US: Booking platform At Ease Rentals, which connects vacation rental hosts with federal and military members and families during official travel, has been awarded the Gold Award, and with it a financial prize of up to $50,000 at the prestigious MassChallenge Texas.
MassChallenge, a global network for innovative companies, awarded more than $400,000 in equity-free prizes to nine startups from the 2020 MassChallenge Texas in Austin accelerator. The announcement was made during the 2020 MassChallenge US Virtual Awards Ceremony, the third edition [and first virtual edition] of the Austin-based programme.
In June, MassChallenge Texas in Austin invited 58 startups from five countries and 15 states to its first-ever virtual accelerator. The programme aims to “connect startups with the resources, partnerships, and communities that help them launch, grow, and scale their businesses”.
The winners were categorised as Diamond Award winners [$100,000] and Gold Award winners [up to $50,000], while an additional award was for the FM Global Resilience Prize [$15,000].
At Ease, the only short-term rental company that caters exclusively to military and federal employees, addresses the pain points of 450,000 military and federal employees that are assigned station transfers each year.
It recently launched a crowdfunding campaign through NextSeed, pledging to use the proceeds to expand its platform to offer short-term rental options in more markets across the United States.
Adriana Cruz, executive director of economic development and tourism for the Office of Texas governor Greg Abbott, said: “As we look toward economic recovery in the Lone Star State, providing space for entrepreneurs to build and scale in Texas is a top priority. Organisations like MassChallenge help new businesses make an impact and we are excited to see the network’s continued growth and the value they provide entrepreneurs across our state.
“Congratulations to the winners and all of the startups from this year’s Austin and Houston programmes. The work you do now will have a positive impact on our future,” she added.
Mike Millard, managing director of MassChallenge Texas in Austin, said: “It’s a privilege to be a small part of the journey for the startups from this year’s 2020 Austin programme, and I’m proud of the innovative solutions these startups have brought to the marketplace during such a challenging year. All of the startups from this year’s programme exemplify the grit and tenacity needed to build sustainable solutions.
“At the end of the accelerator, these startups have raised $40 million in funding, generated $17 million in revenue, and created 328 jobs. They are on a great path to impact our future – the way we live, work, and play,” he added.
Nancy Hayes, principal of the NKH Group, said: “It’s been inspiring to sit with these founders, to watch them shift and pivot their businesses to meet market needs. The progress they made in such a short period is a testament to MassChallenge’s approach to connecting the entrepreneurs to the people and resources they need to grow and scale.
“The future looks bright with the entrepreneurs and leaders at the helm. I look forward to seeing the impact they make when creating the future,” she added.
At Ease Rentals was recently represented in ShortTermRentalz’ successful RockSTRz webinar series. Anthony J. Gantt Jr., [founder and CEO] and Mateo Bradford [strategic partnership and business development advisor] both participated in the session on “The rise of bespoke booking channels” earlier this month.