As part of an ongoing series this month in the Business section, we review five companies and their entrepreneurs who are making waves in Flagstaff. These profiles were original part of an article originally appeared in the November issue of Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine.
Of Trails and Technology: Localeikki
Outdoor recreationists are spoiled when it comes to Flagstaff, where a wondrous web of urban trails, forest trails and open spaces make for easy and easy-to-find access for hikers, runners and cyclists. But visit another city without the noticeable trailheads and signage, and getting in a lengthy run or outdoor escape is a challenge.
For this reason, Tracy McMillan has jumpstarted Localeikki, a web and app-based company that provides detailed information about the different trails and recreational offerings available in cities throughout the country. She is joined by business partner Taylor Thomas, and the two have recruited 50 “ambassadors” who are working to populate the website and application. The app launched on Apple on Sept. 7. An Android app is due out this spring.
“We are creating a real-time active travel guide,” McMillan said. “It has more information that is top-of-mind for users. We’re gathering information on bathrooms, parking, street crossings, and whether a place is kid-friendly. Compared to what comes up on a Google search or on a site like Trails.com, we slice the information differently and are filling a different niche … the goal is to make this a social network and a travel tool.”
“And we have a super-active, key group of early adopters who are continually making the product better with their contributions,” Thomas noted. The early population of the site already includes in-depth information on both major cities and well-known recreational towns. Visit www.localeikki.com to learn more.
Pursuit of Greatness: Hypo2 Sport
Very few one-man businesses can make this claim: having a service that generates $1.2 million a year for the Flagstaff economy. And yet, that is what Sean Anthony has done. In 2009, Anthony moved forward with his company Hypo2 Sport. He works to bring high-performance endurance athletes to Flagstaff to train at altitude, where the lower partial pressure of oxygen can create higher red-blood-cell counts and increase hemoglobin mass. The name Hypo2 comes from the sports-science term hypoxia altitude training
Anthony, who worked with the Northern Arizona University High Altitude Training Center before it closed, saw the need to continue a service for athletes from to come to Flagstaff. Here, they get to train at 7,000 elevation feet in a small city that features indoor and outdoor tracks, an aquatic center and other amenities.
“It’s a soup to nuts service,” Anthony said. “From the time they step off the plane to the time they get back on the plane, everything is covered in terms of coordinating all of the logistics. Our job is to be the man behind the curtain.”
Although Hypo2 is namely Anthony, he works with several other organizations and businesses in town. The athletes utilize facilities at NAU as well as other services and amenities. In 2011-12, Hypo2 hosted 1,600 athletes in Flagstaff. Anthony’s hope is to continue growing his clientele and he is looking to create a brick-and-mortar center that creates a centerpiece to Flagstaff’s high-altitude training endeavors. Learn more at www.hypo2sport.com.
Conscientious Cuisine: Tepa Burger
Flagstaff entrepreneur Jonathan Netzky has made a name for himself with his Local Alternative food business. And, in recent months, he has watched as his vegetarian burger creation, often dubbed “The Netzky,” has grown in demand and popularity. He created the burger when the locally focused Diablo Burger challenged him to invent a delicious, satisfying veggie patty that also met strict standards of being made from local ingredients.
Since then, the burger has been added to the menu at Satchmo’s—located next door to Netzky’s operation on Fourth Street—Mama Burger, Flagstaff Medical Center, Modern Grove Bistro and Pancho Mcgillicuddy’s in Williams. Frozen patties also are sold retail at the Community for Sustainable Agriculture co-op. The Tepa Burger is soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and, of course, meat-free.
“What’s a fundamental choice people have to make time and time again? … One decision that we make every day that’s core to our existence is the food we eat,” Netzky said of his reason for getting into the food business. “We’re founded to impact public health through food and local commerce.”
Now, with the Tepa Burger, Netzky is bringing together multiple positive influences with a local food product by making it locally and using local ingredients. The key ingredient is the tepary bean. It’s grown on the Tohono O’odam Reservation and is drought-resistant. About 500 pounds of beans can be grown on an acre with an inch-and-a-half of rain. And Netzky has harnessed that bean’s power—along with great flavor—in his magical burger. Check out www.tepaburger.com.
Healing at Heart: Protein Genomics
It sounds like the work of science fiction: using a miraculous protein to heal wounds and make cardiovascular repairs. The developed protein is called elastin, and from it is a developed product called Elastatropin. And it’s at the heart of Protein Genomics, a medical science company based in Flagstaff. The company launched 20 years ago in New Jersey, but has since relocated to town—and is four to five years from finishing the lengthy process to get the consumer product to market.
Leading Protein Genomics are Burt Ensley and Robert Kellar. They are assisted by Robert Audet and Robert Diller as they work on creating commercial and medical uses for patents registered with the elastin protein. The major goal is to create products to help both people with non-healing chronic wounds and cardiac patients.
“The human aspect about what we do is that, at the end of the day, we have a chance to help someone feel better and improve their quality of life,” Kellar said. “Or we might save their life … I’ve always been passionate about the human body and science, and getting to do this is the best job in the world for me.”
Kellar said that Flagstaff has evolved into a great place for the research science community. “The city and community want to attract science and research. It is the first STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) City in America. That’s huge.” And Protein Genomics is one of the fascinating companies pushing scientific breakthroughs. www.proteingenomics.com.
Taking Flight: Novakinetics
As many people speed along U.S. 89 as it heads north out of Flagstaff, few take notice of a couple of stone buildings and a warehouse-looking structure across from the Summit Fire Department. This somewhat unassuming property is actually the home of Novakenetics, a firm that produces parts for airplanes. It employs 20 employees and has as much as $4 million in sales annually.
Along with that company, a second company branched out from it called Kinetics Defense. The second business designs ballistics material and products under contract. The founder of Novakenetics, Jim Corning, also has become one-third partner in Prometheus Renewables, a 2008 upstart that builds solar-energy systems.
The core of the business started with Corning’s love for working with fiberglass and for solving problems. “I was attracted a long time ago to making curvy shapes out of fiberglass,” Corning said. “I can’t say why, exactly. It was a hobby when I was a kid. And I had an opportunity with one of my consulting clients when I was a consulting engineer and I was asked to solve problem … and I thought, ‘This was easy. I could hire people and build a company doing this.’”
Novakenetics has a longtime partnership with Air Tractor, a company that builds crop dusters and forest-fire planes. As part of this, they’ve worked to create ballistics for the Air Tractor planes that are used in drug eradication in Columbia. The company continues to grow and evolve, finding new ways to improve parts—and solve problems. www.novakinetics.com.
Note: We’d like to extend a special thank you to Northern Arizona Center for Emerging Technology, or NACET, for their help on selecting these profiles. Each of these companies is a client, alumni or affiliate of NACET.