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Tampa startup wins Seedfunders’ pitch competition

Veronica Brezina



Review Reply.AI Founder Henry Coan receives a $5,000 award from Seedfunders. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

A local entrepreneur who wants to help restauranteurs respond to their customers in a timely fashion – even if it’s a complaint about the food or service – has secured new investment. 

On Wednesday, Review Reply.AI Founder Henry Coan pitched to a roomful of startup founders and a panel of judges, including Andreas Calabrese of TampaBay.Ventures, Dan Holahan of Embarc Collective and Bridgette Heller, founder and CEO of the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation, a small non-profit committed to generating better educational outcomes for underserved children in St. Petersburg. 

Coan, a Tampa native who created the app after seeing his parents work in the restaurant industry, came on top as the winner to claim the $5,000 investment prize from Seedfunders during the pitch event hosted at Embarc Collective in Tampa. 

“We want to work with small independent businesses,” Coan said, “Those restaurateurs (non-chains) are spread the thinnest. They don’t have the time to go to the office and clack out 20 responses.” 

The app/software pulls in reviews and generates a response that can be reviewed and edited. Coan said he’s working to add in a feature that would flag the most urgent time-sensitive comments so restauranters can prioritize their needed responses. For example, if someone is complaining about how a certain dish was prepared that could be a safety hazard, the restauranter would immediately receive a notification.  

The software could also be used for any other small business that receives reviews. 

The app has a 78.5% profit margin with a flexible price point at $75 a month. 

While Coan claimed the monetary award and recognition, David Chitester, founder of the Florida Funders and Seedfunders, said the other remaining startups also delivered strong pitches. 

Seedfunders has an oversubscribed fund of $20 million and on average invests $150,000 in early startups. 

Meet the additional companies that pitched

Defindor Wallet: Longtime entrepreneur and crypto investor Henry Elgrissy is a victim of a hack scheme. He shared his experience of losing $160,000 due to a lack of layers of protection for his crypto account. As a result of the experience, Eligrissy, who has founded and sold multiple companies and previously served as a data analyst for the U.S. military, developed a crypto cyber security company called Defindor Wallet. The security platform has eight “vaults,” or layers, that a hacker must navigate through if they attempted to break into someone’s account. The “vaults” range from facial recognition tech (the person must make a certain expression and their biometrics are captured) to a single-digit security code, as most hackers uncover a person’s password through a scrambling process, but they cannot scramble a single-digit password. Elgrissy said he’s put the tech to the test by asking hackers on the dark web to try to break into the platform, but they failed to do so. The company has raised $100,000 and is in the process of raising $800,000 at a $5 million valuation. 

Flathat: Dirk Taylor understood the frustrations his wife endured as a teacher and what they both have faced as parents when it comes to the multiple incohesive, confusing apps teachers use today. He decided to create a safe app to simplify how schools communicate and collaborate. The app, called Flathat, is described as a concept “if you combined Slack and Instagram.” Flathat, based in Lakewood Ranch, is doing a pilot for Lakewood Ranch Prep Academy and has five pilots in four states. Taylor is asking for a $500,000 investment. 

Bulkitrade: Founder Mauro Costa pitched virtually to the crowd about his startup that caters to the business-to-business global distribution of food and beverages. Bulkitrade helps wholesalers and smaller companies work together throughout international markets. Bulkitrade has a team of two. 

Tech and Flow Ventures: Xavier Gray, the founder of St. Petersburg startup Tech and Flow Ventures, hopes to inspire a culture of financial success for young professionals through an online academy. Gray founded Tech and Flow in April 2021 to fill that knowledge gap. His target audience is young professionals between 18 and 40, who have either entered into their desired career and need financial guidance or need advice on continuing their journey. 

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