Author Archive

August Amber Grant Awarded to Wasatch Nectar

Friday, September 7th, 2018

On Sunday, we announced our August Amber Grant finalists.

Today, we’re here to reveal the $1,000 recipient and the qualifier for our $10,000 year-end Amber Grant. Congratulations to Kristen Moffatt, Owner of Wasatch Nectar. Kristen shares her path to entrepreneurship — and much more — in our interview below.

*You can follow Wasatch Nectar on Instagram.

WN: Share the story of how Wasatch Nectar came to be

KM: I have always been very active and driven by outdoor adventure! This was a major driving factor in creating Wasatch Nectar.

The lack of healthy, trail friendly energy bars and gels available started to deter me from bringing any nutrition with me when I would go out for the day. The artificially flavored sugar syrups were becoming increasingly difficult to stomach. Skipping out on nutrition all together in the summer heat of Utah is not a viable option, which became evident one day while biking. I was out on a long ride, which was getting more difficult as the temperature continued to rise. Just as I was getting off my bike to rest and get a drink of water, I almost collapsed on the trail! I had completely bonked and really felt the results of my poor decision to skip out on my nutrition.

After I got home, I decided I would start packing something I could tolerate on the trail. I have always loved honey, and its unique sugar profile of both glucose and fructose makes it ideal for sports nutrition fuel. I started enhancing honey from my own bee hives with electrolytes. Soon after I was even mixing in other foods for added health benefits and for flavoring. I was so excited to finally have my ideal nutrition product to take on the trails with me. My friends and family all loved it and requested it frequently. This was too good to keep to myself, so I decided to name my product and start a business. My business was named Wasatch Nectar after the Wasatch mountain range in Utah.

WN: What’s unique about the honey — and the products — that you produce?

KM: Our honey is sourced from local beekeepers and is never heated nor pasteurized in order to preserve the healthful properties raw honey has to offer. The natural sugar profile of honey makes it the ideal fuel for sports nutrition. We then enhance the product with electrolytes that are depleted when we sweat.

We offer our product in convenient packets for on-the-go nutrition, which is critical for athletes. Additionally, Wasatch Nectar is offered in jars for home use. This is appealing for anyone seeking healthy and unique products. Each Wasatch Nectar flavor is enhanced with electrolytes and flavored with real food. No artificial ingredients, no preservatives, and no added sugar!

WN: What challenges do you face as the owner?

KM: One of the biggest challenges of being a startup business owner is having the time and capital to scale with it. As with me, many food entrepreneurs spend every waking moment and their entire paycheck starting their business – using the funds for packaging, permits, advertising, etc.

The limited funds leaves further production difficult to pursue. Many companies fail at this point, even though they have an excellent product. The possibility of falling into this category keeps me uneasy. I am currently spending every minute — outside of my full time job as a dietitian — advertising, networking, attending events, and (most importantly) making product, to make sure Wasatch Nectar succeeds!

WN: How will you scale this business?

KM: This question is one that I considered in the very early stages of Wasatch Nectar. I wanted to be able to create a product that was both sustainable and scalable. Honey fit the ticket of sustainability, as I am able to help local beekeepers sell their honey and keep a consistent market demand for it.

Scaling the business was a bit more difficult. I spent many hours researching different packagers that met my requirements, and after many failed attempts finally struck gold with a supplier who had my vision. We have been able to work with each other and establish a simple and easy process for packaging Wasatch Nectar. As demand grows, production of my product will actually become easier!

The most critical part of scaling a business is increasing the demand for it. This is where good marketing strategies and good connections become critical. My main marketing strategy is to get the product in the hands of athletes. I have been getting Wasatch Nectar involved in local races and sporting events and I am continuing to look for additional marketing avenues to help scale Wasatch Nectar. You can only worry about scaling when people are buying!

 

WN: What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring female entrepreneur?

KM: Starting up a business is intimidating to say the least! My main advice to anyone interested in starting their own business is to take it one step at a time — but always think ahead to the long term goals of the business. The many steps in getting started — then working towards generating sales and growing the business — can be very overwhelming. Taking one step at a time makes your aspirations feel more attainable. I remind myself this each day, and it really helps me remember that I can do this! I would encourage everyone to try this approach.

Another thing I have found to be critical is listening to the people who believe in your product. There are always too many people willing to tell you why it won’t work, or how it’s a waste of your time and money, or how there are too many people that have already done it. In my experience, the people who believe in your product also have the most valuable feedback. Ask them questions of what they liked and why. That’s where my product has developed the most, and for the better. The people who love your idea also want you to succeed, so listen to them!

WN: If you have anything else to share, please do — this is your platform!

KM: Wasatch Nectar is available on WasatchNectar.com and now you can have it to your doorstep in two days using your Amazon Prime account!

August 2018 Amber Grant Finalists

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

September’s arrival means it’s time to announce 5 finalists for the $1,000 August Amber Grant.

The winner will join 8 current finalists for the $10,000 year-end Amber Grant, which we’ll announce in December. Look for a late-week announcement on our website, email list and Facebook page regarding the August recipient.

Congratulations to …

 

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July Amber Grant Awarded to Lisnen

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

Earlier this month, we announced our July finalists. Today, we’re delighted to finally introduce you to the recipient: Eyra Abraham, Founder/CEO of Lisnen.

View Eyra’s video for the Voting Page and read her interview below to learn more about her mission.

 

WN: Share some background on yourself and how Lisnen was born.

EA: My name is Eyra Abraham and I’m the founder of Lisnen. Lisnen Inc. was formed due to a problem that I was experiencing in my own life. I was born with a severe-profound hearing loss since I was a child. When I went to live on my own, I slept through a fire alarm in my condo building at the time. While I was safe and nothing happened, I knew that I needed an assistive alerting device to help me with hearing things when I do not have my hearing aids on. What I found was a number of impractical solutions for an active and mobile individual like myself. So, I decided that I was going to take on the challenge and bring a better solution to market.

WN: How will the Lisnen app function?

EA: Lisnen is a mobile app that is paired with a smartwatch to help the deaf and hard of hearing users know that there’s a fire alarm, doorbell or siren sound, to name a few, in the nearby environment. It uses the microphone from the mobile phone to listen for these specific sounds and using advance methods in AI/ machine learning, the app looks for a match with the available alerts. When a match is found, the user sees and feels a flashing and vibrating alert to inform them of the alert in real-time.

WN: What are your plans for marketing the app?

EA: The company will reach our customers both online and offline. There are many social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and online forums that are great sources for connecting with the deaf and hard of hearing community. For offline strategies, we believe that our customers can be reached at events that tailor to our niche market. Also, we are leveraging partnerships with other brands to reach customers.

Our marketing goal is to build a community of like-minded deaf and hard of hearing individuals who want to be empowered to live their lives fully – the core mission of the company. Through this community we will be able to market our app as an added benefit.

WN: Do you have competition in this space? If so, how do you differentiate?

EA: Yes, we have seen other similar apps in the space over the last 4 years. All apps saw the potential of using AI and machine learning to help the deaf and hard of hearing community. With the right intention they each have their own take. However, some features are not intuitive for the deaf and hard of hearing community and could improve using the latest advancement in technology.

Lisnen is differentiating by improving the quality of our app using the latest research, branding, user experience, design and marketing. The hearing devices and alert devices market often are operated as medical devices, and companies don’t have the habit of connecting and building relationships directly with the customers. Our app is a lifestyle/security product. Lisnen can gain advantage by investing in marketing and branding to reach the deaf and hard of hearing communities around the world.

WN: What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring female entrepreneur?

EA: Get started, show up, build a team of supporters, and persevere. In the entrepreneurship world, there aren’t a lot of people who look like us that we can relate to. It can make us feel uncomfortable when we don’t have anyone to lean on. Show up anyways. Comfort only comes after repetition and what becomes unfamiliar will become our new normal. Your team of supporters will help you along the way to help you fulfill areas where you need help.

We all have a tremendous opportunity to build our businesses around our strengths. Your strengths will add value to someone’s life and makes the world a better place. So that is why you need to show up and stay for the long haul. You’re needed!

July 2018 Amber Grant Finalists

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

Happy August!

We hope everyone’s staying cool in the heat of summer.

We’re writing this post to share the 5 finalists for the $1,000 July Amber Grant.  As you likely know by now, the recipient will be eligible for our year-end Amber Grant ($10,000).

By the end of next week, we’ll announce the winner on Facebook, our website and our email list. So, stay tuned.

As always, our decisions were extremely tough. But, congratulations to:

 

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June Amber Grant Awarded to Good Morning Bedlam

Monday, July 9th, 2018

As a new week begins, we’re thrilled share with everyone the winner of the June Amber Grant: Good Morning Bedlam.

This midwest folk band blends immense energy and musical talent to create something truly special. Visit their YouTube page or play the video above to get a taste.

While you listen, learn the story of members Isaak Gill Elker, Victoria Elker and Sophia Mae — plus much more — in the interview below.

(A special thanks to Sophia for taking the time to answer our questions while touring!)

WN: Share the story of how Good Morning Bedlam began.

SM: Isaak and I grew up in a theater company together and spent all our pre-adolescent energy on connecting with our communities through stories– old, new and made up. We watched faces light up, and gave it everything even when there was only one person in the crowd. I absolutely loved it. Our main repertoire were Shakespeare shows that we would perform outside, riding on homemade caravans with fold out stages. The costumed, mostly barefooted company would push the caravans down mainstreet and Isaak and I, along with the other musicians, would perch precariously on the top playing our tunes to announce our arrival. There I developed a deep love for Shakespeare and language. I found that I was capable of accomplishing anything with a bit of learning, failing and determination. I learned how simple it is to connect deeply with anyone just by filling a need for honestly told stories. And when the time came for us to continue with our adult lives, grow up and get a job, it was only natural that we took the route we did — we became musicians.

Starting with that theater troupe, Isaak and I have been writing music and playing together since we were 13 and 11. We went on our first brief semi-national tour at ages 17 and 19. Obviously our parents were thrilled, and not nervous in the least…

But we survived, and the band began to grow. We were recommended to and picked up by a B-Corp record label in Minneapolis, Last Triumph, who we are still with today. But the group was not complete until Tori Elker (formally Tori Smith) entered the picture.

About 10 days before our 1st full length tour, Isaak and Tori were married. When faced with the decision to stay home for the honeymoon, work a nine to five job, care for the house, (also get a house), while her husband toured across the country for two months Tori said, “Hell no. We can be technically homeless for a little while,” and she packed up and came with us.

She didn’t play an instrument. But that wasn’t going to stop a woman with immeasurable determination to help people and an incredible ability to improvise her way through just about any situation. She started by running the merch table, dealing with the obnoxious drunken men and charming people into spending more than they planned to.

After that summer, our bass player left. Tori had decided she was going to continue touring so she said “Yeah. I can learn bass in two months.”

The crazy thing is, she did, all while finishing her theater degree. She’s now the owner of our LLC, manages the accounts, heads our marketing and branding and belts it out every night on stage with us and with her bass, Mr. Jones, thus becoming the head of our predominately female band in a male dominated industry. She kicks butt at it, all because she refused to stay home.

WN: Listening to your music, watching performances and reading reviews, one component that’s abundantly clear is your collective energy. Does that come from a genuine love for performance? 

SM: Oh absolutely it does! It also comes from a genuine love for each other, our audiences, and the stories we are telling. We need a lot of sources for energy since we use so much of it, and we want each of our performances to be unique and earnest.

And when we perform together, something invigorating happens. We sync up. There is an unspoken connection that forms immediately between us. This has required hours of practice and hard work, but the unification goes beyond playing technically well. It’s its own breed, living and breathing, giving our music distinctive life each time it is played. It is exhilarating and it is exhausting. But we love the stories we are telling, and want them to come to life for us and our audience. They’re something outside of ourselves, something we can help foster, and that we can nourish. So, when we are too tired to love the performing alone, there is something outside of us to take care of that.

WN: What’s the process like for getting in touch with and eventually playing at venues?

SM: Repetitive, tedious, frustrating, discouraging, and necessary! You need to be ready for rejection, or no response at all, and let that propel you forward rather than drag you down. The more venues you are rejected by the closer you are to booking one.

Luckily we have a booking agent now who does a lot of this, and he has connections and knowledge about venues that are looking for our type of music. My bandmate Isaak is now hired by our record label and books bands himself as well. Often we route out where we want to go, and find multiple venues on that route for each stop. If you strike out, you reroute. And we are continually working on new ways to find the most successful shows possible with our record label. It’s a constant learning process.

Playing at so many different venues across the country is a mixed bag to say the least. We’ve played anywhere, from classy listening rooms with wine and coffee on tap, to tiny bars with mannequins and stuffed squirrels on the wall, to dark vintage rooms in Montreal with free poutine and broken conversations in French. We have days and days worth of stories and wish we could tell you more.

WN: Tell us about your first professionally recorded album, Like Kings, and what went into the recording process.

SM: We are so excited for our new album, Like Kings.

Our music is boisterous, precise and wild — and we’ve had the opportunity to expand our sound with this album. We collaborated with local Minneapolis musicians to add trumpet, trombone, and cello. Due to our short attention spans, we pull from a lot of different genres including gospel, klezmer, jazz, blues and pop, but we still have unity with our central three part harmonies and sound rooted in folk and story telling.

Our previous album, Prodigal, explored the process of being lost, and returning to a place where you feel at home. This one picks up where that left off saying, “Now what? I went on this journey, but Im still struggling. What’s that about?” These were written from a personal standpoint but we recognize this struggle as something very universal to people. Struggles continue — there are triumphs and joys but we continue to live after those. There is always something new to face, but similarly there is always room for growth and yet unexplored questions to be answered. This is tiring, but it is also beautifully human.

The recording process is repetitive, and at times discouraging. When you come to the studio with parts you’ve worked out and have been fine tuning from show to show it’s easy to feel very sensitive when those parts are put under the microscope of being recorded individually. But you learn quickly to be less attached to ideas, and more focussed on how those ideas truly play out. It’s a fine balance between precision and reputation, and knowing when to be satisfied. It’s very easy to become tunnel visioned when recording. But once the tracks are finished, and the mixing process begins there is nothing quite as exciting. Working with a professional sound engineer has given us freedom to explore nuances in our sound that we’ve mostly imagined up till now. We’re so grateful to have had the opportunities we’ve had with this album.

WN: What are some of the venues you’ve enjoyed playing at the most, and do you have a “dream venue”?

SM: About a few months ago we played at First Avenue, the premiere venue in our home city (Minneapolis, MN), Prince’s home venue, and a Minnesotans musician’s dream.

When we played there, we were the opener for the opener’s opener and were playing so early in the evening that we weren’t sure if anyone would be there. We went out onto the stage, shaking a bit behind a large projection screen that hid the crowd, or lack there of, but when the screen lifted the room was packed with around 500 people pressed near the stage, faces turned towards us, not towards the bar for once (extraordinarily enough). It was such an exhilarating show and an honor to play there.

My other personal favorite “venue” is the home of Isaak’s brother in law in Philly. We stay there some tours and whenever we do, the family sets twinkle lights on their porch in their shared garden that spreads over to their neighbor’s far rose bushes. They call over their friends, neighbors, a few friendly strangers and we play a barefooted show for a quiet group of people in the soft grass and holy leaves. And we sing and talk while the mosquitoes eat at our legs. And the sun goes down on the primroses and the little fountain halfway between their house and the neighbor’s.

Our two dream venues would be Red Rocks Amphitheater and NPR tiny desk concerts. RedRocks is an amphitheater with miraculously perfect acoustics in Red Rocks Park where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. This is a dream venue for many folk musicians, and if we play there someday, we’d be following such inspirations as Punch Brothers, Avett Brothers, Joseph, and more.

Tiny desk concerts are also full of our inspiration with an intimate setting that celebrates the tradition of connecting through live music.

WN: What advice would you give someone aspiring to break onto the music scene? 

SM: Be hopeful, but by all means don’t expect a Big Break. The most productive way to think of growing your band is little by little, year by year, and placing the power where it belongs — in your own hands. If you want to be a musician, really want it, be prepared for frustration, uncomfortable living spaces, endless amounts of gas station coffee (if you can afford it) and a good deal of disrespect. But most importantly, love what you do, and do it for the love of it. If you get swept up in the pursuit of success you’ll be miserable, as that takes time and a considerable amount of failure.

Two things I’ve learned about growth in pursuing this career…

First, it is not linear — you don’t start to grow and continue on an level uphill trajectory. There are ups and downs, valleys and peaks. That is natural, and if you despair because you are in a valley, you won’t realize the valley you’re in is leading to a peak that’s just a little higher and wider than the last one.

Second, you can’t always see growth when you are so close to it. Just as a little child will lament over how they never get any taller, only to find the next time they’re measured they’ve shot up a whole two and a half inches. You can’t always see yourself growing but you are, and it will become apparent with a little space. So take a breath, work harder and harder every day, be disciplined, plan meticulously and don’t worry. Because contrary to the belief of that little voice in your head screaming at you that it’s all you can do, it won’t help. It will only distract you.

June 2018 Amber Grant Finalists

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

Hi everyone.

We hope your summer is off to a great start.

Today, we’re delighted to reveal 5 finalists for the $1,000 June Amber Grant.  One recipient will be eligible for our year-end Amber Grant ($10,000).

By early next week, we’ll announce the winner on Facebook, our website and our email list. So, stay tuned.

Until then, have a wonderful 4th of July.

June 2018 Finalists

 

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