A local startup founded by three part-time landlords got a big boost Thursday night at Richmond CenterStage.
Tenant Turner, an online service that acts as a sort of leasing agent, prevailed over 15 other startups and took the $10,000 first prize in the Greater Richmond Chamber’s third annual i.e. Start-Up Competition.
Cush, a type of cushion that helps prevent bedsores, won the people’s choice award.
Tenant Turner lets landlords digitally screen potential renters, and through its software tenants can pay rent and make maintenance requests online.
James Barrett of Tenant Turner said he and his fellow owners will use the prize money to build brand awareness for Tenant Turner.
“We believe it’s a very scalable business,” Ting Xu, president of Evergreen Enterprises and a judge for Thursday’s contest said of Tenant Turner. “Once you’ve got the platform right, there is so much you can add on. We also believed this was something that you had to get to the market quick.”
Cherry Bekaert, a local accounting firm, provided the first-place prize money. Tenant Turner also gets six months of free office space and mentoring at New Richmond Ventures, $3,500 worth of IT strategy and service from Imagine Simplicity and ongoing mentorship from Lighthouse Labs.
The people’s choice award came with $2,500 courtesy of First Capital Bank.
Shockoe, a web development company with offices in Richmond and Ecuador, developed an app that let event attendees vote on their favorite start-up presentation. The app included GPS tracking that limited the voting only to those on the premises.
All of the finalists will get six months free at 804RVA, a co-working space in the Fan.
There were two criteria to enter the competition. Participants needed to be willing to stay or relocate to Richmond if they won and they had to have been in business for less than a year.
“This is a true ideas competition,” said Chrystal Neal, the Greater Richmond Chamber’s director of innovation. “The focus is to incentivize people with ideas to take the leap of faith and try to become a startup.”
The competition, which was open and free to the public, was part of a series of i.e. events put on by the Greater Richmond Chamber. Two panel discussions preceded the event – they took place in February and March.
Five of the finalists were selected from 70 entries by a group of local entrepreneurs. The remaining 11 finalists were decided by an online public vote that took place from March 25 to March 27.
The finalists made their pitches to a panel of entrepreneurs and investors. The panel was made up of Marti Beller, co-founder and CEO of Plan G, Shawn Boyer, founder and chair at SnagAJob, Brian Callaghan a private investor and co-founder at APEX, Paul France, vice president of innovation at MWV Food & Beverage, Hank Greenberg, Business Owner at ROAN, Leslie Strickler, founder of ETRE Communications, Inc., Ting Xu, creator & president, Evergreen Enterprises and Sam Young, president at Astyra.
The other finalists and their categories were:
The SoGood – high tech
Shelfie! The Bathtub Tray for Safer Play – retail
Carri Collection – social impact
EdConnective – education
Sani-blade – food
SpendShare – high tech
Well Pack – services
Rapidus – Making Grocery Shopping Suck Less – high tech
RVA Card, LLP – services
Speed Guard – high tech
CREO CORPS – services
FlipBit Maker Co. – education
Hair of the Dog – services
G33K3D Industries – high tech