DURHAM – NC IDEA will infuse a total of $300,000 in seven North Carolina startups that comprise the spring 2018 cohort of the organization’s NC IDEA SEED program.

“This newest cohort of NC IDEA SEED grant recipients is a great representation of the expansion of entrepreneurship across the state,” said Thom Ruhe, president and CEO of NC IDEA, in a statement. “These companies illustrate the vibrancy of entrepreneurial interests and are positioned to quickly grow, create jobs and positively impact the state’s economy.”

According to Ruhe, the seven members of the cohort were selected from the largest and most geographically diverse applicant pool in the foundation’s history. Since its inception in 2006, the NC IDEA SEED program has awarded over $5.5 million in non-dilutive grants to 132 innovative companies. The spring 2018 cohort is the 25th grant cycle.

NC IDEA also distributed NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grants to 11 community partners across the state of North Carolina in 2016 and 2017, totalling $1 million, with the objective of building entrepreneurial capacity across the entire state. Ruhe announced the organization’s intention of distributing a second round of ECOSYSTEM grants in 2018 at the Charlotte Venture Challenge on Tuesday.

Micro grants help validate ideas

“We have a lot of opportunity if we can find the resources to support them in North Carolina,” said Ruhe. “We only strengthen our grip by broadening our reach.”

The organization is also piloting a series of micro-grants, designed to assist companies that need small-dollar investments, as little as $500 or $1,000, to validate an idea at a time of need. Applications are open until May 14 for this program, and more than 160 applications have already been submitted to NC IDEA for this pilot program. It is expected that the applications for the micro-grant program will far outpace the applications for this year’s NC IDEA SEED grants—the organization received 185 applications.

The seven grant recipients were selected from those 185 applications, said Andrea Cook, director of NC IDEA. More than half of the application submissions were companies based outside of the thirteen-county Triangle region, and one-third of North Carolina’s counties were represented in the applicant pool.

NC IDEA first selected semifinalists, and after further discussion, selected 12 finalist companies. Seven were selected to receive a total of $300,000, with five companies receiving $50,000 and two companies receiving $25,000.

Grant Winners

Cardinal Workshop LLC—Burlington, NC—$25,000

Cardinal Workshop is a digitally-driven furniture brand focused on lasting quality and personal service. By merging a personalized online shopping experience with a digital fabrication process, Cardinal is making it easier to get quality, customized furniture with products designed to be easy to move and manufacture using sustainable materials.

Elite HRV—Asheville, NC—$50,000

Elite HRV gives consumers rapid and personalized feedback on how well exercise, diet, sleep or stress management efforts are working. Hundreds of thousands of people now use Elite HRV to remove the guesswork in their health and fitness journey each day. Elite HRV is the tool of choice for doctors, coaches and high performing individuals looking to get better and more sustainable results in health, fitness and stress management.

Freeman Capital—Charlotte, NC—$50,000

Freeman Capital is an active wealth management firm that leverages a mix of artificial intelligence and knowledgeable human traders to break down barriers for the middle class and millennials ready to invest. As the only retail automated wealth management service that allows customers to invest, it actively manages currency trading programs different from cookie-cutter stocks, bonds and ETF portfolios.

Glean, LLC—Snow Hill, NC—$50,000

Up to 40% of farmers’ crops are lost due to shape, size, or other imperfections, while many across the globe suffer from food allergies, hunger and malnutrition. Glean was founded with an innovative approach to reduce farm waste, while creating value added health foods such as vegetable flours and powders, purees and natural snack foods—all to address growing dietary problems across the globe.  Glean has made it their mission to “revive both people and produce for purpose” by gathering goodness from farmers and donating back pound for pound to help those in need.

myBeeHyve—Hampstead, NC—$25,000

myBeeHyve offers a contact management system built specifically to address the mobile needs of the growing network marketing industry. Since its founding in March 2017, myBeeHyve has moved quickly to launch its innovative application and gain thousands of users from seven countries representing over 125 network marketing brands. With a solution for more than 20 million network marketers in the US and more than 103 million network marketers globally, myBeeHyve is perfectly positioned at the intersection of network marketing, social commerce and empowerment of women entrepreneurs.

SalesSync, LLC—Cary, NC—$50,000

SalesSync’s phone performance management platform is an all-in-one solution for converting more new patient calls into in-office consultations. Utilizing call recordings and speech analytics, their technology categorizes 100% of a practice’s new patient calls to provide unparalleled visibility into what is happening on the phones, as well as tools for improving staff performance.

VitalFlo Inc.—Raleigh, NC—$50,000

VitalFlo is redefining the standard of care for asthma management by providing actionable recommendations to patients when they need it most: before they have an asthma attack. The company’s lung health analytics platform, powered by its handheld medical device and digital health management app, enables asthmatic patients to track their lung health and asthma medications at home. VitalFlo’s vision is to build a future without asthma attacks.

The seed grants will support a variety of activities for the growth of nascent firms, said Cook. In addition to the funding, grant recipients will also receive mentoring from entrepreneurs and investors, seek assistance from MBA fellows, utilize in-kind services from attorneys, accountants and marketing consultants, and receive public recognition that will increase access to growth capital.

For more detailed profiles of the winners, you can read more at WRAL TechWire.