Excited to Announce Accelerator Cohort 3!

NextGEN has kicked off Cohort 3 of its Accelerator program! This program aims to grow and scale some of the region’s high-potential startups by providing dedicated resources for their specific challenges. For Cohort 3, we are excited about new companies and a new format. New additions to the program include a custom curriculum designed by NextGEN, mentors/coaches for each team that meets the needs of their startup, and access to the network of resources available to them in our city. Subject matter experts, experienced founders, and local business leaders will lead the curriculum alongside Program Manager, These 5 companies and program leaders will work alongside each other to build a growth plan to take their startups to the next level with sessions dedicated to product market fit, sales and marketing, hiring to scale, funding, and more.

The program kicked off on Wednesday, May 22 with a happy hour at Pangaea Brewing and the first class began June 3, 2024.

“I’ve been a part of multiple programs and while those were all good in their own respect, this program was much more impactful. I guess that’s clear since I’m moving my family and business here [from Florence, SC]. But, there was really no hesitation on my part because we founders need a network of support and without a doubt this is where I need to be.” – Mike Smith, Custom Donations, Cohort 1 Graduate

The program culminates on stage at the Next Venture Summit on September 18, 2024 where the cohort companies will share their pitches.

Meet Cohort 3:

  • Drobot – Founder, Stinj Van de Velde –  Drobot has created a robot for warehouses that interacts with humans and works based on GPS and devices workers can put in their pockets. Robots can pull pallets, get X from Employee A, and more. Currently piloting, they are aiming to manufacture the final product in 2024. 
  • Lark PM – Founder, Eric Fragoso: Fragoso created software for the construction company he owns to be able to quickly price out a job and generate a list of materials needed. He is launching the MVP and looking to expand the reach through the Accelerator program.
  • Knotty Paws – Founder, Wei Wei Huang:  A 2024 finalist of the Hill Institute’s GVL Starts program, Huang has created a company that makes sustainable dog rope toys with a focus on B2B growth. 90% of Knotty Paws’ customers are in SC and they are looking to expand to other states. Knotty Pas has over 60 versions of their toys.
  • SplitEV – Founder, Abi Odugbesan: SplitEV wants to be the Airbnb of EV Charging. Customers can list their personal EV chargers on this platform and users pay a fee to have access to the entire network of chargers. SplitEV has launched its MVP and has 198 locations across the US, a pilot with Alabama Power, a Pilot w/ National Franchise, and 115 drivers. SplitEV was in Techstars Alabama Energy Tech Accelerator and is relocating to Greenville, SC.
  • Zest Vodka – Founder, Justin Buchanan – Currently, Zest Vodka has a lemon-flavored vodka product and is launching a lime flavor in 2024. They are currently in over 150+ stores in SC and Florida. Buchanan relocated here from Charleston and manufactures locally at Six and Twenty Distillery. He and his partners started off with a Rum Brand that they also still run. 

“I’m thrilled to join the NextGEN Startup Accelerator as it offers an invaluable opportunity for Susu Lend, a fintech dedicated to serving the credit invisible. Connecting with local support and resources is incredibly important during our pilot program launch. This local engagement fuels my excitement and allows us to deeply connect with the community we aim to serve, strengthening our foundational launch.” – Pedro Escobar, Susu Lend, Cohort 2 graduate

The companies in Cohort 1 saw a direct impact from participation in the NextGEN Accelerator. Three companies, Pixlmob, WAVS, and Vicinity, all received funding from Founderville.vc which was announced on stage at the 2023 NEXT Venture Summit. Custom Donations from Cohort 1 received funding from SCRA in 2024. From Cohort 2, Rebel Rabbit and Incora Health have also received funding in 2024.

Cohort members and their journeys will be featured across NextGEN’s social media during their time in the program. To learn more about these companies, visit https://www.instagram.com/nextgengvl/.

About NextGEN

NextGEN is a non-profit entrepreneurial support organization that attracts and helps grow high-impact, knowledge-based companies by developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Greenville, SC and connecting entrepreneurs to it. Our mission is to identify, engage, and provide support for high-growth entrepreneurs and their teams as they build scaling, investor-ready companies through programming, connections and support whether just starting out or well on their way.

For more information, visit www.nextgengvl.org