A startup company with an app that gives shoppers quick and accurate quality and ingredient comparisons between name-brand and generic products won first place in the annual Lighthouse Labs startup business pitch competition Thursday.
Brandefy, which was founded in Charlottesville but now calls Richmond home, emerged from among seven startup competitors to take the $5,000 top prize.
“Our team has industry experience in private label manufacturing, and we know that sometimes the same product is made at the same factory and two different labels are slapped on at the end and charged two different prices,” Carolyn Kochard, chief operating officer of Brandefy, said during her pitch to the crowd of about 180 people. The other partners in the startup are Meg Pryde and James Graham.
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 voted for the winner through text messaging.
Brandefy now has about 1,200 product comparisons on its app.
With the $5,000 award, the startup plans to expand the number of stores where it does product comparisons, Kochard said. “We are going to launch in either Target or Costco,” she said.
The second-place winner of $3,500 was Codemoji, a Chicago-based startup that offers online coding curriculum and courses, using an automated adaptive learning model, to teach first-graders through eighth-graders about coding. Codemoji was represented by Livio Bolzon.
The third-place winner of $2,500 was Tablee, a Richmond-based startup that is using technology to improve service and efficiency in restaurants and hospitality businesses. The company provides its client businesses with devices called the Tablee Tap, which enable customers to easily send a signal to wait staff when they need service. Tablee was represented by Wendy Jiang.
All of the startups participated in the latest class of Lighthouse Labs, a nonprofit business accelerator in Richmond that offers mentoring for startup firms. The competition was the culmination of its three-month program.
“It’s incredible to see what can happen in three months — tremendous growth for the companies and founders,” said Dan Myers, the managing director of Lighthouse Labs. “It’s amazing what we can do here in Richmond for startups.”
As for the winner, “Brandefy is something that everybody in the room — no matter what room you are in — can relate to,” Myers said.
The other startups all received $1,000. Those other startups that made presentations in the competition were:
- EdConnective, a Richmond-based startup that uses technology to help schools and school districts get more one-on-one feedback for teachers.
- Radify Labs, a Richmond-based startup that runs project-focused online education programs.
- Quinncia, a Boston-based startup with an artificial intelligence tool for employers to evaluate the soft skills of applicants pursuing entry-level positions by analyzing their r
- s and tailored virtual interviews.
- EnrichHER Funding, an Atlanta-based investment platform that uses machine learning techniques to unite business founders and investors who share a vision for sustainable women-led ventures.