Editor’s note: Michael Girdley is a contributor to Silicon Hills News. He’s also a startup investor. He attended the Central Texas Angel Network Demo Day last weekend. These are his impressions from the event.
By Michael Girdley
Special Contributor to Silicon Hills News
Friday morning saw the first Demo Day of portfolio companies for the Central Texas Angel Network, known as CTAN, as part of its two-day Power of Angel Investing Workshop held at the AT&T Conference Center on the UT-Austin campus. Five companies, in various stages of development, presented to an assembled group of angels from Austin and the surrounding area:
Hyperware: An innovative sports clothing and equipment start-up based in Austin. They’ve definitely solved some problems with the current state of fitness equipment and also led the day in fashion models. The consumer fitness product market is an extremely crowded one, so it will be fun to see if they can make the move to break-out status like Under Armor.
Enlyton: Which has modified their business model in the cloud-based related-content search arena since our last coverage of them in 2011. Since then, they’ve demonstrated customer traction with three customers with their new offering. They now compete with Autonomy and the Apache Foundation’s Solr/Lucene open source project. While interesting, the bigger question is how long the niche of related content search will live outside of the major cloud-based search options out there.
Xeris Pharmaceutical : Solves the problem that we currently deliver injected drugs in an ineffective manner. Drugs are either water-based or dry powders. Water is the enemy of injectible drugs as it’s a highly active solvent, bulky and causes pain to patients, and decreases drug shelf-life. Dry powder form has administration problems and requires mixing. Xeris’ solution eliminates water to make drug delivery more stable, lower volume with a custom formula. Two products, Xeriject and Xerisol. In terms of execution to date, half of the capital put into the startup is non-dilutive and they have a number of patents in the space.
Phunware: Offers mobile as a service and through their platform solves monetization, operational and security issues that every mobile app faces. They’re the furthest along of all of the demo companies with $15 million raised to date. Founded in 2009, the team is experienced. Growth has been substantial though they are a service company with a platform which will limit the potential for upside as the business continues to scale. Will be interesting to see how or if they indeed transition to the product-oriented company that their recent pitches highlight.
Volunteer Spot : The start-up winning the award for the company Most Not Targeting the All-Male and Over 50 Demographic in the Room and also the most appealing to the small sample of the investors at my table is Volunteer Spot. They target busy moms to coordinate volunteer activities like cookies for school or time spent on field trips. Their model is inherently viral and scalable. Founder is Karen Bantuveris, a woman who gets moms and she’s backed by a full team. They gained 50,000 new users last week with an active user number in the millions. With multiple revenue streams (freemium and direct sales), this is one to watch over the coming couple of years. [They also win the award for Start-up I suspected had a plant in the audience when a female audience member announced “I’m your target market and I love the service” and proceeded to not be seen the rest of the day. I can neither confirm nor deny my suspicion however…]
According to CTAN Executive Director, Jeff Harbach, more demo days are planned for the near future. This first Demo Day was a true testament to the organization and sophistication exemplified by Austin angels and CTAN.