Startup incubator gets another boost to its wallet

Last year's Lighthouse Labs class at Capital One's offices.

Last year’s Lighthouse Labs class at Capital One’s offices.

One of the giants of Richmond finance has made another investment in the Richmond startup scene.

Capital One is contributing a $100,000 grant to Lighthouse Labs, a locally based nonprofit startup accelerator program that nurtures a class of entrepreneurs for three months each year.

Now in its fifth year, the program provides startups with no-strings-attached funding, office space, business classes and mentorship. Each participant company last year received $20,000 without giving up equity.

It’s the fourth year Capital One has helped fund Lighthouse Labs, and the second consecutive year it put up $100,000. The nonprofit’s other big local donors include tobacco giant Altria Group, which gave it $125,000 last year.

Capital One has shown an increased appetite for funding local startups. Earlier this year it paid $1.84 million for 1717 E. Cary St., a five-story, 36,000-square-foot Shockoe Bottom building where the Startup Virginia incubator is taking shape.

That deal and the Lighthouse contribution is part of Capital One’s Future Edge initiative, a five-year, $150 million effort to boost entrepreneurs.

Lighthouse spokeswoman Anika Horn said the group currently is accepting applications for its next class of startups. The deadline to apply is June 30 and a group of five startups will be chosen in late July. The program will begin at the end of August.

The organization is also on the hunt for office space for this year’s program. It is typically hosted for the three months by other local organizations, taking residence in recent years at VCU and last year in the Richmond Times-Dispatch building.

Lighthouse accepts applications from startups across North America. Horn said it has received dozens of applicants this year and expects that count to be in the hundreds by the deadline. Winners all must set up shop in Richmond during the three-month program.

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