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Spirited voices mixed with the scent of Indian spices in The Commons: Meeting and Art Space at Institute on the Environment last Monday night. Dozens of Acara students, mentors and investors were gathered for a showcase of the 2012-13 Acara Challenge contestants.
Attendees supped on fare from Gandhi Mahal and mingled with the young entrepreneurs before settling in for brief presentations on seven start-ups developed by Acara alumni. The goal of each business - in addition to viability and profit - is to address a social or environmental issue at home or abroad.
The MyRain train just keeps on rolling. A couple of weeks ago the Acara Challenge start-up was featured in Bloomberg Businessweek. Now the team has been named to the Fall 2013 Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) online cohort at Santa Clara University Center for Science, Technology, and Society.
The new direction, not surprisingly, brings new challenges: how to pitch biogas as an economic benefit, how to create a uniform organic waste collection process and how to fit into the local economy.
Justin Miller is a student communications assistant with the Institute on the Environment. Photos courtesy of Fred Rose
"I should be ashamed of this, but I'm not."
After spending the last year in rural India building the MyRain business he co-founded with his partner Paula Uniacke, Steele Lorenz (BS '10) was ready for some comfort snack food. So when I asked him if he wanted anything from the U.S. before I left, he gave me a list that included items like Little Debbie cookies and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. On the trip over to India, I learned that Little Debbie cookies caused TSA more problems than anything else I have ever carried onto an airplane. They seem to be impenetrable to X-rays. "I should be ashamed of this list, but I'm not," Steele confided to me. The work Steele has done with MyRain over the past year, however, deserves a whole shipping container of cookies.