Startups

Delaware’s 2022 RealLIST Startups: Where are they now?

These young tech companies had all of our confidence in January. Here's an update on funding, expansions, hiring and more.

The founders of Spray Less.

(Courtesy photo)

Update: Mention of a Desikant partnership has been edited. (9/12/22, 9:50 p.m.)
What has 2022 brought to Delaware’s growing tech companies?

It’s been about eight months since Technical.ly named Delaware’s 2022 RealLIST Startups, those 20 young, local companies we deemed “most promising” (by us) for their high potential to go far. Ten startups made the official list, and we also named 10 runners up.

We reached out to the honorees and asked for a brief update on how their year is going. Here’s how the founder said they’re doing in the latter half of 2022.

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1. Desikant

2022’s RealLIST Startups list topper, Desikant, was founded by former DuPont engineer and Under Armour innovation director Kwaku Temeng in 2020. The smart garment technology, designed for people with highly intense jobs, regulates body temperature by giving the natural body cooling system a high-tech boost.

“We are gaining traction in delivering breakthrough solutions to surgical staff for managing heat stress, with operating room trials just getting underway for orthopedic surgeons,” Temeng told us recently. “We continue to build out our patent portfolio, key to our strategy — our first patent just issued, with one more pending.”

The startup also has a high-profile strategic partnership in the works, though the founder said he couldn’t share details yet.

2. HX Innovations

Founded by married couple Von and Nicole Homer, HX Innovations is the Middletown-based footwear neuroergonomic company that has a sports medicine space at the Chase Fieldhouse.

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In recent months, the team has hired an engineer, partnered with A.I. Whoo (more on that startup further down) and raised 20% of their pre-seed round.

“We are doing great and hope to continue to expand our products, hire a project administrator and another engineer,” the cofounder said, “and launch our WeFunder campaign to the community by the end of the year.”

3. Spray Less

Former Carvertise employees David Breyla and Noah Lux, along with Horn Entrepreneurship grad John Mouser, founded Spray Less, a non-advertising based vehicle wrapping company in Newark with a client list that includes Amazon.

“Since the last time we spoke, we have hired two employees and are looking at hiring a third in the coming months,” Mouser said. “We have also doubled our warehouse space to 3,600 square feet and are already bursting at the seams yet again.”

4. Elyte Energy

Founded by Dr. Jalaal Hayes in 2020, Elyte Energy is one of Delaware’s growing greentech companies, formerly part of the Delaware Innovation Space’s Science, Inc. accelerator. Hayes developed the hydrogen storage technology, which has become the basis of Elyte Energy’s hydrogen power banks for recreational vehicles, in 2017.

“Elyte Energy has recently acquired lab space in Downtown Dover for prototyping and scaling up its hydrogen storage technology,” Hayes told us. “In addition, we are prepared to raise up to $2 million for expansion of our team. We currently raised up to $130,000 since its founding in November 2020. We have also been invited to the Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance Annual Investor Forum held in October.”

5. CM Materials

In June, CM Materials’ CleanMag technology won the top innovation award at TechConnect 2022 in DC.

“We are pushing the limit of electromagnetics as a whole,” CM Materials founder and CEO Dr. Aminul Mehedi said in a press release. “We are just getting started with a superior inductor material that can enhance EV consumer user experience by more range, miniaturization of power electronics components, and other system-level attributes.”

6. Carbon Reform

Founded by Jo Norris and Nick Martin, greentech startup Carbon Reform is getting closer to installing full-scale carbon removal units in buildings.

“We’ve got lab-scale validation of the technology, and the full scale units will be installed in buildings,” Norris said. “We are currently developing those and they will capture CO2, permanently sequester it, and also filter other indoor air contaminants so that we can improve the indoor air quality in these buildings enough to be able to reduce the amount of intake air from outside and save energy for our customers.”

Since participating in a Science Inc. cohort at the Delaware Innovation Space, Carbon Reform has done the Startup 302 funding competition, the Plug and Play Smart Cities Japan Accelerator and StartOut’s Growth Lab Accelerator.

7. WhipFlip

Founded by Roger Clappe in 2021 and and incubated at the Emerging Enterprise Center, WhipFlip is an AI-driven platform that allows users to have their car quickly appraised and sold online.

The team sent this update:

  • “We have a new HQ in downtown Wilmington and are a staple inside the Mill Space as we 10x’d the current team
  • Currently expanding into several new states/markets every 60 days
  • Partnerships are flourishing with big names like JD Power, RODO, etc.
  • Sitting over $100M valuation”

8. Aqua Science

Aqua Science, the Newark-based water quality testing startup, will be showcasing its new BioLight Toxy luminator at WEFTEC, the water quality event in New Orleans, in October.

9. A.I. Whoo

Founded by Dr. Matthew Saponaro in 2019, A.I. Whooo’s technology ethically captures data and extracts insights to improve behaviors in large spaces. That includes its GOVision, which measures engagement at aquariums, and PARKVision, which assesses park use.

“We’ve just completed our summer internship program where we had nine interns across DTCC, UD, WilmU, and Delaware Futures working on a variety of A.I. powered technologies. They’ve successfully piloted and proved value to the DTCC volleyball team,” Saponaro said.

In August, 3&D Sports Performance and A.I. Whoo, in collaboration with Reach Riverside, had a basketball combine at the Grail Sports Complex for high school and college athletes from the tri-state area.

“Aside from that,” the founder said, “we’ve had a lot of successes with our partnership with Hx Innovations doing the Chase Fieldhouse (Sporting Delaware) soccer tryouts where we’ve done over 600 soccer athletes.”

A.I. Whoo, in partnership with BMW, also had a presence at a PGA Tour event in Wilmington.

10. Gaskiya Diagnostics

In its most recent news release from March, aquaculture startup Gaskiya Diagnostics announced that Early Charm, which has Gaskiya as one of its portfolio companies, launched the Tech on Deck blog.

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And some updates on 2022’s honorable mentions:

Backyard Gig

The community app that matches college students with gigs like tutoring, yard work and moving services was founded by University of Delaware student Shaun Gupta in 2020.

It’s been an eventful few months, Gupta said:

“To date, Backyard Gig has done over $22,000 in transactions, with over 140 tasks posted and 600 users signed up on the platform. Additionally, Backyard Gig was selected to be a part of the eMerge Americas top 100 national startup showcase in Miami Beach, Florida, last April, recently was awarded a grant from Alumni Ventures Venture Capital Fund to continue building Backyard Gig, and I was named the 2021 National Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

“We are still working to expand into the Greater Philadelphia area and are currently conducting customer discovery to see what the household-gig market is like in that region. We’d love to get connected to people who have experience in the gig economy market so we can learn from their experiences the best way to scale Backyard Gig to provide value to the community.”

Chess Express Kids

This 2021 Swim with the Sharks winner, founded by Jayvon Fairman-Davis, uses chess as a tool for mentorship and leadership building for underrepresented youth.

“We have since worked at a couple of more schools and are expanding our website to incorporate more helpful information for parents and schools who want to be involved with chess,” Fairman-Davis told us.

Best Music Coach

This online music coaching platform out of the Emerging Enterprise Center’s incubator going strong, CEO Dan Spencer reports:

“We have helped bring the joy of music to 68,000 YouTube subscribers and over 1,000 people who have purchased our music theory book. We are having a blast empowering everyone to feel the joy of making music by scaling our music books, courses, and live lessons!”

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