Reporter with Silicon Hills News

CarForce, winner of the 2015 IBM SmartCamp Austin pitch competition, courtesy photo.

CarForce, winner of the 2015 IBM SmartCamp Austin pitch competition, courtesy photo.

CarForce, a connected car startup, won the IBM SmartCamp Austin 2015 pitch competition last week at Capital Factory.

CarForce provides a hardware diagnostic device that plugs into a car’s dashboard to allow dealerships to know when the car needs maintenance. It is going into trial this fall with Audi and Nissan dealerships with $240,000 in contracts. CarForce charges dealers $15 per unit per month and an additional $995 to $1,695 platform fee.

CarForce has an experienced team behind the startup. Jessika Lora, co-founder of CarForce, formerly worked as head of automotive partnership at eBay Motors. Aron Placencia is the co-founder and formerly worked at JPMorgan Chase.

IBM is running 30 SmartCamp competitions around the world. From those winners, ten finalists will be selected to go to the next round. Three finalists will be selected to pitch at LAUNCH Festival in February of 2016. The IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year will be offered a spot in Jason Calacanis’ 3-month LAUNCH Incubator and receive a $25,000 prize.

CarForce participated in the 2015 Seed Sumo program. Two of the other finalists, Prepflash and Knocki, also participated in the Seed Sumo accelerator.

The other finalists included:

Peeptrade – a financial social trading network that provides information from brokerages allowing investors to “peep” into the actions of the most successful traders. The startup, founded in 2014, has four employees.

Prepflash – Takes content that you upload and translates it into questions and answers. The startup, founded in 2014, with eight employees runs in the cloud and is powered by IBM Watson technology.

CnVerg – is a real-time whiteboard in the cloud for collaborative and visual planning for distributed software development teams. The startup, with five employees, is beta testing its product right now.

Knocki – a small $99 Wi-Fi enabled device that turns surfaces like walls, doors and coffee tables into a remote control. Each Knocki can be programmed with up to ten functions. The device is a prototype right now and is planning to go into production later this year. It is already taking pre-orders. The company, with eight employees, is based in Houston.