Alabama Launchpad has awarded $75,000 in funding to two startups as winners of its Cycle 2 2023 competition.
Croux, an app for the hospitality industry that matches waitstaff with job openings, won $50,000 as winner of the early-seed stage competition. Based in Birmingham, Croux is a former winner of Alabama Launchpad’s $25,000 concept-stage prize.
This cycle’s concept stage winner was VivoSphere, a biotech company that creates human-like tissue for human-like drug response during clinical trials. The startup has its origins in research done at Auburn University.
Croux co-founder Jennifer Ryan said Alabama Launchpad has helped the company to grow.
“Hospitality was born here in the South,” she said. “We want Alabama to be a place where it’s revitalized. Alabama Launchpad has allowed us to build Croux to, in turn, rebuild the hospitality industry. We’ve filled nearly 6,000 shifts in the last 12 months and put about three-quarters of a million dollars into the hands of hourly workers. Tourism and hospitality drive a big chunk of our economy, and we have to get it right. We bring the war stories and the understanding; it’s personal for us to get this right.”
The two companies were among 11 finalists competing in the Cycle 2 finale. Each finalist company received two months of intensive mentorship, through both one-on-one and group session training with startup founders and business experts, to prepare for the finale judging panels.
Since its inception in 2006 as a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Alabama Launchpad has funded 115 Alabama startups and awarded more than $6 million in funding.