A Look Into the Work of Davis Roots


Davis-Rootsby Alex Rossbach

Davis Roots is a non-profit startup accelerator in downtown Davis. Our mission is to foster the development of high-growth ventures in Davis. One of the big issues we see in Davis, and the driving force behind the creation of Davis Roots, is that we have a great University but as a community we’re not taking advantage of the technology and talented workforce coming out of it. There have been many promising tech startups that leave Davis and head to Silicon Valley due to a perceived lack of support from the Davis community.

We accept 4-5 startups every 9 months but there’s a good 8 months of work that go into identifying which startups will be chosen out of the 30-40 yearly applications we receive. The first step is going through the applications we receive through our website. If the basic idea and business plan meet our criteria then we meet with the founding team to get a better feel for their passion about the startup and their backgrounds. After that we then bring in the remaining startups to give a pitch in front of our board of directors. Our application process has to be very rigorous because startups aren’t for everyone, they require tons of commitment on the part of the founders and we invest a lot of our time and energy into them as well. Due to our rigorous standards each of the startups that come into our program are the best that Davis has to offer.

As for the specifics about our program we give our startups a place to work, mentor-ship, assistance with fund-raising and legal help. We also have a large group of mentors that we pair with our resident startups. All of our mentors have experience in the entrepreneurial field and are able to help our startups fill in any potential knowledge gaps (ie: marketing, technology, sales etc..) that they might have.

Our first class of companies consisted of two startups, Barobo and Nuritas. Barobo builds learning robots which are used to teach children math and programming skills. They have raised funding and are in the Davis community building their company. Nuritas is a nutraceuticals startup that works to identify active ingredients in food. The founder is currently raising funding so she can continue building the company in Davis.

Currently we have four startups in our accelerator program as part of our second class. Three of them are web-based tech startups (EveryLevel, The Gift of Education and JamHive) and one (Fishrock Labs) is a food-tech startup.

EveryLevel is a social purpose athletic platform, think of LinkedIn but for high-school athletes. It allows high school athletes to create a profile that features their athletic and academic achievements as well as their social network information from Facebook and Twitter. They can use their profiles to initiate contact with college coaches and jump-start the college recruiting process. What separates EveryLevel from recruiting sites is that they’re much better integrated into their users academic and social lives which allows them to better showcase high school athletes.

The Gift of Education is a gift-giving platform for 529 plans which allows parents, family members and family friends to donate to a child’s college savings fund in a quick and easy manner. Traditionally to donate to a 529 account the gift giver would have to go to a bank and deposit a check or mail one to the 529 fund. Now, utilizing The Gift of Educations platform, all 529 donations can be done electronically with a credit or debit card.

JamHive is a collaborative music platform which allows musicians and band members to collaborate on music in real time. All the recording and editing tools are integrated into the web platform/web browser which means that there isn’t any software to install and your accounts and music can be accessed from any computer. JamHive offers a seamless way to make music for band members and casual musicians across the country. With its low hardware requirements, any laptop with a microphone can run it, JamHive is bringing music collaboration and editing to the masses.

Fishrock Labs is a food-tech startup that’s developing food and beverage ingredients from the red melon fruit which is high in antioxidant carotenoids, particularly lycopene, beta-carotein, lutein and vitamin E. One of Fishrocks products is redmelon oil which is a combination of olive oil and red melon oil. The combination of oils infuses traditional olive oil with vitamins and antioxidants which makes it healthier than using olive oil alone.

We’re currently finishing up a review of potential startups for our third class ,which starts at the end of March, and we’re really excited to bring them in and accelerate their growth.

Alex Rossbach is the General Manager of Davis Roots and will have periodic stories highlighting the work of some of the companies they work with.


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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11 thoughts on “A Look Into the Work of Davis Roots”

  1. SODA

    Thank you so much for giving us this information. Of course I had heard of Davis Roots but did not know specifics. Very interesting to hear about your start ups and your selection process. Any opportunity for the community to hear any of the presentations?

    1. Davis Roots

      Thanks for your support! Unfortunately we can’t have community members sit in on our incoming startups pitches. However, we are working on putting on a “Demo Day” where all current and graduated Davis Roots startups can present and field questions from the community.

  2. Day Man

    Yes, it’s great to have a better sense of what goes on there. I look forward to hearing what happens to each of these companies. Of course many will fold, as that’s the nature of start ups, but even the occasional story of long-term success would be tremendous for our community.

  3. Rob White

    Thank you Alex for discussing the Davis Roots enterprise! The City of Davis is proud to be a supporter of the innovation efforts at Davis Roots through making facilities available and doing our part to focus attention on this fantastic startup engine in our downtown.

    It’s also good to highlight that Davis Roots was earlier selected by Capitol Corridor Ventures to receive $250,000 in support this spring, which will give the operation more administrative resources and a pool of funds from which to draw to create some small equity investments. This is coupled with the great work that the co-founders of Andy Hargadon (from UC Davis) and Anthony Costello (from Mytrus, a growing med-tech company in downtown Davis) are doing to bring attention to the entrepreneurs and innovators in the Davis and Sacramento regions.

    Lots to be proud of in our growing knowledge economy… and we are starting to “achieve the vision”!

  4. Frankly

    This is great. Thanks for better explaining Davis Roots.

    I have some questions.

    Is DR a non-profit?

    Do you provide any start-up working capital to these ventures?

    Is there any ongoing equity stake in these ventures?

    I think Davis Roots and other organizations helping to seed, mentor, grow and develop business, this day and age, are worth their weight in platinum. We should all provide them 100% support.

    1. Davis Roots

      Yes, Davis Roots is a non-profit.

      We don’t currently provide startups with working capital but once we receive funding from Capital Corridor Ventures we will start providing funding to our startups.

      As part of our program we do take a small equity stake in each startup. The equity stake is used to continue funding the Davis Roots program and will go to funding future startups that we bring into the program.

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