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Auburn startup wins $50,000 Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3

Auburn startup wins $50,000 Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3

A startup based in Auburn earned $50,000 at the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3 finale last week, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama announced.

Autonoma Inc., a company that creates autonomous vehicle simulation and validation tools, earned $50,000 by winning the early-seed stage competition in the 2023 Alabama Launchpad Cycle 3. There were five other finalists in the early-seed stage. Autonoma also competed in Alabama Launchpad Cycle 2 earlier this year, but did not win.

“I think the real value I’ve gotten is the advice and mentorship I’ve gotten from the Launch Advisors throughout this process,” Autonoma founder Will Bryan said. “Their decades of experience will provide even more than a check does, and winning Alabama Launchpad really will help us accelerate our next stage of growth.”

Omnis Inc. dba LucidTrade, also based in Auburn, competed in the concept stage for $25,000, but lost out to DevClarity, which is in Birmingham. There was a total of four finalists in the concept stage. The winners were announced on Dec. 7 at the Innovation Depot in Birmingham.

Autonoma uses innovative technology that allows its real vehicles to “see” the virtual environments created for the simulations. According to the Alabama Launchpad news release, this allows for a safer transition from the simulations to on road operation for self-driving vehicles.

Each of the 10 Cycle 3 finalists received two months of mentorship, such as one-on-one and group training sessions, from startup founders and business experts as they prepared for the final judging panel.

DevClarity, co-founded by Will Blackburn and Peter Inge, is an AI-powered management platform that helps developers maximize and streamline operations while optimizing resource allocation. Competing in the concept stage, the company earned $25,000.

The early-seed stage was evaluated by the three judge panel of Taylor Peake, the Founder and President of MotionMobs; Maayan Gordon, the Managing Partner at RTG Group Inc and Founder of Maayan Gordon Media; and Ben Wallerstein, the CEO and Co-Founder of Whiteboard Advisors.

“It’s incredibly difficult looking at these amazing companies coming through Alabama Launchpad, who have been vetted and mentored,” Peake said. “To rip off one of the other judge’s statements in full agreement, I feel like this decision was harder than the selection committee for the College Football Playoffs!”

The Alabama Launchpad is a program of the EDPA, which is a private non-profit organization business expansion in Alabama. Launchpad partnered with Innovate Alabama to host the Cycle 3 finale at the Innovation Depot. Innovate Alabama supports Alabama’s “innovation ecosystem” through the implementation of programs and policies that empower entrepreneurs, business owners and students to build their businesses, careers and lives in Alabama.

Since it was started in 2006, Alabama Launchpad has funded 117 Alabama startups and, over the past 16 years, has awarded over $6 million in non-dilutive funding to winning companies. According to a Launchpad news release, winning companies have an estimated post-money valuation of over $1 billion, and they employ over 1,300 people.

“We started this company, because we’ve led development teams before. We’ve seen the difficulties in doing so,” co-founder of DevClarity Will Blackburn said. “We’ve seen developers leave Birmingham and Alabama in general, and we’ve seen tech layoffs recently. We truly believe DevClarity can play a role in creating better, more attractive teams, keeping talent here and avoiding layoffs in the future. This capital gives us a full quarter of runway, with developer help, so that we can mature the platform while we raise seed capital.”

Applications for the Alabama Launchpad Cycle 1 2024 will open on Jan. 2, 2024. For more information, visit the Alabama Launchpad website.

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