Lunar Startups Welcomes Largest Cohort with 15 Companies

St. Paul, Minn., March 5, 2020 – Lunar Startups is proud to announce the companies selected to participate in Cohort 3, the largest group of high-growth, early-stage startups to join Lunar’s accelerator program. Beginning March 9, 15 companies will join a community dedicated to their success, including a year’s worth of coaching, resources, cash grants, and customized programming.

“Cohort 3 is the next step in our movement to make more Minnesota millionaires. I couldn’t be more excited to work with such an impressive group of founders and dive into the big problems they’re working to solve,” said Danielle Steer, managing director of Lunar Startups.

A program of American Public Media’s Glen Nelson Center, Lunar Startups welcomes the following companies to Cohort 3:

  • Bim Bam Boo – Curbing climate change and empowering health with the first bamboo toilet paper designed for women.
  • CheqrPay – Streamlining the giving process for non-profit organizations by fully utilizing mobile wallet technology.
  • Coconut Whisk – A proudly vegan baking mix company giving back with every sale.
  • Cytilife – A smart campus solution for higher education that integrates non-academic factors of student success to increase retention.
  • Events by Lady K – Partnering with mission-driven clients to create mission-centered events where every attendee feels welcomed, celebrated, and included.
  • Feminist Book Club – Building feminist communities and promoting women-owned businesses with a monthly subscription box.
  • Imagine Deliver – A consulting firm for the new majority, building better strategies that center users as the most important designer.
  • Minneapolis Craft Market – Elevating designers and makers of the North and spurring local economic activity with pop-up craft markets. 
  • NEOO Partners, Inc. – Helping cities, local non-profits, and small businesses do the right thing, the first time in commercial real estate and urban planning.
  • Peach Mindfulness – Harnessing AI technology to create the world’s first intelligent meditation guru.
  • Rocky Robinson, a brand for girls – Encouraging black girls to be their very best with Rocky Robinson, a character featured in online content, games, and more.
  • Safe Resell – Increasing integrity and reducing crime on a cashless, user-driven marketplace.
  • Schoolz – a suite of alternative tools helping teachers serve all students with relevant content and curriculum.
  • We Sparkle – An AI-powered social enterprise dedicated to helping small businesses care for their customers + communities.
  • Yonder – Preparing kids for their first visit to the dentist using entertaining and educational content.

Cohort 3 companies were selected from an applicant pool of 90 startups led by a diverse group of entrepreneurs. More than 67 percent of Cohort 3 startups are led by a woman, 60 percent are led by a person of color, 33 percent are led by a woman of color and seven percent are led by a person who identifies as LGBTQ+.

“Founders in Cohort 1 and 2 created 34 new jobs, 80% of whom receive full benefits. With twice as many startups, we can’t wait to see how this next cohort of entrepreneurs will contribute to the economic vitality of our community,” Danielle added.

Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Lunar Startups will provide an expanded range of resources to Cohort 3, including partnerships with the Global Accelerator Network (GAN), Techstars, and Hubspot. Highlights include:

  • Lunar Everywhere – A digital asset library and learning hub filled with trusted resources for business growth.
  • Cash Stipend – Each company receives a $5,000 grant to spend on marketing, technology, and travel.
  • Lunar Experts in Residence – Founders Dionne Gumbs (GenEQTY), Julie Kucinski (Pitchwell), and Angela Gustafson (Gustola Granola) will provide coaching and thought partnership to cohort members in addition to workshop leadership and training in their respective fields.
  • Lunar Expert Network – Participants have access to 25+ hours of free personal coaching, advising, and counseling from some of our community’s greatest leaders.

“This diverse group of participating companies in cohort 3 continues to demonstrate the palpable energy that is growing in downtown St. Paul’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Entrepreneurs who never thought of downtown as a place to start and grow a viable business, are starting to reconsider, with an increase of resources to support entrepreneurship,” said Jai Winston, Knight’s St. Paul director. “With the changing demographics of our landscape in Minnesota, St. Paul residents are seeing themselves reflected more in the opportunities to drive economic growth in this region.”  

Winston added that Minnesota has always been at the forefront of innovation, represented by the many Fortune 500 companies that have grown organically in the state. 

“St. Paul has the opportunity to continue that trend,” Winston said, “with an intentional focus on ensuring that our changing community demographics are represented within our entrepreneurial ecosystem and community as well.”

Lunar Startups Cohort 3 programming runs from March 2020 through February 2021 and is located in the Osborn370 building in downtown St. Paul.

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About Lunar Startups
Lunar Startups is a new model for incubating high growth companies led by founders who identify as women, people of color, and LGBTQ+. Launched at the Glen Nelson Center of American Public Media, Lunar Startups is breaking down barriers for innovators, disruptors, and change-makers to scale the next generation of industry pioneers. For more, visit lunarstartups.org.

About American Public Media
American Public Media® (APM) is the national programming and distribution division of American Public Media Group and reaches 19 million listeners via approximately 1,000 radio stations nationwide each week. APM is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world, with a portfolio that includes BBC World Service, Marketplace®, and the leading classical music programs in the nation. APM offers a diverse array of podcasts featuring the best in food, culture, entertainment, business and investigative journalism. For more information on APM, visit americanpublicmedia.org.
Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio, Nationwide DMA data, Persons 12+, Spring ‘19.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.