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5 Inspiring Start-ups: Meet the leaders behind five standout Charleston-based companies

5 Inspiring Start-ups: Meet the leaders behind five standout Charleston-based companies
January 2022

These local companies were each born from a cool idea and helped along with capital, business savvy, and a bit of luck

(Clockwise, from top left) Ryan Fiorini, Blinktbi co-founder & CTO; (Left to right) Andrew Hare, Don Taylor, and Matt Daniels owners of Vertical Roots, and parent company AmplifiedAg; Natalist medical director Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, CEO Vernita Brown, and founder Halle Tecco; Stephanie Hall, owner of Estelle Colored Glass; GreenGasUSA founder Marc Fetten and president Becky Atkinson.

It starts with back-of-the-napkin scribbles. Or head-scratching ruminations in the aisles at Walgreens. Sometimes it percolates up from happy childhood memories or from a seed planted, literally. Wherever the initial spark may come from, a start-up starts with an idea, a dream, a vision for solving a problem or fi lling a need. However, transforming that idea into a reality takes more than ingenuity—there’s business savvy, personal and fi nancial support, teamwork, and luck. Inspiration is one thing; launching into learn-as-you-go, messy reality is another. Then staying inspired and continuing to grow is yet another. Meet the leaders of five local enterprises who have met the challenges, driving their start-ups to sustained success.

Estelle Colored Glass - Breaking the amber glass ceiling

Tempted to splurge on curvy, sexy stemware in dreamy jewel-toned hues—even though you’ve got enough glasses already—just because they’re so gorgeous? Blame it on “Big Mama.” >>LEARN MORE ABOUT ESTELLE COLORED GLASS

Blinktbi - Detecting concussions and neurological diseases in the blink of an eye 

Ryan Fiorini’s son was three-years-old when he fell off a dock, knocking his head on a steel ladder before tumbling into the water. Save for some initial clinginess and a couple of lumps on his head, the little guy seemed back to normal in no time. His parents, on the other hand, were concerned. “He was clearly concussed,” Fiorini says. “But one of the things that was just really bothering me was there was no way to follow his progression.” >>LEARN MORE ABOUT BLINKTIBI

GreenGasUSA - Capturing methane to turn into renewable natural gas for a win-win

After a high-powered career during which he headed up finance and mergers and acquisitions for Bayer Corporation in Europe and North America, Marc Fetten decided in 2017 that he’d finally take it easy. His retirement, however, lasted all of a week, he says. “I didn’t like it at all.” >>LEARN MORE ABOUT GREENGASUSA

Natalist - Birthing a new line of products in the women’s health aisle

Forty weeks is the typical gestation period to grow a human, but for many women, including Halle Tecco, the pregnancy journey begins long before. For Tecco, it took four long, frustrating years of trying to conceive, “and a lot of science,” says the mom of a now four-year-old son. On the upside, her experience navigating fertility hurdles, including a slew of uninspiring, confusing consumer products and “a sea of junk science” on the Internet, birthed a company, as well as a little boy. >>LEARN MORE ABOUT NATALIST

Vertical Roots & AmplifiedAg - Cultivating a farming revolution

Till the soil, plant a seed, nurture it, see what grows. Farming is the original start-up—a monumental, paradigm-shifting innovation. Long before Silicon Valley, there was the Nile Valley, where our ancient ancestors began a dramatic shift from a nomadic hunter-gatherer economy to an agricultural one. Season by season since then, farmers have invested sweat equity in growing new foods, always tinkering with more efficient practices, more resilient business plans. It’s Entrepreneurship 101 at its best—where there’s no planting, there’s no harvest. >>LEARN MORE ABOUT VERTICAL ROOTS & AMPLIFIEDAG