By Mark Kelly
Two Birmingham-based startups earned a combined $75,000 in funding at the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 2, 2022, Finale on Aug. 30. Nine finalists competed in the event, which included concept-stage and early-seed-stage components. Hosted by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), the Cycle 2 competition was held at Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.
The early-seed-stage prize of $50,000 went to TaxxWiz, which recently relocated to Alabama from Dallas. The company provides individuals and small businesses with tax preparation, bookkeeping, and financial and accounting services through its online portal. TaxxWiz reduces the average time for completing tax returns from four hours to 20 minutes.
“Winning definitely feels good,” said TaxxWiz CEO Tevin Harrell. “Just being in Launchpad helped us take our business to a whole new level. Now, with the investment we won, I think the sky’s the limit for us.”
Ride Resorts won the concept-stage competition, claiming a $25,000 investment. Ride Resorts is a pay-to-ride mountain biking resort developer that partners with landowners — including Birmingham’s Red Mountain Park — to design and build world-class mountain biking experiences.
“It’s an honor to be a finalist in Launchpad, regardless of the outcome,” said Hobie King, co-founder and COO of Ride Resorts. “This process has been super valuable in refining our vision and learning where our weak points were. This investment will help accelerate our proprietary technology of RFID gates. It will propel our next step toward really being a technical park.”
The Alabama Power Foundation is also working with Ride Resorts and has provided an impact investment supporting the company’s Red Mountain Park project. Impact investments allow the foundation to earn a return on its support for mission-driven entrepreneurs. The return on these investments can then be used again to fuel other foundation projects that support Alabama communities.
Each finalist company in the Alabama Launchpad competition received intensive mentorship to prepare for the Aug. 30 finale. That included group and one-on-one sessions with Launch Advisors, a group of successful entrepreneurs and other business leaders who offered advice and personalized feedback.
“Alabama Launchpad is fortunate to offer finalists an all-star lineup of experienced founders and business leaders,” said Miller Girvin, EDPA’s executive vice president of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “We appreciate their willingness to invest targeted time and energy in our eager entrepreneurs to help position them for success in their finale pitch and beyond.”
Established in 2006, Alabama Launchpad is the state’s most active early-stage seed fund investor, driving innovation and job growth through startup competitions and ongoing mentoring for Alabama entrepreneurs. The program is supported by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), the Alabama Department of Commerce, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Caring Foundation, Wells Fargo, the Daniel Foundation, and Alabama Power.
EDPA is a private, nonprofit organization that supports business recruitment and expansion in Alabama. It promotes innovative and emerging startup companies through the Alabama Launchpad program.
Over the past 16 years, Alabama Launchpad has invested more than $5.8 million in a total of 108 startups. Together, those companies have generated more than 1,120 jobs and account for a combined valuation exceeding $850 million.
Next up for Alabama Launchpad is its Social Impact Competition, presented in partnership with the Alabama Power Foundation. Applicants must be committed to fostering both economic growth and social impact in the state. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 15.