We are now entering into the fourth year of the Render Competition, in which we award $100,000 to a new cohort of 8 startups. The winners then use these investments to scale their solution within and beyond the greater Louisville area. As we’ve now opened up applications for 2023, we’re catching up with the winning founders from last year to hear about their competition experience, including lessons learned, advice for future applicants, as well as an update on what’s to come from their company.
Today we hear from Todd Allen, founder of Connect.
Connect helps owners and operators of apartment communities fill their apartments with qualified residents using digital marketing known as geofencing. We drive digital ads to the computers, tablets, and smart phones of our clients’ competitors’ residents. When a resident from the competition applies to our client apartment community, we match the applicant address back to the ad serve location to build a transparent marketing ROI.
Why did you decide to apply for the Render Competition?
The team at Amplify Louisville turned me on to Render Capital. Last spring, a friend introduced me to members of the Amplify team and through our networking and conversations about the startup community, the Render Competition was brought up. As a young company just starting to investigate the world of raising capital, the Render Competition was a great opportunity for Connect to test our product, strategy, and vision with the judges. We figured there was all upside in participating regardless of our outcome and were very fortunate to have made it through to our selection as a winner in 2022 cohort. It was one of the best and most impactful decisions we made in our startup’s history.
How are you using the $100k and how will it help you scale your startup?
The investment helped us to attend a few more national conferences that we could not have attended without the investment. The events are helping to further expand our sales and marketing reach to new audiences of potential customers. More importantly, the investment kickstarted the development of our MVP platform release currently scheduled for June 2023.
What did you take away from your interactions with the judges?
I decided to apply to the competition without much hesitation. As a founder, it is always a little scary to open your business plans to potential scrutiny, but the feedback from our judges was detailed and insightful. In the few cases that judges offered constructive criticism, the feedback was generally very valuable as well. We are better for the experience.
What is your impression of the Louisville and Southern Indiana Startup community?
I think our local startup community is just warming up. There are great things happening locally and a fantastic momentum building. As we become more organized within the community, entrepreneurs are being actively supported through the Render Competition and investment funds such as Render Angel Network and Keyhorse Capital. Incubators like Amplify Louisville connect resources, developers, and even software platforms to young startups.
Why do you see Greater Louisville as a good place to grow your business?
We have a great cost of living and quality of lifestyle in Louisville. We are geographically well-situated in the US for companies that do business nationally like Connect. There is also a great pool of potential employees here with experience in many of the skillsets needed to conceive, scale, and successfully exit a business. The people are nice, too!
What role do you see your startup playing in the regional economy over the next 5 years?
If I can look back in 5-10 years knowing we made a tangible impact in the lives of our employees and their families or have given back to young startups through mentoring, sharing our experiences, or even financial investment, I will be pleased.
What’s next for your company in 2023?
More customers and new software releases! Our first quarter was record-setting in terms of monthly recurring revenue and new customer growth. We also just secured a new angel investment to help us continue building out further integrations and features in our software platform.