The Cherokee Challenge, which invests in and helps new greentech focused businesses, will introduce its first five firms to potential investors at an event in Raleigh on Thursday.

The business accelerator program, which includes $20,000 in funding, free office space and mentoring, is backed by Raleigh-based Cherokee Investment Partners.

Cherokee’s program is one of several across the Triangle focused on helping launch new businesses.

The presenters include:

  • LYF Shoes, Raleigh
  • JouleBug, Raleigh
  • Sanitation Creations, Carrboro
  • SafeTNA, Research Triangle Park
  • Granular Systems, Raleigh

Each firm will make a presentation about its technology and working prototypes.

Bill McDonough, author of “Cradle to Cradle,” is also scheduled to speak at the event, which begins at 6 p.m. at Vintage 21 in downtown Raleigh. 

The program initially launched with three companies (LYF, JouleBug, Sanitation Creations) then added SafeTNA and Granular Systems.

Snapshots of the companies as provided by Cherokee and company websites:

  • SafeTNA is developing DNA-based, well-specific tracers for hydraulic fracturing to help establish accountability and improve relations between the energy industry and local communities. After inserting its well-specific tracer into fracking fluid, SafeTNA can analyze and contaminated groundwater in the vicinity to determine if it was contaminated by fracking fluid and, if so, from which well the fluid derived.
  • 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.
  • Granular Systems helps individuals make smarter decisions on how they use energy. With a patent-pending distributed sub-metering solution, Granular enables users to see and understand when, where, and how they are using power with real-time visualizations through a personalized online portal that offers suggestions on how to use electricity more efficiently. Starting with helping industrial and manufacturing clients green their operations and improve bottom lines, Granular will grow into a business that will have a local impact on schools, hospitals, and home owners sharing the same kind of innovations. Granular is all about smarter decisions for smarter energy.

Tom Darden, chief executive officer of Cherokee, also will speak at the event.