Inaugural Cohort.

Meet the companies who participated in our 2023 Venture Fellows cohort.

Venture Fellows

Investing in diverse innovators to pilot good ideas that help communities become more resilient in response to the impacts of climate change.

2023 Los Angeles Cohort.

Aquaria

Harvesting clean water from the air via solar power
Founders: Brian Sheng, CEO and Eric Sheng, COO

Aquaria’s solar-powered atmospheric water generators safeguard community access to water against disruptions, contamination, drought and climate change. The humidity in the air around us is the most resilient source of water on the planet — where there is air, there is water. As urban groundwater resources are rapidly depleted, and droughts and extreme weather events become more frequent, we can look to the sky for a renewable source of water right where we need it. Aquaria’s unique IP makes for the lowest cost solar-powered water generator that can provide enough continuous drinking water for 300 people.

Healing Gardens

Transforming urban land into community accessible gardens
Founders: Abhishek Arora, CEO and Farmer Rishi Kumar

Healing Gardens is the “Airbnb of Gardens,” incentivizing the use of private gardens or unused land to become revenue-generating community garden spaces. Healing Gardens is a marketplace that makes regenerative organic urban gardens and farms more accessible to urban communities that have been losing access to nature. Gardens can be used to hosts to events, co-working, farming, herbal samplings, wellness activities, yoga, sunset tea ceremonies, cultural workshops and catered experiences. The company’s mission is to draw awareness to the physical and mental wellness benefits of gardens while activating a regenerative organic garden network that reverses climate change.

Kit Switch

Converting unused real estate via plug and play modular interiors
Founders: Armelle Coutant, CEO and Candice Delamarre, COO

Seventeen billion square feet of non-residential buildings are currently vacant, of which 6 billion square feet are already zoned for housing. Kit Switch, a next-generation modular interiors company, specializes in the design of eco-friendly kit components to assemble affordable, sustainable and reconfigurable housing units within existing structures. This tackles the unused commercial real estate crisis alongside the affordable housing crisis. The company’s kits of plug-and-play building components replace the traditional fragmented, uncertain and time-consuming retrofit process.

Prosperity Market

Eliminating food deserts with a solar-powered mobile farmers’ market
Founders: Carmen Dianne, CEO and Kara Still, COO

Prosperity Market is a solar-powered “farmers market / food truck on wheels” that sources food from black urban farmers, chefs and artisans to transform local ecosystems and economies through agriculture, food access, nutrition education and community partnerships. We travel throughout LA making it easy to support black businesses while creating healthy and affordable food access for communities in need.

Radiant Innovation

Enhancing urban food resiliency through solar-powered cold storage
Founder: Eileen O’Rourke, CEO

Radiant Innovation offers sustainable cold storage to enable communities to more effectively obtain, store and distribute food to reduce food insecurity. The company’s solar-powered cooler unit — a patent-pending, customized shipping container — is a stand-alone product that meets the needs of growing local food systems. It is meant to be deployed off-grid, providing a new and flexible cold storage option for stakeholders along the cold chain to maintain food safety, reduce nutritional losses of perishable foods and increase access to nutritious food to consumers lacking healthy food options.

ThermoShade

Countering urban heat inequity with retrofit cooling panels that need zero electricity or water
Founders: Daniel Coplon, CEO and Emily Dinino, CFO

ThermoShade is an outdoor cooling company that aims to make our public spaces more comfortable for people to work, learn, and play—and to make our cities more resilient to climate change. ThermoShade is developing a passive cooling panel that can be retrofitted to outdoor spaces, creating a shady environment that feels up to 20°F cooler than a basic awning, without using any electricity or water. ThermoShade panels can provide relief to anyone subjected to extended heat exposure, such as frontline workers, commuters waiting for buses, students playing on asphalt playgrounds, restaurant and warehouse workers, and sports participants and attendees.

VNDRMATCH

Bringing fresh produce directly to communities through a convenient and sustainable platform
Founder: Christopher Temblador, CEO

VNDRMATCH is transforming corner stores into healthy food stations to reduce urban food deserts. The company is challenging food supply chains and reimagining food sourcing in Los Angeles. By connecting existing infrastructure — corner stores— with resources for healthy, affordable foods, the company aims to address food insecurity and inequality, providing everyone the right to nutritious food. With their platform, the company strives to create a more equitable food system through innovative technology and extensive local partner collaboration. VNDRMATCH believes everyone should have access to affordable, nutritious and delicious food.

2023 Miami Cohort.

Dream in Green

Empowering individuals to lead in the response to climate change and other environmental challenges
Founder: Barbara Martinez-Guerrero, Executive Director

Now more than ever it is critical that our community, including our children, change their behaviors to reduce the production of carbon dioxide (CO2), slow the impacts of climate change and conserve our water resources. Dream in Green assists diverse organizations, including schools, households, local governments and businesses to reduce their environmental footprint. By establishing partnerships in Miami communities, the company develops, implements and oversees educational programs and workshops that promote environmentally sustainable behaviors among all age groups.

Emergency App

Saving lives through technology
Founder: Joseph Russo

Current emergency technologies leave behind the most vulnerable members of society. Emergency is building citizen mobile apps that partner with governments to save lives in natural disasters. The company is revolutionizing how humanity responds to disasters, by saving lives with AI-powered situational awareness.

GROWLOT

Transforming neighborhoods one lot at a time through vertical gardens
Founder: La Toya Stirrup, CEO

GROWLOT is democratizing food access through landscape beautification and innovative food service catered to local needs. The company turns vacant and abandoned lots into healthy neighborhood food sources by providing a subscription-based vertical grow garden with garden-to-box restaurant and delivery food service. These gardens will be “micro grow stations” that can be leased by members of the neighborhood who want access to fresh produce but may not have the space, time or know-how to grow their own. To further activate the space, classes will be offered to the community to educate kids and adults on urban gardening, healthy eating and meal prep tips.

Hyperlocal Farms

High-yield urban farming via symbiotic ecosystems
Founder: Nicholas Metropulos, CEO

Hyperlocal Farms integrates aquaculture with hydroponics to create a self-sustaining symbiotic food ecosystem that provides local fresh food to underserved urban communities. Hyperlocal Farms’ method uses 95% less water, creates zero waste and produces a much higher yield than typical urban farming. Hyperlocal Farms raises aquatic animals such as fish whose waste products serve as a source of nutrients for plants cultivated in water-based systems. By reciprocally purifying the water, this method creates a synergistic relationship between plants and animals, resulting in a high yield of fruits, vegetables, and herbs with significantly reduced resource utilization compared to traditional farming practices.

Kind Designs — Living Seawalls

Enhancing coastal resilience via living seawalls
Founder: Anya Freeman, CEO

Five hundred seven global coastal communities are at imminent risk from rising sea levels. Kind Designs is the world’s first company to 3D print living seawalls that function as coral reefs. These reefs to protect coastal communities and sequester CO2. Kind Designs’ living seawalls have built-in sensors to track essential water quality data, transforming seawalls into a protective and sensory organism that improves biodiversity. Living seawalls are cheaper and faster to produce and permit than any conventional seawall products on the market today.

Phytoflora By Green Thumb Strategies

Creating infrastructure to grow hydroponic plants that can clean and protect waterways
Founder: Jazmin Locke-Rodriguez, CEO

Phytoflora’s “green infrastructure” innovation uses floating treatment wetlands (FTW) — a created ecosystem that mimics natural wetlands’ nutrient reduction processes by using floating rafts to support hydroponically grown plants. This solution builds on indigenous methodology used in Latin America for centuries. The company seeks to remediate nutrient pollution in South Florida waterways using market crops on floating treatment wetlands, producing plants and mangrove saplings that can then be planted to increase coastal resilience.

Solar United Neighbors

Democratizing access to clean energy for underserved neighborhoods via solar co-ops
Heaven Campbell, Program Director and Laura Tellez, Florida Program Associate

Solar United runs solarize campaigns, “co-ops,” that are free bulk purchase programs that use economies of scale to help more homeowners access solar energy. The company has been consistently innovating and pushing to expand equitable access to solar in Florida, a policy-enabled, access-barren landscape. With increased support, the company seeks to leverage solar energy community ambassadors to increase educational awareness and consumer protection in underserved, energy burdened neighborhoods.

Current Cohort.

The Venture Fellows program continues to invest in diverse innovators to pilot good ideas that help communities become more resilient in response to the impacts of climate change.

Take a look at each of the companies who are currently participating in our 2024 Venture Fellows program. 

Do you have an idea to make your community more resilient, equitable, & sustainable?

The Venture Fellows program is a nine-month hands-on experience — we invest in diverse innovators to pilot good ideas that help communities become more resilient in response to the impacts of climate change.

For more information about the reach and aspirations of Larta’s Venture Fellows program, including plans to expand the cities served in the years ahead:

Los Angeles and Miami are two cities where climate change will continue to have a major impact on underserved communities. The Venture Fellows selected for this inaugural cohort are entrepreneurs who are ready to address some of the challenges these communities face, such as accessing clean water, reducing the impact of sea-level rise and improving the livability of urban spaces.

Jenny Flores

Head of Small Business Growth Philanthropy
Wells Fargo

Our Fellowship program begins in April 2024.
Apply now to become a Venture Fellow in Los Angeles or Miami.

Tell us about your idea & vision — and our team will be in touch with next steps & more info.

Larta Institute Funds Diverse Innovators and Community-Based Climate Solutions with Wells Fargo Foundation Grant

New Venture Fellows program to support women- and minority-led ideas, creating more resilient, equitable, and sustainable communities in U.S. cities

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About Larta Institute

Each year, we select over 500 founders and ventures to join our startup accelerators. We provide innovators with access to our programs, ecosystem, and funding, which all play a vital role in supporting the development and implementation of their solutions.

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