Entrepreneurs get boost at annual Peninsula startup event

From INSIDE BUSINESS by

Neil Hailey with French Slide gets his prize packet from Start Peninsula emcee Chris Davidson as another winner, John Coggins with Atlas Quick-Clip, looks on at Hampton University Nov. 3.
Neil Hailey with French Slide gets his prize packet from Start Peninsula emcee Chris Davidson as another winner, John Coggins with Atlas Quick-Clip, looks on at Hampton University Nov. 3.

The eighth annual Start Peninsula contest during the first weekend of November attracted some of the strongest pitches for early-stage business concepts yet, regular emcee Chris Davidson said.

This year’s three winners are:

• Atlas Quick-Clip: an attachment that makes it easier and faster to reload ammunition into the magazine of a firearm,

• French Slide: a patio door that both slides left and right and also opens like a French door for a wide entryway and

• Vestalyze: an investment tracking and analytics software company and platform that allows individual investors to optimize their portfolio.

The winners will receive $5,000 each and will have access to business-growing resources, including memberships to local chambers of commerce and the Retail Alliance, Davidson said.

Nearly 30 entrepreneurs initially pitched Nov. 1 at the McGrew Towers Conference Center at Hampton University. Judges selected 10 businesses to refine their concepts with mentors for the final pitches Nov. 3.

John Coggins pitched the Atlas Quick-Clip, which he said he designed with a patent pending. The 18-year-old Carrollton native is studying mechanical engineering at Liberty University and said business is his passion.

He said he hopes to eventually expand into creating other products and would like to supply the military and law enforcement. As a college freshman, the prize money will definitely help in developing the business, he said. Winning the contest also gave him validation.

“It makes me feel like I’m on the right path,” Coggins said.

Neil Hailey co-founded French Slide with friend Matthew Sozio while both were attending Virginia Commonwealth University. Hailey said they were trying to move a large sectional couch through a sliding glass door and thought there should be a better way. Their idea was to combine the benefits of a sliding glass door and a French door.

The French Slide maximizes space efficiency when opening doors, he said. The business concept is 3 years old and Hailey came down from Richmond to pitch it.

“We’re definitely in a position where we can use the money and put it to good use,” Hailey said.

Tyler Chianelli started Vestalyze because he wants to enable smaller businesses or individuals with more moderate income to access sophisticated reporting, metrics and tracking analysis on their investment portfolios, including with complicated index and equity derivatives, also known as options. Some service providers give detailed derivatives tracking, but the cost is often a barrier, he said.

Tyler Chianelli
Tyler Chianelli

Now with a team of five, the software platform has been in development for a year based on Chianelli’s 17 years of experience as a stock and options trader with a specialty in index and equities derivatives strategies. The founder of Uptrend Capital in Virginia Beach is also incorporating feedback from his time as a financial educator.

Chianelli said he pitched at Start Peninsula last year, but wasn’t one of the 10 selected finalists. Yet, he didn’t quit and refined his pitch. He came to network with other entrepreneurs and investors and to get the word out about his startup.

“I’m pretty much all in,” he said. “I know what’s possible.”

Start Peninsula will take place in the greater Williamsburg area next year. For more info, visit Startpeninsula.com. The College of William & Mary will be a partner, said Jim Noel, York economic development director.

Tara Bozick, 757-247-4741, tbozick@insidebiz.com

John Coggins, left, with Atlas Quick-Clip, Neil Hailey with French Slide and Tyler Chianelli with Vestalyze were the three Start Peninsula winners Nov. 3 at Hampton University. - Original Credit: Tara Bozick/Staff - Original Source: Handout
John Coggins, left, with Atlas Quick-Clip, Neil Hailey with French Slide and Tyler Chianelli with Vestalyze were the three Start Peninsula winners Nov. 3 at Hampton University. – Original Credit: Tara Bozick/Staff – Original Source: Handout (HANDOUT)