E-commerce upstart helps retailers track inventory, ‘Sharks,’ students celebrate wins at Johnson & Wales

Here’s a look at happenings in the Charlotte entrepreneurial scene:

• Any of this sound familiar?

A customer walks into your store and finds a shirt he loves but not the size he needs. You check your computer, peruse the inventory and learn the ideal shirt isn’t in any of your retail spots.

You check online and find a problem: The shirt could be in one of several online channels you use to sell products, so tracking your inventory can be overwhelming.

Laura Greeno and two other co-founders of Charlotte’s ecomdash have crafted a solution.

The e-commerce upstart outfits small and mid-sized businesses with software to synchronize their stock across a range of online retail platforms (Amazon, Etsy, Sears and eBay, to name a few) and manage it from one dashboard system. Founders tout that the software has helped increase revenue for its customers by an average 23 percent quarter over quarter. A first-tier subscription costs $49.99, Greeno said.

“It is a quick avenue to the retail space but, more important for the seller, is having everything in one place,” she said.

Developing the tools has been two years in the making, supplemented by $350,000 in seed funding from an angel investor, Greeno said. This month, the 1-year-old startup enters its $1 million-round of bridge funding – the interim funding level that takes a startup from its initial seed funding to Series A financing with outside investors.

• Four students at Charlotte’s

Johnson & Wales University

walked away with cash and confidence this month when they were named winners of a contest inspired by a reality show.

Ten students made it to the final round of SharkFest, a “Shark Tank”-like event in which students pitched their business enterprises Nov. 5 for a chance to win $5,000.

“Shark Tank” is an ABC reality show in which hopeful entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of potential investors, or “sharks.”

Christian DeChiara and Blake Mitkoff took home the prize for their joint venture, ChefBook, a mobile app allowing consumers to perform customized searches for private chefs. DeChiara and Mitkoff also won a $1,000 People’s Choice Award after their idea was voted the favorite by the audience.

Other winners included Elizabeth Katona, who won second place and $3,000 for her business, Petit Four, a maker and seller of customized French macarons, and third-place winner Fernando Coreas, whose business, ServeU, matches students looking for work with customers looking for help with odd jobs, such as housework or lawn care. Coreas also won $2,000.

Members of Renaissance Executive Forums helped raise the prize money and served as mentors to the semi-finalists.