TrueAbility Wins San Antonio Startup Weekend

Team photo of TrueAbility, which took home the top prize at San Antonio Startup Weekend. Photo courtesy of San Antonio Startup Weekend.

A team of four former Rackspace employees claimed the top prize at San Antonio Startup Weekend.
True Ability, a service that lets companies test the technical aptitude of job candidates, won the panel of judges over.
“TrueAbility helps companies hire great techs,” Frederick Mendler, CEO, said during his pitch.
One of the things lacking in the startup community is domain expertise, said Nick Longo, director of Geekdom.
“The biggest missing element is someone who knows the business they’re getting into,” he said.
TrueAbility knows the marketplace, Longo said. The need exists for startup companies to tackle bigger problems and TrueAbility is doing that, he said.
The company has 30 years of experience hiring technical talent and has hired more than 1,000 people at Rackspace, Mendler said. The TrueAbility platform will allow companies to know in advance how competent its job candidates are in different technical skills like Unix, Php and Java Script among other skills.
The team is made up of Mendler, Marcus Robertson, Luke Owen and Dusty Jones.
Following the big win, the team retired to their office at Geekdom to drink champagne and celebrate.
“We’re going to take tomorrow off and let the Red Bull wear off and get out of our systems,” Mendler said. “Then we’ll come back and focus on building the site out. We think there’s an opportunity to have $1 million in revenue in the next eight months.”
The judges thought TrueAbility had a solid business model and a well-formed and experienced team.

Frederick Mendler pitching TrueAbility at San Antonio Startup Weekend photo courtesy of San Antonio Startup Weekend

The judges also liked BikeIdentity, which garnered second place. BikeIdentity reported that 1.5 million bikes are stolen every year and 48 percent are recovered but less than 5 percent go back to their owners. BikeIdentity wants to solve that problem with NFC tags on bike frames that the police could scan to find the owners. The tags would retail for around $10. BikeIdentity estimates it will reach $12 million in revenue in 3 years. The team was seeking a $150,000 investment to bring its product to market.
SoundFly, a seven second broadcasting service on Twitter, took the third place prize.
“What would you say to the world in 7 seconds?” asked Ramesh Danala, during his presentation. SoundFly gives people the ability to accurately convey tone, emotion and personality with friends and family.
“People can Tweet and text, but the power of talking is amazing,” Danala said.
Dan Pernik first pitched the idea for SoundFly on Friday night. The idea didn’t get enough votes to become one of the selected projects. But when a team broke up over night, SoundFly got a new life. Inaddition to Pernik and Danala, Sundip Lal and Elliot Adams from New Orleans, joined the team.
“SoundFly was one of the ideas that has big potential,” said Pat Matthews, a senior vice president at Rackspace and one of the judges. “It definitely is an exciting idea.”
At the end of the day, most of the ideas that come out of San Antonio Startup Weekend won’t work, Longo said.
“That’s not why they’re here,” he said. “They leave here constantly learning. They now have a network.”
People can have ideas all day long, but they’ve got to execute on them, he said.
“This program forces them to execute,” he said. But people can’t fall in love with their ideas, he said.
“Never get married to your ideas” Longo said. As San Antonio Startup Weekend proved, they change and teams must adapt or die.


  1. Nice job guys.. you all are some of my favorite Rackers. Glad to see you going on to do something that the industry is really hurting for!


  2. Rodney Henson says:

    Way to go Dusty and friends.

  3. Of course, now companies will try to use this as a measuring stick for their candidates, even though there are already industry standard metrics and intangibles that make people great techs and systems admins. TrueAbility, if they intend on being the go to place for measuring candidates, needs to open up what their evaluations might entail. Performance based or not, most industry standard evaluations do not expect you to take their exams/simulations blind and unannounced. I hope that assurances for fairness and grievances have been factored in. One company, A2 Hosting in Ann Arbor, MI, did not even call me or anything after I submitted my resume. Basically, they sent me a link in e-mail as if I’m dumb enough to take a blind and unannounced test without any other form of communication what so ever. I did not know anything about TrueAbility, and I had no way to know how legitimate and fair their simulation / evaluation would be. I refused, and pointed out that I already had objective, performance based information (certifications and college courses). TrueAbility? I call it TrueRisk for those who are not rookies in this thing. The I.T. world seemed to get along just fine without TrueAbility. It’s called reading, performing, experimenting, and objectively proving yourself. You can do that without TrueAbility, but I have to hand it to them, companies will try anything if they believe it will improve the efficiency of the recruitment process. Effectiveness? That can only be measured in the long term. Unfortunately, some may use TrueAbility as a shortcut instead of doing all the work necessary to find good talent (including communicating!). Companies will subscribe to this (and it is a good money making idea), but the talent community does not have to comply. I suggest that TrueAbililty look not only to its clients, but to those who ultimately take their simulations to determine what can be done to increase transparency and reduce opacity in the performance based evaluation sector. RedHat, CompTIA, Micrsoft, Novell, Cisco, SUSE, LPI, and other already understand this, and they too use performance based simulations.


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