Five concepts selected for Melon Kitchen accelerator at 16 Tech

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Melon Kitchen
From left, Ummi’s Table founder Monica Douglas, Samosa N Sauce co-founder Christopher Jeanbaptitste, Brandon Jeanbaptiste, Mrs. Murry's Naturals co-founder Jason Murry, Mrs. Murry's Naturals co-founder Iesha Murry, Melon Kitchen program director Taylor Bauldwin, JuZen Juice Bar founder Nina “Nocean” Booth and Stix founder Dystany Riley pose Sunday at the AMP food hall. (Photo provided by BLASTmedia)

Five food and beverage concepts will be developed as part of the second round of the Melon Kitchen accelerator program at AMP food hall in the 16 Tech innovation district.

Indianapolis-based Be Nimble Foundation announced Tuesday the roster of entrepreneurs who will receive $5,000 grants and training in business plans, menu preparation, pitching to investors and other subjects.

Not-for-profit Be Nimble, which supports Black and Latinx start-ups, selected the following concepts for the Melon Kitchen training platform that debuted in 2022:

  • JuZen Juice Bar. Founded by Nina “Nocean” Booth, JuZen was named as a combination of the words “juice” and “Zen.”
  • Mrs. Murry’s Naturals. Founded by Iesha and Jason Murry, this company specializes in vegan cuisine.
  • Samosas & Sauce. Samosas are fried, filled pastries that Samosas & Sauce co-founder Geldar Jeanbaptiste encountered while growing up in Tanzania.
  • Stix. Owned by Dystany Riley, Stix has sold its chicken and pork skewers at CarmelFest, Marshall County Blueberry Festival and Butter fine art fair.
  • Ummi’s Table. Chef Monica Douglas has prepared cuisine for private parties and underground dinner series.

The Melon Kitchen accelerator program receives support from JPMorgan Chase, the city of Indianapolis and the Meridian Foundation.

Phylicia Manley, vice president and program officer in global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase, said Black and Latinx founders face significant obstacles when seeking capital to grow their businesses.

“This program provides emerging entrepreneurs with the resources and support they need to launch and scale their businesses,” Manley said in a written statement. “It’s a concept in equity we’re passionate about supporting.”

At the program’s conclusion, entrepreneurs trained at Melon Kitchen are eligible for an investment of up to $50,000 from the Nile Capital Fund—a Be Nimble initiative.

Burgeezy, a vegan burger concept and initial Melon Kitchen participant, used a Nile Capital Fund grant to help open a Canal Walk restaurant in September.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect spelling of Phylicia Manley’s first name.

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