Winston-Salem Journal: 100watt launches

Marketing firm switches on 100watt startup business accelerator


A Winston-Salem marketing firm, The Variable, is venturing into the startup-business sector with an early stage business accelerator known as 100watt.

Officials with the firm said 100watt’s niche is providing commercialization services, such as idea creation, market validation, business plan creation, brand development, seed stage execution and fundraising.

“100watt partners with founders who are incredibly successful in their own careers and have an idea they are able and eager to fund, but are unwilling to pause lucrative careers to pursue,” said Joe Parrish, president of 100watt and a partner and chief creative officer with The Variable.

“100watt steps in to build and launch their businesses on their behalf.”

David Mullen, a partner in The Variable and its president, said the firm “prides itself on being entrepreneurial in action rather than just entrepreneurial in spirit.”

Parrish said 100watt was chosen for the name “based on the premise that we take potentially dim ideas and get them to shine brightly with the best chance for commercial success.”

“The name is also a reference to Thomas Edison, one of the greatest idea-generators and inventors of all time. And, of course, it’s a nod to the light bulb visual often associated with a new idea.”

The Variable officials said they believe their services are needed given that 80 percent of startup businesses eventually fail.

“Most of the venture community is focused on 20-something entrepreneurs who have quit their jobs and believe they have the next tech unicorn,” said Dan Driscoll, director of business innovation at 100watt.

Driscoll said 100watt offers expertise in investment banking, private equity, management consulting, operations, marketing and technology.

Parrish cited as an example The Variable’s creation and launch of Sunshine Beverages.

Sunshine offers three flavors of energy drinks — ginger berry, blueberry lemonade and Clementine twist. The beverages’ key ingredients are 50 milligrams of caffeine, electrolytes, Vitamin B-12, ginger-root extract, Stevia for a sweetener and flavoring.

The drinks are distributed mostly in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia. Sunshine has nine local employees.

Parrish said Sunshine’s successes to date “really confirmed our belief that a different kind of startup support infrastructure was needed.”

In November, Teall Investments LLC, a private-equity firm chaired by local entrepreneur Ben Sutton Jr., took a majority ownership stake in Sunshine Beverages. The amount was not disclosed by Teall.

Sutton called Sunshine “the perfect complement” to Teall’s investments in companies with high-growth potential, such as Alabama-based Tailgate Guys and Boston marketing agency Riddle & Bloom.


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