Eight startups won $100,000 each in the 2020 Render Pitch Competition, a judged event for early-stage Louisville startups or startups willing to move their companies to Louisville. The competition is a project of Render Capital, a regional fund of Access Ventures. Because of COVID-19, all the pitches and the awards ceremony were presented virtually.
The lucky winners emerged from a pool of nearly 200 competitors, which judges whittled down to 15 finalists, who all made video pitches. A panel of judges selected the winners using a rubric of team, product, market, competition, business model, financial management, and scalability. Render Capital plans to hold the event annually.
“Render’s goal for the competition is to encourage innovation within the Louisville and Southern Indiana region,” TJ Abood, a partner with Access Ventures, told Louisville Future. “Louisville has a wonderful entrepreneurial support system and we believe the addition of early risk capital will help ideas develop and grow to the point they are able to access traditional venture investment. Our hope was to attract a large, diverse pool of applicants, with the only caveat being they must be tech-forward (given the venture capital nature of the program).”
“As a judge, we were looking for businesses with the highest potential for success as we believe it encourages more and more innovation over time. Success in startups encompasses many things, including the team, technology, and the market,” Abood said.
This year’s winners are:
Moxie Girl, Jeffersonville, Indiana
Moxie Girl is a platform designed to improve the mental health of girls. Its mobile app helps girls set goals and gain confidence in challenges like trying out for a team, auditioning for a part or saving money. It also offers help for emotional challenges, friendship roadblocks and other daily trials of girlhood.
Split Gym, Chicago
Split Gym is a clever app that creates liquidity for fitness memberships. Gym members who use the app can resell their classes, passes and memberships for cash.
True Adherence, Salt Lake City
Another fitness play, True Adherence is an AI-powered digital display platform for weightlifters. Users get real-time, hands-free feedback on their workout.
BrainSTEM University is a virtual learning environment for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math) students. BrainSTEM also covers a social network for students to participate in projects and clubs.
Stuccco (yep, there are three Cs) is a virtual staging platform for interior design. Stuccco connects homeowners, realtors and builders with designers who give rooms virtual makeovers from photos.
Briocare, Frisco, Texas
Integrated with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, the Briocare platform uses smart voice technology to ease senior loneliness and reduce stress for caregivers.
Unitonomy makes software products that help companies change their work culture. Its software includes analytics that measure company culture, a virtual “watercooler,” and an email app.
Roborus, Fort Lee, New Jersey)
Roborus is a smart-ordering system for fast food restaurants that lets customers order using facial identification. Customers get recommendations based on their past orders and move through the line four times faster.