You need to know which 2 companies just won $75K in Auburn + why it matters


(Bruce Nix / Alabama Launchpad)
CROUX and VivoSphere, LLC won a combined $75K in startup funding last week at Alabama Launchpad. (Bruce Nix / Alabama Launchpad)

Last week, dozens of startups, entrepreneurs, investors and more made their way to The Park at Auburn University for the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 2 Finale. After two months of intensive mentorship and training, 11 startups came to the competition to pitch themselves and their business to a panel of experts—with hopes of walking away with a portion of $75K in non-dilutive seed funding.

See why CROUX and VivoSphere, LLC came out on top at the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 2 Finale on Thursday, August 17th. Want to see how Alabama Launchpad can help your startup succeed? Click here to sign up for Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3!

Meet CROUX and VivoSphere, LLC

CROUX — Early Seed-Stage Winner

(Bruce Nix / Alabama Launchpad)
Co-founders of CROUX accepting funding from Alabama Launchpad. (Bruce Nix / Alabama Launchpad)

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

The Cycle 2 Early-Seed Stage winner—and recipient of $50,000 in non-dilutive seed funding—is none other than CROUX. A former Alabama Launchpad concept stage winner, CROUX was formed by several experienced founders from the restaurant and hospitality sector and aims to connect high-quality talent with flexible work opportunities in the hospitality industry.

We are thrilled, humbled, grateful and excited to have won Launchpad for the second time. Thanks to an investment from Alabama Launchpad, we’ll continue to invest in our people by investing in our technology. We’ve prioritized the humans behind the hospitality industry from the earliest days with our investments in technology, starting with providing easy and equal access to flexible work, then the ability to get paid immediately and most recently free and low cost health and wellness benefits through our Croux Cares platform. We’ll build on the benefits offered to our talent with tax assistance and tax preparation as well as more robust insurance offerings, and we’ll continue to enhance the tools available to our businesses—from simple scheduling and seamless payments to individual and industry analytics—to help them make informed decisions while saving time and money.”

Jennifer Ryan, Co-Founder and CEO, Croux

CROUXWebsite | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

VivoSphere, LLC — Concept-Stage Winner

(Bruce Nix / Alabama Launchpad)
Dr. Yuan Tian and Dr. Elizabeth Lipke of VivoSphere, LLC. (Bruce Nix / Alabama Launchpad)

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

Co-founded and developed by Dr. Yuan Tian and Dr. Elizabeth Lipke, VivoSphere, LLC was awarded the Concept Stage prize of $25,000 at the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 2 Finale. Born out of research conducted by Dr. Tian at Auburn University, VivoSphere, LLC uses technology to create more human-like tissue for the purpose of testing drug responses. By using VivoSophere’s technology, researchers can reduce false positive drug candidates at an early stage, which can help avoid a costly failure during the clinical stage.

“Having a strong team is critical for the success of startup. So I am planning to use the $25k for team building, including leadership team, R&D team and operational supporting team. The majority part of the money will cover the cost for traveling to identify and meet potential team members. The rest will be used for covering a portion of salary for new member we bring on board.”

Yuan Tian, Co-Founder and CTO of VivoSphere

VivoSphere: Website | YouTube | Email

Want to see how Alabama Launchpad can help your startup succeed? Click here to sign up for Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3!

About Alabama Launchpad — Apply to Cycle 3

(Bruce Nix / Alabama Launchpad)
You could be the next Alabama Launchpad winner! (Bruce Nix / Alabama Launchpad)

Since the program’s inception in 2006, Alabama Launchpad has invested more than $6 million in 115 growing Alabama startups such as TaxxWiz, CHONEX, Vulcan Line Tools, Immediate and many more. Today, that investment has an estimated combined post-money valuable of more than $1 billion and has helped employ more than 1,300 people in Alabama.

“The most valuable part [of Alabama Launchpad] has been the mentoring sessions. Even though the finale competition was in August, I have been working with an amazing mentoring team since the end of May. They are key for my winning at the final competition, and more importantly, I learned valuable lessons for running a startup, on topics such as financial, leadership, team management, sales and effective communications. I would encourage entrepreneurs to constantly step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself to be the driving force for the innovation and improvement for the society, especially for the state of Alabama.”

Yuan Tian, Co-Founder and CTO of VivoSphere

The state’s most active early-stage seed fund investor, Alabama Launchpad is made possible through the support of several organizations, including:

  • Innovate Alabama
  • The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs
  • The Alabama Department of Commerce
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield Caring Foundation
  • The Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Truist Bank
  • Wells Fargo
  • The Daniel Corporation Foundation

“To all of the Alabama entrepreneurs out there: do not sleep on the opportunity to listen and learn from some of the greatest entrepreneurial brains in our state! It’s a privilege to participate in Alabama Launchpad and it was a critical and shaping experience for CROUX as a company and for our founding team.”

Jennifer Ryan, Co-Founder and CEO, Croux

Applications to Alabama Launchpad’s Cycle 3 2023 are NOW OPEN, but act fast—applications close on September 7th. Click here to sign up for Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3!

Sponsored by:

Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer at Bham Now

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