The best of Richmond’s startup scene 2019


Richmond startups spent plenty of time at the negotiating table in 2019, with loads of capital raises and other deals struck as the decade wraps up.

New capital in all sorts of industries

It wasn’t just tech-based startups that hauled in new investment during the year. Companies in the craft beverage, ice cream, clothing and health food industries were among those that got new capital in 2019.

Company
Industry
Amount raised
TemperPack Packaging $13,000,000
Nutriati Health food ingredients $12,000,000
Belle Isle Moonshine Craft spirits $11,700,000
Roundtrip Medical transit tech $5,100,000
Ledbury Menswear $4,500,000
Common House Social club $3,500,000
Hatch (formerly Hatchify) Sales software $2,500,000
Meru Biotechnologies Biotech $2,000,000
Fenris Digital Insurance technology $1,700,000
AnswersNow App for clinicians and parents of children with autism $850,000
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Craft beer $766,000
Naborforce Care network for seniors $750,000
O’My Dairy Free Gelato Ice cream $745,000

Wheelin’ and dealin’

While some were writing up term sheets, other startups were working the M&A circuit.

OccasionGenius, formerly PartyRVA, sold off the part of its business that listed local events to a group that turned it into EventZingo.

Coin Savage, a local cryptocurrency news and analysis site, acquired D.C.-based Vite.Money, a firm that allows users to invest their spare change into crypto assets.

Lux Metal Card makes metal business cards, invitations, thank you cards and event passes. (Courtesy of Lux Metal Card)

Local entrepreneur Ryan Leach recently sold off his water bottle company Stratos to an out-of-town buyer to focus on his new venture, Lux Metal Card.

The scooter startups strike back

The first chapter of 2019’s electric, dockless scooter saga started in City Hall, when City Council voted to approve an ordinance that made it legal for scooter operators to run in Richmond, provided they get a permit and pay annual fees.

Mayor Levar Stoney and Bolt’s Will Nicholas at the project launch in June. (BizSense file photo)

After that domino fell, Florida-based startup Bolt was the first to get a permit and launch in Richmond. Bird, the scooter company that started it all when it unexpectedly dropped hundreds on Richmond’s streets in August 2018, returned in the fall.

The city’s annual fees were a bit too steep and the regulations too strict for some scooter operators, though. VeoRide and Lime both had plans to launch in Richmond but scrapped them, citing the city’s regulatory environment as the reason for doing so.

RVATukTuk’s headquarters is at 1113 W. Clay St. in Carver. (BizSense file photo)

Those who weren’t content simply renting a scooter had a chance in the summer to own a pre-owned Bird of their own.

The Bird scooters the city impounded in summer 2018 were put up for auction by the city’s towing contractor, Seibert’s, then later put up for sale at $105 apiece, and quickly sold out.

The latest entrant to Richmond’s electric transit market doesn’t use an app or have just two wheels. RVATukTuk launched in October, offering free rides in electric rickshaws on circuits around town and at private events.

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