Alabama Birmingham News Startup Contest

Alabama Launchpad: 4 Companies Split $240,000

Last Thursday, we hit the road and headed down to Birmingham, AL for the finale of Alabama Launchpad. A total of six startups had made it through to the finals, where they would pitch the judges one last time. There was a total of $250k up for grabs.1 At the end, four of the six companies walked away with some money.

Launchpad-i Alabama Launchpad: 4 Companies Split $240,000


Before diving into the winners, a closer look at the structure of Alabama Launchpad is necessary. First and foremost, the funding is structured as a grant, meaning that winners do not have to give up any equity or really anything other than the time it takes to compete. Beyond the potential of up to $250k in funding, competing startups receive a ton of additional benefits. Firstly, they are given the opportunity to pitch a panel of judges – ranging from VCs, to other entrepreneurs, to heads of accelerators – after which they receive incredibly detailed feedback. Further, if a company makes it past the first round of pitches, they are provided with a detailed business plan analysis, including market projections and recommendations:

Teams that advance following the pitch presentation will submit a revised business plan for a market assessment by a third party. Each team receives a copy of the their assessment valued at $2,000. During the finale phase teams are asked to incorporate into their final business plan and pitch presentation, how they plan to incorporate the assessment feedback into their business model.2

While the money is great, the additional benefits are invaluable. Startups are given the opportunity to fully develop their pitch, as well as their business plans. Anyhow, below are the winners, in order of money received.

editBIO – $25,000

EditBio Alabama Launchpad: 4 Companies Split $240,000

editBIO has built a platform aimed at the scientific journal industry. As the industry stands right now, it is hard for international authors to get their work published in the U.S. The main reason for this is the current structure of the scientific editing community. There are, essentially, two options: high-cost, high-efficiency boutique editing shops; low-cost, low-efficiency platforms. editBIO looks to offer a third option, directly in the middle of the two polar options, with a “marketplace to connect global biological and medical scientists with freelance editors to communicate clearly their science through English publications.”3

SimplyProse – $40,000

Simply-Prose Alabama Launchpad: 4 Companies Split $240,000

SimplyProse is another writing-based platform, but that is where the similarities with eidtBIO end. It is hard to put the company’s mission into just a few words, but nevertheless, I will try. More than anything, SimplyProse is a platform that allows writers to connect with and/or purchase the services of editors, publishers, and illustrators. Users can write directly in the platform, in a fashion similar to that of Google Docs. They can then share their work with friends, who can then edit and offer critiques and suggestions. Alternatively, users can seek out professional and specialized editors within the platform, and solicit edits for a fee. The platform will also be used by publishers. There is a built in rating system, allowing publishers to find the most popular works or writers, facilitating introductions. The company will officially launch their product at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, in late September.

NitroPCR – $75,000

nitropcr-logo Alabama Launchpad: 4 Companies Split $240,000

NitroPCR – the first product from Open Frame LLC – is an incredibly specialized product, but it has the potential to completely change an industry. Before diving in, I should preface this by saying that I know very little about the EMS industry. Anyhow, NitroPCR is aimed at streamlining the record-keeping processes of EMS companies. As it stands today, the EMS industry is pretty diverse. There are a number of very large EMS providers, sometimes with fleets in the thousands. There are even more smaller EMS providers, with flees from a few dozen to a few hundred. NitroPCR is aimed at, at least right now, the smaller fleets. Most of these small fleets still use paper records. This is where NitroPCR comes in. There is a significant cost associated with the conversion to a digital PCR (Patient Care Reports) system. However, NitroPCR has developed a mobile app that allows EMS providers to quickly, cheaply, and easily switch over to a digital system. Rather than having a large up-front cost, NitroPCR utilizes a small per-report pricing model, making the platform appealing to smaller EMS providers.

IllumiCare – $100,000

Ribbons Alabama Launchpad: 4 Companies Split $240,000

IllumiCare has built a “non-intrusive ribbon of information that hovers over a hospital’s electronic medical record, showing physicians real-time, patient-specific costs and risks associated with tests and medications when they are about to order the next test or medication.”4 To illustrate the importance of the information IllumiCare is providing, G.T. LaBorde – the company’s founder – offered an anecdote during their pitch. A nurse that worked with LaBorde was suffering from Crohn’s disease. Throughout the course of this nurse’s treatment, she was subjected to many CT scans. After crunching some numbers, LaBorde realized that this nurse had been exposed to radiation levels equal to that of the levels one mile away from the Hiroshima bomb, twice. This is the sort of thing that IllumiCare was created to prevent. By offering physicians another layer of information, taking the human and monetary cost of treatment into account, LaBorde believes that doctors will make better treatment decisions.

  1. Alabama Launchpad is not a winner-take-all style of event. Rather, the judges can choose to pay out as many startups as they see fit, from a pool of $250k.  
  2. Alabama Launchpad, “Startup Competition”  
  3. Alabama Launchpad Press Releases, “Four Alabama startup teams win funding at Alabama Launchpad Competition Finale,” 28 August 2015 (PDF)  
  4. Alabama Launchpad Press Releases, “Four Alabama startup teams win funding at Alabama Launchpad Competition Finale,” 28 August 2015 (PDF)