Last fall, we announced the eight winners of the inaugural Render Competition. Each startup received a $100,000 investment to scale their solution within and beyond the Greater Louisville region. Now, we’re catching up with each of the winning founders to hear about their Competition experience, including lessons learned and advice to future applicants, as well as getting an update from the company about what’s ahead.
Today, we’re sharing our conversation with Charley Miller, CEO and founder of Unitonomy.
Unitonomy is building software and AI that augments knowledge workers and organizations to improve productivity, communication, and culture. Their products, including GLVVV, OrgVitals, Culture Reputation, and GetCommit, are based on scientific research and proven processes. To learn more, you can check out their video pitch here.
Why did you decide to apply for Render Competition?
Unitonomy pursued the Render Competition to gain the support of the region’s first venture fund for early-stage startups. Render’s support supplied a strong signal for our business, provided us with a partner to help build relationships, plus 100-thousand financial reasons!
What did you take away from your interactions with the judges?
The feedback was solid, fair, and not always positive. We used this feedback to strengthen our weaknesses.
What’s your favorite part about Louisville’s startup ecosystem? (If you were already here)
The best part of the Louisville startup ecosystem is how supportive founders are to each other. The environment reminds me a lot of NYC and Dumbo, Brooklyn, circa 2009, when “Silicon Alley” was maturing beyond Wall St and ad tech. Everyone was super helpful and wins were shared.
How are you using the $100k and how will it help you scale your startup?
What advice would you give to a company applying for the next round of Render Competition?
Your application is your chance to tell your story. Be authentic and make sure you clearly paint a vision of how you’ll execute to reach the opportunity at stake.
Would the current efforts of your business look different today if you did not receive this funding? If so, how?
We changed our fundraising strategy with the pandemic. We raised half of what we hoped as things shutdown in the spring. We paused efforts and restarted the angel round with a crowdfunding campaign. We won the Render Competition which allowed us to slow down the open round. This runway allowed us to focus on the core business — if we had not received this money we’d be burning time and resources to drive investors to the crowdfunding campaign.
What role do you see your startup playing in the regional economy over the next 5 years?
Success for a venture-backed startup is marked by a terminal event where investors get a handsome return. In 5 years, we imagine Unitonomy tracking for such an event. Beyond providing a return on investment, success for Unitonomy means paying it back to the Louisville community by reinvesting personal gains in other startups and contributing to the Community Foundation of Louisville (I’ve personally pledged 5% of my equity in Unitonomy to be delivered to the CFL).
How has your business had to pivot or adjust over the past year?
We were making B2B systems that required org-wide deployment. With the pandemic, we had to adjust the model because selling software that needed consensus to buy was difficult. So we created new products that worked for one person. Meanwhile we had to rethink our fundraising strategy. All in all, we made the adjustments necessary. I’m proud of our team for adapting.
What’s next for your company in 2021?
We’re starting the year by making data-driven decisions around each of our solutions. Our goal is to emerge Q1 with the lift of product-market fit under the wings of one or more of our offerings. The might be the workplace culture solutions we envisioned from day one (OrgVitals.com and CulturerReputation.com) or it may turn our Glove (GLVVV.com) is a hit.
What inspires you to continue to grow and push forward your business every day?
The two things that make us all feel better about our work is when we feel purpose in our role and when our feelings feel heard by our colleagues. From the beginning, Unitonomy is trying our damndest to help the leadership of organizations understand how their employees are engaged and to better listen to their needs in developing better work culture. That mission motivates us as much today as it did when we started Unitonomy.
OrgVitals is the first startup to emerge from Unitonomy. OrgVitals provides groundbreaking people analytics for those leading organizational culture change. Check them out to learn more!
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