Dallas-based RevTech Ventures has awarded $40,000 in grants to eight local companies through its Impact Grant Program. The retail-focused venture firm aims to help strengthen and support our communities in these uncertain times. As RevTech puts it, “We are here to help.”
The grants could help the eight companies deliver more than $1.5 million of community impact, according to the organization. The eight companies are Café Momentum, Curbside Ninja, COOKED-19, UpBrainery, TrustFund/NTX Resilience Loan Project, CapWay, SmartCounseling Corp., and Cooklist.
One recipient, Ramzi Taim, co-founder of COOKED-19, says the grant has given his nonprofit project the opportunity to commit to fully expanding across the entire State of Texas. COOKED-19 provides freshly-made, individually-packed meals made by local restaurants to front line healthcare workers and first responders.
“Initially, we were anticipating reaching only the areas most heavily impacted by COVID-19, such as Dallas and San Antonio, as we were limited in funding and resources,” he said. “Now, we have several partners across four cities and are aiming to expand across all areas of the state impacted by COVID-19, allowing us to serve a greater number of front-line healthcare workers and restaurants.”
Taim and his COOKED-19 partner, Jeannie Nghiem, had to hustle to apply. “I actually heard about it on the deadline,” the entrepreneur said. Taim discovered the opportunity through a LinkedIn connection, UTD Dean Jerry Alexander. Taim and Nghiem, both undergrads in the Terry Scholars program at UT Dallas, are majoring in healthcare studies and in neuroscience, respectively.
In March, RevTech opened applications for the $5,000 grants for entrepreneurial solutions to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
UTD’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship program had “an indirect role in the original tranche of the RevTech grants,” says UTD’s Steve Guengerich. Sarah Crowe, who manages the marketing and communications for UTD’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship joined UTD’s Entrepreneurship Club (aka the E-Club) and other student ambassadors to “socialize the grant info and applications through the school’s promotional links and media,” he said.
RevTech credits two of its mentors, Greg Fasullo and Mike Whitaker, on helping to evaluate the grant applicants.
Here are the companies, and in their own words, what RevTech has to say about them:
Purpose: Momentum E.A.T.s (Engage. Act. Transform.) is Café Momentum’s response to the COVID-19 crisis by which our Interns are leading the efforts to serve as an emergency food hub creating meal kits to be deployed to families in the Dallas Independent School District, Richardson Independent School District, POETIC, and Cornerstone Crossroads Academy.
Impact: Over an 8-week period, Cafe Momentum will provide $250,000 worth of food to families in need, reaching 1,250 families each week providing 16 meals in each of these meal kits.
About Chad Houser: Chad Houser is the Founder, CEO & Executive Chef of Café Momentum where he and his team teach life, social, and employment skills to Dallas’ most at-risk youth, or as he likes to describe it “taking kids out of jail and teaching them to play with knives and fire.”
Purpose: Solving the problems of today while preparing for the future of business to customers interactions and transactions in the food & beverage and other industries alike.
Impact: Curbside Ninja built an affordable and customizable solution that they believe will have over $40,000 in monthly revenue lift for at least 20 restaurants in the next 90-120 days. They are enabling restaurants and their online food purchase, curbside pickup, and in-house delivery.
About Nick Bonanno: Innovative and strategic technology leader with the ability to drive digital marketing initiatives
Purpose: Cooked-19 is committed to providing the front-line doctors, nurses, first responders, and hospital sanitation workers who are risking their lives and working long hours to combat COVID-19 with freshly-made, individually-packed meals made by local restaurants.
Impact: Their mission is to donate 6,250+ meals (the equivalent of ~$50,000) to front-line healthcare workers across the State of Texas. Currently, Cooked-19 has partnerships with hospitals and restaurants in Dallas, Arlington, and San Antonio and we will be expanding to multiple cities across Texas.
About Jeannie Nghiem: Jeannie Nghiem is a Terry Foundation Scholar at the University of Texas at Dallas who is majoring in neuroscience and is pursuing a career in medicine.
About Ramzi Taim: Ramzi Taim is a Terry Foundation Scholar at the University of Texas at Dallas who is majoring in healthcare studies and is pursuing a career in public health and business.
Purpose: UpBrainery’s mission is to remove bias in education and to remove barriers to entry for all in order to provide students with 21st century skills. UpBrainery is a true disruptor in the field of education by connecting stakeholders in order to provide revenue streams for teachers while providing accessibility to specialized education for parents and students.
Impact: As a result of the grant from RevTech, UpBrainery will be able to impact the educational landscape of kids unable to attend classes in a traditional classroom and provide at home kids with amazing educational classes and teachers the ability to earn income by providing them with teaching opportunities. With $5,000, they can educate 5,000 students and provide income for 50 teachers. The money will go 100% towards payment for the teachers.
About Ghazal Qureshi: Ghazal has married the principles of traditional Education with her passion and love of technology and has created an EdTech platform that is taking Virtual and Blended Education to new heights and truly becoming a disruptor in education.
TrustFund / NTX Resilience Loan Project
Purpose: NTX Resilience Loans are short-term, small-dollar loans with flexible, affordable terms designed to help displaced workers handle financial disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Impact: By lessening the financial disruption with an accessible, affordable loan to bridge a temporary disruption in income, the NTX Resilience Loan Project will save hundreds of hard-working, budget-strapped workers from the long-term costs and pain of shattered credit, evictions, and financial stress.
Bios: Co-founders Nathan Pinto and Frank Santoni are social entrepreneurs dedicated to design and grow consumer financial products tailored to the unique financial challenges faced by millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck.
About Nathan Pinto: With a degree in Finance & Economics from the University of Texas at Austin, Nathan started a company building self-sustaining toilets in India. He returned to Dallas to learn the startup playbook as an associate at a venture capital fund, subsequently putting it to practice as he founded a handful of ventures including Farm2Cook, a vertically-integrated ethnic meat company that hit a $2M annual run rate. He stepped down from daily operations at Farm2Cook in 2019 to focus on TrustFund.
About Frank Santoni: Frank brings 20 years of professional experience leading social enterprises and mission-driven organizations. After two years as CEO of Social Venture Partners Dallas, Frank oversaw the development and testing of a $6M randomized-control trial aimed at tackling the complex issues faced by families living in poverty as the head of a research & innovation division at a major social service agency in Fort Worth, Texas. Frank dedicated his experience in user-centered design and research-backed product development to ImpactX Partners in 2018, launching its first consumer product, TrustFund, in 2019.
Purpose: Our purpose is to provide access to CapWay’s virtual financial literacy programming to Dallas residents who can benefit from the information and resources needed during the economic downturn due to COVID-19.
Impact: There are roughly 1.4 million residents in the city of Dallas. The information provided would be equivalent to hours of speaking with a financial coach. On the low end, a financial coach costs $75/hour. If only 1% of Dallas residents (14,000) take advantage of the program, it would equate to $1.05M if calculated at 14,000 residents x $75/hour of financial coaching = $1.05M.
About Sheena Allen: Sheena Allen is the founder and CEO of CapWay, a fintech company providing banking, literacy, and other financial services to those who do not fit the model of traditional banking.
Purpose: The purpose is to address the mental health needs of people living with anxiety, stress, depression, and fear related to the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing easy, convenient, and affordable online access to licensed behavioral health therapists at a special reduced cost.
Impact: The expected tangible and intangible economic impact on the community will be $50,000 to $150,000, in the form of hard dollars, and the increased well-being of individuals, which will result in more productive, happier, and healthier individuals and families.
About Catherine Tito: Catherine Tito is a Licensed Professional Counselor, board-certified in tele-mental health, and Founder and Clinical Director of SmartCounseling.com, where she works with therapists and organizations to expand access to behavioral health services to people in need.
Purpose: To provide discounted groceries and free delivery to affected and vulnerable individuals in Dallas while spurring increased incremental economic activity to local grocers.
Impact: We plan to drive $169 in impact per $20 spent through this grant campaign, approximately 8.5x return on every dollar. $119 of that impact will be direct to consumer and the additional $50 will be additional economic activity spurred for grocers.
We do this by offering $20 off groceries which provides a direct $20 benefit to the consumer but also spurs economic activity for local grocers. Considering the average order value on Cooklist is $120 compared to the average of $70 in-store that equates to about $50 in additional economic activity for each order placed. Lastly, Target will be offering free delivery on orders through Cooklist which provides additional economic benefit to the user who would normally have to pay $99 for an annual membership to Shipt for free delivery. All in all, for every $20 we offer in grocery credit we create about $169 in impact, about a 7.5x return.
About Cooklist: Cooklist is the first personal grocery service that combines meal planning, grocery shopping, household inventory and cooking into one seamless experience.
About Daniel Vitiello and Brandon Warman: Founders Daniel and Brandon are repeat business partners and local entrepreneurs. They met over a decade ago in Rockwall, TX, and are based in the heart of Dallas, Deep Ellum.
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