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Fruutfull among finalists at SoGal Florida, advances to national competition

Margie Manning

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Fruutfull's co-founders and co-CEOs, Ellery Linder (left) and Danielle Rushton.

Fruutfull, a one-year-old Tampa company with a unique design that allows women to personalize their brassiere size, is gaining traction.

The company placed in the top five for Startup of the Year powered by Established, and accepted invitations to join Embarc Collective and the Tampa Bay Wave. On Monday, Fruutfull was one of four regional finalists at the SoGal Global Pitch Competition in Florida.

SoGal is a global platform to educate and empower diverse entrepreneurs and investors, and the Florida pitch competition was one of 25 regional rounds. Criteria for the participating startups is industry-agnostic, but all the companies had to have raised less than $3 million, with at least one woman or self-identified underrepresented founder.

Fruutfull and the other Florida finalists will get to attend a SoGal bootcamp in Silicon Valley and compete for investment backing. The three-day bootcamp in February, in partnership with Draper University, offers curated educational programming, one-on-one mentoring, introductions to San Francisco investors and press opportunities. In the final pitch round, there’s a chance to win part of $600,000 in investment capital.

“To be able to share our brand with so many other talented female and diverse founders from all over the world is arguably the biggest win of all,” said Ellery Linder, Fruutfull co-founder and co-CEO. She co-founded the company with co-CEO, Danielle Rushton. “Danielle and I are proud to be from Florida, and it is an honor to represent the Tampa Bay region in this event.”

Fruutfull has a patented design that allows women to personalize their bra to fit down to the exact centimeter. Linder and Rushton say their sizing system will offer a more personal fit through just 30 sizes, rather than the 165 combinations currently offered by other lingerie companies.


Related story: Startup Report 


Fruutfull is solving a problem many women can relate to, Linder said, and she believes that’s what made the company stand out during the Oct. 28 SoGal pitch competition in Naples, Florida.

“Sharing our new approach to how bras should fit and feel with an audience of mostly women felt less like a pitch, and more like we were having a conversation with a close group of friends,” Linder said.

Allie Felix

The focus on women founders is important, said Allie Felix, director of platform at Embarc Collective and chapter lead for SoGal Tampa Bay.

“Women received just 2.2 percent of venture capital funding in 2018. The SoGal Global Pitch Competition was created to close the gender investing gap by giving a voice and platform to the incredible startups being built by women and diverse founders,” Felix said.

The event in Naples was designed in part to help women and diverse accredited investors learn more about angel investing, Linder said. Accredited investors are those who are financially sophisticated, have $1 million in net worth and can deal with securities not registered with financial authorities. Florida ranks fourth in the United States for the number of accredited investors.

“By educating more women to invest their assets via angel networks or as limited partners in venture funds, Florida can grow the pipeline of future investments for women-led companies,” Felix said.

In addition to Fruutfull, Florida regional finalists in the SoGal competition were Lean Orb, with plant-based food service packaging and catering supplies; Rubitection, with tools to support early bedsore detection, prevention and monitoring to improve patient safety and save lives; and Stabilized Steps, which manufactures medical equipment that improves the lives of people with mobility issues.

Fruutfull’s Linder said she and Rushton currently are “heads down focused on finalizing our product.” They are targeting early 2020 for their product launch.

 

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