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Lawn-Care Startup Block Wins $1,000 Prize at PitchBR

On-demand lawn-mowing service Block Lawncare unveiled plans for the pro version of its app on its way to taking the $1,000 top prize at PitchBR's second competition of 2019.

Block is a startup that’s centered around an on-demand lawn-care app. With Block, homeowners can select the services they need, get clear pricing, schedule service and pay, all within the app.

The app, which is available for free in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, lets users select services like mowing, edging and blowing, then choose a date and tap "Book a Mow."

Co-founder and CEO Matthew Armstrong said the app has 1,000 users despite limited marketing, and there has been a steady stream of applications for mowers. The startup is also developing a pro version of its software that will let existing landscape and lawn service companies better manage their customer bases compared with current pen-and-paper or spreadsheet solutions.

“Our industry has to keep up, it has to adapt — and that’s where Block comes in,” Armstrong says.

During the pitch night event at Juban’s, each company had 10 minutes to share the vision for their startup, followed by a question-and-answer period with a panel of three judges. After the three pitches, the judges deliberated and selected a winner.

Also pitching at the event was Soldier Fly Technologies, a subsidiary of long-running Fluker Farms that is pioneering the use of black soldier fly larvae as a source of sustainable proteins for feedstock, animal food sources and other agricultural applications.

The soldier fly is harvested in the larval stage, where it can consist of over 40% protein. This nutritional profile makes the fly larvae an excellent source of nutrients for aquaculture and animal feeds.

The company has been selected to receive $60,000 from LSU’s Sustainability Fund to support the implementation of its organic waste upcycling project and plans to ramp up operations to meet that demand and other similar customers. “Right now it’s a small pilot project,” founder David Fluker says. “We need to scale.”

Also competing in the pitch competition was Hanley’s Foods Bacom Bits, a natural bacon substitute from the Baton Rouge company that has made a name for itself making all-natural salad dressings. The “guilt-free” bag of bits achieves a crunchy, umami taste that comes from a proprietary blend of mushrooms and cajun seasonings.

Co-founder Richard Hanley said the product is a marked improvement over common bacon-bits products, including being much more healthy and natural than chemical-laden artificial substitutes. The product has received rave reviews from early customers and found its way onto the shelves of several retailers.

“We believe we can change the world by how people eat, one salad at a time,” Hanley says.

In addition to vying for the prize money, which was provided by the Louisiana Tech Park, the competing companies were able to get feedback from audience members and coaching from prominent business consultants and successful entrepreneurs. PitchBR events also give business owners an opportunity to develop connections to nonfunding resources, such as professional services donors and providers.

Stone Pigman was also a sponsor of PitchBR.

Stephen Loy