Startup Factory introduces young tech companies to investors

May. 29, 2014 @ 12:04 PM

When Patrick Matos was looking for day care for his young daughters in the Washington area, he said he had to visit 16 different schools. He wants to simplify that search process for other parents.

Matos is CEO of a start-up company, CareLuLu, that has launched a website that allows parents to search for local day-care programs. Using the website, parents can search for schools based on price, hours, age group, whether not they offer language immersion, or based on other criterion.

“(We’re) turning a difficult and lengthy search process like visits (to) 16 day cares and making it an easy search,” Matos said Wednesday, speaking to investors and entrepreneurs gathered at the Full Frame Theater at the American Tobacco campus.

Matos was one of four entrepreneurs who made pitches at the latest start-up showcase hosted by the Startup Factory, a Durham-based business accelerator program. The program offers mentorship and venture capital dollars to young, technology-based startups in exchange for ownership stakes in the companies. The program is run out of the American Underground hub for entrepreneurs at American Tobacco.

The program has now held five sessions, said Dave Neal, The Startup Factory’s co-managing director. In the past four sessions, the program has worked with  22 companies, 19 of which are still operating. Fourteen of the companies still operating have raised outside investment dollars.

CareLulu launched its online day care search program nine months ago in the Washington area. Matos said the company already has the largest day-care chain in the country signed up as a paying customer, and in the Washington market, more than 500 day cares use its website.

After raising new investment dollars, the company is looking to expand to 10 markets, Matos said, including to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York City and San Francisco. Ultimately, he said the company’s plan is to develop business management software for day cares to help them better manage how they collect money from customers and distribute newsletters to them.