Postcard From Asheville: Startup Updates From “Beer City”

The Asheville chapter of 1Million Cups is a mainstay of the local startup ecosystem.

Greetings from Beer City and the home of the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, N.C. Could I be anymore cliché? Sure, we have a super big house in town. And yes, we have a lot (a LOT) of really great beer…and wine (hey pleb)…and sake (lookin’ at you Ben’s Tune Up) but we’re a whole lot more. Let’s try this again.

Greetings from Asheville, home of a collaborative, thriving, supportive and generally kick-ass startup ecosystem that has a lot (a LOT) going on. Unfortunately, Pete gave me a word limit so I won’t be able to highlight all of the incredible entrepreneurs here in Asheville like Ginger’s Revenge, Soulku Jewelry, Moonlight Makers, 3 Mountains, Ware and I could keep going, but I feel like Pete is definitely going to cut me off here real soon so I’m going to get down to it.

The Venture 15 Awards winners from December, 2019 (Courtesy Venture Asheville)

Does anyone remember sending actual postcards? You’d select from an entire rack of them, picking the “snapshot” of a monument, city, or topography that you wanted to share with your loved ones. Well fellow GrepBeat readers, consider yourselves my loved ones and this is my snapshot of the many from which I had to select. <3

As the co-founder of Supportedly, startup ecosystems are always on my mind (cue Willie Nelson) and now more than ever with the impending launch of our Startup [Your Ecosystem] program, which will provide resources, training, support and community to specific regions of the state. Fingers crossed, Pete has me back to share more information about that later when we’ve launched the first five chapters, but for now, sign up for updates at

In the meantime, I’d like to share a few Asheville-area entrepreneurs who are in varied stages of their startup journey.

Elite HRV’s Jason Moore (center) accepts a Venture 15 Award (Venture Asheville)

Elite HRV has been “on the scene” for a bit now. What began as a passion project for Founder and CEO Jason Moore has turned into the most widely used and top-rated heart rate variability app on the market. Elite HRV is the third-fastest growing company in Asheville of those who applied for the Venture 15 Awards in 2019. They are also former NC IDEA SEED grant winners and Venture Asheville Elevate Check out their podcast and course content on their site for a lot more information!

– In the category of “constantly inspiring me” comes Carol Ann Bauer, creator of No Sweat Undies and 2019 Asheville Honors Shining Rock award winner as well as a 2019 recipient of the Asheville Impact Microgrant. Carol Ann also participates in the A-B Tech Small Business Center Incubation Program. The Small Business Center Incubator boasts such graduates as AvL Technologies, Plum Print, and No Evil Foods among many other awesome companies.

Carol Ann Bauer (center) winning the Shining Rock award (Venture Asheville)

– Asheville’s art and artisan scene is thriving and I’m excited about The Bright Angle. Founder Nick Moen brings technology, design, and artistry to new levels. The Bright Angle was a 2019 Mountain Bizworks and Hatch AVL Scale Up participant as well as a Pitch Breakfast Asheville, 1 Million Cups AVL, and Elevate program Check out their lighting when you get a chance…swoon.

– In the category of “startups to watch,” StoryVault, by founder J Hackett, lets you collect, organize, and interact with messages left from loved ones who are gone. The content of their message becomes searchable and eventually you’ll be able to talk to those who are not with you, whether through military service, distance, or even death. I watched J pitch his idea at Hatch AVL Foundation’s Hatch This event in November 2019 and again in December 2019 at 1Million Cups AVL – this time as the Hatch This event winner. The evolution of his idea through the Hatch This weekend and subsequent mentorship received as the winner was really inspiring.

Some samples of The Bright Angle’s product line

The businesses I’ve presented don’t have a lot in common aside from passionate founders who are willing to engage in their startup ecosystem and offer support to that ecosystem as well. Look at the number of support programs I managed to link to each of these entrepreneurs. We’re all in this together and I’m telling you now that if you engage with the support that your ecosystem offers you, your chances of success go up dramatically. If you participate and give back to the ecosystem, you are increasing the chance of success for your fellow entrepreneurs.

During his closing remarks at the 2019 Inaugural Ecosystem Summit, NC IDEA CEO Thom Ruhe coined the term “ecosysteming.”

Ecosysteming: to foster inclusive economic development with entrepreneurship.

It’s a verb now, folks, so let’s ecosystem together.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve found some businesses you’d love to buy from in Asheville and some inspiration to seek support from and get involved in your startup ecosystem.

About Stephanie Kissel 1 Article
Stephanie is the Co-Founder and COO of Supportedly, a digital platform helping entrepreneurs find, understand, and connect to the most helpful support resources.