Cherokee Investment Partners launches its Cherokee Challenge accelerator with a Carborro and two Raleigh companies that are foucsed on environmentally friendly business.

The “greentech accelerator” is based in Raleigh. Its goal is to  identify, fund and develop what Cherokee calls “high impact environmental ventures.” It is the latest effort in the Triangle designed to help grow fledgling businesses, including the Triangle Startup Factory and the Bull City Stampede in Durham. 

The three startups are LYF Shoes and JouleBug of Raleigh as well as Sanitation Creations of Carborro.

Each firm receives $20,000 in seed funding, office space at no charge through August, mentoring and back office support.

“The quality of the applications we received was encouraging,” said JT Vaughn, an analyst with Cherokee.

“We appreciate not only the effort made by all the startups that applied, but the high impact ideas they’re advancing,” he added. “In an ideal world, all business models would be environmentally net positive, not just less bad. We don’t live in that world now, but we are thrilled to be working with an inspiring group of entrepreneurs who share our business and environmental ideals.”

Snapshots of the companies as provided by Cherokee:

  • LYF Shoes is a company dedicated to making footwear for a better planet by integrating local assembly and sustainable design with a custom fit product. The founders envision job creation, customer service and sustainability as outcomes of these advances in the manufacture of footwear. Knowing that common manufacturing processes are toxic and environmentally detrimental, and that 97% of footwear purchased in America is made overseas, LYF shoes is intent on redefining how and where shoes are made. After 8 years of research and invention LYF Shoes invites consumers to “Love Your Footprint.”
  • JouleBug is developing a mobile app that encourages good energy behavior. The app rewards energy conservation and sustainability in a playful, interactive and competitive way. Players earn points and badges by taking small steps to improve their efficiency at home, at work and on-the-go. Users receive instructions on larger energy-saving projects through embedded videos and infographics, and see their sustainability progress and ranking on the Leaderboard. JouleBug links to your utility bill to create a graphic, easy-to-read analysis of a player’s savings, which are estimated to average $200 a year.
  • Sanitation Creations is developing the Dungaroo: an odorless, waterless, hygienic and cost efficient portable toilet aiming to solve a worldwide sanitation crisis. Two billion people are without proper toilets, leading to sickness and death. The Dungaroo, which will begin consumer trials shortly, looks to alleviate both issues by providing an economical and sanitary option to places without toilets. It maintains a closed-loop system where neutralized waste fuels bio-gas digesters. Sanitation Creations plans to provide solutions to the transportation and camping industries as well as in the developing world.