Entrepreneurs who recently located in Tampa Bay or are just starting to launch pitched their startups during the Grit Daily Congressional Startup Day and pitch competition event Wednesday.
The event, which took place inside the Industrious coworking space in downtown Tampa, had a panel of judges including Ryan Walker, founder and CEO of a social media consultancy called TSMA and a member of the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator, known as FIBA.
Each startup contestant vying for the $25,000 prize had one minute to pitch.
The winner was Tampa-based startup the Natural Nipple, which created the first and only bottle that matches a mother’s nipple shape and milk flow.
Here’s more on the startup contestants who pitched:
Vaishnavi More, founder and CEO of Archslate
Archslate is a San Francisco-based startup born out of the Harvard Innovation Labs.
More moved the company to Tampa several weeks ago with her husband whose company relocated to Tampa.
More explained to the panel that her product is an algorithm-based jobs marketplace that connects companies and job seekers.
“Last year I met David, an architect with seven-plus years of experience who lost his job. At the same time, I met Elena who was looking to hire,” More said.
She then showed what David’s profile looked like on platforms such as LinkedIn and job recruiter websites.
“In the U.S. alone, there are 60 million people like David whose profile looks the same on every single platform looking for a job,” More said, presenting a visually striking profile of David and the images of his work.
“We are building Archslate, a transparent platform when you can get hire and get hired easier,” she said, explaining how it’s more engaging compared to the usual platforms.
Today, there are 700 users on the platform. The company has formed working relationships with architect organizations, Harvard and MIT.
By end of this year, the company plans to have 5,000 users on the platform and 25,000 by the following year.
The company has two different revenue streams – one is from the employer who pays a subscription fee and the other is a subscription fee for the candidates along with software tutorials.
John Snee, CEO and founder of ULimo
Snee is from the University of Tampa, which is where he launched his business.
“We are like Uber for limousines and party buses so we are revitalizing the industry,” Snee said. “Instead of expensive hourly rentals, you can get one-way trips with the average price of $10 per person.”
The company is targeting educational institutions and businesses. Instead of contracting with independent drivers, ULimo contracts with already established ridesharing companies, essentially buying its hours.
He said the company has four different revenue streams: working with private companies, rideshare (which is the most profitable stream), nightlife deals where the business partners with nightclubs and bars in a city, and a subscription fee for nightclubs to feature the business on its platform.
About eight million students have to use ridership for a semester, which Snee said inspired him to start the company.
This past semester, he generated $45,000 in revenue without having to spend anything on marketing.
His current plan is to replicate the business model in five more schools in Florida, and then grow a national base.
Katelyn Tiamson, head of business of the Natural Nipple
The local startup Natural Nipple was designed to help babies who weren’t being given breast milk who were suffering health complications.
“This is the only infant feeding system to make the mother’s shape and feel. We created a novel product and base our nipple out of nipple geometry to make the natural slow from breast to bottle,” Tiamson said. “This isn’t just a pressing issue for parents, it’s a costly problem particularly for hospitals that aren’t reimbursed for the annual $50 million related costs for the current bottle.”
The company plans to launch in the fourth quarter this year. It’s currently conducting a pilot phase with Tampa General Hospital.
Ben Sever, CEO and founder of eRemede
Tampa-based med-tech startup eRemede is an app that allows doctors and patients to communicate with each other while keeping patient and doctor information private. It was one of the first companies at the Tampa Bay Wave incubator.
The company recently closed a $1.55 million seed funding round and plans to fully immerse itself in the telehealth space.
The company is engaging with the outpatient medical community in areas such as cosmetic surgery.
Sever said he plans to close a Series A funding round by the first or second quarter of next year.
Hear more about eRemede from the Catalyst’s Startup Report.
David Capece, founder and CEO of CROOW
Capece created the concept of CROOW through another company he founded, the award-winning digital agency Sparxoo.
Two years ago, he started to build the tech and tools and ultimately connect the dots into the next project management platform, CROOW. The platform is made to improve business performance while saving money and time by using automated processes and notifications.
Earlier this year, CROOW was rolled out to Sparxoo. It increased productivity by 8% in 30 days, Capece said.
It now has 500 users.
The revenue is created through its premium model followed by upgrades.
Zack Eikenberry, CEO and co-founder of Hook Security
Hook Security was designed to train employees to spot and avoid phishing attacks and create a healthy security-aware culture.
“Cybercrime is going rampant and if you dig behind it, most of it is caused by people in their own organizations,” Eikenberry said.
While there are many companies that train people on cybersecurity and data manipulation, Eikenberry says his company “focuses on the psychological education” aspect.
To date, the company closed $1.5 million in a seed round and is cash-flow positive. It plans to announce its Series A funding in 2022.
It offers automated phishing simulations for employees and generates reports that help employers track their progress.
Lyman Starmer and Kaden Powell, founders of Perspective
This tech company is founded by two Jacksonville high schoolers.
“We analyze existing argumentative techniques and push out social media and social e-learning platforms to promote civil-social discourse,” Powell said. The goal is to present information from both sides of an issue.
Initially, the duo plans to start out with ad revenue and have beta testers on the platform. In mid-quarter 2022, the company will start a paid revenue model after a certain amount of time, then switch to paid-only.
The startup asks users to fill out a survey and select interesting topics.
The startup works with Duval Public School systems, USA Today and the Boys and Girls Club.
Omar Fuentes, founder of accelEQ
The company is an end-to-end virtual Saas platform that creates efficiency by eliminating wasted time from how medical providers provide care.
The company does this by transcribing the doctor and patient interactions and automating claim forms for reimbursement. It is designed for true data integration.
The technology is additionally meant to help with a burnout in the medical community.
Fuentes said the company is in the middle of building an MEP and will be ready to launch in two months.
It would initially serve about 10,000 patients.
It will seek out primary care physicians and medical providers, gaining data from them, and test out the product to demonstrate its effectiveness.
Stan Liberatore, CEO and founder of VSummits
VSummits is a subscription-based virtual technology platform that’s described as a turn-key solution for digital event management. It’s a concierge for large-group conferences, events and meetings.
Liberatore says the idea for the tech surfaced during the pandemic when his conference, Disrupt the Bay, was threatened and was facing cancellation.
“Canceling the event was not an option for Disrupt the Bay,” Liberatore said. “I looked at Zoom, Teams and several others before moving forward with this.”
The focus is on educational groups, health care and nonprofits for virtual events.
It has a Saas platform and smart application for television.
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