WATCH PARTY: SwiftPaws CEO Meghan Wolfgram Takes Home Golden Ticket on ABC’s Shark Tank
By Space Coast Daily // April 20, 2022
EDC has long supported and partnered with Groundswell Startups
WATCH PARTY: With Piper at her side, Meghan Wolgram, CEO of SwiftPaws, took home the rare and coveted 14-karat Golden Ticket from Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner. SwiftPaws, the developer of the world’s first backyard lure-coursing equipment, celebrated this milestone with a packed house of family, friends, and community members at Groundswell Startups.
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – With Piper at her side, Meghan Wolgram, CEO of SwiftPaws, took home the rare and coveted 14-karat Golden Ticket from Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner.
SwiftPaws, the developer of the world’s first backyard lure-coursing equipment, celebrated this milestone with a packed house of family, friends, and community members at Groundswell Startups.
The standing-room-only viewing party was a celebration of more than nine years of hard work by Meghan and her team and included a virtual appearance from Greiner herself.
Grassroots High-Tech Incubator Groundswell Startups Assists Companies With Venture Capital Funds
What does a home lure course for dogs have in common with a company that manufactures performance wear from 100 percent certified ocean plastic? What unites a cutting-edge AI company and a manufacturer of wristbands that noninvasively monitor blood glucose levels?
They were all once the business dreams of Brevard entrepreneurs, now turned into reality thanks to Groundswell Startups.
The grassroots high-tech incubator and co-working space founded in 2016 by Jenna Reid, Bud Deffebach, Mark Mohler and John Vecchio have already assisted more than 175 fledgling companies and helped 30 of these gain access to more than $50 million in venture capital funds.
“We dig deep into pitch decks, financial models, term sheet, funding sources, etc.,” said Groundswell COO Jarin Eisenberg.
“We see Groundswell Startups as being a catalyst for change. We have created a space where people can take risks, pursue their dreams, and do it within a community of incredibly talented individuals who are willing to step in and help. They are deeply invested in each other’s success.”
Even better, all the handholding, mentoring and strategizing comes at the wonderful cost of absolutely nothing to the startups.
Deffenbach purchased, built out and donated Groundswell’s headquarters at 2412 Irwin Street in Melbourne. Prior to Groundswell’s appearance on the scene, the buildings occupied by the incubator and its startups and members were boarded-up, vacant eyesores across from Riverview Park.
Not only has Groundswell breathed life into new businesses, but it has also brought energy and vibrancy to a formerly overlooked area of South Melbourne. Funding comes from sponsorships, co-working memberships and office rentals.
“We are a nonprofit and one of the only incubators in the state that does not receive government funding,” said Eisenberg.
Groundswell members such as Jaycon Systems and Catania Enterprises provide in-house expertise in all aspects needed to successfully launch or refine a product.
“Everything you need to get your business started can be found through the connections made at Groundswell,” said Stefanie Catania, CEO/CFO of Catania Enterprises.
The network includes full-scale product design, in-house 3D printing capabilities, website and graphic design services, marketing, sales and business development guidance and even a prototyping lab for small-run manufacturing.
“We are also home to a network of highly skilled professionals who co-work out of Groundswell,” said Eisenberg. “It is all under one roof, making for a really strong collaborative culture where everyone taps into each other’s resources.”
The growth culture nurtured by Groundswell is also a dream come true for the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.
“The EDC has long supported and partnered with Groundswell because resources like these help build an eco-system on the Space Coast supportive of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said EDC President and CEO Lynda Weatherman.
“Today’s startups can become tomorrow’s major employers and we’re excited to see what the significant brainpower of our community comes up with next.”
Entrepreneurial gray cells are indeed active in Brevard, in large part because of Groundswell Startups. Groundswell graduate Swift Paws, for example, has raised more than a quarter-million dollars with Groundswell’s help and is surpassing annual sales goals of their home lure courses for canines.
Tomahawk Robotics, another Groundswell-mentored startup, just celebrated the opening of its new 8,500-square-foot facility. Sea Threads, a company that upcycles ocean plastic into performance wear, will host a kickstarter launch party in early June.
Glucose monitoring wristband manufacturer Alertgy, one of the original tenants of Groundswell Startups, was named among the 30 fastest-growing private companies to watch in 2018 by “Silicon Review.”
The EDC figures prominently in Groundswell’s plans for startups.
“We have greatly benefited from the tremendous job they have done bringing business to the Space Coast and helping to create a diversified economy,” said Eisenberg.
Startups can take as little or as long as they need to get into gear. Groundswell’s Idea Stage Accelerator, a 10-week cohort-based program with Starter Studio, helps startups with idea validation, customer discovery, business models and funding sources.
“Every journey is different, but they all need access to quality vetted resources and we help them do that,” said Eisenberg.
For more on Groundswell, visit Swellstartups.com