University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota


An important aspect of Acara is continuing to work with student teams beyond the classroom. Additionally, mentors, judges and other Acara supporters are interested in what happens with teams in the Acara Challenge and courses. Below is the status of Acara alums that are active in the the venture from their participation in the Acara Challenge, one of our workshops or something closely related..

2014 Challenge

The 2014 Challenge teams have already been moving ahead.

  • Mighty Axe Hops. A hops growing business and cooperative.
  • Sabujawalla. Three team members are planning to go to India this summer, to attend the Summer Institute and intern with Waste Ventures.
  • Sun Farms. One team member, Gareth, moved to India in March 2014 and will be spending 9-10 months interning there with TIDE.

2013 Challenge and Summer Institute

  • Nutricycle. Several members of this team working on composting organic waste and using for biogas generation spent 7 months in Bangalore working with Green Energy and are considering bringing the technology to the US.
    • IonE blog on NutriCycle
  • Pragiti (formerly Community Shops). Adam attended the Summer Institute in Bangalore, mashed up his ideas, and created a different venture entitled Pragati, which sells fair trade artisan work from artists in Orissa, India. Was named in top 10 of Tata Enteprises social venture competition in India and is actively running.
  • Rent Karo Ride Karo.  A bike sharing business in Mumbai. Started in February 2014.
  • Turtle King Workshop. This long board manufacturer, using disadvantaged youth from the Cedar Riverside neighborhood is running, employing youth and selling boards. Named West Bank startup of the year.
  • Twin Fin (formerly Blue Food Fish & Greens). This local aquaponics business is running the winter of 2014 with a pilot of 700 fish in a Northeast Minneapolis warehouse.
    • Twitter: @TwinFinMN
  • Zuri Apps (formerly DoGoodApps). This app store, with proceeds supporting select nonprofits, has launched their site in March 2014. Brian connected with Eric from Blue Food and they started Mighty Axe Hops, which is running, has revenue and was a Gold winner in the 2014 Challenge.

2012 Challenge and Summer Institute

  • BLUE – Building Local Urban Ecologies. Formerly known as ACWUS (Artificially Constructed Wetlands for Urban Sewage) - Constructed wetlands in Delhi. Hiring interns for summer 2014.
  • Blue Food – Safe street food in Delhi. Blue Food pivoted and is now Twin Fin (see above).
  • Caddisfly - Low cost water sensor and mapping system. Great low cost system undergoing larger scale testing as of March 2014.
  • ChaloBEST - Transit information in Mumbai
  • Eat For Equity – Monthly community benefit dinners with 10 chapters nationally as of March 2014.
    • Their blog is the best way to keep up, other than going to an event.
    • Facebook page
    • Twitter: @eatforequity

2011 Challenge and Summer Institute

  • Tuloko. in the 2011 Challenge, TextRA, used text messaging to alert community members to scarce resource (like water) availability. That venture didn’t continue beyond initial testing but team member Duane Johnson used the idea as an inspiration for using mobile phones to help a disadvantaged population. The result was Tuloko, a reference business for black owned businesses. Tuloko won the MN Social Venture Cup in 2012.

2010 Challenge and Summer Institute

  • MyRain – Retail drip irrigation venture in India. A rapidly growing business with 25 employees as of March, 2014.
    • Businessweek article on MyRain and Steele
    • Video for Carlson school
    • Article on Sri Latha Ganti and MyRain in CSE Alum magazine
    • Blog on Acara visit to MyRain in June, 2013.
Acara is a social entrepreneurship program of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment in partnership with the College of Science and Engineering and the Carlson School of Management.


September 5, 2014 :Fall Acara Challenge course begins

September 9, 2014: Acara Open House

October 31, 2014: Dow SISCA Applications Due

December 4, 2014: Dow SISCA Final Presentations