2024 GRIT Conference Wraps with Three Startup Stage Winners

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Savannah, GA (March 7, 2024) – On Thursday, February 29th, over 300 innovators celebrated Leap Day by “Leaping Into the Future” at The Creative Coast’s 2024 GRIT Conference. This year’s two-day GRIT Conference featured over 70 speakers, panelists, and presenters and more than 25 sessions on various topics of entrepreneurship, tech, and creativity at the Savannah Civic Center. One highlight of the conference was Startup Stage, a business pitch competition sponsored by the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) and the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). During Startup Stage, founders from the region pitched for the chance to win from a $10K prize pool.

After a long and challenging selection process in January, nine innovative startups were selected based on their applications to pitch as Startup Stage finalists. Startup Stage allows founders to give a five-minute pitch of their endeavors, followed by three minutes of questions from a panel of judges who are angel investors and venture capitalists. First-, second-, and third-place prizes are awarded based on the judges’ votes. New this year was an audience favorite vote, which allowed spectators to select their favorite pitch.

All of the winning startups took home cash prizes as well as in-kind services from local companies. In-kind services included the following, thanks to our generous partners:

30-minute funding consultation with Venture South

30-minute marketing/PR consultation with Carriage Trade Public Relations

30-minute accounting/finance consultation with Cordasco & Co.

The third place $1,500 cash prize went to Mariah Hay and Kylie Dunkley, founders of the local startup Allboarder. The idea for Allboarder stemmed from Hay’s struggles as a hiring manager juggling competing responsibilities. “Hiring managers were struggling to provide great new employee onboarding experiences because they had no easy way to build and automate them. Instead, they were mired in calendar invites and documentation, all while trying to manage their day job,” explained Hay. Mariah Hay Founder of Allboarder Startup Stage third place winner

Allboarder’s software makes it easy for teams to collaborate on building a repeatable onboarding experience ultimately saving time and money for the hiring company and helping new employees be successful. Allboarder also offers a service design partnership for users to assist in launching the program and hitting their targets. Hiring managers and HR professionals interested in using the software should reach out to sales@allboarder.com, or visit their website at www.allboarder.com.

The $2,500 second-place award went to FlowInTell, a biotech startup based in Orlando, FL and New York, NY with a mission to provide non-invasive at-home tests and support for endometriosis. Founder Jessica King shared some surprising stats that led her to launch the startup in 2022. In her research, King found that “two-thirds of women have never even heard of endometriosis, which shows there’s a massive gap in women’s health education.”Jessica King founer of FlowIntell Startup Stage second place winner

FlowInTell’s at-home tests use menstrual effluent to check for biomarkers associated with endometriosis so that women can get diagnosed faster. The team is also building an application that provides telehealth and a community of support to address the “hush-hush health topics” surrounding menstruation and endometriosis.

As for the next steps, King said “We’re completing a deep usability study with the women that have already signed up on our website to be early product testers, and our app will be publicly available in Q1 of 2025.” The sign-up to be an early product tester can be found at flowintell.org.

Pool Protection Technologies took home both the first-place award of $5,000 and the $1,000 audience award for their patented Sound Amplifying Machine (S.A.M.). S.A.M. is solving a major problem for pool owners. It is a device that emits ultrasonic waves across the length of a pool to effectively kill unwanted algae that are disrupting water pH levels and clarity. The product floats in the pool and is environmentally friendly and more cost-effective than traditional chemicals used in pools.

Founders Guy Gober and Garrett Stigall met as students at the University of Georgia and have worked together for a year and a half to test and bring their product to market. Gober shared that the company’s future plans post-Startup Stage involve hiring a part-time marketing specialist and a part-time manufacturing and production specialist. Gober also stated they are setting big goals in 2024 to keep pushing S.A.M. forward: “Our target for this year is 650 units to reach residential pools, which is going to be a steep hill to climb, but we’ve got the team to climb it and the ambition to go even further.” Guy Gober (L) & Garrett Stigall (R) holding their product S.A.M. - Startup Stage Winners

Both founders shared their positive experience participating in Startup Stage and relayed the support they received during the GRIT Conference with Stigall expressing, “The GRIT Startup Stage, and the entire conference, helped bring tech from across the nation and help put a spotlight on Savannah for the tech industry. To be able to speak in front of other entrepreneurs, investors, and industry specialists was truly a game changer, and I loved every moment.”

To learn more about Pool Protection Technologies and S.A.M. visit www.poolprotectiontechnologies.com.

For more information on The Creative Coast’s programs for entrepreneurs and innovators, visit www.thecreativecoast.org. To learn more about the GRIT Conference and Startup Stage, visit www.thegritconference.com/startup-stage/.

Startup Stage was made possible by presenting sponsor SEDA. SEDA’s mission is to help create, grow and attract new job opportunities and investment in the Savannah region. ATDC was also a contributing sponsor to Startup Stage. As Georgia’s technology business incubator, ATDC assists entrepreneurs across the state from IDEA to commercial SUCCESS.


About the GRIT Conference

The GRIT Conference is an event organized by The Creative Coast in Savannah, Georgia. The Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) is the Presenting Sponsor of the two-day conference, which features and connects leading designers, technologists, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders from Savannah and beyond. Sessions showcase Savannah’s achievements in business, tech, and the arts, address our toughest challenges, and discuss emerging trends with the goal of providing individuals with access to new ideas and people to spark their momentum. Learn more at www.thegritconference.com.

About The Creative Coast

The Creative Coast’s mission is to catalyze the innovation economy in Coastal Georgia. Supported by the Savannah Economic Development Authority, the City of Savannah, the Advanced Technology Development Center, and the Georgia Southern University Business Innovation Group, The Creative Coast is a 501(c)3 non-profit that serves the entrepreneurial, technology & creative community of the Savannah region. The organization builds and supports the creative economy in Savannah through educational & social programs that connect and foster local innovation in both large and small companies. Learn more at www.thecreativecoast.org.

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About Kait Lance

Kait has been writing for The Creative Coast since 2014. A self-proclaimed "startup hype-woman," she is passionate about storytelling that shines a light on new ideas, innovation, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the southeastern Georgia region.