Our Startups

We are excited to introduce you to our first class of startups, ready to be mentored by some amazing experienced entrepreneurs and business people in Charlotte.

Our Startups


Gig Connected

Keith Clithero

TEAM

Bryce Holcomb is the head developer with experience creating dual-sided marketplaces in the on-demand staffing space

REVENUE MODEL

Pilot business model is to charge a matching fee to the employers. We’re exploring options for the future to collect a fee based on a percentage of wage payments. All fees to Gig Connected are paid by the employers.

SECRET SAUCE

Gig Connected is working to be a community integrator, bringing together existing organizations to accomplish a unified goal. Additionally, we’re using technology to address the staffing issue the construction issue has faced for years, and at a lower cost than traditional staffing agencies. While other solutions similar to Gig Connected exist, there are none focusing on the Southeastern United States.

We connect construction employers with construction workers.

Construction employers and workers are burdened by an inefficient and inconsistent hiring process that exacerbates the problems caused by existing labor shortages throughout the United States. Workers and employers are limited to the jobs and workforce available in specific geographic locations. Workers are concerned with the availability of safe job sites and reliable payment. Employers struggle to find a qualified and reliable workforce.

The pain points are felt by both the employers and the workers. Gig Connected owns all technology and source code currently on the platform and has not identified any IP that could be patented.

NEED HELP WITH

  • Business Development
  • Commercial Potential of Technology
  • Early Team Formation
  • Occasional Informal Feedback

Gig Connected is a web platform that provides employers direct access to a pool of skilled and unskilled workers for commercial, residential, or road construction projects by posting open jobs and allowing workers to apply. A two-way rating system provides transparency to both parties; workers’ are more confident that their rights will be protected while employers are more confident in workers’ skill sets and levels. The in-platform payment system ensures full and on-time wage distribution.

Vizlatech

Fabio Ayala

REVENUE MODEL

We sell our unit signage to General Contractors and builders. We make the signage, install and maintain it. We charge a monthly fee to maintain the plans current with any chances the designers make.

SECRET SAUCE

My experience has been working in the field among the labor force. I have figured out what information they actually need. I have built what no other company has. While other companies have simply digitized information, I have taken it a step further and created a “packet” of information. There is no “searching” You simply scan, and the information is there.

We create signage for construction projects, with embedded QR codes that when scanned provide access to construction plans.

The amount of time that is wasted looking for information in a jobsite translates to thousands of lost dollars. Access to the plans in the field for everyone does not exist. Vizla provides access to everyone with a simple scan. The problem is for the 100’s of workers on a construction project. Also, a problem for General Contractor managers, as they still have to search for the information. Vizla extracts all the information packages into one single QR code for every room in a project and makes it accessible with one simple scan

Vizla gets access to the construction plans. We extract all the information required to build one room. For example, the paint color, type of shoe mold, color of carpet, light fixture, heights for cabinets etc. We collect all the information, package it one file, and embed all this info into a QR code for every apartment or room that is built.

NEED HELP WITH

  • Business Development
  • IP Strategy
  • Early Team Formation
  • Commercial Potential of Technology

I want to be apart of this program to build my team and receive mentorship on business development and further product development. There is so much construction in Charlotte, and my product can save 100’s of thousands of dollars. Vizlatech.com is the website. I’m a one-man team, and I have self-funded my app, and have managed to sell it to one General Contractor here in Charlotte.

Musser and Company

Caleb Musser

TEAM

Caleb Musser, President & Founder: By 25, he had worked his way up to the director of sponsorship sales for a NASCAR team. It was with the NASCAR team that he realized there was a wide gap between the creative marketing agencies and product manufacturers. He launched Musser & Company in 2014 to fill the void – Caleb and his firm have been hired by Fortune brands and sports marketing teams in every major sports league to execute high-level business development, service, and retention campaigns.

Dakota Wade, Director of Sale & Marketing: Dakota joined the Musser & Company team in February of 2017 and immediately made an impact; signing clients like Delta Airlines, Columbia University, University of Georgia and others.

Deborah Wade, Art Director: Deborah is art and design genius behind Musser & Co’s work. An incredibly talented illustrator, Deborah has drawn artwork for the New England Patriots, Mark Cuban, and the Philadelphia Eagles.

I started Musser & Company with $600 and table in the saw garage in December 2014 to fill gap between creative marketing agencies and generic corporate product companies with our signature Message Boxes. Within 2 weeks of incorporating, I signed my first account with Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Shortly thereafter, I signed Auburn University and the New York Mets for gifting campaigns. In year 1 (2015) we made gifts for 2 Presidents of the United States , Fortune CEO’s and all 32 NFL owners at Super Bowl 50. Since then, our client list has to grown to 40+ clients in the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS and NCAA. In 2017, we were hired to create the championship gifts for the New England Patriots and Chicago Cubs. We also became an approved gifting partner of Delta Airlines.

The reason we have executed projects for such prestigious clients is because we apply emotional intelligence to physical products. We take strategic insights about people and brands, and incorporate those insights into our premium, American-made offerings. Marketing, sales and HR departments come to us because they don’t pay an agency for creative and then find a manufacturer to create their product. We offer a turn-key solution that captures attention and strengthens relationships in the impersonal digital age.

SPREAD Magazin

Davita and Dion Galloway

Through our publication and blogging site, SPREAD, we guarantee that ‘all of Charlotte’ will be represented and have a voice via our platform. We are an entity that says, ‘yes’ to inclusion.
SPREAD was launched a few years ago and produced six, content-heavy and visually-appealing issues (which we’ll be happy to share). Unfortunately, due to the lack of funding (as we were unable to secure advertisers on our own and everything was out of pocket), in the past year or so, we have focused heavily on the digital platform. However, we are ready and eager to relaunch the physical asset as we continue to hear praises regarding its quality and content. In all transparency, idea formation/creation is never lacking, it’s resources and access.

SECRET SAUCE

There isn’t a publication that can replicate our viewpoint, brand, impact, and deeply entrenched history in the culture of Charlotte. We work with incredibly talented staff from photographers to stylists, from graphic designers to writers, etc. To be direct, our advantage is personal, personnel, experience, influence, and it’s simply, impossible to duplicate.

REVENUE MODEL

We will make money with the selling of advertising space–both in the physical publication, as well as on the digital platform. In doing so, brands/businesses will have increased visibility and a greater audience of consumers.

NEED HELP WITH

  • Business Development
  • Occasional Informal Feedback

 

ArtPop Street Gallery

Wendy Hickey

Most artist do not know how to market themselves and our communities crave local art.

We are utilizing unsold advertising space and providing voice for local artists. We are making art accessible to the community through our public art program.

Since 2014 we have utilized over $16 million dollars in unsold advertising space. Making artists household names and bringing local art work to the masses.

REVENUE MODEL

We currently received funding from individual donors, foundation funding, grant funding, city funding and fundraising events. We intend to launch a e-commerce site  in 2019 for an additional revenue stream.

SECRET SAUCE

Through a 20 year career in the outdoor advertising industry. I have built solid relationship with media companies. This in turn allows us to have a place at the table to negotiate unused ad space for local artists. When local artists art is featured on billboards, bus sides, newsstands, and more, artists are recognized, commissioned and our community is more beautiful through public art.

 

 

StepInSock

Joel Fersaci

We created and have patents on the first handsfree reusable shoe cover. We solve multiple problems:

  1. Taking away the difficult process of putting on a shoe cover
  2. Bringing awareness to reusable shoe covers
  3. Saving money by reusing shoe covers for all sorts of residential services
  4. Reusing the shoe cover creates less waste

We are solving a problem for all kinds of industries all around the world. Examples would be : Heating and air/ plumbers and all residential services including sports, labs and factories.

We are Patent pending with acceleration and claims that have been accepted. We need to rewrite other claims so we can have more protection before we submit our decision. Our patent attorney is Jeff Watson

We are in need of mentoring in the form of organization on what we need to move into the next stage. I have been a 1 man operation for over 3 years doing everything on my own. I took a product to the market with less than 800$ and continue to learn every area possible to be successful but I am getting in the nervous stages where things are starting to get very serious and know I am vulnerable to people who may want to take advantage of our success.

Having good people around me moving forward has become my next …

REVENUE MODEL

We have multiple revenue ideas , one being royalties on big box stores but keeping our rights to the product to continue selling business to businesses and also distributors. We are also in the process of considering private label for different industries.

SECRET SAUCE

We plan to not get “lost in the sauce” but we know we have a great product with a proven concept that is high demand. We are innovating a new easier way of putting on a shoe cover and people are always searching for the newest and easiest ways to do things

Genubot

Treven Stoddard

Genubot is an application created for students taking Calculus that uses machine learning to determine what topic they need to improve on.

50% of college students do not pass college algebra with a C or above, and of those who go on to take a higher level of math, 25% of college students taking Calculus fail to get a C or better. Math is one of the most significant barriers to completing a degree in STEM fields.

There are currently not enough students graduating to fill all the jobs in the STEM fields. Many students are not able to complete calculus and end up switching their majors.

This will allows students to focus their learning around topics that they will potentially struggle with decreasing the failure rate within STEM programs. Teachers will also be able to examine exactly with topics their students are not understanding, and use the information to focus their schedule.

There is potential to patent the machine learning algorithm used to calculate the students predictive reading.

REVENUE MODEL

We will sell our services using a subscription model to students and educational institutions such as tutoring centers and colleges. The main goal is to get Universities to purchase the subscription for its students.

SECRET SAUCE

Genubot uses machine learning algorithms to provide users with reports on their progress, highlighting potential areas for improvement and what future topics students may not understand. Users can use this information to focus on specific topics, while teachers can use this information to know what topics to spend more time on with students.

Advent Coworking

Kevin Giriunas

Company: Advent Coworking

We create an environment where members are productive, grow, and collaborate.  I am working to determine what Advent’s unique identifiers are, where we should go next (franchising, multi-location lease deals, strategic partnership plays, and /or stay put and do something else), and how to remove ‘Kevin’ from the Advent special sauce. I plan to work through the book Traction, hopefully go through this program, hopefully go through a program in CPCC, consult my board of advisors, test out an app idea I have with an MVP to see if it’ll work, and continue to meet our goals at Advent.

REVENUE MODEL

We make money through monthly memberships for individuals who need a work space and/or want to connect. Membership levels range from day passes to flex desks to podcast studio usage to private offices. We also have an event venue where individuals pay by the hour to use it.

SECRET SAUCE

We care about our community. We want to see our members be productive, grow, and collaborate. Our space also has a soul and a vibe unlike anything in Charlotte and arguably the world. We also provide a ton of social capital for our members to connect with our members and the community. However, this question is ultimately what I’m trying to figure out.

Dineamic Smarter Signage

Jake Corday

Company: Dineamic Smarter Signage

We help businesses stand out by providing state-of-the-art digital signage solutions.

In a world where digital has taken over, businesses need a modern and effective way to engage their consumers within their store/restaurant. By incorporating digital signage into their environment, they have a powerful new tool to market promotions, events, loyalty programs and more.

The problem is extremely widespread, although we are currently focused on bars/restaurants and retail environments

There are two parts to our services – the first is the physical digital signage equipment that we install in our clients locations, and the second is our cloud- based content management platform which allows our clients to update advertisements as often as they’d like.

REVENUE MODEL

We currently have clients in both the restaurant and retail industries. We utilize a SAAS model, and our clients pay to use our web content management platform on an annual basis.

SECRET SAUCE

Our software platform is extremely flexible, allowing us to incorporate a vast array of digital signage form factors into our offerings. Examples include TV, tablet, digital table tents, and storefront projection.

Invoira

Manny Salom

Invoira is a web based B2B platform that helps connect buyers and suppliers and streamlines the invoice-to-pay process.

The process of business payments is still a manual and time-consuming process for most businesses. Small Businesses spend countless hours manually dealing with invoices with zero visibility into the process and use paper-checks for over 70 percent of their payments. This costly, convoluted process leaves no easy way of tracking invoices and wastes billions of dollars, globally, in inefficiencies.

The Small businesses is an undeserved market. There are only a few options to choose from and these options are either too expensive or have many limitations.

Our product is a secure web-based e-invoicing network which connects buyers and suppliers and gives them a way to collaborate on invoicing and payments with innovative tools. The cloud-based invoicing software allows parties to edit documents in real-time, chat, track versions and revisions, and make payments.

REVENUE MODEL

We will sell our product directly to small Accounting/Bookkeeping firms. Revenues will come from monthly subscriptions, as well as processing fees from transactions.

SECRET SAUCE

Our product is focused on providing innovative communication tools such as real time chat. Future releases will also include video streaming collaboration.

Leaf Burrito

Marc Mataya and Lauri Eberhart

Leaf Burrito is an easy-to-use and reusable yard debris bag for the purpose of replacing plastic & paper bags and for better curb appeal.

The problem is that dirty plastic film is not recyclable and goes directly into the landfills. The plastic bags must also be manually separated before the composting process which is incredibly inefficient and time-consuming. Also, the curb appeal of plastic and paper bags all over the city is extremely unattractive. Leaf Burrito provides the home-owner with an incredibly easy-to-use and perfect solution for handling yard debris. It stores neatly, can be hosed off, won’t blow away after being emptied, and starts as a flat sheet for easy loading. The City of Charlotte simply unzips and flips to empty into their trucks and returns the bag to the yard.

Landscapers are also big offenders of using plastic bags and short-lived tarps that end up in the landfills.

REVENUE MODEL

Charlotte services 217k homes;
50% do their own yards so out of 108k we believe we can capture 20%;
21,600 bags x $70 price target = $1.5M.; 100 large cities around the USA x 20,000 bags x $70 = Potentially $140M just on the Leaf Burrito side

SECRET SAUCE

The patent is in how the bag opens completely flat offering an advantage over every other type of yard debris container or gear bag. Our custom mesh design differentiates our product from other mesh truck covers and tarps and our zippers and multitude of handles provides a secure way to handle the burritos.

MAZE Services

Samonica Ngo and Macie Mata

MAZE services is an app based mobile hair and nail servicing platform connecting clients with talented, local professionals. OUR mission: is to bridge the gap of convenience and quality by providing the in salon experience on demand.

The salon beauty industry is broken, clients do not have the time to physically go into a salon industry and the salon industry dictates the stylist schedule and salary. The average millennial, busy moms, people who are new to the city and don’t have a committed stylist or nail technician

MAZE is and app based, mobile nail and hair servicing platform connecting clients with local, talented professionals. Our team is committed to changing the way the beauty industry does business by eliminating salon based boundaries for beauty professionals and clients. MAZE Mission: bringing the gap of convenience and quality by providing the in-salon experience on demand.

REVENUE MODEL

Our business model is very simple, MAZE services keeps 30% of every transaction. We’ve been able to generate our user client waiting list through social media, networking events, word of mouth and referrals. We look forward to partnering with our existing corporate partnerships, pop up events and influencer collaboration.

SECRET SAUCE

Unlike competitors, we background check and license verify all female and male stylist or nail technician prior to on boarding, we also targeting mid size markets across the country( Charlotte NC, Nashville TN, Denver CO), lastly we allow our clients to pick their preferred stylist to service

 

Groove WaterSports

Drew Bartek, Gus Gehlen and Miles Ukaoma

We create an impact vest with integrated speakers for water sport participants to listen to music.
Watersport participants don’t have an efficient way of listening to music out on water, current solutions are too expensive and cause additional problems.
There is about 50 million water sport participants that we are targeting eventually, buy in year one we are focused on addressing the 3 million wake-boarders that have this problem.
We are solving this problem through our product the Groove vest. A vest with integrated speakers and controls, empowering the user to listen to their music loud and clear all day in the water.
REVENUE MODEL
1. Sell our vests directly to consumer through our website/amazon.
2.Sell our vests wholesale to boat dealers and retail stores.
3. Sell an extended warranty coverage.
4. License our intellectual property to other non competing sectors.
SECRET SAUCE
We have first all in one solution that will give the user full control of their music and played loud and clear.
GoZome

Steven Zhu

GoZome provides flexible, social and safe carpool among commuters through their mobile app.
Commute is expensive (about $600 per month), time consuming and boring. Especially in rush hours, most people are commuting in same direction. They want to take a convenient lyft and share some commute cost.
We offer commuters a choice to take advantage of the technology. They can reduce cost, save time and build up social network by carpooling with others on the same way. And we have a dedicated App product for that happen.
Commuters could use our App to save/change their commute schedules anytime. Then we take care of the rest. Our algorithm will select the best match for them and excute the cost share in App. What commuters need to do is just show-up on time and get benefits from the rideshare.

REVENUE MODEL

We charge a service fee upon each order we successfully matched. We also provide the service for company use and charge a license fee for it.

SECRET SAUCE

Our products is very flexible and easy to use. Our business solution is environment-friendly and efficient for city and company. Our team is strong and creative.

Our Alumni


Honeyfi

Ramy Serageldin

TEAM

Co-founder & COO: Joseph Stanish
Co-founder & CAO: Samuel Schultz

REVENUE MODEL

1)Savings – The next version of the product will let users save via a Honeyfi savings account, we’ll collect 100+ bps on savings balances.

2) Partner products & services – products like life insurance and college savings (529s). We bring in trusted partners and collect a referral fee if our users end up going through our partner.

SECRET SAUCE

(1) Honeyfi is built for two people. Joint finances are harder and more complex for Millennials because they get married later and have less money than their parents did, thanks to lower income and more debt. That means that for Millennials, it’s crucial to have a solution like Honeyfi, which allows them to work together while controlling what they share with each other.

(2) Honeyfi goes beyond day-to-day money management and takes a more holistic approach to managing household finances.We start by helping couples track their spending and create a budget, but we go beyond that by helping them save for goals together.That is critical to helping couples navigate big, intimidating life events like paying for a wedding, saving for a home, and preparing for a child.

Honeyfi is a platform that helps couples integrate their finances and save for goals together. Couples link their accounts to the app, decide what to share with their partner (balances and/or transactions), and then see all of their finances – organized and categorized – in one place. Honeyfi then helps couples with day-to-day money management, like budgeting and tracking spending, and longer-term finances by helping them work together toward goals.

Joint finances are harder and more complex than ever. That’s because Millennials couples face two unique challenges. First, Millennials get married later than ever, which means they keep their finances more separate and maintain more banking relationships than previous generations. Second, while Millennials want to accomplish the same goals as their parents (weddings, kids, house), they are financially worse off than their parents were, thanks to lower income levels and more debt.

NEED HELP WITH

  • Ip Strategy
  • Early Team Formation
  • Occasional Informal Feedback
Hourz

Anu Mantha

TEAM

Liz Mockler – COO Technology Team -Development and Support

REVENUE MODEL

Our platform is free for hourly workers. There is no subscription fee for businesses. Once work is completed, the businesses pay a fee for hourly work to cover the cost of accessing talent, scheduling, to payment processing. The fee is determined based on the volume hired from the platform.

SECRET SAUCE

A scalable technology solution for a critical community problem. A passion for Charlotte and a desire to Pay It Forward. A team that has broad and deep experience in business, operations, and technology that spreads across a breadth and depth of industries. Hands-on experience volunteering in the community for the last four years, first-hand experience and understanding of issues impacting at-risk and vulnerable youth in Charlotte. Still perfecting the sauce. It is a journey.

HOURZ is a 24X7 Job Exchange(fair) for Hourly Workers and Businesses. For people between the ages 16-24, there is no single place or tool to get connected to hourly work. The problem is even more significant for homeless, foster care victims and at-risk youth as there are inherent biases in current hiring processes. The vocational coordinators at the not-for-profit organizations have a manual nonscalable process. As per the program leader Dawn Hill – “ The MYEP program of the City of Charlotte is a good example of a program unable to scale and expand in the absence of a technology solution.” Charlotte ranks at the bottom of the list and has 50th upward mobility rank. As indicated in the 2014 Harvard Study The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States.“

It functions almost like UBER of hiring- from recruiting to payment processing. We hope to partner with the City, businesses, organizations like INCLT and non-profits to collaborate and create access to opportunities through the HOURZ platform in a new employment paradigm.

NEED HELP WITH

  • Business Development
  • Early Team Formation
  • IP Strategy
  • Informal Feedback
  • Commercial Potential of Technology

City of Charlotte, lack of jobs for at-risk youth is an ever-increasing community problem with a ripple effect. If the homeless, trafficking survivors, incarcerated youth, teen moms and the at-risk youth in the 16-24 yrs age group do not get jobs then we will see higher crime rate and associated problems.

BovaMetrics

Curtis Watkins

TEAM

Curtis Watkins CEO – is an experienced entrepreneur and innovator well known in the Charlotte community. This is the 3rd full time role Curtis has held in a high tech startup company. He comes to BovaMetrics after spending the past 1.5 years serving as the COO of Emrgy, a venture-backed hydrokinetic renewable energy company. Prior to that, Curtis served for 8 years in the emerging technology organization of Duke Energy where during his time he also founded CLT Joules.

Mike Mason, who is helping to lead our efforts to build a sales and support organization around the solution. Mike has over 35 years in the financial services software sector. Collectively, the team represents 2 previous exits, millions of dollars in fundraising, knowledge, and experience in building and running high tech companies, and deep experience with startups. The Bova team has been working together as a whole since mid-2017 and all are working full-time on this effort.

BovaMetrics has built an Augmented Intelligence platform called Equilla, designed for Wealth Managers. Equilla is an advanced algorithm that improves performance on any long-term portfolio through a proprietary process called ‘Performance Harvesting’. Running Equilla against the managed portfolios should boost returns anywhere from 2.5 – 7% starting in year 3 and beyond.

The company has completed two external proof of concepts, the first with a wealth advisory firm based out of Columbia, SC and the second with a large institutional firm that provides products/services to over 6,000 RIA firms across the country. Both PoC’s were successful enough to allow for the continuation of full integration with the large institutional which will help us serve our first set of customers.

We are a pre-revenue company as we have been focused on building our own solution on a large institutional platform. We have however completed two key pilots as previously noted and with the recent fundraiser completed in February 2018, we can now complete our full UI and institutional integration in order to bring on our first batch of customers in mid-20188 (with a completed LOI already in place with one firm and more discussions currently underway).

Join the INCLT VMS Program


Become a VMS Mentor

Innovate Charlotte is seeking experienced individuals who want to  mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs. Our goal is to create high impact connections between successful business men and women and young or new entrepreneurs.

Become a Mentor

Get Mentored

We are looking for companies interested in taking the next step in their entrepreneurial journey as part of our Venture Mentoring pilot program based on renowned MIT VMS Program.  Our focus is innovation driven companies at the validation stage of their business model. It means that you have a few paying customers already and needs mentors to attract investment and scale your business.

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