Nine Companies Pitched at ATI’s SEAL Demo Day
All of the companies spent the summer with the Austin Technology Incubator shaping their ideas, honing business plans, working with mentors and business partners and testing their marketplaces.
The teams were part of the annual ATI Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch, known as SEAL program. At the event, the companies make a “Go/No Go” decision on their projects. They all decided to go ahead and pursue their ideas.
“It speaks to the quality of startups that are coming out of the University,” said Kyle Cox, ATI’s director of information technology/wireless and university development portfolios.
Kaoru Fujita founded Guava with Justin Crites and Jo Jo Marion and they’ve put school on hold to pursue their idea. The three joined up last April during a 3 Day Startup program at RetailMeNot in Austin. The idea to create financial products to help low income people sprang out of 3 Day Startup. Then they got accepted into ATI’s SEAL program and their company began to take shape.
“The program allowed us to really focus in on what we needed to do,” Fujita said. “Bart Bohn (co-founder of AuManil) was our mentor. He kicked our ass on a daily basis.”
Fujita was going to be a second year student in the MBA program at UT. He’s taken a leave of absence to concentrate on the business full time. Guava also recently received a $25,000 investment from the Geekdom Fund. The company has relocated to Geekdom, a co-working space focused on technology startups in San Antonio.
AdBm Technologies, which makes noise abatement technologies for marine environments, received $3.3 million in research grants to develop its products. Its patented technology was developed at UT and is licensed from the university. The company created SoundShields, which can be placed in the water at the site of construction work, to protect marine life and it has already received $12 million in quotes, said Daniel J. Appel, one of AdBm’s co-founders.
The ATI SEAL program helped AdBm with sales, search engine optimization, marketing and business development, Appel said. It also helped the company land a meeting in Germany in a few weeks, Appel said.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Appel said.
Clay.io, led by Austin Hallock, already has 10,000 users for its HTML5 gaming portal. Hallock founded the company in late 2011 and he went through the Longhorn Startup program, formerly known as One Semester Startup, geared to undergraduates at UT.
The other companies in the program included Beyonic, a mobile payment network, Favor, a delivery service in Austin, Intelligent Menu, data for restaurants, LifeM, pressure sensors for catheters, nCarbon, graphene for super-capacitors and Onsite Control, security systems for the oil and gas industry.