This is a pretty overwhelming time for all of us. We’re dealing with anxiety all over the world, various levels of chaos, and too much (way too much) information. Instead of yet another message about C19 and our response or reaction – we’d like to share three stories from people in our Ad Astra family that inspire us given the uncertainty we’re all experiencing.

The first story is about Rasto, founder/CEO of GroupSolver, and one of our astonishing group of mentors. GroupSolver is a really cool technology that provides deep insights in a really fast way, using machine learning and crowd intelligence. Its qual meets quant to provide answers that you can act on. Recently he used his platform to give us a take on the current crisis, and panic vs preparedness in looking at shopper behavior, emotional response, and media coverage. But the reason I’m writing about Rasto is that within all this craziness, he reached out and asked us for a female leader who might mentor someone on his team. Despite the chaos, he’s thinking about how he can support his team. He was specific and deliberative in his ask – he knew exactly what was needed to support his team member, and therefore it was easy for us to offer the right connection. We wish more leaders would do this – specifically recognize what was needed to support women on their teams grow – and then reach out and ask for help.

Nichole McDonald is CEO/founder of, a new online platform for live selling for smaller creative businesses (think QVC meets Etsy) and an alumna of both Ad Astra Bootcamp and Stella Labs for her retail business. This is a terrifying time for retailers – we consumers are literally being told that we should not be going out shopping. She’s seen markets and trade shows cancelled. She’s also seen online shopping slow down – but instead of stopping activity – she’s figuring out how to do more. To leverage and keep funding the technology that drives the platform, and to support the community of over 80,000 people that she’s created. She inspires us with her tenacity, creativity, and drive to leverage what she has, and to look for solutions that will differentiate her business, and support other makers and vendors with tools they can use immediately to reach consumers and make much-needed sales. If you’re a small business and want a new way to connect with new shoppers, send her a note – it’s a great way to think about continuing sales in this period of odd isolation.

Last story – Emily Josenhans of Domaine Sante, alumni of Ad Astra Accelerator. Emily is a nutritionist who was tired of seeing her clients turn to bad sweeteners when they got that invariable craving for something sweet. So she figured out an alternative: she developed a grape nectar that is natural, high in nutrition and anti-oxidants and packs tons of flavor. Her product is delicious, and she first found a following in chefs/food and bar/alcohol industry, but she knew she wanted to reach people who need her product directly. Emily spent some time with Allison & I last week in all this uncertainty boldly stepping into a consumer-first strategy. We love these types of sessions with founders – where we help work through the sweet spot with their personal expertise and their product. And we’re looking forward to hearing more form her as health concerns and what we put in our bodies becomes even more relevant. Emily inspires us with her bravery in taking new bold steps.

Back in our office, we spent the last 2-3 days poring through applications for our upcoming Spring Bootcamp. We have another set of amazing, diverse founders with interesting and compelling problems to solve. We’re working through how we’re going to keep going – the format that will work given current restrictions. But we are going ahead. The people we get to work alongside – our mentors, alumni and partners – you all inspire us to look at things differently, to focus on what matters and to dream bigger.

We hope these three stories bring a smile, a distraction. We are so grateful to everyone who’s supported Ad Astra over the past two years. We want a way to support startup founders at this difficult time, and are especially thinking about the current impact on female founders as work/family become even more inseparable. More on this as we talk it through – if you have a suggestion, or want us to focus on a particular area of support. write a note/reply to this article – we want to hear from you.