Chattanooga, TN–Last Thursday, to an audience of nearly 500 people and a panel of judges, 18 startups pitched their business ideas at the annual Will This Float competition. The Company Lab, a startup accelerator in Chattanooga, hosted the event, and each company was given 3 minutes to make its case as the region’s most innovative venture.
Pitches covered a variety of industriesâ€”from technology and social entrepreneurship, to outdoor recreation, to art and design. The packed audience voted for their favorite pitches via smart phone, and RootsRated, an online recreation guide curated by specialty outdoor retailers won 2 awards: â€œBest Local Appealâ€ as well as the Grand Prize of â€œIf I had $100,000, I’d invest in this startup!â€ As the overall winner, RootsRated earned the opportunity to pitch to 500 Startups, a renowned Silicon Valley accelerator, for a chance at a $250,000 investment.
Sheldon Grizzle, Air Traffic Controller for The Co. Lab, had this to say, â€œWe were very impressed with Fynn Glover's pitch for his company, RootsRated. We are especially excited to see how RootsRated will positively impact the outdoor industry by making it easier to enjoy being outside. Personally, I'm a huge fan of what the RootsRated team has created and use it whenever I'm looking for new outdoor activities in Chattanooga.
â€œThis was a fantastic event, and I can’t thank the Company Lab enough for the tireless work they do for Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial community. Obviously this is a great opportunity for us, but the validation from the crowd is the most rewarding part of this. We built RootsRated for people and retailers to use, and for such a large crowd to choose RootsRated out of so many other good ideas, is a tremendous statement that we’re on the right track,â€ stated Fynn Glover, Co-Founder and President of RootsRated.
After becoming discouraged with the lack of information online about recreational activities, local resident Fynn Glover partnered with Rock/Creek leaders to create a tool that guides users to the best outdoor experiences across the country. After interviewing 1,000 people about roadblocks to getting outdoors, Dawson Wheeler (Co-Owner of Rock/Creek Outfitters), Horny Toad Activewear, Mark McKnight (Director of e-Commerce Marketing for Rock/Creek), and Fynn Glover founded RootsRated in May of 2012. In October, Chris and Shelby Howe (owners of New England retailer Trailblazer) joined the team.
RootsRated has partnered with Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, a group of 40 independent retailers with over 80 doors nationwide. â€œThese retailers are savvy and innovative, and they know that in order to thrive in the increasingly complex and competitive environment of big-box chains and Amazon, local shops must differentiate themselves through the type of engaging story telling that inspires a sense of wanderlust in their customers. RootsRated gives retailers a beautifully designed platform to engage customers with a tool that is relevant and personalized. In just 3 months, we’ve generated content in over 30 cities, and we’re working with over 40 local retailers, who’ve authored over 700 great local experiences,â€ said Glover.