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Startup302 awards nearly $200,000 to esports, environmental analytics and more

Delaware-based Futures First Gaming and Dunya Analytics won top-dollar prizes.

Malcolm Coley, Stephen Sye and Newdy Felton, founders of FFG, answer a judge's question at Startup302 (Technical.ly/Holly Quinn)

Seventeen startups raised a total of $195,000 in grants at this year’s Startup302 pitch competition.

The annual event brought startups from across the country to the Delaware Art Museum on May 16 for the final round. All finalists received between $2,500 and $20,000 to help grow their companies. Five of those —  TriState3D, HouseCallVR, LeGrand Company, Dunya Analytics and Futures First Gaming — are based in Delaware.

“The application pool this year was incredibly competitive with only 34% of applicants selected to move to the interview stage and less than 15% making the finals,” said Erica Crell, innovation manager with Delaware Prosperity Partnership.

Now in its fourth year, Startup302 focuses on local, national and international startup talent. Each startup must have at least one founder from an underrepresented group, such as identifying as Black, Latino, Indigenous, LGBTQ+ or a woman. The five Delaware winners this year ranged from healthcare to VR, and were represented in three of the six award categories.

Esports and analytics startups take the top prizes

Startups302 granted big prizes to two Delaware-based winners. Futures First Gaming (FFG), and Dunya Analytics each nabbed the top prize of $20,000.

“We are seeking funds to enhance our recently acquired — Delaware’s first and only — technology training in eSports competition center,” said FFG cofounder Malcolm Coley during the pitch. “We have the foundation, which is the space and the computers, but we want to bring this space to life by creating that aesthetic that gamers and technologists love.”

Esports and workforce development organization FFG, won the top spot in the Delaware impact category, for Delaware based companies that, as startups, positively influence the state. It has built partnerships with Wilmington University, AI duPont High School, a charter school, and it even has a workforce program in Las Vegas. The all Black-founded startup plans to make its next big move in the coming weeks as it opens its first physical location, FFG Central, in the Nemours Building.

Woman-founded startup Dunya Analytics, which topped the environmental impact category, offers science-based risk analytics for companies that want to do business in a more sustainable way. Founder and CEO Meghan Pillsbury is the director of University of Delaware’s Radcliffe Eco Entrepreneurship Fellows Program.

3 more Delaware startups took home $5,000 to $10,000

Here’s how Delaware’s other Startup302 finalists fared.

A man stands at a podium presenting a slide titled "Who We Are," which includes photos and bios of Bree LeGrand and Nick LeGrand, detailing their educational background and relevant experience.

Nick LeGrand, cofounder of LeGrand Company (Technical.ly/Quinn)

LeGrand Company came in second place in the Delaware impact category. Founded by a wife-husband team, the startup developed Bed Ledge, a device helps patients lift their legs onto a bed incrementally. It won $10,000.

A person stands at a podium labeled "Delaware Prosperity Partnership," speaking into a microphone while holding a remote clicker.

Linda Ciavarelli, founder of HouseCallVR (Technical.ly)

For second place in the early stage category, HouseCallVR won $6,500. The woman-founded startup uses virtual reality to help patients learn more about their medical conditions.

Black- and woman-owned startup Tri State 3D is a wife-husband team that combines art, tech and architecture. It creates 3D digitizations of spaces that are used for construction and design projects. Startups302 awarded the company $5,000 for coming in third place for the Delaware impact category.

Two people stand in behind a podium giving a presentation

Sharese and Keith Roper, founders of TriState 3D. (Technical.ly/Quinn)

Startup302 focuses on in-state, underrepresented founders

Launched in 2020 by Delaware Prosperity Partnership, Startup302 nearly didn’t happen. Originally conceived as a Delaware-based pitch competition for startups from all over the world, it was meant to draw entrepreneurs to Delaware as part of NeoFest, an event planned by Horn Entrepreneurship to launch the same year.

NeoFest, like other big events that pandemic spring, was canceled. So, Startup302 pivoted.

Instead of wooing national startups to Delaware, it would focus on Delaware-based startups. In line with the social climate of 2020, it focused on equity and underrepresented founders. The inaugural Startup302 in 2021 was virtual, and awarded startups including HXInnovations, Desikant and TheraV.

See Startup302’s website for more details from the 2024 competition.

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