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What We Do

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We grow companies.



Assess Viability

Rapid analysis of the addressable market, unique value proposition (“UVP”), key success drivers, competitive positioning, required resources, and distribution/sales channels occurs over a four- to eight-week period leading to a “fast fail” or plan for launch. Insights are enhanced through the proprietary, real-world data and experience available through the 80amps network.


Build Teams

Every venture requires a strong team to maximize the likelihood of success. Whether a new business comes with a pre-existing team, or arrives alone with only a concept, 80amps provides a full range of assistance with human resources—from consulting and coaching to providing leadership from our extensive network of recent alum and seasoned professionals.


Provide Resources

From legal advice to a PR plan—from setting up financials to building a brand—80amps team members and mentors have the experience and resources to help get a business off the ground. And, if the time comes to raise additional funding, 80amps’ network of over 500 capital sources gets the process started quickly.

Who We Are

80amps is a world-class team of successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, creatives, and subject-matter experts dedicated to growing brands, products, and the technologies that support them. Our interests leverage 80amps’ contacts in the retail, media, manufacturing, and technology industries. Here are some of the spaces in which we have particular interest:

> Content and platforms beyond traditional media

> Contemporary consumer goods, often enabled by or enhanced with modern technologies

> B2C technologies and communications that can be reapplied to B2B

> Under-exploited opportunities within university primary research

> Identified consumer needs left unfulfilled by existing advertising and technology models


The 80amps team was instrumental from the beginning in helping us determine our new project’s viability and guiding us to a more powerful business model. 

- Dusty Rhodes, Founder of PodSpot

Interested in 80amps?
Get in touch to learn more.

Contact Us

Our Team

Eric Martin

Eric Martin

Founding Partner
Charles Merritt

Charles Merritt

Denton Freeman, Ph.D.

Denton Freeman, Ph.D.

Brendan Richardson

Brendan Richardson

Hilton Graham

Hilton Graham


Founding Investor

TMA LOGO black


The Martin Agency is a leading full-service advertising firm with offices in Richmond, Virginia, and in New York. Part of global advertising conglomerate Interpublic Group, the agency offers unified advertising, strategic planning, media, direct response, interactive, data analytics, design, branded content and local lead generation. Clients include BFGoodrich, Discover, GEICO, Hanes, Kraft, Manpower, Mondelez International, Morgan Stanley, PING, Pizza Hut, the American Cancer Society and Walmart.

Out of the 10,000 advertising agencies in America, The Martin Agency has consistently been ranked among the top five by national publications and industry leaders alike. In 2010, Adweek Magazine named The Martin Agency “U.S. Agency of the Year,” and Forbes recently named Martin one of the “Ten Great Ad Agencies of 2012.”

“Our investment in 80amps is part of our overall growth strategy,” according to Neil Patel, The Martin Agency’s Senior Vice President of Content Strategy and Development. “We have experimented with internal efforts and studied external models for developing new products, services and revenue streams. We’ve chosen to work with 80amps for two main reasons: first, it provides a path to innovation that allows us to continue to focus on our core business of creating world-class advertising; second, 80amps’ focus on consumer products and services is in perfect alignment with our core competency.”

Our Mentors

Earl Cox

Earl Cox

EVP, Chief Strategy Officer
The Martin Agency
Neil Patel

Neil Patel

SVP, Content Strategy and Development
The Martin Agency
James Klaus

James Klaus

Children's Wear Digest, Inc.
Cabell Harris

Cabell Harris


How We Work

Concept Origination:

80amps’ concepts are generated by The Martin Agency, by 80amps staff and mentors, and, selectively, by students, professors, and entrepreneurs in our network.

Our Process:

Initial Screening

All concepts undergo initial screening by the 80amps team.

For-profit ideas must have the potential for national or global sales as well as a path to profitability. Not-for-profit concepts should have the ability to serve at least the local community at large. As importantly, 80amps backs people — people who are persistent, intelligent, passionate, flexible, and who get along well with others. Only a handful of concepts are in development by 80amps at any given time.

Viability Assessment

Concepts that are approved begin a venture viability assessment leading to a “fast fail” or  first-stage execution plan. This process, which may take up to eight weeks, involves:

  • Establishment of initial unique value proposition
  • Market sizing
  • Business model development
  • Early-stage financial modeling
  • Identification of critical success factors
  • Determination of funding requirements and approach


The first stage of execution is customized based on the concept under development. This stage may involve anything from rapid prototyping of a minimum viable product and market testing, to substantial fund-raising and team-building for more advanced efforts.

Regardless of the execution approach, the emphasis is always weighted toward gaining rapid marketplace feedback. Even concepts requiring substantial build-out can be structured to gain customer insight throughout the process. With one exception, 80amps does not undertake efforts for which big, sticky, clumpy investments are required in advance of an ability to judge market acceptance. That exception is 80amps’ willingness to execute the commercialization of research developed by university professors under technology transfer licenses from universities in selective cases.


Want Us to Review Your Concept?

Many of the concepts that 80amps reviews are generated from our network. If you haven’t met someone from 80amps with whom you can share your idea, you may choose to submit a brief of your concept below. Please do not share information that you consider to be confidential or proprietary. 80amps evaluates ideas on a rolling basis year round.

Submit Your Idea

If you would like for 80amps to consider your business idea, please fill out the following information and we will get back with you within 7 to 10 days.


Check out what we've been working on

Adrenalin Junkie

Adrenalin Junkie

A lifestyle apparel brand for adrenaline seekers


Online marketing platform for independent retail brands


An App to Boost Creativity


A mind and body enhancing mood elevator
Vinyl Mint

Vinyl Mint

Crowd-sourced sounds, voiceovers and translations for any need.


An Organic Soft Drink Line


Luxury Customized Handbags


Our latest posts and news

Coffitivity Named a Top 100 Website for 2013 by PC Mag

Do you seek peace and quiet to get work done? In this day and age, that’s doubtful. Some need white noise, some need music, some need gentle rain—but real workaholics need the thrum of life from a well-run and attended coffee shop full of customers. Coffitivity offers that sound on a loop, with different versions for morning, lunch time, and university shops. There are mobile and Mac desktop apps so you can take the noise with you if you’re not online.

80amps Partner on Forbes’ Top 30 Under 30 List

Our own Charles Merritt was included in Forbes magazine Top 30 under 30, a tally of the brightest stars in 15 different fields under the age of 30.

Charles Merritt, 28, Partner, 80amps

“Partner at 80amps, a company that assists startups by providing a combination of seed capital and professional services in exchange for a stake in the company. He has implemented marketing strategies at and that fueled growth at each firm. He has also served as a video producer, managing video journalists for an online media startup.”

80 Amps: Jump Starting New Businesses

80amps2-300x114GRID Magazine’s feature article on 80amps:

Richmond is well-rounded. Within the city limits there are nationally ranked academic programs in arts and advertising, Fortune 500 companies, top-tier branding agencies, and a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. That’s why it’s no surprise that the unique mash-up of creative and business in Richmond is exactly what prompted an impressive group of partners to found 80amps.

Simply put, 80amps builds companies. In 2011 when Richmond natives Eric Martin and Charles Merritt began working together, they talked constantly about how early-stage companies with strong brands have advantages in the marketplace. At the time, Merritt had just left the New York City tech startup scene for the VCU Brandcenter, and Martin, a Harvard M.B.A. and entrepreneur, was co-directing the Entrepreneurship Center at UVA and running his Richmond-based consulting firm Boost Partners. With the addition of Denton Freeman, a fashion designer with a background (and Ph.D.) in immunotoxicology, and Brendan Richardson, another entrepreneur and co-director alongside Martin at UVA, the team began exploring the gaps between creative advertising and business.


Eric Martin;
Eric Martin, Founding Partner and CEO of 80amps
Topic: Branding from the Outside In: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What THEY Think

The Expo Luncheon speaker is Eric Martin, co-founder of 80amps, the RIchmond-based incubator he started with the Martin Agency, one of the country’s top advertising agencies. Eric provides new venture guidance the the Martin Agency and a host of local and national startups. Eric will talk about the ways in which Customer Experience (“Cx”) is build, why it matters so much in the age of information transparency, and how to gauge if your Cx is driving brand value. (Click to download the 80amps/Boost Cx Growth Inventory.

As a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, Eric co-founded the Galant Center for Entrepreneurship. He has also lectured at VCU’s Brandcenter on driving wealth creation through creativity. Currently, Eric advises clients throughout the country on issues of corporate growth, product development, and innovation through his firm, Boost Partners. Eric’s 20-year career includes successful operating experience as an entrepreneur, chief executive, strategist, and change agent.

The Coffitivity team is cranking out a new design late on a Saturday afternoon.

Working on the Weekend

There’s not really a nine-to-five day when you’re starting a company. From projects that take years of nights and weekends to teams racing against their funding clocks, things just have to get done.  From the outside, it is insane that anyone would live this way, but the feeling when you get your first visitor, user, or customer quickly counteracts exhaustion.

Just ask the team from Coffitivity. Little did they expect their site, built after the founders read a scholarly article suggesting that people are more creative in environments with some ambient noise, would become an international sensation. Since it went viral globally, they’ve spent most of their odd hours working on how to up the experience for their users.

This Saturday is no different.

The 80amps Manifesto

What we believe:

80amps is an optimistic place.
Where others see challenges, we see opportunities. When others are frustrated, we are motivated. Presented with problems, we seek answers.

In the last 20 years, a new age of entrepreneurial activity emerged. Fueled by technological advances in consumer electronics and the internet, everything digital has exploded with endless possibility.

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Adventures in New Ventures


Eric Martin and Brendan Richardson, co-directors of the Galant Center for Entrepreneurship, spearhead new efforts at UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce.

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Without Career Options, Young Europeans Turn to Entrepreneurship

Eric Martin discusses the rise in European entrepreneurship in a recent Forbes Magazine article.

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