be available in December.
“We can no longer ignore or be silent about the things that matter the most: safety for ourselves, our children and the people we love the most. Losing one life because of lack of access to emergency response service is one too many,” said Kalpen.
The Healing Marketplace
The goal of The Healing Marketplace is to make holistic care primary care. Co-creators Muria Nisbett and Beatriz Cains have created a digital hub that connects holistic providers with people seeking holistic care. The app is a database where people can find holistic providers and alternative options within a 20-mile radius.
With The Healing Marketplace, users can search by symptom, illness or specialty, review providers and book an appointment. The mobile app also provides an educational component regarding different forms of natural and person-centered healing. Visit https://healingmarketplace.com to become a beta tester.
St. Croix Brothers Zayd and Khalid Saleem, both military veterans, are not introducing a new product, but rather are improving and rethinking an idea that was recently tried in the islands and failed. Their Boomerang Eats is a food ordering and delivery service that allows customers to order from the comfort of their home, office or wherever they are. Customers are notified when their order is ready and when it has been picked up for delivery.
“We believe if we focus on our customers rather than our competition we can produce a better product, a product Virgin Islanders will be proud of,” said Zayd Saleem. “Some might ask how is this different from our predecessor. I’ll tell you this. Restaurants get paid first.”
Boomerang Eats is in beta testing and the hope to launch by the end of the year. Check www.boomerangeats.com for upcoming information.