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Meet the winners of DC Startup Week’s annual pitch competiton

Ten finalists competed at DC Startup Week's closing event, split between early- and growth-stage groups. Here are the winners.

The pitch competition finalists at DC Startup Week. (Photo by Michaela Althouse) is a media partner for DC Startup Week.

As summer closes out, there are some new startups to keep your eyes on in the local ecosystem.

After an application process to the event coordinators, ten local startups came together at the Friday afternoon close of DC Startup Week for its annual pitch competition. Companies are divided into growth- and early-stage categories, with two winners being awarded cash prizes. Steve Case of Revolution, Melissa Bradley of 1863 Ventures, Alicia Fuller of Silicon Valley Bank and Chris Eng from Sands Capital presided as judges for the competition.

The five early-stage finalists were:

  • Upskill VR, founded by Carla Bond, a VR-based training program for CRP
  • Coordle, founded by Jen Fry, a group travel app
  • Cryptorama, a social media platform for cryptocurrency
  • Urban Outdoors, founded by Kay Rodriguez, is an app to help users connect and find new places to go outside
  • Postbys, founded by Erik Victorin and Anvar Brooks, an app to help users navigate trade shows

Rodriguez and Urban Outdoors took home the $2,000 prize in the early stage category. Rodriguez created the app after she moved to Chicago in 2019 and was in search of both places to spend time outdoors and people to go with.

So far, Urban Outdoors has 150,000 unique monthly users and 25,000 email subscribers. It’s currently raising $2.3 million to launch and scale the app in DC.

“One of the things that’s hidden in plain sight here, and in every city, is access to the outdoors,” Rodriguez said.

And the five in the growth stage:

  • Knonap, founded by Danya Sherman, a testing kit for drug spiking in drinks
  • Dnar, founded by Enoch Antwi, a digital payment platform for users in Africa
  • OffWeGo, founded by John Eddins and Duff Archie, an app to help young travelers with safety when abroad
  • Dynos, founded by Pramod Vadrevu, an edtech company for e-learning
  • Janet and Jo, founded by Kendra Woolridge, a toxin-free, luxury nail-polish brand

Woolridge was the growth stage winner, taking home a $5k prize. Founder Woolridge created her company while her mother was undergoing cancer treatment — something she had already been through three times before. Woolridge’s company, named after her two grandmothers, has inked wholesale deals with brands like Ipsy and Walmart, in addition to selling directly to consumers.

“When I was formulating my polishes, I learned [about] their carcinogens and toxic ingredients in your everyday nail lacquers,” Woolridge said. “With my experiences, I had to change that.”

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