The elevator pitch
Virginia’s startup scene is rich with new businesses as diverse as the regions of the commonwealth. Virginia Business asked startups to send us their best pitches for what makes their businesses innovative, and we’ve spotlighted some of our favorites below.
CEO: Alexander Olesen
Capital raised: $15 million
About the company: Produces modular, remotely controlled “micro-farm” units for indoor, vertical hydroponic farming
What makes your company stand out? Babylon Micro-Farms offers companies a sustainable way to grow fresh produce on-site in a way that removes the need for a “green thumb.” Our micro-farms are easy to use because they are remotely managed, offer full customer support and are designed for simple harvesting and maintenance.
The pitch: Babylon Micro-Farms builds, supports and remotely manages indoor hydroponic farms for commercial clients looking for turnkey, sustainably grown on-site produce. We created a commercial product that makes a client’s desire to grow their own food simply and effectively a reality. Our premier combination of remote management with customer support is built into a beautiful, yet functional and food-safe showpiece that checks all the boxes for commercial clients. Investors who are looking for stable, well-managed, and vertically integrated sustainable products should see what Babylon is doing as the smart way to bring this type of vertical hydroponic farming to market. We fill a niche that is often filled by poorly executed DIY gardens and unsupported internet junk. Clients from Ikea to Neiman Marcus want a push-start solution that is gorgeous and easy to use, and only Babylon delivers that.
SAFIRE TECHNOLOGY GROUP INC.
Co-founders: John Lee and Mike Grubbs
Capital raised: $3 million
About the company: Manufactures a patented electrolyte additive to prevent fires and explosions in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles
What makes your company stand out? Not only does the SAFIRE technology increase safety by preventing fire and explosion, but it also increases performance and stability of lithium-ion batteries. The SAFIRE technology does not require altering any existing manufacturing processes and can be easily integrated into a lithium-ion battery.
The pitch: In the same way the “Intel Inside” branding campaign in the early 1990s signified superior computer electronics, future lithium-ion battery-powered machines with “SAFIRE inside” will be deemed the safest on the market. Ultimately, our goal as a company is to provide safer batteries for the government and commercial sectors. The company’s core technology, SAFe Impact Resistant Electrolyte (SAFIRE), is the world’s first patented and proprietary drop-in additive for lithium-ion batteries that prevents fire and explosion through an instantaneous liquid-to-solid transformation upon kinetic impacts, such as in electric vehicle crashes. Safire Group has been awarded an exclusive license to five patents to date through its partnership with the technology’s inventor, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
TIME STUDY INC.
CEO: Kishau Rogers
Capital raised: $7 million
About the company: Time Study is a platform for conducting time studies in hospitals and health care settings.
What makes your company stand out? Time Study leverages machine intelligence and advanced analytics to conduct time studies with minimal disruption to a person’s optimal workflow.
The pitch: Time Study offers a platform that uses data science and machine intelligence to help health care enterprises understand how employees spend their time at work and the impact that has on the business and workforce. Hospitals will be able to prepare accurate financial reports in a fraction of the time while getting near-real-time insights that drive productivity and best practices. Many hospitals around the country use Time Study to work more efficiently and give staff a more rewarding experience by guiding them towards best practices that ultimately deliver better patient care.
CEO: Rob Schumann
Capital raised: $3.5 million
About the company: Produces aerial drone lighting systems for worksites and tethered power systems for aerial drones
What makes your company stand out? While a drone is a central piece of our product, we are not like other drone companies. Typically, a drone company builds a drone for a very wide variety of uses, most of which require free flight (on batteries). In contrast, we have a purpose-built drone that is designed just to carry lights up and down, nothing more, and it is incapable of free flight.
The pitch: Blue Vigil is radically changing portable lighting to make construction sites and emergency/disaster scenes safer and more productive. Our Autonomous Aerial Light (ALED) is a person-portable area lighting system that mounts a high-intensity LED array on a tethered UAV, which can be positioned up to 100 feet above a job site. The ALED puts over 8,000 square feet of light on the ground, providing nearly twice as much coverage as towed light towers commonly used today. With the higher light positioning, the ALED eliminates dangerous glare and shadows, dramatically improving work zone safety and productivity. It is easier to transport, easier to position and easier to store. The ALED was recently named the 2023 Innovation Award winner by the American Traffic Safety Services Association.
Founder and CEO: Kristin Richardson
Capital raised: $0
Employees: 2 full-time; 8 contractors
About the company: Personal assistant service
What makes your company stand out? Sherah is the only personal assistant company that is focused on working moms and families, helps in person and virtually, has local market knowledge and relationships with vendors, and uses a gig workforce of moms.
The pitch: Sherah helps busy working moms and families get their personal to-do lists done so they stress less and have more time for the things that matter most. Our personal assistants, who are moms, too, understand all that comes with keeping a family and household running. We divide up your tasks and knock them out quickly in person and virtually. For employers, we help reduce burnout and increase retention among your most at-risk employees — women and caregivers — in management and above, particularly those caught between caring for small children and aging parents. We are a membership model with a recurring membership fee, plus $1 per minute for time completing tasks. We have yet to find a task we cannot or will not do. We even found a goat sitter so a member could take a vacation. Rise up, don’t give up.
TROVA COMMERCIAL VEHICLES INC.
Founder & CEO: Patrick Collignon
Capital raised: $6 million
About the company: Developing a driveline conversion program to convert large commercial trucks, including tractor trailer trucks, from diesel fuel to electric power
What makes your company stand out? TrovaCV is based on a unique enterprise model, with significantly lower fixed costs and capital expenditure required.
The pitch: The mission of TrovaCV is to accelerate the market acceptance of zero-emission commercial vehicles. We aim to achieve this by developing state-of-the-art battery electric drivelines and by developing a completely new vehicle platform. We also seek new emerging market opportunities for battery electric vehicles, such as our innovative repowering program, which converts existing diesel vehicles into battery electric vehicles. In this way, we extend the life of commercial vehicles with at least 10 more useful years. The total addressable market for repowering is estimated to be over $400 billion. TrovaCV is now at a stage ready to industrialize its developed products for which it is raising the capital needed. TrovaCV is also actively looking for the right location and state to be in.