Ten Local Entrepreneurs Have Been Selected to Compete for Start-Up Funding

The Tom Tom Founders Festival is holding its fourth Crowdfunded Pitch Night on Wednesday, April 11th, at  7pm at The Jefferson Theater. Hosted by 2017 finalist Sabrina Feggans, the competition will feature ten local entrepreneurs pitching to a live audience that will be willing to pledge funds to their favorite contestant. It’s a three minute chance for aspiring founders to share their visions with the community and inspire the crowd to action. See tomtomfest.com/crowdfunded-pitch-night for more details.

UVA’s i.Lab and the Community Investment Collaborative are major supporters of the Crowdfunded Pitch Night, and provide will substantial opportunities for the entrepreneurs as prizes. These local entrepreneurs will be vying for votes to grow their business and realize their goals of impacting the community positively.


JENEE LIBBY, EDACIOUS – Edacious attempts to bridge that gap, to create connection and strengthen community; to get people off of Instagram and to the table to connect with other food enthusiasts. This is a podcast for enthusiasts, chefs, producers and purveyors, as well as anyone ravenous about food in their region.

VAN HATCHELL, RECRUITREF LLC – Due to disproportionate amounts of athletic scholarships available, some student athletes never get their moment to shine. This site allows users to create profiles to be recruited – giving athletes visibility in process that they previously didn’t have, as NCAA rules restrict coaches from directly responding to athletes until late in their high school careers.

AERIA GARLAND, JUST US GIRLS – This service provides young girls with the necessities plus a little extra to get through what may be the hardest week out of each month, including access to self-care, awareness, love, and acceptance through newsletters, activities, and special kits.

YASH TEKRIWAL, SATELLITE – Satellite is a part-time and completely remote summer program for students who want to learn how to become innovators. Over 12-weeks, students go through training bootcamp where they learn the basics of rapid development, marketing, data science, web design, and software engineering.

CORDELL FORTUNE, WHIPPED CREAM LLC – The line of homemade, high quality skin care products are what need to fill bathroom and bedroom cabinets and drawers across the country. The wide range of accessible products are critical for all demographics and skin and hair types, with great health benefits.

BENNETT RECK, RIPE GELATO – RIPE is a non-dairy, avocado-based gelato made with unrefined ingredients. Each pint delivers 12 grams of plant-based protein & 360 calories, plus intense superfoods & healthy fats– because we getting the good stuff should mean losing the good for you!

LU SHIANG, THE ROCKETRY EMPIRE – Charlottesville is a “rocketery booming town,” and the Empire harnesses the talented youth in science and engineering, including those who have already been to NASA for programs. It would launch multiple programs to teach and facilitate students in learning mechanics, physics, and electrical concepts.

JAMES CULMER, BLESSED WITH WORDS – The mission is to inspire and empower individuals when they see their words in print – creating and churning desire to write, and guide them towards their literary goals.

JESSICA KILEY, BLUE RIDGE FOREST SCHOOL – A neighborhood outdoor school program allows children the opportunity to play in the richest classroom of all. Program would incorporate critical-thinking skills, math, social, imaginative, risk management, and empower them to be active learners.

SETH HERMAN & ERIN JAMES, HIGH TOR – Our mission is to provide environmentally responsible buying options for outdoor gear and clothing. We support local individuals, businesses, and nonprofits who are stewards of the environment and advocates of outdoor exploration.


CASH POOL: The total amount in the cash pool prize has varied over the years, but the audience has raised amounts up to $5,000 at previous events. This pooled fund is awarded to the entrepreneur who receives the most votes for their business idea. The total amount awarded this year will depend on how many votes are purchased, and how many funds each voter pledges.

MENTORSHIPS: Community Investment Collaborative’s Entrepreneur Workshop and University of Virginia’s i.Lab incubator program are both offering spots at their mentorships to top entrepreneurs this year. The CIC Workshop is a signature program that acts as a hands-on course to enable entrepreneurs to see through their concept and develop a viable plan to launch and grow their business. It is a 16-week, high-intensity course that involves discussions, case studies, and applied learning activities centered on one’s business idea. The UVA i.Lab program supports the development and growth of promising seed and early-stage business ventures. The program aims to provide budding entrepreneurs with staff, faculty support, a place for their office, legal and technical expertise.