CHAPEL HILL – Nine local startups will conclude their 16-week experience at Launch Chapel Hill this week by pitching their products and services to a virtual audience. The accelerator’s 13th cohort is tackling a wide range of markets, from veteran support to nonprofit fundraising to children’s books.

During the pitch event, held virtually on May 13 at 4 p.m., the UNC-affiliated startup accelerator will also present its 2019 annual report, covering the latest activities from alumni companies.

In an interview with TechWire last week, Launch Chapel Hill Director Velvet Nelson said that the 13th cohort is particularly dynamic, as they were forced to shift to an online learning environment in March when COVID-19 social distancing measures were put into place. Before that, the program involved face-to-face interactions with mentors at the accelerator’s coworking space in downtown Chapel Hill.

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But Nelson says that hasn’t stopped them from pressing on. “They’ve worked even harder to make those connections and really immerse themselves in the Triangle startup community,” she said. “They’re super intelligent and adaptable, and they’re working around the clock to get their ideas off the ground.”

Here’s a snapshot of the early-stage companies pitching on Wednesday:

  • Blawesome: A flower farm that provides artful arrangements to consumers. The business, operated and owned by a man living with autism, represents the social care farming movement, in which farm activites are used as a therapeutic intervention for mental and physical well-being.
  • EATS2SEATS: This startup helps nonprofits raise money by staffing concession stands and delivering food to fans’ seats on game day. The company has worked with several local non-profits including PeeWeeHomes, Make-A-Wish of Eastern North Carolina, UNC’s Army ROTC Cadet Fund and UNC’s Carolina Pediatric Attention Love and Support program.
  • EXO Technologies: A textiles startup that’s developing materials capable of alleviating pain.
  • Grace and Ease: A website with content aimed to help cancer patients cope with their diagnosis and find community with others. The site also sells products inspired by people’s cancer journey.
  • Keepsake Tales: A soon-to-launch service that personalizes childen’s books for customers. Children’s photos are turned into illustrations and integrated into the book’s story. The company was recently named one of 12 finalists in the NC IDEA Foundation’s spring 2020 SEED grant program.
  • MyOwn Communications: A tool that streamlines communications between clinical care professionals. Physicians can connect with their teams and receive important information all in one HIPAA-compliant platform.
  • nXus Software: A travel platform that allows companies to research, compare and book a destination for their next meeting or event.
  • Sparc: A web-based platform where users can rent out their long-term parking spots. The service includes peer-to-peer transaction capabilities, pricing information and rental management tools.
  • Atlas (formerly Veteran Capital): A job board platform for active-duty military members, veterans, reservists or military spouses who are transitioning into the workforce. The startup’s founder, Tim Horan, started the company while serving as American Underground’s Veteran-in-Residence last year. More TechWire coverage here.

The May 13 pitch event will also serve as the release of Launch Chapel Hill’s 2019 annual report, which covers activities from the accelerator’s alumni companies, including the number of jobs created, how much money was raised and how much was revenue generated in 2019.

Launch Chapel Hill has graduated 132 companies since its start in 2013. Last year, the program reported that its alumni companies had earned $25.9 million in revenue in 2018 alone. The alumni network includes now-exited startups like UConnection (acquired by AroundCampus in 2016) and Impulsonic (acquired by Valve in 2017), as well as some of the Triangle’s fastest-growing companies. In 2014, Launch Chapel Hill’s second cohort included Get Spiffy, an on-demand car wash startup that now operates in over 20 markets and has raised more than $25 million in venture capital.

Launch Chapel Hill is now preparing to welcome its summer cohort, which is exclusive to UNC students only. This year’s class includes 14 companies, four of which are completely focused on solutions relevant to the COVID-19 crisis.

More Launch Chapel Hill coverage from TechWire’s archives:

Launch Chapel Hill welcomes 10 startups for spring cohort, including ‘next CNN’

From ride-sharing to virtual reality, Launch Chapel Hill’s spring cohort is diverse mix

Launch Chapel Hill Levels Up With Exits, Expansions & New Space

Launch Chapel Hill: Where 49 Startups Grew Up, 94 Jobs Began & $3.7M Funded Them

Seven startups to join Launch Chapel Hill accelerator

Welcoming new startups, Launch Chapel Hill flexes its still-young muscles

Veteran entrepreneur in charge, business accelerator Launch Chapel Hill takes off