UnLtd USA business incubator set to open in East Austin

Aug 20, 2014
Austin Business Journal

UnLtd USA, an incubator designed to back socially conscious entrepreneurs, plans to launch its first class of six Austin startups next month


The non-profit group quietly opened a local office in February and began taking applications in May. Instead of an expected 50 applicants, UnLtd received more than 80 and began whittling them down in June, said Cristina Diodati, the group’s search and selection associate, in an interview with Austin Business Journal


The first Austin class includes: Compost recycling program Compost Pedallers, employment marketplace GirlsGuild, mental health care tool maker Mentegram, education budgeting tool maker PelotonU; recipe budgeting tool maker Stretch; and water conservation specialist Ten Acre Organics


The startups will operate out of Center61, a co-working space on 17th Street in East Austin, Diodati told me


UnLtd invests $5,000 in seed-stage companies, and $10,000 in companies a year or older. It doesn’t take an equity stake. Instead, startups are asked to invest in another UnLtd company within three years, she said


Diodati was previously a sales and marketing manager for Atlanta-based MetLife Group Benefits. She also worked for an non-governmental organization, Dream to Reality, in South Africa focusing on early childhood education


UnLtd USA was founded by Zoe Schlag, who was previously an incubation associate for UnLtd India


Several incubators and accelerators such as TechStars LLC, the Capital Factory and the Austin Technology Incubator already operate locally. Most operate with a business model similar to California-based Y Combinator, which mentors startups and invests limited amounts of seed capital in exchange for small equity stakes


The Austin Business Journal has previously reported on the proliferation of such programs in Austin


In February, The DreamIt Fund II LP, which is affiliated with business accelerator DreamIt Ventures, raised $9.3 million of planned $50 million financing from 28 investors, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission


Philadelphia-based DreamIt, which has launched 127 companies since it was established in 2008, operated its first Austin program last year from the Capital Factory downtown


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