Startups Take Home $50,000 at St. Charles Demo Day, GrabMe Delivery Lands Top Prize

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More than 220 attendees watched five startups compete to take home a combined $50,000 in cash prizes, along with additional in-kind services, at the annual St. Charles County Demo Day held Wednesday, November 8th at OPO Startups in St. Charles.

If you weren’t able to catch EQ’s live coverage of the event on social media, here’s what you missed:

And the winner is…

The winner of the $25,000 grand prize was GrabMe Delivery, an “everything delivery” app that allows users place a request — for take-out dinner, a new bottle of detergent, anything — set how much they’re willing to pay for delivery, and find someone to help run the errand.

“We want to let you buy back your time,” said GrabMe founder James Crain, a member of OPO Startups. Whatever an hour spent not rushing off to the store for that gallon of milk is worth to you, pay that and put your feet up.

Rather than depend on an on-demand workforce, the way Uber does, GrabMe Delivery hopes to turn everyone into a part-time entrepreneur: people out shopping can grab a few things for their neighbors, and use their trip as an opportunity to pick up extra cash.

Crain expects that the time-saving benefits will appeal most to young working parents, and plans to spend a portion of his winnings on social media marketing to this audience.

Can your app deliver tax revenue?

At this year’s Demo Day, judging criteria explicitly did include each company’s potential economic impact on St. Charles County. For the panel of judges at the event, GrabMe Delivery had a unique appeal.

“It was great to see the plan GrabMe Delivery has for capturing local sales tax,” explained Scott Drachnik, Executive Director of Workforce Development for St. Charles County and one of the judges. “The massive shift away from brick and mortar stores to online sales is creating a revenue problem for governments around the region, state and country.”

Many governments still don’t collect sales tax from online purchases. Even where so-called “Amazon Laws” — requiring online retailers to pay sales tax — have been passed, they are often difficult to enforce.

The loopholes put local government budgets at risk (St. Charles County, for instance, gets 63% of its revenue from sales tax), and give an implicit subsidy to ecommerce sites.

If the app’s launch is successful next month, GrabMe Delivery may bring the traditional advantages of ecommerce — convenience, selection and fast delivery — to the brick-and-mortar stores that have been disrupted by it. That means shoppers would spend more money in local businesses, hire locals to do the legwork — and more revenue would flow back to local government.

“Until there is an equitable legislative solution, the assistance of online services like GrabMe Delivery is great appreciated and an outstanding model for other civic-minded businesses,” Drachnik said.

Other finalists tackle long lines at airport security, CRMs for service sector, and more

The second-place prize winner, CheckTheQ, took home the $10,000 runner-up prize along with additional cash prizes from the judges. CheckTheQ monitors the flow of passengers through airport security, to provide business intelligence to airports and shorter lines to travelers.

CheckTheQ is in the process of completing two pilot programs, one with Lambert Airport in St. Louis. The startup relies on a simple, elegant, and non-intrusive tech solution: pinging passengers’ phones to follow their movement.

In addition to GrabMe and CheckTheQ, cash prizes were awarded to the three remaining finalists:

The cash prizes doled out at St. Charles County Demo Day make it one of the largest demo day competitions nation-wide, and the enthusiastic crowd that packed OPO Startups wall-to-wall reflected the celebratory mood.

“Entrepreneurship and startups don’t just create economic opportunity, they are also an important part of building a community,” said OPO Startups Manager Megan McKissen. “It was really amazing to see that community come out and support a really exciting group of founders and startups. We look forward to continuing to grow St. Charles County Demo Day, and making it an important pillar of the St. Louis regional startup scene.”