Swim with the Sharks, the New Castle County Emerging Enterprise Center’s annual pitch competition, selected the social venture WilmInvest as its 2019 winner at its Nov. 1 final round at Harry’s Savoy Grill in Wilmington.
WilmInvest impressed the judges — Keith Ellison of the Urban League of Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Center, Holly Flanagan of Gabriel Investments, Mark Olazagasti of Info Solutions and Dr. Sumedh Surwade of SAS Nanotechnologies —with a pitch that included a successful pilot application of the model. The venture acquires vacant and renovates vacant properties, then helps place houseless families in the homes under WilmInvest management.
The pilot involved three houses in Wilmington’s Riverside neighborhood that now house three families who receive assistance from WilmInvest and partners to help them become homeowners.
With the $10,000 cash prize, funded by NCC Innovates, Harvard Business Services and The Williams Law Firm, cofounders Joel Amin and Bryce Fender, both graduates of University of Delaware’s Lerner College, intend to renovate two more properties on Heald Street in Wilmington this year. That will bring the number of properties to five, with a goal of 12 by 2021.
In addition to the cash prize, WilmInvest will receive a six-month membership at the Emerging Enterprise Center’s Virtual Incubator, a premium marketing package from the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, an Incorporation Formation Package from Harvard Business Services and one-year memberships with World Trade Center Delaware and the NCCo Chamber of Commerce.
Four startups competed in the final round, which were picked out of an initial pool of 18 submissions. The other finalists were:
- 2M, an advanced battery technology company that is working on battery technology for vehicles that charge faster, last longer and are safer than what is currently on the market
- AnCatt, a patented heavy-metal free non-corrosive paint coating for sustainable use in transportation, energy infrastructure and aviation
- Lignolix, a company that makes sustainable adhesive products using lignin, a waste product left over after processing trees into paper