SpareFoot won the Austin Startup Games for the third year in a row.
The Austin-based startup, which bills itself as the nation’s largest marketplace for finding and booking self-storage, had a ringer this year.
The company recruited Icelandic strongman “Thor” Bjornsson to join the company as its senior vice president of Icelandic business.
Bjornsson, known as “The Mountain” on HBO’s Game of Thrones series, battled numerous contestants in the surprise “jousting” competition. In reality, Bjornsson didn’t really join SpareFoot but put in a celebrity appearance and took numerous photos with contestants and fans. He also bench-pressed quite a few people.
SpareFoot won fair and square on its team’s abilities to compete in sports including foosball, darts, shuffleboard, Pop-a-shot, beerpong, flip cup, connect four and trivia.
More than 1,000 people attended this year’s event held at Vintage Innovation’s Innovation Station on Saturday, said Gillian Wilson, the game’s president and founder. The game organizers also collected boxes of canned goods to donate to the Austin Food Bank. The event raised $50,000 for various charities chosen by the startup teams, she said.
SpareFoot received $19,000 for its charity Kure It, second place winner, Boundless Network got $12,000 for Meals on Wheels and third place winner Home Improvement Leads received $7,000 for Wikipedia. Each team got $1,000 for its charity just for participating.
“Startup Games is a day of fun and philanthropy,” Wilson said. “Today, we had 15 different companies come out to play games and let their hair down. These are the best of the best of each company as athletes. Each team chooses a charity to play for.”
In four years, the Austin Startup Games has donated $155,000 to charities, Wilson said.
Capital Factory competed in the Austin Startup Games for the third year in a row. Its team included startups that are too small to have their own team, said Joshua Baer, founder of Capital Factory. The games bring together technology startups from all over Austin.
“This helps build company culture and helps the teams work better together,” Baer said. “At the same time, it’s raising money for charity.”
The games also increase the visibility of the startup community in Austin, Baer said.
“One of the things it does for the startup community is this how people know there is a startup community,” Baer said. “This is it. You can see it. You can see the excitement of it.”
Baer also competed in a new event this year called “Liar’s Dice.” It was just for the CEOs of the startups.
“This is the fourth time we’re doing it in Austin,” Baer said. “But we’re expanding this year to other cities nationwide.”
The next event the Startup Games is having is in Austin in April for larger tech companies that are no longer startups. Those games will include Spredfast, BuildASign, MapMyFitness and other larger companies, she said.
The Startup Games is also looking to expand to Chicago and Boulder, Colorado, Wilson said.
ATX Seed Ventures – Charity: The Bunker, Austin
Buzz Points – Charity: Wounded Warrior Project
Capital Factory – Charity: Breakthrough Austin
Civitas Learning – Charity: Center for Child Protection
Headspring – Charity: Lifeworks
OneSpot – Charity: Urban Roots
OutboundEngine – Charity: Safe Place
RideScout – Charity: Team Red, White & Blue
theCHIVE – Charity: Chive Charities
TrendKite – Charity: Toast the Cure
uShip – Charity: Communities In Schools
WP Engine – Charity: Austin Pets Alive