BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Two Birmingham firms prevailed in the latest round of the Alabama startup competition that has pumped millions of dollars into innovative ideas across the state.
The Alabama Launchpad Startup Competition Finale, held Wednesday night at Iron City, featured six teams that made pitches in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.
The winner of the seed track, and the top prize of $100,000, was INFLCR, which equips innovative college athletic programs with critical social media tools to empower their student athletes to be brand ambassadors on social media.
And a $50,000 prize went to the winner of the concept track, Edify Online Corp. It’s an exchange of independent teaching talents from universities and communities that work together to achieve important milestones for higher education students.
A program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama that began in 2006, Alabama Launchpad has invested $4 million in companies that have created more than 500 jobs and raised $50 million in capital.
“Fostering the state’s entrepreneurial community is part of Alabama’s strategic economic development plan.”Angela Till, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the agency supports startups as they transform their ideas into the next generation of companies.
“At the same time we continue efforts to attract new investment, new jobs and great companies to the state, we share the same goal as Alabama Launchpad on helping companies start, stay and grow in Alabama,” she said. “Fostering the state’s entrepreneurial community is part of Alabama’s strategic economic development plan that is in place.
“We are excited at the Department of Commerce about partnering with EDPA in the Launchpad program to help these companies grow.”
All of Alabama benefits from the partnership, which diversifies the economy and creates more jobs, Till added.
The program has recently been updated and is expanding its reach.
Upgrades to the original statewide competition include a more efficient application process that now judges entrants along two tracks: concept stage entrepreneurs launching businesses and seed stage businesses accelerating growth.
The competition also has a shorter, two-month schedule compared to five months in the past. And only the best concept business and seed stage business win cash prizes, although every entrant will receive valuable feedback and exposure to capital providers in the state.
Meanwhile, two regional contests have spun off in the Shoals and in Auburn.
Like the statewide program, the regional ones offer local entrepreneurs the chance to compete for funding and receive valuable mentoring.
EDPA President Steve Spencer said the driver of Alabama Launchpad is key to the state’s economic success.
“Innovation is the nucleus of what will move this state forward,” he said.