Startups test their wings

Claire Herring, CEO of Blue Ocean Brain, presents at Monday's Lighthouse Labs event. Photo by Michael Thompson.

Claire Herring, CEO of Blue Ocean Brain, presents at Monday’s Lighthouse Labs event. Photo by Michael Thompson.

After three months of mentorship and an influx of cash, a group of startups finally got to test their mettle before members of Richmond’s business community.

Six startups that participated in Lighthouse Labs’ three-month business accelerator program pitched their companies to a mix of local investors, mentors and sponsors at an event on Monday.

“Tonight was just a chance to showcase their development over the past three months,” said Todd Nuckols, the director of Lighthouse Labs.

Over the past few months, four local startups and two based in Northern Virginia have attended classes on the ground floor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch building at 300 E. Franklin St. and at 804RVA at 1657 W. Broad St.

In addition to the guidance, Lighthouse Labs, a local nonprofit that helps early-stage companies get off the ground, gave each fledgling company $20,000 with no strings attached. It was the second year of the program, and Nuckols said Lighthouse Labs plans to continue the program for a third year.

Nuckols said the nonprofit gets its funding from individual investors and corporate sponsors.

The Richmond companies presenting at Monday’s event were Tenant Turner, Blue Ocean Brain, Hourwise and Nudge. The two Northern Virginia-based companies were KickUp and Kyndi. The event was held in the Leslie Cheek Theater at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Tenant Turner is an online tenant screening tool for landlords. Blue Ocean Brain offers an online brain training application. Hourwise, formerly called Foundation, offers business services like bookkeeping, collections and office management. Nudge is an application that aggregates data from health and fitness-related applications. Kyndi is a tech company that offers a search engine that organizes and evaluates search results for a company’s research.  KickUp, which was added after the first five were announced, offers a closed-network site where teachers can collaborate on ideas for their classes.

Nuckols said Dec. 12 marks the end of each company’s participation in the accelerator program but that Lighthouse Labs will continue to support each company “on an as needed basis.” He said the hope is that more investors will get them off the ground.

“We’ve got them to this stage,” Nuckols told the crowd at Monday’s event. “You have to take it from here.”

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