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Three local ventures win inaugural GVL Starts pitch event

Molly Hulsey //October 13, 2021//

Three local ventures win inaugural GVL Starts pitch event

Molly Hulsey //October 13, 2021//

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More than 25 Greenville entrepreneurs vied for a total of $15,000 in small business grants last week in a Shark Tank-style competition in the halls of the old Bank of America building.

Crowd favorite winner Jennifer Sprears of The African Violet is flanked by Furman Chief Innovation Officer Anthony Herrera and GVL Starts Program Manager Bryan Davis. (Photo/Provided)The Oct. 7 Demo Day pitch event allows graduates of Furman University’s inaugural GVL Starts entrepreneur mentorship and education program to showcase their products with six finalists competing for grants in the technology and product-service categories, and the remainder competing for crowd favorite.

The GVL Starts program is run by the Furman’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in conjunction with the city of Greenville, Greenville Local Development Corporation and the S.C. Department of Commerce. Local business owners guide participants in developing a business and marketing plan to pitch for their fledgling venture.

Furman is now recruiting entrepreneurs for the spring 2022 GVL Starts cohort.

“Greenville is a thriving community for entrepreneurs and startups because they can find the training, connections and support — everything they need to succeed — here,” Greenville City Manager John McDonough said in a news release. “The GVL Starts program powered by Furman is a powerful tool in ensuring businesses’ long-term success. We look forward to seeing the great things these companies do to grow their companies and our city.”

Demo Day winners included:

  • Tech Category: Bottle Titan, pitched by Eric Cooperman, a beverage monitoring product intended to bring solutions to the multi-billion-dollar problem of beer and wine spoilage
  • Product/Service Category: Comfort Cover, pitched by Dionne Sandiford, a proprietary, easy-to-clean, anti-microbial blanket with built-in pillow designed for daycares, disaster relief kits and on-the-go childcare
  • Crowd Favorite: The African Violet, pitched by Jennifer Spears, a self-care and stress relief service featuring herbal teas, bath products and massage therapy.

Other program graduates include:

  • Golden Career Strategies, pitched by Stacey W. Bevill, a career transition service for individuals and onboarding and outplacement for companies, including coaching, training, workshops and assessments
  • Dibs, pitched by Rachel Caldwell, crowdsources a parking space in real-time with the ability to request a pick-up in exchange for a parking space
  • Hop Robotics, pitched by Grayson Dawson, streamlines the ordering, dispensing, payment and age verification process of beverage operations through automation and robotics. 
  • CAIRS Shoes, pitched by LaShonn Edmunds, comfortable and fashionable four-way stretch smart shoes for women with swollen feet
  • Anticiever LLC., pitched by Thomas W. Epting, new frequency technology to monitor and transmit signals to and from multiple sources
  • Patriot Waste Technologies, pitched by Diana Foster, a glass recycling technology designed to keep recyclables and compostable items out of landfills
  • Logicle, pitched by Jonathan Fowler, a consulting agency that helps businesses focus on connecting data strategy to business strategy
  • Bake Your Mark, pitched by Stufona Latta, a business-to-business dessert company.    
  • Synergy Mill, by Joey Loman, a 3,000-square-foot "makerspace" workshop located in West Greenville.
  • GVL Stories, pitched by Muhammad Mehmood Mallick, a digital media company that empowers the youth of Greenville by connecting local growing businesses to a younger audience
  • Therapy Studios, pitched by Marni Peters, an alternative therapy business offering LED light therapy, massage, cupping and cryotherapy
  • JaToya Lanisha Photography, pitched by Jatoya Rector, a lifestyle photographer capturing life’s moments for clients
  • Twisted Urban Fiber, pitched by Dia Patrece Robinson, a textile product and teaching-based company using fiber arts to improve mental health and unlock creative expression
  • Smoke N Grill, pitched by Christopher L. Sexton, an eclectic barbecue restaurant combining Southern soul food with traditional barbecue
  • Sustain Edu, pitched by Zachary Stephens and Chandler T. Long, campus sustainability platform application for data collection and management pertaining to campus engagement, education, volunteering, philanthropy and marketing
  • Revere, pitched by Spencer Tate, a website and app that creates a marketplace for college athletes to use their likeness and image
  • Project Conduit, pitched by Christian Taylor, a recording studio that provides access to exclusive content, tools and coaching for musicians and producers
  • I got it!, pitched by Kyle Charles Tenke, an original board/card game based on probability science.

Thyme and Play, pitched by Eva K. Vega and Henry Vega, a nonprofit that specializes in event accommodations for the disabled community.