Urban Impact Entrepreneurs Are Out There (Trust Us)
Urban innovation isn’t just coming from government or large companies. There’s a real movement of entrepreneurs looking to solve problems in their own communities. These urban impact entrepreneurs are creative and nimble – and have the ability to scale their innovations across cities.
Tumml, the urban ventures accelerator, issued an open call for applications from entrepreneurs across the country in April. We were overwhelmed by the response – both in terms of quantity and quality – and we’re proud to announce the five companies we’ve selected for our first cohort.
Tumml’s 2013 summer cohort
The Tumml cohort is comprised of early stage companies leading the charge in urban innovation. Please say hello to Tumml’s new class of urban impact entrepreneurs:
Corral makes your urban commute easier and faster.
Earth Starter makes all-in-one garden systems that help city dwellers grow food and flowers in small spaces by removing the guesswork.
KidAdmit provides an easy, efficient way to apply to multiple preschools online and manage the preschool admission process – which can be so daunting in cities.
WorkHands is a blue collar online identity service that makes it easier to find work in the trades.
These five companies will spend the next three-and-a-half months working in Tumml’s office space in downtown San Francisco, receiving mentorship from a group of accomplished urbanites (like the Director of Public Policy at Airbnb and the Chief Innovation Officer of San Francisco) and $20,000 in seed funding.
While Tumml is only hosting a small cohort of companies, we are excited by the energy and diversity of all the urban innovators who applied to our program. They are working on a wide variety of topics, but three themes really stand out to us:
- Small business services: Entrepreneurs developing some product or service that specifically targets and supports urban small businesses;
- Mobility: Entrepreneurs developing some product or service that makes getting around cities simpler and safer; and
- Local food: Entrepreneurs developing some product or services that makes it easier to grow or access local food.
To some extent, we attribute the strong representation in these three areas to the fact that there are already some success stories in these sectors (think: Fundrise, Uber, Revolution Foods, etc). This makes it easier for some entrepreneurs to envision starting companies of their own in a relatively new industry.
In addition to the variety of sectors represented, we also see some interesting demographic trends:
- 48 percent of the applicants have a female founder or co-founder. We can only speculate about why this number is so high (according to the Kauffman Foundation, only 35 percent of US startup business owners are women). But, at least anecdotally, our impression is that many women entrepreneurs are particularly excited about solving problems they have experienced personally – and what problems can a person know better than the ones in his or her own city?
- 40 percent of applicants are working on products or services specifically targeted at underserved communities within our cities. This is incredibly exciting for us. We often hear concerns that the sharing economy and other urban innovations are leaving behind the people who could benefit most from their use (ridesharing, short-term housing, etc). We are heartened to see this next wave of urban innovators embracing the responsibility (and the market opportunity) of targeting some of our cities’ overlooked residents.
Intrigued by these statistics? With so many pressing problems in cities, there’s a real role for enterprising entrepreneurs to tackle these issues. So join the movement and build your own urban impact startup!
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from the Meeting of the Minds Blog
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Today, over 2 million Americans are living without access to clean, running water. The newly released ‘Close The Water Gap’ report by DigDeep and the US Water Alliance pulls back the veil on America’s hidden water crisis.
This is the first-ever comprehensive look at indoor water access across the United States, and its findings are explosive: Race is the strongest predictor of vulnerability. In six states (plus Puerto Rico), progress is actually backsliding. More than 44 million Americans are served by water systems with recent violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
When thinking about conserving water, we should also be focusing on how more efficient water use correlates with energy savings. Studies show that when households participate in water savings programs, they also conserve energy and reduce strain on the power grid during peak demand periods while saving consumers money on their utility bills.
Water utilities can also dramatically increase their energy efficiency and reduce overall energy usage by adopting locally based solutions. For many municipal governments, drinking water and wastewater treatment plants are typically the largest energy consumers, often accounting for 30 to 40 percent of total energy consumed. Overall, drinking water and wastewater systems account for approximately two percent of energy use in the United States, adding over 45 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
Addressing the impact of heat on health is well-aligned with MCDPH’s vision and mission “to make healthy lives possible” by protecting and promoting the health and well-being of MC residents and visitors. The climate has significant impacts on our community’s health. Through extensive surveillance and community surveys, we have demonstrated the importance of local public health data to increase buy-in from new and existing partners and obtain funding to address this significant public health issue. We encourage other health departments to consider the power of data and collaboration as they seek methods for protecting the public’s health from a changing climate.