Atlanta-based startup Impactive has walked away with a no-strings-attached cash prize of $10,000 after winning the Startup Runway pitch contest at The Gathering Spot last week.
Founder Ellen Hunter competed against eight other women and minority-led startups to win the sought-after prize. Each startup had five minutes to pitch their company before answering questions from an esteemed panel of judges.
Hosted by the nonprofit Startup Runway Foundation, its mission is to connect top minority-led startups with quality professional investors. Organizers say the biannual event is the first and largest pitch series in the Southeast solely for women and underrepresented minority-led tech entrepreneurs.
In fact, events like this are crucial to close the gap. Women and minority-led firms receive about 5 percent of $70 billion in venture capital invested annually in U.S. startups but lead 40 percent of the firms pitching for venture capital.
The winning company, Impactive, is a SaaS application that helps nonprofits report in the field more efficiently. The mobile app uses technology solutions that make it easier for nonprofits to efficiently track their work in the field.
“We’re helping the teams to do their donor reporting more easily, and at the same time, we’re aiming to empower executives and donors with information that they can use to grow their organization’s impact and funding,” said Impactive founder Ellen Hunter in a face-to-face interview with UrbanGeekz.
Hunter said that winning the competition was extremely fulfilling. “A lot of people don’t know the space that we’re in and don’t realize the need. I feel like this is validation that can be understood and communicated.”
She went on to say that the money will go towards supporting their commitments around developing the product and making it useful for the people who need it.
Other impressive finalists in the Fall 2017 Showcase included honorCode, Mixtroz, BandwagonFanClub, Zyrobotics, Acivilate, theCut, Usit, and Welzen.
Many of the startups spoke of the beneficial experience of participating. They said that talking to knowledgeable advisors and investors, some who they wouldn’t normally have met, gave them sound points to improve, elevate, and focus their businesses.
Event co-host and general partner at Valor Ventures Lisa Calhoun said she’s thrilled that Startup Runway is meeting its mission as it sees its one-year anniversary.
“Here tonight, we had general partners at top southeastern funds,” said Lisa Calhoun, of Valor Ventures, the Atlanta venture capital firm that launched the pitch series with the support of Atlanta’s The Gathering Spot professional club. “We have some of the top investors in the city here in front of our startups and our startups in front of them. I’m very grateful to those investors for sharing their time.”
“I’m thrilled with the reception these entrepreneurs earn with the audience and with investors,” she added. “It’s wonderful to see the community come together and celebrate its scrappiest problem solvers, its most committed job builders and its most impressive innovators every Startup Runway Showcase.”
Investors on the judging panel included: Alan Taetle, general partner at Noro-Moseley in Atlanta; Jason Caplain, general partner at Bull City Venture Partners in Raleigh; Ashish Mistry, managing partner at BLH Ventures in Atlanta; Wei-Chun Tai, partner at Mosley Ventures; and Kyle Schlotman, managing partner at Connetic Ventures in Cincinnati, and others.
On choosing the winner, Tai said, “We were really impressed with the entrepreneur, not like all the other entrepreneurs were not impressive, but we were really thinking that her socially impactful mission coupled with the way that she was presenting and answering the questions and all the obstacles that we as judges think that we’ve seen as the business progresses, she was able to address them very clearly.”
The investors were led in a discussion on pitch tips and what they look for when deciding to put money on the line by co-host Ryan Wilson, founder of The Gathering Spot.
The Startup Runway Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, holds two pitch series, Spring and Fall, which draw hundreds of applications from women and minority founders across the Southeast.
Past Finalists include startups like Patientory, which just raised $7.2 million in ICO; fintech startup Qoins that’s been recently accepted onto a national fintech accelerator; and HealthInfoMap, a machine-learning SaaS healthcare platform.
Applications are now open for the Spring 2018 Showcase! You can sign up here.