CONTACT: SHAWN UHLMAN, PDC, 503-823-7994
In a competition that included participants from more than 30 countries, Portland’s own NoAppFee came out on top as winner of the People’s Choice award at the third annual 1776 Global Challenge Cup held June 9-10 in Washington, D.C.
With the aim of finding the world’s best socially oriented startups, DC incubator 1776 sought out promising ventures that are addressing the world’s toughest issues such as healthcare, transportation, education, and housing. NoAppFee’s unique housing play resonated with the audience as well as the 1776 panel. The company was one of eight finalists and received $10,000 in prize money, along with an additional $10,000 after being named the crowd favorite during the final competition.
The global tournament narrowed a field of more than 3,000 startups from multiple rounds of pitch competitions on six continents from October 2015 through June 2016. In addition to the prize money awarded to the eight finalists, the 65 startups from 54 cities around the world who competed in the finals will be under consideration for up to $1 million in funding 1776 will invest in select competitors.
Tyrone Poole, founder of NoAppFee, didn’t develop his concept in a sleek Silicon Valley incubator. He developed it in a Portland homeless shelter, as a resident. Nine years ago, while training to become a fireman, Poole suffered a serious leg injury that put him in a hospital bed for nine months and on crutches for nearly a year. Upon his release he had lost everything. He was evicted, his car had been repossessed, and he had incurred more than twenty thousand dollars in medical debt. After months of couch surfing he checked in to the YWCA homeless shelter. Poole volunteered and later worked for the YWCA, matching families affected by homelessness with rental properties. The experience opened his eyes to the barriers homeless families face. Even with housing vouchers and money available, the repetitive, laborious application process means it can take months for a family to get approved for a rental property.
Using what he learned at the YWCA, Poole worked with a team to develop the technology that became the NoAppFee platform. The system pulls a renter’s background check and screens it against every vacancy in the city at the same time. Poole is able to give applicants a list of places for which they qualifiy, giving families access to homes within days. “The whole inspiration came from me solving a problem that I was a part of,” Poole said.
Poole won a spot in the 2014 Portland Development Commission Startup PDX Challenge and received funds to launch the company. He’s now talking to housing programs nationwide about using the NoAppFee platform, and through its continued partnership with the city of Portland, as well as pending partnerships with King County (Washington) and the state of Georgia, Poole has his eyes set on scaling nationally.