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NC IDEA picks six startups from across the state for $50,000 grants

DURHAM – NC IDEA today announced the selection of six NC IDEA SEED grant recipients, awarding a total of $300,000 to six startups across the state of North Carolina.

The three-month selection process, which was completed virtually for the first time in the 29 grant cycles the organization has conducted since inception in 2006, concluded last week after finalists were invited to complete a final pitch addressing how their business was responding to the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, said Thom Ruhe, CEO and President of NC IDEA, in an interview with WRAL Tech Wire.

“Despite these challenging times, we are confident that our recipients are well on the path to creating a lasting impact in their local communities while strengthening the state’s economy,” said Ruhe.  “Entrepreneurs are going to lead the recovery, which is why we have to support them now more than ever.”

Each of the six startups will receive a $50,000 grant, allowing them to deploy funds to work toward important company milestones, whether that’s reaching their cash-flow breakeven point, hiring a new team member, inking a major client to a long-term deal, or expanding their product offering.

“For us, the NC IDEA SEED grant did exactly what it is designed to do,” said Nate O’Keefe, founder and CEO of Roobrik, an engagement platform that helps older adults and their families make informed decisions about the future, and recipient of a $50,000 NC IDEA SEED grant in 2016.  “Be that missing link between self-funding and outside capital for companies seeking a high-growth trajectory.”

These six companies (listed in alphabetical order) were selected from an applicant pool of 142 applications, and they join 154 other NC IDEA SEED grant recipients who, together, have received nearly $6.8 million in non-dilutive grants:

  • Arpio—Durham—Arpio protects and restores AWS environments so teams don’t waste mental capacity and brainpower worrying about outages or ransomware.
  • Electronic Lab Logs—Wilmington—Electronic Lab Logs helps laboratories ditch their paper logs by enabling them to track, flawlessly, maintenance tasks for all laboratory instruments through a comprehensive software solution that can run on desktop web browsers, mobile devices, and tablets.

  • Home Lending Pal—Durham, NC—The first digital mortgage advisor, powered by artificial intelligence, which can simulate the home-buying and home-financing process with multiple lenders and determine the probability of mortgage approval as well as house and mortgage affordability.

  • Natrx, Inc.—Raleigh—Natrx helps protect communities from storm surge, flooding, and hurricanes with modular waterfront protection.  Builders, architects, and ecologists leverage the Natrx platform to incorporate nature directly into infrastructure through design and delivery of custom structures. These modular structures include habitat features that improve resilience as they grow over time and incurr less environmental damage than rock and seawall alternatives. The best part is that these structures are more cost-effective than rock or seawalls, and can be tailored to accommodate local habitat requirements to preserve ecological harmony.

  • ShyftAuto—Winterville and Winston-Salem—The ShyftAuto mobile app provides convenient on-demand vehicle service for drivers, including managing no-hassle vehicle pick-up and return.

  • Unbox the Dress—Newly Relocated to Winston-Salem—The modern, sustainable, and emotionally-rewarding solution enabling millions of women to redesign their wedding gowns into modern heirlooms.

    “This group of companies demonstrates the vibrancy and resiliency of entrepreneurship across the state of North Carolina,” said Ruhe.  “Data shows that through every economic downturn, entrepreneurs are what bring us out.”

    That’s due to the innovation that startup companies drive in the shifting marketplace, said Ruhe, and that these companies can take advantage of a changing labor market to identify and hire talented professionals, many of whom will be new to a startup environment.

    “Entrepreneurs will be the first ones hiring back the millions and millions of people laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19,” said Ruhe.  “That’s why entrepreneurs and startups are so important to our economy because it’s startups that create all the net new job growth in the country.”

    “It’s incredible that our state has this amazing resource to support our economy,” said Doug Neumann, co-founder and CEO of Arpio, a recipient of a 2020 Spring NC IDEA SEED grant.  “We’re very thankful that NC IDEA exists and is able to support the entrepreneurial community.”

    Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire