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Contributed photo / Chris Cummings, founder of Pass It Down, collects $100,000 investment for winning the startup pitch contest during Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW) in Louisiana.

Nearly five years after moving to Chattanooga from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he earned his law degree and initially practiced law, Chris Cummings returned to the Bayou State last week and earned the top prize for a business startup during Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW).

Cummings' Pass It Down business, which has evolved into a digital biography and recording service for museums, libraries, sports teams and even cities, won $100,000 of capital during the BREW pitch contest Friday night. A 3-judge panel recognized Pass it Down as the most promising of the four startup businesses that pitched their ideas as the finalists picked from among 44 initial entries.

"This was a tremendous win for us and gives us a lot of momentum as we try to raise $450,000 of additional capital to propel us into the future," Cummings said Monday. "It's a huge step along the way and we've already received immense interest from people coming into our next round of funding because of this win."

With the additional funding, Cummings said his 4-year-old company is poised to take its offerings nationwide. The company began focused on preserving memories of family members and friends through video, text, audio, photo or handwritten responses to story prompts. But Cummings has pivoted the business toward using his digital storytelling technology for collecting, preserving and retelling stories for libraries, museums, sports teams and others.

some text Staff photo by Tim Barber/ Chris Cummings demonstrates software with historic implications Wednesday at the Hamilton County INCubator at Cherokee Blvd.

The extra equity will help the company open a sales office in Baton Rouge, in addition to its other offices in Chattanooga and in Austin, Texas.

"We're well on our way to do over $1 million in recurring revenue in 2020 and to take that and go much. much higher over the next five years," Cummings said.

Pass It Down has already worked with 10 libraries, museums and cities across the country, including German auto maker Porsche, the historical society in Lake Forest, Illinois, and the Chattanooga Bicentennial Library.

As an LSU graduate who plans to open the new sales office in Baton Rouge, Cummings qualified his Pass it Down for the Louisiana pitch competition.

Previously, Pass it Down won $25,000 as a finalist in the Miller Lite Tap the Future in 2016, won the 2017 Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Innovation award in 2017, and was a finalist to participate in the Techstars program in Austin, Texas.

Pass It Down allows the public to contribute their memories and voices to the digital archive and creates a narrative arc, displayed online, on message boards and in audio or video presentations that visitors can control on touch-screen displays. The company hosts, maintains the updates the platform for its clients via the cloud.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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