GVL Starts Demo Day October 7th 2021

Public Invited to Help Award $15,000 in Start-up Funding to Local Businesses


What/Who: Please help us shape the future of our city by voting for your favorite local business idea at the first-ever GVL Starts Demo Day.  Open to the public and the media. Interviews with participating entrepreneurs and the speakers will be available on-site.

When:  Thursday, October 7, 2021 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Where:  NEXT on Main 101 North Main Street, Greenville from 6:30-8:30


On Thursday, October 7, local entrepreneurs will make their pitch for a shot at one of three $5,000 startup grants. GVL Starts Demo Day will showcase the program’s inaugural class of founders who are growing innovative new ventures in our community.

During the Demo event, all 25 of GVL Starts’ inaugural graduating class, who represent some of the area’s brightest business minds, will pitch their ventures, giving the judges and all attendees a chance to get an early look at what could be Greenville’s next big idea. Six finalists will compete to win one of two $5,000 startup grants (one in the tech and one in the product/service category). A third $5,000 award will go to the crowd favorite and will be determined by how people in attendance choose to invest their own (Monopoly) money.

GVL Starts is a new program at Furman University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship created through a partnership between the City of Greenville, Greenville Local Development Corporation and the South Carolina Department of Commerce. Designed to help local innovators move from idea to action by connecting them with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and teaching them the skills they need to fund and grow their ventures, the GVL Starts program features a concentrated and transformational 8-weeks of course work in everything from building a business plan and developing a marketing program to pitching business concepts and securing funding.

Finalists include:

     Software/Tech Category:

  • Sustain Edu, a software platform for data collection and management related to campus engagement, education, volunteering, philanthropy, and marketing.
  • Bottle Titan, intelligent beverage monitoring products that address a multi-billion dollar spoilage problem

     Product/Service Category:

  • Thyme and Play, a nonprofit that specializes in event accommodations for the disabled community
  • CAIRS Shoes, a shoe company for women with swollen feet and medical conditions such as lymphedema.
  • Project Conduit, a novel recording studio model for independent artists
  • Comfort Cover, A proprietary product that covers a mattress or sleeping mat and has a built-in blanket and pillowcase for day care centers, disaster relief kits, and children on the go.


We invite the media and the general public to join us for what promises to be an exciting evening and a rich networking opportunity for investors, entrepreneurs, and community and academic leaders. Speakers will include Furman University Chief Innovation Officer Anthony Herrera and Greenville City Manager John McDonough.