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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Davis Roots turns dreams into reality

Editor’s note: Hudson Lofchie was a former science editor for The California Aggie.

You know those great entrepreneurial ideas that you come up with, but have no idea how to pursue? Local start-up business accelerator Davis Roots is available to help make those dreams come true.

Davis Roots is a nonprofit organization that accepts a small number of start-up businesses and helps guide their development. The organization has had two companies “graduate” from their program. They are looking for a couple more companies and interested candidates can email arossbach@davisroots.org, or visit davisroots.org.

They are currently working with four businesses: JamHive, Fishrock Laboratories, The Gift of Education and Fuse Athletics.
Davis Roots was founded in 2012 by UC Davis Graduate School of Management professor Andrew Hargadon and Anthony Costello, a local entrepreneur and former chair of the Davis Business and Economic Development Commission.

Davis Roots aims to help companies that come out of UC Davis that would otherwise have to relocate or fail to develop past their initial stages. Additionally, they take a small equity in the companies.

“[Davis Roots] was started because often research that comes out of the university goes to the Bay Area, or nothing ever gets done with it,” said Alex Rossbach, general manager of Davis Roots.

Businesses are developed by UC Davis students and graduates, from the undergraduate through the Ph.D level. Interested businesses must pass an application process in order to join.

“[We] take applications from interested companies, and I review them and meet with the founder of the company,” Rossbach said. “If I like the team and their model, we have an internal meeting [at Davis Roots] and pick a handful of them to go into our program.”

Davis Roots gives these businesses office space for six to nine months, and helps businesses with all stages of development — from creating a viable business plan to helping obtain funding for new business. Davis Roots also connects new businesses with mentors from their extensive mentor list.


A music collaboration platform for musicians, JamHive was founded by UC Davis Graduate School of Management graduate James Nguyen and has experienced incredible growth through the Davis Roots program.

“I’ve brought on another full-time technical co-founder, as well as some other developers and marketing people,” Nguyen said in an email. “The resources that Davis Roots has provided have been invaluable for getting us to where we are.”
Davis Roots’ extensive mentor list has also helped Nguyen make valuable connections.

“[Davis Roots]…has led to introductions and opened the doors to meeting people that I would have had difficulty getting in contact with, ranging from music executives for Grammy-award winners, successful entrepreneurs and angel investors,” Nguyen said.

JamHive is currently refining and expanding their prototype before releasing their product. They are looking for interns to help build the prototype, as well as designers to polish their website. For more information, James Nguyen can be reached at james@jamhive.com, or via the beta sign-up list at jamhive.com.

Fishrock Laboratories

Another startup that has been greatly impacted by Davis Roots is Fishrock Laboratories, a bio-engineering company that is pioneering the development of carotenoid (antioxidant)-rich products from Redmelon.

Fishrock was founded by Dr. Le Vuong, a UC Davis Ph.D. graduate in nutrition, chemistry and epidemiology.
“The increased use of Redmelon has the potential to revolutionize the beverage and food industry by lowering the cost and availability of antioxidants,” Dr. Vuong said in an email.

Dr. Vuong said working with Davis Roots has been a tremendous opportunity for his company.

“Being at [the] Davis Roots facility provides stability to obtain employees and exposure to potential investors,” Dr. Vuong said.
Fishrock Laboratories is seeking interns in marketing and business development. Interested candidates can email le@fishrocklab.com and check out fishrocklab.com.

The Gift of Education

Founded by UC Davis graduate and former student-athlete Aimee Hasson, The Gift of Education seeks to help families save money for their child’s education. It is similar to a gift registry website in that friends and family can visit the website in order to contribute to a child’s account.

Part of Davis Roots’ mission is to keep startups in the City of Davis and this is clearly showcased in its work with The Gift of Education.

“Since I live in Davis and I have young children, moving to the Bay Area wasn’t an ideal option for me,” Hasson said in an email. “I applied to Davis Roots in the hopes that I could stay and grow my company in Davis.”
The Gift of Education is hiring social media and marketing interns and can be contacted via email at info@thegiftofeducation.com.

Fuse Athletics

Created by former collegiate athletes, Fuse Athletics was founded by Andrew Ritchart, Ethan Garrett, Hudson Lofchie and Doug Coats as a way to create a sports-oriented social platform that provides an organized online medium for athletic activity.
“Fuse’s goal is to connect athletes, teams and coaches on all levels,” the Fuse Athletics team said in an email.
While Fuse Athletic’s association with Davis Roots has just begun, they have already been given significant guidance for their project.

“Through the [entrepreneur] mixer, we were introduced to a few of the other companies who are part of Davis Roots, and [to] investors who have taken notice of the project,” the team said.

Three of the Fuse Athletics team members, Ritchart, Garrett and Lofchie, graduated from UC Davis in the past year, and have strong ties to the community. They plan to help the Davis business community grow and to keep entrepreneurial spirit alive in the City of Davis.

Fuse Athletics is currently preparing for their soft-launch.

TAYLOR CUNNINGHAM can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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