By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
Austin and the U.S. overall still have a challenge with diversity in entrepreneurship.
A low percentage of African American, Latino and women owned businesses have access to the resources they need to grow, said James Preston, co-founder of DivInc., a startup accelerator focused on diversity in Austin.
“Diversity in entrepreneurship is just the right thing to do,” James said.
That’s why James created DivInc. along with Ashley Jennings, Dana Callender and Dan Austin. Its mission is to empower and enable founders of color and women to build highly scalable startups, James said. Its 12-week accelerator program brings essential resources like advisers and investors to startup businesses and provides a mentor network to entrepreneurs, James said.
DivInc. also provides a platform to showcase entrepreneurs of underrepresented communities like people of color and women so they can inspire others to follow in their paths, Preston said.
DivInc’s goal is to make Austin the most diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country, James said.
“We are bridging a gap between the existing startup ecosystems and these demographic communities who have traditionally not had access to the resources in the startup ecosystem,” James said.
DivInc.’s program culminates in a Demo Day, which it hosted Thursday evening at Google Fiber’s event space in downtown Austin. About 200 people turned out for the event featuring members of its first cohort delivering short pitches of their startups on stage. The mentors included Kerry Rupp, co-founder of True Wealth Ventures, Zachary Maurais, co-founder of Favor, Mark Phillip, founder of Are You Watching This and Oji Udezue with Spiceworks, among many others.
Jennings and Callender served as the master of ceremonies for the evening. Each of the cohorts had a mentor introduce them and then they gave their pitches. Here’s a list of the entrepreneurs and a brief description of their companies.
Revealix – Adrianna Cantu, co-founder, a former wound care clinician and an executive with a healthcare company, created a startup focused on skin care. Revealix is a healthcare startup helping providers “see the unseen.” It’s taking existing sensor technology and plugging that into any mobile platform and using its proprietary software to assess and help diagnose skin damage and complications.
Ayoopa – Wayne Lopez, founder, created a website platform that allows consumers to rent adventure gear for hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, mountain biking and more. The idea is to provide access to expansive adventure gear for rental, instead of ownership.
Mama English – YiShaun Yang , founder, created iOS and Android apps that allows non-native English speakers to learn how to speak situational English dialogue. The product is focused on the Chinese market initially.
Redenim – Kelly Ernst, founder of a fashion startup that lets people rent high-end designer jeans online for $29 a month. “Our vision is pretty straight forward, we want you to get in our pants,” Ernst said. The site launched this month and is offering a one month free membership, she said.
Hauoli – Lili Qiu, founder of Hauoli, has created a new mobile user interface, an alternative to a mouse or remote control, to interact with TVs, lights, watches, gaming, smart appliances and other applications. Qiu, professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin, developed a motion tracking technology based on echolocation. Her plan is to license the technology to mobile phone companies or other device makers.
Confirmx – Dr. Sherard Houston, founder and CEO of Confirmx, is an ER doctor who understands the plight of emergency rooms and clinics to acquire customers in a better way. There is a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and the longer a customer waits, he said. Confirmx is a marketplace of emergency rooms and urgent care centers that allows patients to check in online with a minimal wait time, Houston said.
Plume – Bobby Menefee, founder of Plume, a web and mobile applications that allows Millennials to build and track their credit scores.
CodersLink– Jesus “Tito” Salas, founder, launched a San Antonio-based startup that connects employers in the U.S. to tech talent in Mexico.
Homads – Vi Nguyen and Lan Chu founded an online marketplace for month to month rentals. It allows renters flexibility to find a short term rental at an affordable price.