DURHAM, NC – December 8, 2014 – NC IDEA, an organization committed to supporting business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that it is awarding nearly $250,000 in grants to five North Carolina startups. Since its inception in 2006, NC IDEA’s grant program has awarded over $3.7M to 93 companies across the state, with these most recent awards being the 18thcycle of the program.

The five grant recipients were chosen after a four-month application and selection process that drew nearly 100 applications from across the state. A committee comprised of experienced venture investors, industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs assisted NC IDEA in selecting 19 companies to submit full proposals, which was further narrowed down to 9 finalists who were given the opportunity to pitch their idea in person, ultimately resulting in five winners.

“We are sure to see some exciting developments from our newest grant winners over the coming months,” said David Rizzo, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “These five recipients emerged to the top of this cycle’s applicant pool. Our final decisions came down to where our money will make the most impact, certainly for the companies, but ultimately for the state of North Carolina. We look forward to tracking the progress of our winners and working alongside them to become major contributors to our state’s job growth and economic development.”

The following five companies are NC IDEA’s most recent grant recipients for the Fall 2014 cycle:

EMPLOYUS – Raleigh, NC
EMPLOYUS is “Hiring, Powered by Us” allowing anyone to earn money helping people they know get great jobs. Founded by serial social entrepreneur Ryan O’Donnell and human capital executive, Jeff Stocks, EMPLOYUS allows companies to hire better people faster for less. Learn more at www.employus.co.

Freebooksy – Carrboro, NC
Freebooksy helps people who love to read find free and discounted books for their Kindle, Nook or iPad. Readers select their favorite genres (Romance, Mystery, Non-Fiction etc.) and receive notifications every time great books are available in those genres. Freebooksy.com provides this service for books that are free. BargainBooksy.com provides this service for bestselling and popular eBooks priced under $5. Over 150,000 happy readers already use this service. Freebooksy also provides an advertising platform that enables authors and publishers to reach new readers. Learn more at www.freebooksy.com.

Mati Energy – Durham, NC
MATI is the first no compromise healthy energy drink. The product is all natural, nutrient rich, provides a slow caffeine release (lasting 6 hours), and is made without any bad stuff: no added sugars, no preservatives and no artificial ingredients. With more caffeine than a Red Bull and 30% fruit juice, it packs a delicious punch. Learn more at www.matienergy.com.

RevBoss – Durham, NC
RevBoss provides sales acceleration software and services that help SaaS / B2B companies build their pipeline and increase revenue. The company’s core technology automates outbound sales development activities like prospect list building, email outreach and targeted advertising. RevBoss launched in February 2014, has 6 full-time employees and works with great clients around the world, including UserVoice, ListenLoop, Xpenditure, DriftRock and ArchiveSocial. Learn more at www.revboss.com.

Upswing – Raleigh, NC
Upswing is an online student retention service that partners with colleges to increase completion rates by 10% or more. Upswing offers colleges online tutoring, offline student tracking, retention analytics and engagement support. Learn more at www.upswing.io.

NC IDEA’s grant program is a catalyst for technological breakthroughs developed in North Carolina that have a significant potential to successfully transition into commercially viable high-growth enterprises. The grants, which are up to $50,000 per recipient, support business plan research and development, reduce risk of early failure and advance projects to the point of suitability for angel or venture capital investment. In addition to the funding, NC IDEA and its network of seasoned business and technology partners mentor and guide the grant recipients through the complex growth cycles that young companies encounter, while also connecting the startups with other investors, institutions and business leaders to maximize their prospects for commercial success.

The upcoming Spring 2015 grant opportunity for North Carolina based companies will open in mid-February. Learn more about NC IDEA’s grant application process, timeline and criteria at www.ncidea.org.