Launch of business ideas at the center of the annual pitch competition |


The Launch Place received 71 entries for its 7th IdeaFest pitch competition from various start-ups located in the United States and abroad. The top 20 competitors took to the stage Thursday to pitch their innovative business ideas in the riverside neighborhood of Danville.

The winner of this year’s competition was Acta Solutions who received a cash prize of $5,000. Acta has developed a solution for public agencies. Public bodies constantly respond to inquiries and collect information from customers to provide municipal services. This creates long conversations, frequent follow-ups, and back-and-forth email chains, reducing the revenue agencies make from service fees. Acta Mustang™ streamlines conversations with clients by giving them time for higher value-added responsibilities and recovering lost revenue for public agencies.

Second place and a cash prize of $3,000 went to My Relief Wear LLC. My Relief Wear is a casual cold therapy clothing company with patent-pending technology that alters the process of icing pain by fusing ice packs and clothing together. Steelbasis won third place with a cash prize of $2,000. Steelbasis was designed to give boutique property developers an edge over their competition by easing the administrative burden of managing their vendors.

Contest winners will also be eligible to receive 25 hours of free business advice from The Launch Place. The Launch Place, located in the River District of Danville, helps business start-ups, job creation and retention through its business advisory services and investment financing, while having the dual responsibility for recruiting and retaining contractors in the Dan River area. The IdeaFest competition exposes The Launch Place’s services and funds to start-up companies that are ready to launch or are looking for seed capital. The Launch Place could potentially invest in the venture from its seed and pre-seed funds that were created through a grant from the Danville Area Foundation.

Launch Place President and CEO Eva Doss explained what Launch Place is all about.

“We invest in start-up companies,” she said. “We invest in start-up entrepreneurs and want to grow their business.”

She continues on how these events help businesses.

“It’s a huge help because they’re not only exposed to us but also to other investors.”

She says these types of events can help sharpen company pitches, meet mentors and coaches to help them grow, and network with each other.

“It’s a very important step,” Doss said.

The competition began with a keynote from Braden Rawls, co-founder and CEO of Vital Plan, a portfolio company of The Launch Place. Braden co-founded Vital Plan in 2009 with his father, Dr. Bill Rawls, a conventionally trained physician who discovered the value of herbal medicine during his recovery from chronic Lyme disease. Their shared goals of providing clinical-grade herbal extracts, formulation transparency, and unparalleled customer support and education have formed the core principles of the company. As CEO of This B Corporation®, Braden is an advocate for the change that informed consumer choices can bring and for empowering customers through transparency and product education.

Companies that presented pitches include: Mercier, Avex Motion, VAROS Technologies Inc., My Relirf Wear LLC, Southern Drone Company, V-Card, Jabin Beverage Co., Steelbasis LLC, TSV Analytics, Relai, Inc., Acta Solutions, ChxmpionChip LLC, EZread LLC, Stitch Partners, Veather, Luuup, Idem., BLKResumes, Divergene and FJ.

The judges for this competition were: Dr. Iulian Bobe, Corey Davis, Jan Davis, Shawna C. Lemon and Marco Rubin.


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