Six high-growth, diverse St. Paul entrepreneurs selected to receive working space, development opportunities as Lunar Startups’ inaugural cohort

Majority of the cohort are startups led by women or a person of color

ST. PAUL, Minn., July 23, 2018 – Lunar Startups, an incubator that supports high-growth entrepreneurs in Minnesota, has announced its inaugural cohort of resident organizations. The new program, which was launched earlier this year by American Public Media and is housed at the Glen Nelson Center, will incubate and accelerate startups, with a focus on entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities. It is supported in part by a $1 million investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The six early-stage companies were selected from an applicant pool of 45 startups led by a diverse group of entrepreneurs. The majority of the startups selected for the first cohort are led by a person of color, and over half are led by women.

The inaugural cohort includes:

  • 26 Letters – a data insights and analytics startup that informs solutions to help institutions recruit, retain, and grow top talent in today’s workforce
  • Asiya – a social enterprise created with the mission of increasing sports participation rates among Muslim girls by developing activewear that enables physical activity and sports participation while upholding religious and cultural beliefs
  • Clutch SOS – a safety tech startup providing VIP Assurance, which means virtual witnesses, intervention by those witnesses, and proof of your situation in the session via audio recording
  • Dojour – a calendar system, providing an easy-to-use platform for organizations to post and share their events on websites, social media, and elsewhere across the web
  • Monicat Data – a strategic agency providing data management and technology solutions for the creative economy
  • Take 12 – a crowdfunding service allowing friends and family to relieve the financial stress of unpaid maternity leave for working mothers by giving financial gifts in lieu of a traditional baby registry

“Our inaugural cohort represents the broad definition of entrepreneurship,” said Melissa Kjolsing Lynch, founding managing director of Lunar Startups. “These six high-growth startups are tackling real problems from health to safety to equity. We’re excited to surround them with intentional, unique and targeted resources to help them drive growth.”

Lunar Startups Cohort 1 will have dedicated workspace in the Glen Nelson Center at Osborn370 in St. Paul’s downtown core. In addition to office space, benefits of the 12-month cohort include ongoing visibility, education, stewardship and team development. Lunar Startups will measure success of the cohort based on the companies’ growth, including customers and milestones achieved.

“This impressive group of entrepreneurs reflect the strength, talent, and promise of St. Paul’s diverse startup community. With support from Lunar Startups, we anticipate successes from the cohort that will drive growth and development in the heart of our city,” said Jai Winston, Knight Foundation program director for St. Paul.

Support for these projects forms one part of Knight Foundation’s efforts in St. Paul to attract and nurture talent, enhance economic opportunity and foster civic engagement. Since 2005, Knight has pledged more than $14 million to St. Paul.

###

About American Public Media 
American Public Media® is the national programming division of Minnesota Public Radio® and reaches nearly 21 million listeners via more than 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. Data are estimates only.

About the Glen Nelson Center
The Glen Nelson Center exists to explore, discover, and develop innovative ways to serve new and diverse audiences through entrepreneurial endeavors that support American Public Media’s public service mission. For more information on the Glen Nelson center, visit GlenNelson.org.

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 KF.org.