Start Garden invests $60K more in three startups


PAKCheck is an automated inventory system for convenience stores to efficiently track cigarette packs and reduce theft. Photo via

Three startups in Start Garden's portfolio have each been cleared to receive $20,000 more from the Grand Rapids-based seed fund.

At Start Garden’s October Update Night, entrepreneurs already backed by the fund presented their progress to the Start Garden team and audience — to learn if they'd receive more funding.

Three startups received a “yes” from the Start Garden team, based on their progress to date.


ScoutFoto, created by Andrew Wong, is an idea for photo technology that allows runners or participants at events to match their faces to their photos in a database.

"ScoutFoto’s approach to assisting photographers and race organizers tag photos is unique. Race photos are easy to find and purchase, so the technology works," said Joe Lampen, controller for Start Garden. "What we found most impressive were the 50 events the team signed up, and 30 percent of participants uploaded their photos to be tagged.”


PAKCheck, created by Express Lane General Manager Patrick Kapenga, is an idea to reduce store labor costs and theft by creating a centralized and automated cigarette inventory system.

“As a convenience store operator, Kapenga knows the domain he is working in, and intuitively, there seems to be a clear opportunity,” said Mike Morin, Start Garden portfolio manager. “Although there wasn’t a chance to test the actual PAKCheck solution during this experiment, there are several stores signed up to be test sites, and we are eager to see the experiment work.”

GAPro System

GAPro System, created by Herb Gibson, who’s had more than 15 years experience in the insurance industry, is an idea for a mobile and web platform for organizing and managing property and casualty insurance compliance.

"The problem that the GAPro System is working to solve is significant and faced by every insurance agency, as well as numerous other industries covered by liability insurance," Morin said. "The GAPro team created a low-fidelity walk-through, which allowed a fast, low-cost way to get customers interested in the platform. There is data to support next steps, and the company has a customer to partner on the deployment of the next version.”

Start Garden’s next Update Night is Nov. 21. 

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