New startup contest narrows the field

 Back row from left to right, Liam Becker, a BoardGrab customer, and Anthony Cannella.In the front, Zach Sadovzsky

Back row from left: Liam Becker, a BoardGrab customer, and Anthony Cannella; front: Zach Sadovzsky

A first-year local startup contest is whittling down its field of contenders.

Business mentorship group Score Richmond this week announced the seven semifinalists for the inaugural Scorecard competition, which will give a total of $8,500 in cash prizes to fledgling companies. The group of seven was narrowed down from 23 applicants.

The contest is being put on by Score Richmond and Virginia Biotechnology Park. Score Richmond is the local chapter of a national organization based in Arlington, Virginia. Its mission is to help businesses through mentorship and business classes.

Spokesman Art Mattox said he was impressed with the number and quality of the contestants in the competition’s first year. To qualify, participants had to be for- or non-profits based in Richmond that have been in business less than two years and have not previously won a business competition. They could be in any industry, and it cost $50 to apply.

“We were quite surprised that we got 23 contestants,” Mattox said. “We were not expecting that good of a turnout.”

He said of six of the seven semifinalists have yet to generate any revenue with their businesses. BoardGrab, an online store for used surfboards, is the only semifinalist that has begun bringing in revenue.

BoardGrab CEO and co-founder Anthony Cannella said his team would use the prize money to help get the word out about BoardGrab and for a “rainy day fund.”

Art Mattox

Art Mattox

“The number one thing we would use it for is advertising/marketing,” he said in an email. “We really need to get some major brand awareness so that more people know about us.”

The semifinalists will present to a panel of judges Feb. 4 at the Richmond Times-Dispatch building. Three finalists will be chosen to pitch at a final competition Feb. 25 at Virginia Biotechnology Research Park at 800 E. Leigh St.

The top prize of the competition is $5,000 and one year of office space at the Times-Dispatch building on East Franklin Street downtown. Second place gets $2,500, and third place gets $1,000.

The other semifinalists are:

  • Ivy Oaks Analytics – a pest control business
  • Lifelong Design – a marketplace for home products for people 65 and older
  • Magnaire Inc. – a line of shaving products
  • Go Ninja – a family-oriented obstacle course-based gym
  • Roommate Advisor – a listing and advisory service for roommate searches
  • Smart Web Squad – a website consultant for restaurants

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