University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

A core component of Acara’s mission is impact, which occurs through the businesses students launch and grow. A summary of teams Acara has worked with through our courses and competition follows.

2014 Challenge

The 2014 Challenge teams, updated as of October, 2014.

  • Mighty Axe Hops. A hops growing business and cooperative. They had a great crop in the summer of 2014 and were a semi-finalist in the 2014 MN Cup.
  • Sabujawalla. Three team members spent the summer of 2014 in India, a blog post is here, to attend the Summer Institute and intern with Waste Ventures.
  • Sun Farms. One team member, Gareth, moved to India in March 2014 and is spending 9-10 months interning there with TIDE.
  • BDW Biotechnologies was a semi-finalists in the 2014 MN Cup and is continuing to work on their process.
  • Help Desk Furniture did a pilot in Uganda in the summer of 2014, creating hand crafted furniture from Ugandan hard wood. Here is a blog updating that experience. Brice is finishing his degree this academic year.
  • Tech Share, a technology literacy program for schools in rural Uganda, has started a pilot with two schools in rural Uganda.
  • Veteran Capital Partners is active but mostly dormant while Tim finishes his MBA.
  • College Credit, Skivvies and Women for Water from the 2014 Acara Challenge are no longer active.

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
  • Pragati (formerly Community Shops). Adam attended the Summer Institute in Bangalore, mashed up his ideas, and created a different venture entitled Pragati, which sells palm leaf products from Orissa, India. Was named in top 10 of Tata Enteprises social venture competition in India and is actively running. Pragati was a semifinalist in the 2014 MN Cup.
  • 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 in 2013.
  • Twin Fin Aquaponics (formerly Blue Food Fish & Greens). This local aquaponics business is running in 2014 with a pilot of 700 fish in a Northeast Minneapolis warehouse and has been selling greens to local restaurants.
  • 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 and has been purchased by a larger Netherlands based organization and is producing low cost water sensors.
  • ChaloBEST – Transit information in Mumbai. Not active at this point.
  • Eat For Equity – Monthly community benefit dinners with 10 chapters nationally as of March 2014.

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

Acara is the impact 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.