Startups Debut at Trinity University’s Tiger Hatchery Pitch Night
September 20, 2012 by 1 Comment
Cabstr, a ride sharing program aimed at college students and Marco Polo, an RFID-based system to track children, both pitched their companies Thursday night at Trinity University.
Cristal Glangchai, Ph.D., Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Trinity University and 3 Day Startup San Antonio, started the Tiger Hatchery program to give students a chance to pursue their business idea during the summer. Each startup received $5,000 in funding, office space at Geekdom and mentoring from entrepreneurs like Pat Condon, co-founder of Rackspace, Jason Seats, co-founder of Slicehost and Nick Longo, founder of Coffeecup Software and director of Geekdom.
The idea began at 3 Day Startup San Antonio, Glangchai said. The Tiger Hatchery program allowed some of the teams to go on to pursue their ideas.
“It provides an infrastructure and set timeframe for startups to work on their project,” she said.
Cabstr plans to launch its service shortly, said Joshua Schechter, one of the founders along with Nick Honegger and Ralph Minderhoud. They all met at 3 Day Startup and their company won the competition.
Cabstr currently is working with two of the city’s major cab companies, Minderhoud said.
“We see this as a complementary product not a competitive product to the cab companies,” Honegger said.
Cabstr provides a way for college students to share cabs by using Cabstr bucks or a prepaid account. A student can post that they want to share a cab to a mall, restaurant, airport or any other venue and see if other students want to hop in the cab with them. They have up until 40 minutes before the scheduled departure to cancel the cab. The idea is that by sharing the cab fare with others, they all save money and get to ride to places with their friends. The site makes money by taking a transactional fee on each ride and through sponsorships and advertising, Schechter said.
Cabstr plans to launch initially at four San Antonio universities: Trinity, St. Mary’s, University of Texas at San Antonio and Incarnate Word. The service will then expand statewide and then eventually to other cities and states, Honegger said.
The biggest inhibiting factor preventing students from taking more cab rides right now is cost, Honegger said.
“I can’t afford to go to the mall to buy shoes, if my cab rides are going to cost more than my shoes,” he said.
Cabstr offers a solution to students who want to explore the city beyond their campus, Minderhoud said.
“Everybody’s on campus and they do have the habit of sharing rides,” he said. “We’re just changing who is driving.”
Cabstr plans to approach parents to set up an account for their child so the students can simply log on, arrange a ride and spend their Cabstr bucks.
Pat Condon served as a mentor to Cabstr and likes the idea.
“I remember when I was a college student,” he said. “You end up getting stuck in your bubble on campus and it’s tough to get out.”
Cabstr lets the students safely explore the city with others from their university and that makes it appealing, Condon said.
“Nobody wants to get in a cab with a creep,” he said. “This takes that creep factor away. Everyone’s starting from the same place and they’re all students. There is a built-in safety net.”
The other benefit is that students pay for the cab ride through their Cabstr accounts online. Everything is taken care of by the time they get in the cab.
“The real magic is money doesn’t have to change hands for the experience,” Condon said.
The other startup, Marco Polo is working on a wireless system to help parents, teachers and childcare workers keep tabs on children in public places, said Leon Dacbert, one of the founders. Ernest Aguillon is the other co-founder. They plan to continue working on the project and hope to eventually land some angel funding to take it to market, Dacbert said.