Richmond Times-Dispatch

Charlottes­ville-based startup wins top award in Lighthouse Labs pitch event

Virtual space creates a platform to let creative workers share ideas

- BY JOHN REID BLACKWELL Richmond Times-Dispatch jblackwell@timesdispa­tch.com (804) 775-8123

A startup that created an online platform where people who work in creative fields can share ideas, resources, and learn new skills emerged as the overall winner in Thursday’s Lighthouse Labs startup pitch competitio­n.

Lumastic, a Charlottes­villebased startup founded by Drew Lytle and Keith Stolte, finished in first place and won a $5,000 award in the pitch competitio­n, which featured eight startup businesses that were part of the Lighthouse Labs fall cohort.

Lighthouse Labs is a Richmond-based nonprofit that provides three-month mentoring programs for startup businesses along with business planning resources.

Lumastic was designed for the roughly 30 percent of the

U.S. workforce for those in freelance jobs such as skilled crafts, design work, freelance artists, writers, and entreprene­urs, said co-founder and CEO Drew Lytle during the company’s virtual pitch before a crowd of about

450 people who watched the event online.

Those are “people who work for themselves and mostly work alone,” Lytle said. “This population is growing rapidly. In the past five years, it has accounted for 45% of workforce growth in the U.S.”

The problem, Lytle said, is that people are accustomed to living and working in “groups, companies and communitie­s.”

“We need a new type of workplace, one that supports this new, growing, creative class,” he said.

So Lumastic offers a virtual space where those types of workers can share ideas and find help by reaching out to one another.

Virtual attendees of the event voted on the winners after each startup made a short presentati­on about their companies.

Based on those vote totals, the startups divvied up $15,000 in award money provided by Capital One Cafés — $5,000 for the first place winner, $3,000 for second place, $2,000 for third and $1,000 each for the remaining companies.

The money is in addition to the $20,000 in equity-free funding that all the startups receive when they go through the Lighthouse Labs program.

Second place and a $3,000 award went to Polycarbin, a Pittsburgh-based startup that extracts valuable plastics from regulated medical waste streams and recycles that plastic into future laboratory products.

Third place and a $2,000 award went to Sunny Day Fund, a Falls Church-based startup which provides an emergency and personal savings platform where people can set aside aftertax money from their paycheck as an employer benefit.

Five other companies that are part of the fall cohort and that also made pitches received $1,000 each. They are:

ArchiveCor­e, of Roanoke, which uses distribute­d ledger technology to simplify the credential­ing process in the health care industry;

Bookclubz, of Richmond, an online management tool to keep book clubs organized;

Icarus Medical, of Charlottes­ville, which makes rapid and economical 3D-scanned, formfit knee braces;

MindCo, of San Jose, Calif., which helps eliminate addictive behaviors through personaliz­ed and self-administra­ted digital therapeuti­cs; and

MIST, or Minimally Invasive Spinal Technology, of Charlottes­ville, which has a software algorithm and spinal implant to treat scoliosis.

Lumastic, a Charlottes­ville-based startup founded by

Drew Lytle and Keith Stolte, finished in first place and won a $5,000 award in the pitch competitio­n.

 ?? LIGHTHOUSE LABS ?? This is a screen grab of the Lighthouse Labs fall 2020 business pitch competitio­n, which was held online. Clockwise from top left are Lighthouse Labs Executive Director Erin Powell, and startup founders Anna Ford of Bookclubz, Lennox McNeary of ArchiveCor­e, and Drew Lytle of Lumastic.
LIGHTHOUSE LABS This is a screen grab of the Lighthouse Labs fall 2020 business pitch competitio­n, which was held online. Clockwise from top left are Lighthouse Labs Executive Director Erin Powell, and startup founders Anna Ford of Bookclubz, Lennox McNeary of ArchiveCor­e, and Drew Lytle of Lumastic.
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA