Your official source for all Start Garden related news


Posted on by Start Garden Intern, filed under Press Releases



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., October 24, 2013 - Start Garden, the $15,000,000 seed fund that selects individual ideas each week for investments, and opportunities for further investment, tonights held their monthly Update Night at 50 Louis St. Among the ten companies vying for the next level of investment, the Start Garden team chose GAPro System, a web and mobile platform for managing property and casualty insurance compliance, ScoutFoto, a photo matching system for races and events, and PAKcheck, an automated inventory system designed to prevent cigarette theft at convenience stores.

Update Night offers teams that have received an initial $5,000 investment a chance to provide an update to the public on their projects. The next round of funding for GAPro, ScoutFoto and PAKCheck starts at $20,000 each.

The GAPro System is a web and mobile platform for radically simplifying insurance compliance. The system creates standardization, efficiency and compliance that leads to significant cost and time savings. The company used the Start Garden investment to acquire its first beta customers. 

"The problem that the GAPro System is working to solve is significant and faced by every insurance agency, as well as numerous other industries covered by liability insurance," said Mike Morin, portfolio manager for Start Garden. "The GAPro team created a low-fidelity walk-through, which allowed a fast, low-cost way to get customers interested in the platform. There is data to support next steps and the company has a customer to partner on the deployment of the next version. We think there is more to learn here, so our answer is yes to additional funding."

ScoutFoto uses custom photo technology to aggregate the pictures taken by crowds and spectators during marathons, bicycle and other races, and automatically matches them with the faces and bib numbers of the competitors. The image database then organizes itself so participants can find themselves for download or purchase. 

"ScoutFoto's approach to assisting photographers and race organizers tag photos is unique, race photos are easy to find and purchase, so the technology works," said Joe Lampen, controller for Start Garden. "What we found most impressive were the 50 events the team signed up and 30 percent of participants uploaded their photos to be tagged. Because of the response, we will be funding ScoutFoto further." 

Started by Patrick Kapenga, PAKCheck is a cigarette inventory system for use in convenience stores, which automatically counts each pack as it is pulled from a rack, removing the need for the employees to hand-count cigarettes multiple times during every shift. By automating and centralizing the cigarette inventory process, stores can reduce labor costs, tighten control and monitor multiple locations at once.

"As a convience store operator, Kapenga knows the domain he is working in, and intuitively, there seems to be a clear opportunity," said Morin. "Although there wasn't a chance to test the actual PAKCheck solution during this experiment, there are several stores signed up to be test sites and we are eager to see the experiment work, it is a yes for us." 

During Update Night, teams have three minutes to present before a live audience and explain how the money was used to complete an experiment that proved their idea is desirable, feasible or viable. Following the presentations, a panel of advisors discusses each project and announces which projects Start Garden will continue to invest in. 

Four additional entrepreneurs presented during Start Garden's October Update Night, but did not proceed to the next level of investment. These include:




Ultraflex Series

The Start Garden management team accepts ideas with potential to become businesses through Each week the Start Garden team selects an idea and the broader community on the website endorses another idea to receive $5,000. Start garden can continue to invest up to $500,000 in a single idea. Learn more about submission criteria at

The next Start Garden Update NIght will take place Thursday, November 21st. Learn more about Start Garden events at 

About Start Garden
Start Garden is an unconventional venture capital fund that invests in over a hundred ideas a year in small increments. The program brings financial, intellectual and social capital to ideas at the earliest stage by connecting them to the resources of an entire region. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is founded by Rick DeVos who’s past projects included ArtPrize, 5x5 Night, Momentum and

# # #
Brian Burch
Start Garden

There have been 0 Replies

Sign in with Facebook