2018 was an incredible year for our acceleration program and pitch competition. It was truly a privilege to work with the extremely talented and diverse group of entrepreneurs in our cohort. We had eight startups from eight different towns with eight very different products and services! This made for a unique learning environment with lots of complementary skills and experiences. The enthusiasm and dedication that each entrepreneur brought to the program elevated the level of acceleration for everyone in the cohort.
We added several new components to the program this year based on survey feedback form LaunchVT Alumni and research with VT startups. New sessions this year included Flight Check - a business model stress test with over 40 local experts, The Deal - a primer on financing, valuation and term sheets with Ken Merritt, Been There - a peer session with LaunchVT Alumni, and Brain Trains - a brand strategy exercise with Michael Jager. We also added two new components to help prepare teams for “what’s next” after LaunchVT. Teams worked with their coaches to create Launch Reports (executive summaries) and six month action plans. The final change we made this year was in the allocation of in-kind services. This year each team received at least two services and the total value of all in-kind services was $90,000! Below is a list of the amazing local service providers our teams are working with.
Varises - VCET, Forecast LLC
The Maple Connection - Forecast LLC, CWE-Vermont
The pitch competition was attended by nearly 200 people and the pitches were very impressive. In the end the judges awarded the Grand prize of $30,000 to Burlington Code Academy, and the EPSCoR Innovation Prize of $15,000 to Northview Weather. We added a new component to the pitch competition this year based on an impromptu moment from last year. Half way through the pitches we asked entrepreneurs from the audience to come up and make their pitches to the crowd. We passed a hat and raised $420 that the crowd decided, by applause, to split between two great pitches.
The success of our acceleration program and pitch competition was a fitting end to a very busy and productive 12 months at LaunchVT. In addition to another great year of LaunchVT Collegiate and HackVT, we created a searchable directory of organizations that support entrepreneurs called the Connector, we created a new program for makers in partnership with Generator called JUMP/START, and we endeavored to play a larger role in building our entrepreneurial ecosystem through a public calendar of entrepreneurship events and new partnerships and collaborations.
With the 2018 cohort we have now brought 43 startups through our acceleration program and provided them with $550,000 in cash and in-kind services. Our alumni have cumulatively received over $6,000,000 in funding, created 150 jobs, and generated over $4,000,000 in revenue in 2017. LaunchVT is a community supported project and we can’t thank our partners enough for their contribution in making this possible. Because of their support we are having a real impact on the economic future of Vermont, and we will be able to continue to expand our programs and resources to serve even more of Vermont’s aspiring entrepreneurs.
LaunchVT is made possible thanks to our amazing sponsors, including: the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Vermont EPSCoR, Vermont Department of Economic Development, VCET, People’s United Bank, New England Federal Credit Union, Vermont Works, Vermont Innovation Commons, Dinse, Qwerkal, Seven Days, Dunkiel Saunders, Paul Frank & Collins, FreshTracks Capital, Leonardo's, Gallagher Flynn & Company, Merritt & Merritt, Vermont Community Foundation, Waitsfield & Champlain Valley Telecom, TD Bank, Encore Renewable Energy, Oxbow, Hark, Hen House Media, BTV Ignite, University of Vermont - OVPR, VEDA, North Country Angels, Redstone, Dale Carnegie Training, Reconciledit, VT Center for Women & Enterprise, DRM, Renaissance Information Systems, Moulton Law Group, IOT Conduit, Forecast LLC, and Main Street Landing.