Nessle, Seedschool founders taking part in Halcyon incubator program

Nessle, Seedschool founders taking part in Halcyon incubator program

By James Shea

Two Richmond founders are participating in an incubator program from D.C.-based Halcyon, with an eye on growing their businesses and expanding their networks.

The six-month program started with a week in residence at the Halcyon House in Georgetown and is being followed by months of independent study with access to resources.

Carly Buxton, founder of Nessle, and DJ Little, founder of Seedschool, both participated in leadership and skill-building activities during the first week. A total of 10 founders are part of the Halcyon Opportunity Intensive program.

Buxton, whose startup connects new mothers with doulas and other maternal health care resources, participated in sessions on accounting and human resources. She also did a program on leadership and wellness.

“It was really energizing to think about how our leadership style can be impacted by our approach to wellness,” Buxton said. “The health of our company stems from the health of ourselves.”

Halcyon was started by CEO Kate Goodall along with Dr. Sachiko Kuno, who co-founded two pharmaceutical firms with her former husband and research partner Ryuji Ueno. The organization is designed to enhance and promote startups with a social or environmental component.

“That is one of the most important factors [for selecting fellows],” said Dan Barker, managing director of Halcyon. “Impact is at the heart of everything we do. A founder has to have that focus on either social or environmental issues at the heart of their business model.”

Seedschool puts on coding bootcamps for underserved teenagers. Little did not respond to an interview request.

The incubator program is for startups located between Baltimore and Richmond and is one of several programs that Halcyon offers entrepreneurs. The organization works in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America and runs three startup funds. One of the funds recently participated in a $1.4 million funding round for Richmond startup No Limbits, an adaptive clothing company.

Buxton has gone through other startup programs, including Lighthouse Labs in Richmond and an Amazon program focused on women-owned companies. She said the Halcyon program is different because a lot of the work is independent.

“When I looked into [Halcyon], I was mostly attracted to the pro bono legal services, because we need to redo our terms and conditions,” Buxton said. “I can’t afford to pay an expensive lawyer. But being here, it’s obvious to me that there is a lot more I can get out of it.”

Barker said the program is designed to aid founders and help them along. They have access to experts in human resources, accounting, raising capital, law and other areas.

Barker said the initial week in residence is designed to build community and teach the fellows about Halcyon. The house becomes a common space for the entrepreneurs and can help them build a network.

Buxton said she met a lot of entrepreneurs who work in the D.C. area. She sees opportunity to expand her network and create partnerships around the nation’s capital.

“I often have thought about Nessle as a Richmond business, but this is a bit of a mentality shift,” Buxton said. “I really need to think of Richmond as an extension of D.C. All of the people in this cohort have a focus of building a business in Washington, D.C. That has helped me think about potential new partnerships.”

Fellows will return to the Halcyon house in December to wrap up the program.