Charlottesville-based startup wins top award in Lighthouse Labs pitch event
Virtual space creates a platform to let creative workers share ideas
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.