Working to Advance Economic Development in Northern New Mexico Since 1997

10 Jan

VAF Spotlight: Etkie

Venture Acceleration Fund Fosters Creative Jobs in Native American Communities

Etkie On Track to Double Employee Rolls Annually

Every year, people flock to New Mexico to experience the culture and history, and most take a bit of it home with them in the form of jewelry or art. However, a majority of artisans, despite their talent, are excluded from being able to earn a living through their traditional and cultural expertise. Sydney Alfonso, CEO of the jewelry brand Etkie, is taking their talent to the world and creating long-term sustainable opportunities for New Mexico artisans in the process.

 

Etkie, founded in 2014, is a luxury jewelry brand with a twist. Alfonso has a sharp eye for design, and a commitment to sourcing her talent from underemployed communities in New Mexico. Previously, she worked with women’s co-ops in Turkey and Mongolia, helping them modernize products for a western market. Now she provides Native American beadworkers a platform to create contemporary designs using the artistic traditions passed down from generations.  The artists live on the Navajo Nation where the roads to work are long and the jobs are nonexistent. Many of them elect to work from home on the land and in the community where their roots are deeply planted.

 

Alfonso’s business philosophy has deep roots in social responsibility, and she views Etkie as a vehicle to preserve cultural traditions that are at risk of disappearing. A New Mexico native, she wanted to start a business in her home state, utilizing the talents that are already here and creating a way for Native American artisans to support themselves.

 

It was the combination of a smart business plan geared for growth and commitment to cultural preservation that led to recognition by the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) in 2015. After applying for the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF), a program administered by the RDC, Etkie was named a recipient of funds to help build the infrastructure of the young company.

 

The VAF is the only program that provides seed money for early-stage startups and growth-oriented companies that often lack the collateral for debt financing. Alfonso knew of the VAF as a fund with primary investments in technology and manufacturing startups but, as she made her way through the application process, was impressed to learn of the importance the VAF also places on community building.

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10 Jan

VAF Spotlight: IR Dynamics

VAF Award Allowed IR Dynamics to Take Their Ideas to the Next Level

Innovative, highly-insulating window films cut homeowners’ electricity costs

 

Part of the job of economic development organizations such as the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) is keeping a finger on the pulse of the local entrepreneurial community to find ways to help boost it. And, economic developers working in primarily rural areas like the RDC’s region—Northern New Mexico—know that when you find true innovation, you do all you can to help support it.

 

The RDC recognized major marketplace opportunity in IR Dynamics, a producer of nanomaterials based in Santa Fe. The company produces transparent, thermally-dynamic window films that can insulate existing single-pane windows. This insulation provides a great deal of energy efficiency and can cut homeowners’ electricity costs by a significant portion each year.

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10 Jan

VAF Spotlight: Love+Leche

Love + Leche’s Handmade Products Enriched by VAF Investment

 

The Northern New Mexico community is central to Love + Leche, a natural personal-care product company launched in 2005 in Santa Fe. CEO Daven Lee sources her ingredients—beeswax and goats’ milk—as well as professional services locally, a commitment to the local economy.

 

“I’m all about community and connection,” said Lee. “What I love about my business is finding different ways to partner with local providers.”

 

In addition to buying beeswax for her company’s signature lotion bars from Santa Fe’s Buckin’ Bee Honey, she is part of a local goat-milking co-op, where she milks twice a month. The milk goes directly into her handmade soap.

 

“Goat’s milk is very mild, so a soap made with it is great for sensitive skin, babies, and people with allergies,” Lee said.

 

After ten years in the business, Lee changed the name of the company (formerly known as Milk + Honey) to Love + Leche. During the transition, she consulted with Regional Development Corporation (RDC) staff to strategize ways to break into new markets. The RDC is an economic development organization focused on creating and retaining jobs and attracting additional revenue to the Northern New Mexico region.

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08 Nov

Companies to Watch: tea.o.graphy

A Tea Business Steeped in Sustainability Brings Jobs to Taos

 

Dana Blair never imagined she’d be building a business on tea. The founder of tea.o.graphy in Taos, the company has grown exponentially each year since she quietly launched it in 2014.

 

“My whole journey through tea started with coffee, which I had to quit drinking due to health reasons,” Dana explains.

 

She was living in Georgia at the time, where she experimented with blends that had bold, coffee-like appeal. Her creation, Café sans Café, is a staple within teo.o.graphy’s current offerings. Blended with roasted chicory root, malty Assam black tea and fair-trade vanilla bean, Café sans Café is a rich black tea with notes of tobacco and chocolate. It satisfied her coffee cravings, and Dana soon realized she might be onto something.

 

Soon afterwards, Dana moved to China to teach English. There, she discovered a whole history of tea that had been previously unknown to her. She describes this time in China as one of exploration, where access to exotic ingredients fueled her research.

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11 Oct

Companies to Watch: Xerb.tv

Santa Fe Startup May Change the Way Filmmakers and Content Creators Get Paid

 

Eric Streeper and his co-founder, former Google engineer, Dan Hathorn, are building a company that very well might change the way filmmakers and video content creators get paid. Holed up in Xerb.tv’s world headquarters at Santa Fe Business Incubator, it’s not immediately apparent that he is on the leading edge of a sea change shifting the dynamics of creators and online consumers. But, just as Netflix upended the way we consume television series, he has seen the future and is determined to breathe life into it starting with filmmakers based right here in New Mexico.

 

“Netflix is now the largest movie studio,” said Streeper. “They’re out-spending the big studios, because distribution is key. They own the new subscription-based distribution model.”

 

Xerb.tv has taken its cues from this type of subscription model, and is re-centering its strategy to benefit the creators of the work instead of distribution houses. Streeper and his business partner, Dan Hathorn, is starting first with 10 New Mexico-based production companies that will launch subscription channels on the Xerb platform. These production companies will curate, maintain and operate the content on their own channels. Independent creators will have the ability to upload their own work to the platform, and then reach out to company channels to request inclusion.

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18 Sep

RFP: Native American Venture Acceleration Fund

The Regional Development Corporation in partnership with the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Security, LLC seeks to further the development of tribally held businesses in Northern New Mexico as a way of creating jobs and diversifying the economy.

 

Purpose:  The Native American Venture Acceleration Fund will make awards to companies owned by a federally recognized Indian tribe or businesses owned by an enrolled member(s) of a federally recognized Indian tribe for critical technical services that lead to increased revenues and employment for the company.  Awards are made on a competitive basis and are intended to provide services to tribal business entities that allow the company to diversify revenue, leverage other investments, create new jobs and have systems in place that lead to growth.

 

Award Size$1,000 Up to $20,000

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18 Sep

RFP: Native American Venture Acceleration Fund

The Regional Development Corporation in partnership with the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Security, LLC seeks to further the development of tribally held businesses in Northern New Mexico as a way of creating jobs and diversifying the economy.

 

Purpose:  The Native American Venture Acceleration Fund will make awards to companies owned by a federally recognized Indian tribe or businesses owned by an enrolled member(s) of a federally recognized Indian tribe for critical technical services that lead to increased revenues and employment for the company.  Awards are made on a competitive basis and are intended to provide services to tribal business entities that allow the company to diversify revenue, leverage other investments, create new jobs and have systems in place that lead to growth.

 

Award Size:  $1,000 Up to $20,000

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14 Aug

Companies to Watch: Slip Safe New Mexico

Slip Safe New Mexico Gains Traction in Northern New Mexico

Michael Martinez is building a family business one job at a time in Northern New Mexico. Two years ago, in 2015, Martinez established Slip Safe New Mexico, LLC, when he purchased the New Mexico distributorship for the franchise.

 

Martinez is a full-time employee of Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he tuned into modern-day workplace safety standards. According to the Industrial Safety & Occupational Health Markets, a full 85 percent of worker’s compensation claims are attributed to employees slipping on slick floors. Martinez noted this when looking for franchises to buy, and his careful research is already paying off. Now, Slip Safe New Mexico is a full-fledged family business that’s growing rapidly.

 

From his daily work at the Laboratory, Martinez knew that slips and falls were amongst the top issues cited in injuries there. Upon further research, he found that slips and falls were a very real problem with hotels, public swimming pools and other small businesses.

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13 Jul

Companies to Watch: Taos Bee Flower

Taos Bee Flower Adds to Buzz Around Natural Product Manufacturing in Northern New Mexico

 

Moira O’Hanlon is turning the beekeeping enterprise she’s nurtured for 14 years into a growing business. Passionate about bees and the environment, she has created Taos Bee Flower to bring the pure, organic skin remedies she concocts in her Arroyo Seco orchard to market.

 

Rose Reza, business retention and expansion specialist with the Regional Development Corporation (RDC), mentored O’Hanlon through the Biz Sprint startup class offered by Taos Entrepreneurial Network (TEN).

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09 Jul

VAF Spotlight: Rio Grande Neurosciences

Rio Grande Neurosciences Paves the Way for New Central Nervous System Therapies Thanks to VAF Funding

 

“You need to have a concise, actionable plan,” he said. “You better practice talking about it.”

 

The practice paid off, and Rio Grande Neurosciences simply wouldn’t be where it is today without the assistance of the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF). The Regional Development Corporation (RDC) is the administrator of the VAF program. With a mission to create and retain high-paying jobs and attract revenue to the Northern New Mexico region, the RDC recognized the company’s potential to accomplish both these goals.

 

The VAF is the only program in Northern New Mexico that provides seed money for early-stage technology startups and growth-oriented business who lack the collateral for debt financing. Funded primarily by Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the VAF has assisted Northern New Mexico businesses at critical junctures since its inception in 2006. The VAF receives additional support from Los Alamos County, Santa Fe County, City of Santa Fe Economic Development and New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

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Working to Advance Economic Development in Northern New Mexico Since 1997