Veterans Future Lab welcomes the Apex2022 cohort
Meet early-stage ventures across a range of industries from healthcare and manufacturing to technology and consulting services
This fall, the NYU Tandon Veterans Future Lab is proud to welcome another cohort of outstanding companies to Apex, our 9-month incubator program for ventures led by veterans and military spouses. This year’s group stands out for their focus on products and services that address pressing social issues. Highlighting the service-minded orientation of founders who represent four branches of the US military, the ventures offer solutions for opioid addiction, single-use plastics, healthcare inequity, and a host of other social ills.
The founders’ diversity — geographical, business focus, backgrounds, military service — illustrates the ever-expanding reach of Apex, now in its fourth year. “When the program first launched, we focused on veteran-led startups in the Tri-State Area,” says Steve Kuyan, Managing Director of the Future Labs. “The Apex2022 cohort is a great example of our growth, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome the companies and include them in the family of startups not just at the VFL but across the NYU Tandon Future Labs’ network.”
Founder: Jeremy Campbell | US Marine Corps
Location: Chicago, IL
Jeremy Campbell, a Chicago native, was severely injured during a Humvee rollover accident while serving in the Marines in 2006 in Camp Pendleton. Following dozens of surgeries, he says that getting off the opioids he was prescribed for pain management was one of the most challenging things he’s ever had to do. According to the CDC, hundreds of thousands struggle with opioid dependence in the US, and nearly 841,000 people have died since 1999 from an opioid-related drug overdose. Campbell was motivated to start Allevia to help reduce opioid use dependence and improve the quality of life of patients who are prescribed opioids. The Allevia platform will monitor essential patient data and engagement using a prevent, de-risk, and rehabilitate framework to make safer and more effective opioid prescription decisions at the point of care.
Founders: Christopher Flanagan | US Marine Corps + Daniel Widdis | US Navy
Location: Falls Church, VA + Bellevue, WA
Former naval officers Christopher Flanagan and Daniel Widdis are building DataVal Ventures, a data marketplace for the $6 trillion data economy. The duo liken their product to iTunes: Data producers upload their data to the platform and receive compensation from subscribers looking for information that can address business problems — Answers-as-a-Service. Their system is also a Kelley Blue Book for data where anyone can quickly receive fair market value for a dataset available through a self-service wizard.
Founders: Marie Roker-Jones | Military Spouse + Hugues Seureau
Location: New York, NY
An exciting player in the DEI-tech space, Essteem looks to improve the tech ecosystem with a SaaS-based app for HR, ESG, CSR, and recruiting leaders in companies actively looking to create more engaged, diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. Military spouse Marie Roker-Jones (an alum of VFL’s VET program) and co-founder Hugues Seureau also organize social impact-driven hackathons to help underrepresented tech talent showcase their skills to companies that are hiring, while using their passion for technology to give back to nonprofits.
Founders: US Army veterans
Location: Austin, TX
Record-breaking temperatures, like the heat dome that punished the Pacific Northwest this summer, have pushed legislators to consider safety regulations for laborers who must work outside, offering yet another use case for ICCEE, led by 2 US Army veterans. The portable tent uses an evaporation technique that keeps the air within it cool without consuming much power, an attractive option for businesses that may now be required to provide cooling breaks for workers.
However, ICCEE has other applications in the military and industrial markets too, such as helping service members and first responders cool off in deadly heat environments, as well as in the commercial sector, where the tent may be used at tailgating parties or other outdoor events.
Founder: Durodgio Peterson|US Navy
Location: Brooklyn, NY
US Navy veteran and VFL VET alum Durodgio Peterson has 15+ years of experience in creating and leading diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at organizations ranging from the White House to Getty Images. His latest endeavor, Inclusion Space, is an AI-driven, scalable DEI coaching tool. Drawing on machine learning, sentiment, and talent data, the tool recommends interventions, strategies, and tactics that inform bespoke action plans for overcoming systemic barriers hindering company growth and health. Here’s support for STEM-related organizations looking for DEI guidance to effectively address retention and fulfillment of underrepresented groups, as well as leadership development and coaching for sustained change.
Founders: Yusuf Henriques | US Army + Wilmot Allen + Bradford Wilson
Location: Africa + Washington, DC
IndyGeneUS AI (pronounced “indigenous”) seeks to redress the healthcare inequity and disparities that result from clinical trial data largely gathered from predominantly European white males. By developing a blockchain, encrypted bio-repository of indigenous and African diaspora genomic and clinical data, the genomics startup aims to better prevent, detect, and manage disease in wider diverse populations, as well as improve the development of more inclusive therapeutics using whole genome sequencing (WGS).
The venture is led by Wilmot Allen, PhD, Bradford Wilson, PhD, and US Army veteran Yusuf Henriques, a serial entrepreneur who previously founded Polaris Genomics (formerly known as TruGenomix Health), an Apex2020 graduate.
Founders: US Army Veterans
Location: New York, NY
Smoking cigarettes kills 480,000 Americans annually, with 41,000 deaths caused by secondhand smoke, according to the CDC. And while 55% of smokers attempt quitting annually, only 6% are successful in the long term. Two US Army veterans want to change that, and are deploying hardware, an app, multiple types of therapies, community support, and more to create the most advanced smoking cessation product yet — a proprietary vape pen, KICK, that aims to slowly wean smokers from nicotine through a combination of therapies and an immersive mobile app. KTH Technologies’ KICK is one of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas 2021 Honorable Mentions, and we’re looking forward to widespread impact.
Founder: JT Liddell
Location: Atlanta, GA
US Army veteran
JT Liddell’s startup Promenade focuses on improving the social determinants of health. Using data and AI, Promenade matches and connects veterans to critical resources for their post-military career. Aspects such as employment (along with food security, mental wellness, and the like) impact 80–90% of health outcomes, and veterans often struggle both with awareness of resources available and getting connected to them. Promenade solves for this and helps each user visualize and track their progress along their post-military journey.
Founder: Riley Rees | US Air Force
Location: San Francisco, CA
Sofia Health strives to fill the gap in healthcare that doesn’t address patients’ needs — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual — holistically. Led by US Air Force veteran and MIT Sloan MBA Riley Rees, the startup connects those suffering from chronic conditions or looking for mental health support to holistic, complementary, alternative, and naturopathic providers. The online health and wellness platform enables users to find, schedule, and pay for holistic health and wellness services, on demand, while health professionals benefit from easy-to-use, integrated web tools, reducing their client acquisition cost.
Founder: Joseph Bishop | US Navy
Location: New York, NY
Trashy Wheels is looking to reduce the plastic waste generated by skateboard wheels. As founder, skater, and US Navy veteran Joseph Bishop points out, studies show that replacing polyurethane skateboarding wheels with recycled plastics could cut the total CO2 footprint of wheel production almost in half. By making wheels with recycled plastic, Trashy Wheels could make good on those claims.