Continue meeting the 2015 i.e.* Startup finalists: Social Entrepreneur style!

Part 2 of 2 in the i.e.* Startup series—or should we say, the Startup saga! In this episode, Best Social Entrepreneur finalists duke it out for your loyalty!

Here’s something we’ve learned from interviewing these finalists in the Best Social Entrepreneur category–dot orgs are very quick to say how much social good all the other finalists are doing. Spread the love and read more about those competing for the big i.e.* prize.

Note, missing from this list is News Network, Jr.. They’re a finalist, but didn’t respond to our interview request, which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read about them on your own and learn about their very cool idea!

Best Social Entrepreneur Category: – Steve Gardner


What about your startup makes you a better choice than your competition?

My vision is to positively impact one billion lives. is a toothbrush of the month club on social good steroids–we’re a buy 1 give 10 model.

While for this particular competition there is only one winner for the prize money, after the competition is over, since we each have independent answers to social issues, the RVANews readers could support many if not all of the contestants. Specifically with, you could impact 10 lives if they simply changed where they bought their toothbrush. And, they get to decide where in the world those 10 toothbrushes go (either locally here in RVA, or to specific areas).

Remember that every time you look in the mirror and see yourself brushing your teeth, you’re positively impacting 10 people–and it takes one minute to go to and be part of the change that helps a billion people.

If you win, what’s the first thing you’re going to do?

The first thing I’m going to do is thank the judges and audience at Richmond CenterStage for their support, and to the fellow Social Good companies for having excellent ideas and helpful suggestions during our pitch practice.

With the prize money, I’ll look at ensuring that the 2,000 children who are currently recipients of the FeedMore food backpacks receive toothbrushes each month with their food; and then figure out how to get the message out to more people, using BrushForGood’s made-in-USA toothbrushes.

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CodeVA — Chris Dovi


We featured CodeVA a few weeks back as part of our Summer Camp Guide! They teach kids how to code, which, honestly, is what we all should start learning how to do.

What about your startup makes you a better choice than your competition?

After having reviewed the other nominees, I think every idea nominated is a great choice. We are excited to be counted among such worthy companies and organizations.

If you win, what’s the first thing you’re going to do?

We will invest even more in the public school teachers that it is our mission to train. The $10,000 prize is enough to fund our elementary teacher training program for a year. Or it could cover stipends to teacher trainers for our middle and high school trainings that would allow us to significantly expand capacity for those programs. Or it could help provide resources to our all-city robotics team or after-school coding clubs.

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Teer’d — Eric Plummer


About Teer’d: “A mobile application and website that connects ‘less likely’ volunteers with opportunities to volunteer and rewards them for doing so. We are going to make it simple for individuals to find meaningful opportunities and gamify volunteering by introducing the first rewards program that offers points and prizes for giving back to your community.”

What about your startup makes you a better choice than your competition?

I believe it is the combination of our innovative approach to engaging volunteers and our sound business model. By using rewards, we have the ability to attract segments of volunteers that non-profits are struggling to attract now while simultaneously giving local business a viable advertising platform.

If you win, what’s the first thing you’re going to do?

After a celebratory round of beers, we will use the capital and momentum from our win to attract more non-profit and local business partners as we continue to build our platform.

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Uvest Solar — Blue Crump


What about your startup makes you a better choice than your competition?

I’ve spent nearly the last decade building solar all across Virginia and continually noticed that although schools had significant interest in clean energy, they often had no means to bring solar to their campuses. Thats what led me to start building UVest Solar, a finance vehicle for bringing solar to schools.

UVest is an online crowdfunding platform that opens the investment into solar energy to the local community and online investor. Unlike most crowdfunding sites that are donation-based, UVest offers investors the opportunity to buy energy notes that are used to build solar projects for schools. The crowdfund investor earns 5-7% returns on these notes and gets an impact investment by investing locally in the schools in their community. Even better, the schools receive a zero-cost solar energy project and a reduction in energy expense that lasts for decades. UVest’s goal is to get people to think differently about how they invest. Most of us who invest in a 401K or our retirement know what our returns are, but few can actually tell you where that money is invested. UVest Solar wants to change that by creating investment opportunities in our own communities. We think you should be able to do good and make money at the same time and once UVest Solar launches, thats exactly what we plan to do!

If you win, whats the first thing you’re going to do?

First, cocktails with my wife, Becky, who has absolutely been UVest’s consummate supporter, marketing officer, and legitimate number one fan! After that, we’re set to get our online investment portal and website ready for launch. The winnings will actually go a long way in getting our site ready to accept investments and bring us one step closer to launching the first school project.


What about your startup makes you a better choice than your competition?

VocalLocal provides an online platform for people in the community to introduce their ideas for positive community change. Available to anyone with Internet access via smartphone or computer, VocalLocal is not just a tool that fixes an individual problem, but serves as a place where people can gather to propose and discuss meaningful solutions with long-term impact. As a means of advocacy, VocalLocal will also bring community driven ideas to the attention of local governing bodies in order to start the change process.

If you win, whats the first thing you’re going to do?

The first thing I would like to do if I win is to develop a user-friendly web platform and app. If people are going to take to the idea and really use it effectively, they need to be provided with the means to do so.

WatchForChange — Hamoon Hadavand


About WatchForChange: “Whenever you buy a new watch or watch strap from WatchForChange, you’ll donate a portion of the proceeds to the cause of your choice. We build the watch. You direct your contribution to make the impact you want to see happen in the world.”

What about your startup makes you a better choice than your competition?

We have great respect for all of the finalists that have made it to the presentation stage of the competition and we are eager to hear all the presentations! Congrats to everyone!

We have spent a considerable amount of time designing our watches and identifying/partnering with charities that have proven track records of helping so many people. Our model provides a platform for a single consumer–we call them Positive Change Agents–to positively impact the lives of others on both a local/global scale. If this same Positive Change Agent shares with his/her network of friends and family his or her reach and contribution to doing good has increased exponentially.

Ultimately, our mission statement is the driving force of this initiative: unite socially conscious people to create positive global change!

If you win, what’s the first thing you’re going to do?

If we are fortunate enough to be chosen as the winner, we will remain true to our mission and contribute 20% of prize money to our partner charity: water. They are currently leading an effort with 100% of the contribution to be used as relief for the victims of the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that recently hit Nepal.

The remaining funds will be used to further the WatchForChange brand, engaging more Positive Change Agents to join our effort–marketing, marketing, marketing!

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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