Community-Building Startup Receives Funding

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Sept. 28, 2021) — Townee, a Bloomington-based startup, has received $20,000 from the Elevate Ventures Community Ideation Fund.

The Townee app allows small businesses and locals to communicate, collaborate, and connect directly. Users can follow local businesses and be the first to hear about deals and receive rewards for referring others.

The app also offers deals to college athletes by allowing them to begin profiting from their name, image and likeness through collaborations with local businesses. This ties into a recent policy adopted by the NCAA in July 2021.

Founder JR Ricker said the idea for Townee developed after he launched inBloom Juicery in 2015. He said almost 90% of the customers were referred from social media or a friend. Ricker then tested the idea to reward customers by bringing friends through the doors.

“As a former college athlete himself, JR was able to anticipate the policy changes brought down by the NCAA before a lot of other entrepreneurs did,” said Cy Megnin, Elevate Ventures’ entrepreneur-in-residence serving Velocities, a partnership that supports startups in south-central Indiana. “He has been able to capitalize on that with his launch of Townee.”

The funding will be used for marketing and onboarding small businesses in Bloomington.

“The mission in starting Townee has always been to help other small businesses grow and market themselves,” said Ricker. “However, this investment means so much more than just the funding to grow. I look at it as more of a partnership with some of the smartest, most well-connected minds in Indiana that can only help us on our startup journey.”

Elevate’s Community Ideation Fund is made possible through a partnership with Velocities. The Community Ideation Fund is available through the state’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, which is overseen by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and promotes economic growth and innovation-driven public-private partnerships in Indiana.