Reviewed by: Sharron Swain
Startups and small businesses are integral to the health of Alabama’s communities, cities and the state as a whole. Keep reading to hear one recent winner’s story and meet 10 promising startups you can watch compete at Alabama Launchpad’s Cycle 3 Finale, Thursday, December 7, held at Innovation Depot in Birmingham.
Find out why innovation in Alabama matters from a recent winner
To learn more about the importance of startups in Alabama, we spoke with Jennifer Ryan—an innovator from California who has founded these two successful businesses in Birmingham—BLUEROOT and CROUX. As a founder, Ryan is acutely aware of the impact that small businesses have on the local community:
“To me, the long-term viability, sustainability and success of economies is inherently tied to the strength of the small business community. Because success is tied to innovation, it’s important to the long-term strength of our economy to continue to invest in our small businesses.”Jennifer Ryan, Co-Founder and CEO, CROUX
Growing CROUX in Birmingham
Despite her previous experience with BLUEROOT, Jennifer and her team of founders discovered they had a lot to learn when starting CROUX.
To get the help they needed, Croux applied to Alabama Launchpad—a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), in collaboration with Innovate Alabama, that helps train and fund the next generation of promising startups in Alabama.
“CROUX was only a few months old when we first participated in Alabama Launchpad. The experience really helped us hone our direction, sharpen the way we engage with customers and get more specific about the problem we’re solving. At the end of the day, successful companies don’t push products—they solve problems.”Jennifer Ryan, Co-Founder and CEO, CROUX
After winning $25K as the Concept Stage winner in 2022, CROUX applied to—and won—the Seed Stage section at the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 2 Finale earlier this year.
“During our second time in Alabama Launchpad, we already had a year running CROUX under our belts. We were able to learn how to navigate the specific roadblocks, challenges and opportunities we were facing. But the common theme through both of our experiences in Alabama Launchpad was the mentorship we were given.”Jennifer Ryan, Co-Founder and CEO, CROUX
Thanks to the support of Alabama Launchpad, CROUX has been able to successfully grow their business, create and hire a new position and expand their model in new markets across Alabama.
Meet 10 startups competing in the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3 Finale
On Thursday, December 7, you can see 10 startups compete for a portion of $75K in funding at the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3 Finale. The Finale will be held in Birmingham at Innovation Depot—follow Alabama Launchpad on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn for all the details about the event.
Concept-stage finalists’ businesses are usually pre-revenue and compete for the chance to win $25,000.
1. DevClarity—Birmingham, AL
In a world with hybrid and remote-work options, software development companies are often faced with communication and management challenges when it’s time to scale.
To solve this issue, the DevClarity team has launched DevClarity Pulse—an AI-based software tool that development leaders can use to keep a real-time pulse on their team and gain real-time insights into the inner workings of their organizations.
- DevClarity: Website
2. OMNIS dba LucidTrade—Auburn
Some predatory lending services charge as much as 400% interest. Unfortunately, the prime target for these predatory lenders is the unbanked and underbanked population—often immigrants—who are not able to borrow money from traditional institutions.
OMNIS (dba LucidTrade) wants to change that with a financial services app that’s designed to help users gain access to capital and build credit through peer-to-peer loans—no matter which country they live in.
“OMNIS will give the un- and underbanked a better alternative to predatory payday loans. In addition, OMNIS will create a new profit center for partner banks by giving them access to loans they do not normally have access to.”Zakariya Veasy, Founder and CEO, OMNIS
LucidTrade aims to launch their platform on the App Store by December 1, 2023.
3. Revive Recovery Solutions, LLC—Birmingham, AL
The opioid crisis is one of the leading causes of injury mortality in the US—in fact, between 2019 and 2022, overdose deaths in Jefferson County almost doubled and fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by 275%. Although overdoses can be counteracted by a Naloxone nasal spray, it can be tricky to know when someone is overdosing.
To combat this, Revive Recovery Solutions is developing the Overdose Detection Bracelet—a wearable opioid overdose detection device and alert system.
“You can think of our device as Life Alert for people who can’t push a button, but Revive Recovery Solutions is so much more than that. We want to provide them with all the local, state and federal resources that they can use to find long term recovery.”Kyle Berman, Co-Founder and CEO, Revive Recovery Solutions, LLC
- Revive Recovery Solutions, LLC: Website
4. Score Pharma, Inc.—Huntsville, AL
Founded by Bruce Jones, Ph.D., Score Pharma is developing the next generation of antibody therapeutics by improving the efficacy of existing, clinically-validated products.
“Currently in the cancer field, we have drugs like Rituxan and Herceptin that are maximally effective in less than 20% of the patient population that receives them.
While there is a process by which you can improve the efficacy of these drugs, it’s very difficult, expensive, time consuming and not many people are capable of doing it.
Score Pharma has a process that can make that drug better, faster and cheaper so that we can then reintroduce the new and improved therapeutic drug into the market at a reduced cost.”Bruce Jones, PhD, President and CEO, Score Pharma
- Score Pharma: Website
Early seed stage finalists are competing for $50,000 to accelerate the growth of their existing business.
1. Autonoma, Inc.—Auburn, AL
Autonoma, founded by Will Bryan and Mustafa Alp, is creating high-fidelity real-time vehicle models and specialized geo-accurate 3D environmental models. This enables companies to test their vehicles in a safe environment to have a better understanding of how their they will perform under real-world conditions.
2. Circool—Birmingham, AL
Circool is a U.S. K-12 school safety software designed to give school administrators tools to control attendance for school events, secure daily dismissal and implement a reunification plan in case of an evacuation.
“When schools have large events—think pep rallies or even a graduation—Circool sends out invitations to parents, grandparents and other invitees to validate their identity.
Then, instead of having the doors wide open, guests are required to scan in with their pre-validated ticket. In addition, we print out a name badge to give others a visual indication that they are approved to be inside the school.”Jason Routson, Circool
3. Datus Henry Industries, LLC — Birmingham, AL
Datus Henry Industries is a growing family-owned hemp business that aims to provide healthy options for customers receiving the benefits of CBD products.
Datus Henry’s products are grown on their family farm in Coy, Alabama and sold in their brick-and-mortar location in Birmingham’s Civil Rights District.
“We like to say that people need to know where their CBD comes from! At Datus Henry, we grow and process the CBD out of our produce from a farm that has been in our family for more than five generations to create a product that people that trust.”Patrick Parker, Datus Henry Industries
4. Dryft Coffee—Birmingham, A
Founded by Praveena Sundarraj, Dryft Coffee is a Birmingham-based coffee roaster and mobile coffee bar serving coffee produced and roasted by women.
During The World Games 2022, the founder began serving Dryft Coffee out of a mobile camper, and it quickly became a hit due to its unique coffee options. Soon, in 2024, Dryft Coffee will be opening its first brick-and-mortar location at Printer’s Corner.
“Being able to learn from the Alabama Launchpad mentors has given me the confidence to make hard decisions.
Participating in Alabama Launchpad is a great honor and I am excited to learn how to sustain and build Dryft Coffee into a company that will provide new jobs and economic growth in Alabama.”Praveena Sundarraj, Founder and CEO, Dryft Coffee
5. GutChek, Inc.—Madison, AL
Because colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US, experts recommend regular screenings for everyone over the age of 45. However, scheduling a colonoscopy can be time-consuming, prohibiting some patients from getting a potentially life-saving screening.
Billed as the “Calendly of Colonoscopy,” GutChek is a mobile application that streamlines the colonoscopy scheduling experience by allowing patients to self-schedule directly—without having to go through an office visit.
“Our goal is to make colonoscopy effective, efficient and accessible to all patients. Through GutChek, we allow patients to skip the office visit—saving them money and giving them the ability to schedule it at a time that’s convenient for them.”Michael Kelso PhD, Founder, GutChek
6. VirtuOwl—Birmingham, AL
It’s no secret that school counselors are overburdened—in fact, each counselor works, on average, with 408 students in the US, though the American Counselor Association recommends no more than 250 students per counselor.
To help alleviate this stress, VirtuOwl connects parents and students with certified counselors and teachers to get them the supplemental education and support they need.
“VirtuOwl is a smarter, safer connections platform between students, educators and counselors. We are a one-stop-shop that can facilitate those resources—whether that’s academic support, counseling, mental health, counseling or whatever it may be.”Bo Morgan, General Manager, VirtuOwl
These 10 startups will compete in the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3 Finale on Thursday, December 7—follow Alabama Launchpad on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on the event details!