A startup company that makes cups, utensils, bags, straws and plates from plant-derived, biopolymer materials designed to reduce pollution won first place in the annual Lighthouse Labs startup business pitch competition Friday.
Terravive emerged from among seven startup competitors to take the $5,000 top prize.
“I am in this because I genuinely care about sustainability,” Terravive founder Julianna Keeling said earlier this year. Keeling grew up in Henrico County and graduated from Mills Godwin High School and Washington and Lee University.
The event was held at Capital One Financial Corp.’s West Creek campus in Goochland County, and Capital One provided a total of $15,000 in cash awards. Each of the seven startups made a brief pitch about their business, and then the audience of about 400 people voted for the winner.
The pitch competition was the culmination of the 13-week Lighthouse Labs startup accelerator, a local nonprofit that offers mentoring and business planning programs for startup companies.
Terravive is leaving the Lighthouse Labs program with a $3 million purchase order from one of the biggest retailers in the U.S.
The pitch competition’s second-place winner of $3,500 was Kamana, a platform that enables health care recruiters, agencies, employers, medical professionals and nurses to efficiently fill open contract staffing needs.
The third-place winner of $2,500 was Fringe, a platform that provides benefits to help companies offer employees nontraditional (fringe) benefits they understand and care about.
The other startups all received $1,000:
- Hellofriend: A mobile app that lets friends purchase together for deeper discounts from local businesses, such as restaurants, movie theaters and hair salons.
- Light the Music: An education technology company that empowers students to create, learn and grow through the alchemy of music and art.
- NIRSleep: Makes a small medical device that can measure sleep disorders beyond just sleep apnea
- Equality Rewards: A data analytics tool for consumers to be better informed if brands are LGBTQ-inclusive.
Since the Lighthouse Labs program was founded seven years ago, 48 startups have been through the program, and those companies subsequently have raised more than $70 million in outside investments and have created more than 600 jobs, according to Lighthouse Labs.
Lighthouse Labs invests $20,000 in each of the startups that goes through the program, without taking any equity or fees from founders.