Start Garden invests in art gallery and bike tool, commits $60K to funded ideas


Rick DeVos, right, of Start Garden, with Tyler Essenberg, left, and Calvin Beeke, the creators of G-RAPS, the branded eyewear accessory. Courtesy Start Garden

Start Garden has invested another $70,000 in five startups.

Of the six teams that presented at Start Garden’s monthly Update Night last week, three of them — ThingShare, G-RAPS and Future Tech Farm — each received continued funding at the $20,000 level.

Start Garden also continued its selection of two weekly $5,000-level investments, beginning funding for Gaspard Gallery and The Sherpra.

ThingShare is a trading website for gamers, allowing them to borrow and lend each other’s games.

“(It’s like a) library of your friends’ video games and gear, a simple interface to enable listing and borrowing of video games,” wrote idea creator Paul Kortman on his Start Garden page. “The larger vision here is to expand into other markets like the do-it-yourself market, so we can lend/borrow tools. We will open the door for users to charge a rental fee, and this will enable people to make money off of their tools.”

G-RAPS is an accessory company that allows for the personalization of eyewear. The product is a small band made of silicon that wraps around the temple area of eyeglasses, allowing wearers to sport their favorite brands at eye-level.

“Our product is a stretch sleeve that conforms to the shape of most glasses and is an eyewear accessory for virtually any age, style or type of glasses,” wrote idea creator Calvin Beeke on his Start Garden page. “The plastic injection mold for G-RAPS was created in Grandville, and the products are being manufactured in Wyoming. Our goal is to create Michigan jobs and maintain a sense of social responsibility. To give back to our community, the first G-RAPS being introduced are for breast cancer awareness.”

Future Tech Farm is described on its page as “like FarmVille, but with real crops.” In an attempt to re-connect the public consciousness with its food source, Future Tech Farm creates a personal farming system about the size of microwave, complete with Internet-connected monitor nodes keeping updates on efficient growth cycles of the mini-farm.

“What we’re creating is a singular, but distributed farm — a physical and virtual farming platform,” wrote idea creator Brian Falther on his Start Garden page. “All system owners will be able to access each other’s plots on the farm. Our systems are going to be fully integrated with everything needed to grow — it will not be a retrofit accessory.”

While those three ideas continued their funding journey at the $20,000, two other ideas began their own at the $5,000 level.

The Start Garden team selected The Sherpra, a multi-use tool for fixing flat bike tires. The tool, which can fit in a biker’s pocket, combines the functionality of multiple tools to do one job in an efficient and simple manner.

“(It) can remove a tire, patch a tube, and fill a tire up, and it can fit in your pocket,” wrote idea creator Pat Shields on his Start Garden page. “A company could easily customize the tool by placing their brand’s CO2 head in place of the current one. The tool is more about combination and consolidation than a particular air-flow system.”

The public selected Gaspard Gallery, a contemporary art gallery located on Division Avenue. The gallery, operated by artists, will provide a space for both artists and collectors.

“The clean interior of the gallery allows the conceptual and aesthetic elements of the art to be readily experienced, serving the contemporary artist well,” wrote idea creator Chris Cox on his Start Garden page. “Additionally, all work is for sale, inviting not just the art viewer, but also collector into the space.”

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