Tom & Jenny's is one of six startups to win ~$50K in grant funding from the nonprofit Durham-based NC IDEA Foundation. Since 2006, the foundation has awarded nearly $4.2 million to 104 startups around the state. The six companies were narrowed from nine finalists, 22 semifinalists and 130 total applications for the Fall 2015 cycle. Links to additional stories are below. Add an NC IDEA grant to the list of accolades for Tom & Jenny's, the husband-and-wife team selling healthier candies online and in stores throughout the Triangle. We profiled the company back in April, when founders Tommy "Tom" Thekkekandam and his wife Sindhura "Jenny" Citineni, a dentist, were making caramels out of their house in Morrisville. They went on to win the Carolina Challenge alumni prize, to pitch in front of investor Steve Case at The Rise of the Rest in May and take home a $7,500 second place in Danville, Virginia's Big Launch Challenge. In July, the pair was named one of six finalists in the national Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream contest. This fall, the company was named one of six local female-led startups to receive mentorship from the SoarTriangle program. They set a goal to expand to 100 to 300 stores by mid-2016 and to set up a contract manufacturing facility to move production out of their home. They've already created a subscribe option, so customers can have candy delivered regularly without individual orders.
In November, Thekkekandam pitched at the local Challenge Cup at American Underground, winning one of three spots in a regional competition next March. Here's the pitch:
NC IDEA grants up to $50,000 for specific purposes or projects aimed to move a company forward. We haven't had the chance to speak with Thekkekandam yet, but will report back on his specific plans for the funding as soon as we do.
Read about the rest of the winners here: