Vt. start-ups chosen for global accelerator program

Published: Jul. 16, 2022 at 9:09 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2022 at 7:48 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Two Vermont start-ups were picked to take part in a global accelerator program that connects them with resources to help grow their business.

The nonprofit MassChallenge makes the selections annually, and offers new businesses support, mentoring, free services, and the chance to compete for cash prizes.

This year, Shiki Wrap and Pictal Health, both based in the Green Mountains got the invite.

“This is an incredible opportunity to advance our mission to change gift giving for good,” said Meagan Downey, the founder and CEO of Shiki Wrap, which produces reusable gift wrap and bags from sustainable materials.

While looking for a sustainable alternative to wrapping paper, Downey says she discovered the Japanese tradition, furoshiki, which are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths.

“I met a group of elders in Japan who are dedicated to try and re-popularize this tradition, and they’ve actually studied and formally endorsed the product,” she said.

Pictal Health helps patients tell their stories on a visual timeline, aiming to help patients be heard and seen while reducing errors, spending and provider burnout.

“We are thrilled to participate in MassChallenge as we work to bring the benefits of visual health communication to those who desperately need it,” Founder Katie McCurdy said.

In the history of the MassChallenge program, only seven Vermont start-ups have been selected. With this year’s selections, four of the seven have been led by women, nonbinary people.

“It’s really incredible in a world where even though most start-ups that are female-founded or founded by a nonbinary person are shown to be more successful in terms of valuation and scale, they only access about 2% of institutional capital. It’s credibly hard to fundraise and access capital as a female, or nonbinary founder,” Downey said.

Last year, Vermont’s SheFly Apparel won the coveted $100,000 MassChallenge grand prize.

Copyright 2022 WCAX. All rights reserved.