By LAURA LOREK
Founder Silicon Hills News
The two-year-old fund aims to jumpstart the city’s startup community by providing seed-stage funding to tech startups.
In February, the Geekdom Fund made investments in Nebulab Technologies and Lightphile. Last November, the fund invested in Remote Garage. All of the startups are based at Geekdom, a collaborative coworking space in downtown San Antonio.
The fund “seeks to enable these companies to build businesses around a problem worth solving and a market large enough for high growth potential with a team that can build a profitable business,” according to a statement from Cole Wollak with the fund. “The Geekdom Fund will make investments for which the expected social, economic and cultural impact from the investment being made will have a net positive gain on the broader startup community of San Antonio.”
But the fund aims to make a profit for its investors.
“We won’t invest in a company that we believe won’t make a return for the fund,” Wollak said. “Things we look at when making decisions are like any fund or accelerator: idea, market, team, stage and progress. We’ve said no to people for not having a complete team, we’ve said no to people for lack of execution, too small of a market, the whole gamut.”
Guillermo Vela, co-founder of Nebulab Technologies, got turned down before Nebulab received an investment. The idea behind the company spun out of a 3-Day Startup program in San Antonio and wasn’t developed enough initially, he said. But now, the founders have worked out the kinks and they presented a more polished pitch.
Five members make up the team: Vela, Arturo Covarrubias, Diego Castro, Simon Barnett and Jonathan Loo.
Nebulab Technologies is developing a web app for scientists to organize their data in a visual way, he said. It combines the visual appeal of PowerPoint with the functionality of Microsoft One Notes with the ability to drag and drop data files onto a blank canvas, Vela said. It’s cloud-based, collaborative and real time, he said. The product will help scientists share and communicate their scientific data and to add greater transparency to the process, he said.
“Our goal is really to facilitate the way scientists store and share information,” Vela said.
The Geekdom funding will help to evolve its product, Vela said.
“This vast majority is going to go to pay the lead developer a salary and to incorporate as well,” he said.
Previously, Vela worked as a brain cancer research at John Hopkins University.
Lightphile plans to use its funding to develop its software as well as with the prototyping cost of its hardware, said David Barrick, co-founder.
The company has made a $500 hardware device controlled by an iPad that acts as a lighting controller at concerts, replacing other hardware systems that costs thousands more, Barrick said.
His co-founder is Logan Butler and together the two have designed many lighting sets. They have 10 years of industry experience.
“We’ve never been satisfied with the lighting control experience,” he said.
So they created a solution. Now they’ve got a working prototype that they’ve tested and they’re working to create the final product, which will be Wi-Fi based.
“Our primary market is churches at the start,” Barrick said.
Jaakko Piipponen, co-founder of Remote Garage, received the Geekdom Fund investment late last year.
Remote Garage is a storage on demand service. It provides customers with a storage container and then its drivers pick up customers’ belongings and stores them and delivers them back whenever needed. The company charges by the cubic foot, and users can see their storage inventory online.
“Our typical customer is an apartment dweller with limited space and limited time, who just wants that extra space without the hassle,” he said.
Geekdom is a sponsor of Silicon Hills News