On the 50-foot tall Jumbotron at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, a handful of Texas startups will get the chance of a lifetime to pitch their companies in front of successful entrepreneurs on Friday.
They’ll be pitching to board members of the Startup America Partnership, including CEO Scott Case, co-founder of Priceline.com, Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour and Chairman Steve Case, co-founder of America Online.
The audience will also include Carl Sparks, CEO of Travelocity and Ingrid Vanderveldt, Entrepreneur in Residence at Dell. The event takes place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. with a cocktail reception following the company presentations.
Startup Texas is hosting the event, which is open to the public, but requires registration. Founded a year ago, Startup Texas is the regional arm of the Startup America Partnership, founded in January of 2011.
Startup America is a non-profit organization working with the White House Startup Initiative to support entrepreneurs. The Kauffman Foundation just published this report on Startup
That’s why Startup America holds regional events, like the one at Cowboys Stadium on Friday.
At that event, HeyRide and Engine will pitch from Austin along with Sweb Development of San Antonio. Other Texas startups presenting include iLumi and PayTap from Dallas and Recycle Match and Hurl from Houston.
The companies will have two minutes and six slides to present their ideas on one of the largest big screens in the world.
“It’s the first time they are doing this type of event,” said Josh Huck, CEO and co-founder of HeyRide. “For us, it’s mostly about the opportunity to meet some of these movers and shakers in the VC world.”
HeyRide provides peer-to-peer transportation in the Austin area. It launched a few months ago and has more than 1,400 users and 100 verified drivers. It has created quite a stir in the local transportation industry with taxicab companies asserting that HeyRide is operating as an unlicensed cab company.
HeyRide will be meeting with Austin city officials soon to explain its business plan, Huck said.
“Ultimately we think HeyRide is beneficial to the community,” Huck said. “Once we communicate our vision, I think it’ll be easier to find common ground and move forward.”
The pitch session is a great place to receive some “edifying advice on growing one’s business,” Huck said.
HeyRide is currently raising a Series A round of funding with Silverton Partners in Austin leading the round. The company has five full time employees and one part employee.
David Johnson, CEO and Founder of Engine Inc. is thrilled for the opportunity to present at Cowboys Stadium.
His company started in January and launched its first version of its software program in October. It recently went through the Central Texas Angel Network and is close to closing on $500,000 in seed stage funding, Johnston said.
Engine has created an intelligent search engine for email that allows people to gather results related to a message in the sidebar of their inbox.
“My inspiration is usually a big pain point,” Johnston said. He had 85,000 emails in his inbox.
“I did some basic calculations,” he said. “I was getting an email every 14 minutes. There was no way I could keep up with all this information.”
So he came up with an idea to link data together in one place to make it more accessible and easier to understand. Johnston went through TechRanch’s Venture Forth 15, an eight-week entrepreneur class for technology startups. Kevin Koym, director and founder of TechRanch, heard about the opportunity and encouraged Johnston to apply for the pitch session.
“What am I going to tell them in 2 minutes?” Johnston said. “Here’s the problem – email overload. Here’s our solution to connect together your different sources of data and make it relevant. Here’s our team that can make it a reality.”
Sweb Development’s Magaly Chocano will be flying up on Friday morning and is excited to have the opportunity to tell the story of her company, which now has 13 employees.
“My goal would be to open the doors to other opportunities and letting people know what we do,” Chocago said. “It’s to let people know San Antonio does have very high quality developers. We want to put our name out there.”
In addition to the pitch session, the group is meeting for the end of the year wrap up of Startup America, which has more than 11,000 startups listed nationwide, including 864 in Startup Texas. They’ll be discussing plans for 2013.
Startup Texas will also announce the launch of a new statewide co-working space collaborative called “Startup Texas Passport.” That passport will allow members to work at co-working spaces anywhere in the state.