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Scouting the impact ecosystem at SEED

ImpactAlpha, May 22 — Investors, entrepreneurs, educators, consultants, and others up mingled over chicken pupusas and mushroom onigiri at SEED, a San Francisco conference for early-stage social ventures.

At the Roxie Theater in the city’s Mission District, participants and judges vetted pitches from six startups seeking funding. Native Women Lead, a cooperative focused on mentoring, investing in and helping to build companies led by native American women, won the $20,000 audience prize, plus another $5,000 from an expert judge.

The judges’ prize of $12,500 went to Savvy Cooperative, a patient-owned co-op built that connects health care companies doing market research for new products. Patients are compensated for their insights when they participate in focus groups, surveys, and interviews.

Ellie FunDay, another competitor, works with marginalized women in India to design organic baby blankets, stuffed animals, and other products. Xyza (pronounced zai-za), a news platform for tweens, aims to build news consumption and critical thinking habits among the world’s 1.2 billion tweens (kids aged 8 to 13) with an online platform, weekly emails, and a pop-up event series.

Portland’s Wheyward Spirit takes excess whey from cheesemakers and turns it into a premium alcoholic spirit sold alongside rum, vodka, and whiskey.

The final competitor, Flourish, probes how Uber drivers and other underbanked populations spend their time. The venture is integrating games and lottery-like experiences to help people save money. The goal, according to co-founder Pedro Mora: “World savings domination.” 

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