9 startups selected for first Alabama Launchpad Cycle of 2023


Alabama Launchpad / EDPA
(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Alabama Launchpad—a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA)—recently announced their selection of nine startups to complete in the first Alabama Launchpad Startup Competition of 2023! Over the next month, participants will collaborate with other startups, learn from experienced entrepreneurs and complete for a combined $75K in funding.

Alabama Launchpad Cycle 1 2023 will conclude with a public finale on April 20, 2023 in Tuscaloosa. Learn more + reserve your tickets to the Cycle 1 2023 Finale!

Meet the Startups

Concept Stage

Finalists in the concept stage are usually pre-revenue and compete for $25,000.

NanomediGene, LLC

(Nanomedigene, LLC)
(NanomediGene, LLC)

Led by Founder and CEO Yasin Oduk, NanomediGene, LLC is a biotechnology research and development company that develops nanotechnology and drug delivery systems that improve the quality of life for patients facing chronic diseases. Their first product is a nanoparticle-engineered drug for patients who undergo dialysis, with which they hope to increase surgery success rates and reduce healthcare costs.

“I chose Alabama Launchpad to take advantage of the program’s invaluable mentorship in business and finance. I look forward to improving the business structure, financial and business plan, and pitch deck proposal.”

Yasin Oduk, Ph.D., CEO & Founder, NanomediGene, LLC

Website | Facebook | LinkedIn

Dani’s Cheesecakes

Dani's Cheesecakes
(Dani’s Cheesecakes)

Dani’s Cheesecakes’ founder Danielle Moore started making gourmet cheesecakes in 2020 as a way to help support her college-bound son. Soon, making cheesecakes became a passion!

“We give customers a luxury dessert experience at an affordable price by providing no bake cheesecake jars that can be carried or shipped. We have over 40 flavors, including our fan favorite Strawberry Crunch, Red Velvet Cookies and Cream as well as non-traditional flavors like PB&J.”

Danielle Moore, Founder & CEO, Dani’s Cheesecakes

Recently, Danielle got an email from the City of Auburn about the upcoming Alabama Launchpad competition, and decided to apply.

“I am the first entrepreneur in my family, so I am taking this opportunity to learn how to run my business correctly. I am looking forward to learning as much as I can from the entrepreneurs and information we have access to—which to me is worth way more than the grand prize.”

Danielle Moore, Founder & CEO, Dani’s Cheesecakes

Website | Facebook

Welcomed Benefit Corporation (DBA Welcomed Co.)

(Welcomed Co.)
(Welcomed Co.)

Founded by Cristina Casanova Might, Welcomed Co. is a lifestyle brand offering beautifully designed products for accessibility and inclusion, educational content, thoughtful resources and supportive community to help people of all abilities live their best lives.

“Welcomed Co is the company that I wish had been around when my oldest son, Bertrand (Buddy), was still alive. My 11 year-old daughter, Victoria, demanded that I start a company because ‘kids like Buddy’ and a close friend of hers needed it and I had seamlessly customized accessible solutions for my son’s room and our house. I said, ‘yes’ to my junior co-founder, and a few months later, on the two-year anniversary of laying Buddy to rest, Welcomed Co. was born.”

Cristina Casanova Might, Founder & CEO, Welcomed Co.

Welcomed Co is one of the first few Public Benefit Corporations in the state of Alabama, and aims to use the Alabama Launchpad program to identify next steps for the company as well as potential local partners.

“Funny enough, I first learned about Alabama Launchpad through Bham Now! We applied to Alabama Launchpad for a few reasons.  We wanted: feedback on our concept; advising from local experts; accountability and practice; and most of all, networking and connections. We also want to give hope to families that beautiful products and local employment opportunities for folks of all abilities are coming soon!”

Cristina Casanova Might, Founder & CEO, Welcomed Co.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter | Pinterest | LinkedIn


Led by CEO Ksenia Solomatina, PowerTechs helps utilities accelerate their transition to sustainable energy. Through their online simulator-based skill assessment program, PowerTechs is able to measure practical knowledge, safety compliance, communication and work attitudes.

“Our solution can be applied to any industry, but we focus on the energy market since to the lack of skilled workers is becoming a bottleneck for renewable infrastructure deployment. The problem is only going to get worse, but we are the perfect team to solve it!”

Ksenia Solomatina, CEO, PowerTechs

A graduate of Sorbonne University in Paris, Ksenia Solomatina is joined by several team members with experience in building platforms for 3M+ users, creating the majority of solar tech training in the US and artificial intelligence.

Website | Email

Cahaba Fire Company, LLC

Founded by Ryan King and Ben Horton, Cahaba Fire Company, LLC researches & develops innovative products for fire departments and first responders in order to expand first responder’s capabilities to get the job done safer, faster and more reliably. 

“Through sound advisement, we hope to have gained a solid base that is positioned for sustainability and scale. In order to properly conduct business and scale faster, we hope to be selected as the Alabama Launchpad winners. Winning would provide us with much need capital, and provide invaluable marketing and industry recognition. Alabama is our home state and we would love to see our communities grow with passionate economic development plans that bolster innovation. We want to be and can be a part of that. “

Ben Horton, Co-Owner and CEO, Cahaba Fire Company, LLC

Website | Email | Facebook

Seed Stage

Finalists in the early seed stage are competing for $50,000 to accelerate the growth of their existing business. 

Sweet Home Spirits

(Sweet Home Spirits)
Sweet Home Spirits founders Austin W. Creel and Carl Baldone. (Sweet Home Spirits)

Founded in 2020 by Carl Baldone and Austin W. Creel, Sweet Home Spirits is an Alabama-branded line of Spirits that currently offers five products in the Alabama and Georgia markets. Since its founding, Sweet Home Spirits has expanded its presence to 200+ locations throughout the Southeast, and plans to open its own distillery in May 2023.

“We are just in awe at the expertise, professionalism, and intelligence that has been gathered in this Launchpad advisors group and we are thrilled to be advised in our business from these individuals and gaining their wealth of information for the benefit of our start-up.”

Austin W. Creel, President, Sweet Home Spirits

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Harmony Diagnostics

(Harmony Diagnostics)
(Harmony Diagnostics)

Harmony Diagnostics is working on the first at-home self test to detect the presence of the three most common STIs – gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. Founder and CEO Dr. David Gaddes brings with him previous experience in point-of-care diagnostics at Johns Hopkins as well as experience from working at a Y-combinator-backed start-up focused on STI molecular diagnostics. The company aims to providing a convenient, accurate and rapid at-home STI test to everyone in need, regardless of location or access to conventional healthcare services.

“Through Alabama Launchpad, we will refine our early-stage business strategy and establish a solid foundation for accelerated growth. I’m excited to collaborate with the Launchpad advisors, who possess knowledge and experience across diverse areas, including sales, finance, human resources, and pitching.”

Dr. David Gaddes, Founder and CEO, Harmony Diagnostics

Website | Email


Idyllo is a modern home improvement marketplace that helps customers get work done on their home with local trusted professionals trust. Idyllo’s team curates the best vendors and solutions—from gutters to HVAC to remodels—and brings them into their marketplace. From there, homeowners and renters can browse recommended vendors from Idyllo’s curated network based on their home, goals and preferences.

“We’re gearing up to raise a seed round, so we’re definitely working on refining our pitch and getting exposure to investors across the state. We’re also working on taking some significant steps in our business – most immediately, building out the marketing arm of our business and launching the next version of our web app. My goal is to have built a network around our team to successfully navigate those immediate next steps, and what comes after.”

Jessica Manjo, Founder and CEO, Idyllo

Website | Email | LinkedIn | Instagram

Domestique Coffee, LLC

(Domestique Coffee)
(Domestique Coffee)

Founded by brothers Nathan and Michael Pocus in 2014, Domestique is a coffee, hospitality and lifestyle brand that is providing Alabama with coffee-based cultural experiences.

“We’ve bootstrapped our company from the ground up, and access to these funds will take our growth to the next level. We believe we’re a company in alignment with Launchpad’s mission to fund companies dedicated to enhancing the local economy, creating more jobs for Alabamians, and working directly with local businesses and farms to source our ingredients.”

Nathan Pocus, Founder and CEO, Domestique Coffee

According to Nathan Pocus, Domestique believes in offering simple and healthy specialty coffees to our customers when and where they want them.

“We are looking forward to continuing to develop as business owners and learning from other companies on ways to improve and move our company forward. We are thrilled to share our passionate plan to continue building community-driven spaces and increase access to high-quality, ethical products.”

Nathan Pocus, Founder and CEO, Domestique Coffee

Website | Facebook | Instagram

See the Alabama Launchpad Competition, April 20th!

Alabama Launchpad Social Impact
(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Nine Alabama startups and $75,000 on the line—see it all at the first Alabama Launchpad Startup Competition of 2023! Register for the Cycle 1 Finale and visit the Alabama Launchpad website to learn more!

Which of these Alabama startups do you want to learn more about? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know!

Sponsored by:

Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer at Bham Now

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