Anyone who has visited a laundromat knows the drill: bring coins to operate dryers and washing machines.
But in a laundromat in Tampa's Carrollwood neighborhood, there is a more streamlined method of paying for laundry services: through a smartphone application, Washlava
“It’s a mobile application that replaces coin-operated laundry," says Washlava's Founder Todd Belveal, a serial entrepreneur.
The application's uses go beyond pre-loading payment, Belveal explains: "You can reserve a machine before you go, monitor the machine while it’s in cycle, and ultimately tender the payment in a fast, seamless way when you’re done.”
The company received $1.8 million in a 2016 seed funding round, so more Washlava-operated facilities may be coming. About a third of the funding that Washlava received came from a private investor in Tampa, Belveal says.
Tampa Bay WaVe
, where Washlava spent some time incubating, was a “great environment for us to be in,” Belveal says. Startups and aspiring entrepreneurs should focus on building a business plan and preparing a pitch, but building relationships with potential investors is just as critical to securing funding in Tampa, Belveal, who grew up in Tampa, explains.
“I’ve raised money for a lot of startups,” Belveal says, “and it has very little to do with the ideas.”
Instead, the serial entrepreneur says, relationships are key.
On the south side of Tampa Bay, the St. Petersburg-based startup TAO Connect, Inc
, has been accepted into the Florida Funders
network. The mental health online management platform startup, developed in the University of Florida’s Innovation Hub, has been awarded $1.1 million in funding from Florida Funders, Florida Angels Network
and New World Angels
, who exclusively focused on college students in university settings initially, plans to use the funds to expand into offering the mental health platform's services to veterans, therapists and Medicare patients.