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Two Virginia startups each win $7,500 in Dominion Energy Innovation Center pitch competition

Two Virginia startups each win $7,500 in Dominion Energy Innovation Center pitch competition

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A startup business that plans to use drones to monitor power transmission lines and another startup that developed an app for finding food trucks won cash awards at the annual Dominion Energy Innovation Center business pitch competition.

The competition was held Thursday evening at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. Cash awards were given in three categories: general high growth; energy and sustainability; and student.

Linebird, a startup founded by Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Michael Beiro, won a $7,500 award in the energy and sustainability category. The startup developed a system for using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to check the integrity of power transmission lines.

In the general high growth category, the $7,500 award went to Goodfynd, a startup founded by Kyle Miller, Lemaire Stewart, Patrick Powell and Sofiat Abdulrazaaq, all of whom attended Virginia Tech. The company developed an app that enables people to find food trucks in their area and place orders online.

Goodfynd participated in last summer’s Lighthouse Labs’ program that focused on startups that have at least one founder or co-founder who graduated from a two- or four-year college or university in Virginia. Lighthouse Labs is a Richmond-based nonprofit that provides mentoring and equity-free funding for early-stage businesses.

In the Dominion Energy Innovation Center’s student category, the $5,000 award went to Liam Hogan, a senior at Randolph-Macon studying business management, who is making a tabletop game invented by his family called Kobble.

Nine startups — three in each category — made five-minute business pitches during the competition before a panel of five judges. About 70 people attended the event, including entrepreneurs, inventors, students, investors and business executives.

The awards also included a free branding package courtesy of Creative Marketing Group, and a one-year membership at the Dominion Energy Innovation Center, a business incubator in Ashland.

Previous winners of the annual competition have included TraceRX, a startup that developed a technology platform that helps relief and aid organizations eliminate inefficiencies and theft from their supply chains; and Babylon Microfarms, a maker of indoor hydroponics systems for growing vegetables.

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