Conscious Venture Lab (CVLab), the accelerator of the David B. Wolfe Institute for Conscious Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), has officially announced the selection of its first cohort of companies for the curriculum and mentor-driven accelerator program.
The CVLab attracted applicants from across the country, and from as far away as South Africa and India. The inaugural class will be housed at the HCEDA’s Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE).
“These companies reflect the future of where capitalism and social values come together,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. “I am so glad we are providing resources to these firms that see their mission as doing good in society. Howard County can be the leader in social responsibility and economic growth.”
“We’re really excited about this first cohort and humbled by the trust being placed in us by the companies, the Howard County Economic Development Authority and all of our mentors and partners. We’re anxious to show how a new form of capitalism, one that lifts all boats and not just the yachts, can help transform the way we live and work,” said Jeff Cherry, CEO and managing partner of The Porter Group, the private investment firm that will operate the program and provide the funding to the companies.
“We’ll also be opening our doors to the broader Howard County community,” said Cherry, “with events for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and a pretty unique outreach program that will start later this year.”
The companies in the first CVLab cohort are as follows.
• Shenami: A digital lifestyle, public relations and marketing platform that connects women consumers with women-owned businesses.
• DoGoodBuyUS: A business-to-consumer e-commerce platform that connects causes with consumers through curated products.
• Spend Consciously: Offers a mobile application that empowers citizens to become more educated in their buying decisions.
• Just Good: A marketplace that connects conscious products with consumers and influences buying behaviors to support a vision for a better world.
• SelfSpark: Organizes “Life Hacking” events that use science and technology to improve your life.
• Shea Radiance: A natural hair and body care products company that works with women’s cooperatives in Africa to help grow local economies.
In addition to the for-profit companies in the program, the CVLab is working with Howard County nonprofits to help them find new ways to create value for their constituents. The first to enter the program will be Making Change, an organization that develops and delivers financial education programs that empower individuals to achieve their own financial success by encouraging lasting behavioral change.
“Thanks to our partnership with The Porter Group, we have attracted dynamic new businesses to Howard County,” said Larry Twele, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. “We’re also supporting the nonprofit community like never before. One of our goals is to develop more innovative approaches to economic development that support the entire community, and we believe the CVLab will help us do that.”
The mission of CVLab is to foster companies and leaders who embrace the power of capitalism as a force for good in society. Cherry was an early adopter of the move towards investing in companies operating a multi-stakeholder management system.
The 24-week mentor and curriculum-driven program will provide entrepreneurs a foundation in building a company with purpose, while also focusing on the tools and skills needed to build highly executable business models and high-performance cultures. The companies will get the opportunity to work with such mentors as Tom Gardner, CEO of the Motley Fool, and local serial entrepreneur Tien Wong, CEO of Tech 2000.
Through an associated seed and venture capital fund established by The Porter Group, each company will receive an investment of $25,000. In exchange, the fund will receive an equity stake in each company.