It's NC IDEA grant cycle number 19 and five North Carolina startups are walking away with funds to build out products, launch sales efforts, market themselves, secure intellectual property and/or hire staff.
From the pool of 145 applicants this spring, nine finalists were named in May. An intensive process of interviews and Q&A led to the final five, four from the Research Triangle area and one based in Greensboro. Funding amounts are not yet negotiated, but most grantees take home about $50,000, and with clear marching orders for how the funds should be spent. They also receive mentorship, in-kind legal and accounting resources, use of MBA interns and help raising capital over time. Over the 19 cycles, 93 companies have received a collective $3.7 million from the Durham nonprofit.
Read more about four grant winners in the stories linked below. The fifth winner is a stealthy and not-yet-launched startup called Luxury Shoe Club
, which declined to be interviewed at this time. Based in Cary, the woman-owned (but names not disclosed) company claims to be building the world's largest online shoe club, letting women trade pre-owned designer shoes at no cost (only the membership fee). It's also altruistic—according to its website, each new member helps disadvantaged women get back on their feet.
According to NC IDEA Grant Program Manager Andrea Cook, Luxury Shoe Club has "an incredibly large market opportunity" in the attractive sharing economy and luxury goods space.
Our stories on the rest of the winners:
Essay Assay of Durham
Urban Offsets of Greensboro
Akili Software of Raleigh
Trinket of Durham
And read up on past winners here.