Category: Austin

Hyve Managed Hosting Opens North American Hub in Austin

Hyve Managed Hosting announced it has opened its North American hub in Austin.

Hyve, based in Brighton, UK, provides infrastructure and management services, including private clouds, dedicated servers, colocation, and security services.

Major brands in the company’s portfolio include Capital, Caffe Nero, RSPCA, Superdrug, and U.S.-based customers such as Orders in Seconds Inc., Virium Technology, and CBHV.  

Stoney Reynolds is heading up the U.S. region for Hyve. Reynolds previously held leadership roles in sales and marketing at companies such as Trend Micro, FutureCom, Nortel, and NEC.

“The cloud has so much potential to accelerate business growth, but organizations lack the in-house knowledge and skillsets needed to get there,” Reynolds said in a news release. “That’s why they’re turning to managed service providers like Hyve. We have a massive opportunity in the U.S. market to empower businesses to innovate through a secure, reliable, and ‘always-on’ infrastructure. I can’t wait to be a part of this exciting new chapter in the company’s story.”  

Hyve’s U.S. expansion follows a substantial period of growth for the company, which has seen revenue grow by 51% over the last three years and its global headcount increase by over 30% in 2023. The company also moved to its new, larger headquarters in Brighton, UK, and was recognized for “Excellence in Service” at the 2023 Storage, Digitalization, and Cloud Awards (SDC).  

“Over the last several years, Hyve has been working hard to refine its best-in-class cloud hosting architecture, which is reflected by our recent successes and industry recognitions,” Charlotte Webb, marketing and operations director of Hyve Managed Hosting, said in a news release. “The U.S. is a key component to our continued growth in 2024, and we are building a strong team in the region to further cement Hyve as a global leader.”  

Hyve Managed Hosting’s U.S. team is located in downtown Austin in one of Industrious’ newly opened premium flexible workspaces, of which Hyve has become a founding member.

Hyve plans to hire additional employees in the U.S. over the next year. It is also exploring additional opportunities for expansion within Europe, and APAC, including Germany and Australia.  

Merit Medicine Raises $2 Million

Austin-based Merit Medicine, a health tech startup, announced it has raised $2 million.

Austin-based LiveOak Ventures led the seed stage investment.

Merit Medicine, founded in 2022, uses AI insights from millions of patients in extensive datasets to generate predictions for each employer.

Ali Panjwani founded the company and serves as CEO. He previously worked at Genentech, BridgeBio Pharma, Coherus Biosciences, and Aetion.

“Large self-funded employers cover over a quarter of the US population today,” Panjwani said in a news release.

And employer contributions to healthcare comprise roughly $600 billion of annual healthcare spending in the United States, Panjwani said. “Using AI insights from millions of patients, Merit Medicine ensures a smoother, more predictable budget for employers’ catastrophic healthcare spend, leading to more people getting affordable access to the care they need when they need it.”

“Stop-loss carriers, responsible for insuring employers against substantial claims arising from these drugs and treatments, handle extensive information to calculate the premiums for employers,” according to a news release. Self-funded employers rely solely on their employee population.

“Self-funded employers are faced with rising healthcare costs and significant financial risk based on the health of their employee base,” Mike Marcantonio, who is leading the investment for Live Oak Ventures, said in a news statement. “Unfortunately, they have very few tools today to evaluate this risk and plan for it.  When I met the Merit Medicine team, I was inspired by their mission to help employers address this risk by using AI to predict high-cost specialty drug usage and rare, chronic, and complex conditions.”

Austin-Based Perigon Raises $5 Million

Austin-based Perigon has closed on a $5 million seed stage round of financing led by LiveOak Venture Partners.

Josh Rickel, co-founder, said the company plans to use the money to hire key employees and further develop its technology.

In 2022, Rickel founded Perigon with Joshua Dziabiak, a serial entrepreneur who previously co-founded The Zebra in Austin. They wanted to make sense of public web data and news information. They named the company Perigon, a math term that means a 360-degree view, to make companies aware of what’s happening around them, Rickel said. They call it contextual intelligence or the ability to adapt to new information and situations.

Rickel said Perigon helps businesses and government agencies cut through the Internet’s noise, understand real-time data, and make better decisions. Perigon’s platform seeks to eliminate misinformation and synthetic content and provide companies with helpful information. The company scrapes data from more than 130,000 sources on the web and organizes it to answer queries.

“Perigon is committed to turning the chaos of the web into an organized system, making it possible for AI to understand and interpret the world’s events as they happen,” Dziabiak said in a news release. “It’s all designed to serve people with more context and diverse perspectives on the key issues that shape our world, in business and life.”

Perigon already has more than 70 customers, including government agencies, financial services companies, startups, and consumer products, Rickel said. According to a news release, environmental agencies have used Perigon’s platform to learn about environmental, health, and security risks. The platform also provides valuable insights to financial institutions and trading platforms looking for real-time data on economic trends.

Rickel said Perigon’s platform harnesses AI to update and make sense of all the data. The data is consistently updated and delivers real-time results.

“We are excited about the market opportunities that arise from unlocking contextual insights from public information at scale for business practitioners and consumers,” said Krishna Srinivasan, founding partner of LiveOak Venture Partners. “In a short period of time and with limited investment, Perigon has leveraged AI and powerful models to deliver value directly to end-users and through APIs by dozens of demanding customers all over the world. We believe that repeat entrepreneurs Joshua Dziabiak and Josh Rickel are the right pair to lead this ambitious endeavor and seize this massive opportunity.”

Perigon has over 20 employees, including a team of engineers in Ukraine. It’s a virtual company with employees worldwide, including Algeria.

Colossal Bioscience Hires New Chief Marketing Officer

Colossal Bioscience, the startup bringing the woolly mammoth and other extinct species back to life, announced it has hired Emily Castel as its new Chief Marketing Officer.

Castel previously served as chief marketing officer, president, and brand officer of Teton Ridge, an omnichannel entertainment company.

Castel brings her global entertainment and consumer brand experience to Colossal, where she will lead international efforts to scale the company’s brand, experiences, consumer products, and emerging media properties.

“It is important for Colossal to bring the importance of our scientific achievements and focus on de-extinction and conservation education to consumers in all mediums,” Ben Lamm, Colossal CEO, and Co-Founder said in a news release. “Emily is the global brand leader who is best suited to bring Colossal there given her extensive entertainment background, knowledge of global consumer marketing, and proven track record in franchise marketing.”

Castel previously ran a creative consultancy in Hollywood, FIVE33, which included clients Disney, Pixar, Universal and Paramount. She ran global marketing strategies for numerous entertainment properties, including the one-billion-dollar Tim Burton’s Alice & Wonderland, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and JJ Abrams’s 2013 Star Trek.

In 2013, Castel joined Legendary Entertainment as Chief Marketing Officer after Legendary acquired FIVE33.  While on the executive team, Castel oversaw all movie, TV, and entertainment launches, including global marketing, licensing, consumer products, and event activations. Castel successfully worked with distribution partners Warner Bros and Universal on Legendary-produced IPs, including Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Jurassic World, Warcraft, and Kong: Skull Island. Castel led the development of the MonsterVerse franchise mythology, which has gone on to gross $2 billion worldwide.

After leaving Legendary in 2017, Castel launched her UK-based consultancy Castel Creative, where she served as founder and CEO.  During that time, she focused on adding strategic value to brands and IPs, including the Kingsman franchise and Rocketman for Marv Studios, while maintaining an advisory role at Legendary Entertainment.

Now at Colossal, Castel will lead a growing team of brand and consumer hires, including the newly appointed EVP of Design, Chris Klee. An award-winning design team leader, Klee was formerly the Chief Creative Officer of Hypergiant Industries.

“I look forward to building the Colossal brand into the market leader in the space and continuing the inspiring work that the team has been undertaking,” said Castel.  “I’m excited to start the next chapter of my career with the world’s first de-extinction company. It is an opportunity to drive innovation in the sector, using entertainment to inspire global communities to engage in Colossal’s pioneering mission to preserve species and further their existence on earth.” 

Since launching in September 2021, Colossal has raised $225 million in total funding led by the United States Innovative Technology Fund (“USIT”), with participation from At One Ventures, West River Group, Paul Tudor Jones, Breyer Capital, Animal Capital, Bob Nelson, Tim Draper, Victor Vescovo, In-Q-Tel, Builders VC, Peak6, among others.

Colossal was founded by emerging technology and software entrepreneur Ben Lamm and world-renowned geneticist and serial biotech entrepreneur George Church, Ph.D.  Colossal creates disruptive technologies for extinct species restoration, critically endangered species protection, and the repopulation of critical ecosystems that support the continuation of life on Earth. 

Resources for Female Founders

The stats for VC funding haven’t improved.

According to Pitchbook, in 2023, female-founded startups received 2 percent of all VC dollars invested nationwide, the lowest percentage since 2016.

And the number of deals done with female founders fell in 2023 to its lowest level in years, according to Pitchbook.

Pitchbook reports that in 2023, “Companies with at least one female founder raised about $32.7 billion in venture funding across 3,230 deals, while startups with exclusively female founders garnered $2.8 billion over 867 deals. “

For startups with a mixed founder base, including at least one female founder, their capital share grew at a “faster rate than startups founded exclusively by women. The share of female co-founded VC capital was the highest in 2023, at 20.7% of total US VC funding. The top categories for funded female-founded startups are business-to-business services, software, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. “

In 2024, Silicon Hills News launched a new page highlighting female founders to showcase their accomplishments. The page also includes funding sources, incubators, accelerators, and other resources and opportunities for female founders.

To kick it off, here are some organizations in Austin focused on helping female founders:

Austin Women in Technology is a nonprofit organization that aims to support and empower women in the technology sector. They provide networking events, mentorship programs, and educational resources.

Austin Chamber Women’s Business Council: It organizes events and programs to support women in business.

DivInc: is an accelerator program in Austin that supports underrepresented founders, including women and people of color. They provide mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities.

Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurship Leadership Institute at the University of Texas at Austin aims to help students at UT pursue entrepreneurial interests.

Funding Resources for Female Founders:

The Female Founders Fund is an investment firm that supports female-led startups. It provides funding and resources to women entrepreneurs in various industries.

37 Angels is an organization that provides funding, mentorship, and support for women entrepreneurs. They offer early-stage investment and aim to increase the number of female investors in the startup ecosystem.

The Amber Grant monthly grant program awards funding to women-owned businesses. A winner receives a grant each month and can compete for an additional annual grant.

The Cartier Women’s Initiative is an international program that supports women entrepreneurs worldwide. It offers funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities to female founders in the early stages of their businesses.

The Tory Burch Foundation offers a Fellows Program that provides women entrepreneurs with support, resources, and a $5,000 grant for business education. It aims to empower and promote the success of women-owned businesses.

The Halstead Grant is a jewelry grant for emerging female jewelry designers. It provides funding, recognition, and business development opportunities to support the growth of women entrepreneurs in the jewelry industry.

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) offers various scholarships and grants for women entrepreneurs. These awards are designed to support women pursuing education and business growth.

Grants.gov is a comprehensive resource where you can search for various grants offered by federal agencies. While not specifically focused on women, some opportunities may be relevant to women-owned businesses.

Women’s Business Centers, supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), provide resources, training, and counseling for women entrepreneurs. While not grants per se, they can connect you with valuable information and potential funding opportunities.

Hearst is hosting Pitch HearstLab, its pitch competition focused exclusively on women-led startups in the U.S., on April 17th in New York. The winners will receive $100,000 in investment and three months of support from HearstLab. Applications are due on Sunday, February 4th. In the last year, Hearst has invested more than $3 million across 13 startups.

SXSW Pitch Announces Finalists and Alternates, Including 10 Austin Area Startups

Ten Austin area startups made the SXSW Pitch competition’s list of finalists and alternates for its 2024 competition.

It’s the 16th year for the SXSW Pitch competition, which showcases innovative global startups. To date, finalists involved in the competition have raised more than $23 billion in funding since 2009, according to Pitchbook.

The event occurs from March 9-10th at the SXSW 2024 Conference & Festivals in Austin. KPMG is the sponsor of SXSW Pitch.

The categories for 2024 include Artificial Intelligence, Voice & Robotics; Enterprise & Smart Data; Entertainment, Media & Content; Extended Reality and Web3; Future of Work; Food, Nutrition, & Health; Innovative World Technologies; and Smart Cities, Transportation & Sustainability and Student Startup.

Austin had two finalists in the Artificial Intelligence, Robotics & Voice categories. They include Autonomize, which created AI for healthcare workers and healthcare institutions. The other Austin finalist is Nava AI, which created an AI assistant that helps immigrants navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system.

In the Enterprise and Smart Data category, Aiki of Austin is a finalist. It created a system prioritizing student safety with dynamic two-way communication, connecting occupants and first responders.

Applix of Austin is a finalist in the Extended Reality and Web3 category. It created an AR-based automated visual quality inspection app for automotive, industrial, and medical tech firms.

Connected Athletics of Round Rock is an alternate in the category. The company empowers athletes to forge meaningful connections and form relationships with key influencers to optimize their sports careers during/after their eligibility.

In the future of work category, Layerpath is an alternate. “Layerpath revolutionizes team efficiency with AI-powered interactive product demos. Our platform enhances self-serve help experiences and boosts software adoption among customers and employees,” according to the SXSW website.

In the Smart Cities, Transportation & Sustainability category, Austin-based Terralytiq is an alternative. It is a climate tech startup specializing in enterprise decarbonization through its SaaS platform.

In the Student Startup category, MACH Transit of Austin is a finalist. “MACH’s pilot product is a levitating camera vehicle utilizing maglev to maintain zero contact with its guideway, enabling the capture of ultra-stable footage at over 200 mph.” Paradigm Robotics of Austin is also a finalist for creating a robotic platform to provide mission-critical situational awareness for firefighting, disaster response, industrial/manufacturing, and other industries. Merge Conflict Studio is also an alternate. It is a minority-led video game development studio focusing on centering marginalized perspectives and environmental awareness.

Go to the SXSW site for the full list of finalists and alternates.

World Logic Day in Austin Engages Community Leaders to Address the World’s Problems

In Austin, Logictry hosted World Logic Day on Sunday at the Long Center downtown.

According to one of the organizers, the event featured more than 300 speakers, and an estimated 850 people attended a Friday event and the day-long Sunday event. Logitrcy’s co-founders Chris Fronda and Chelsea Toler organized World Logic Day and a handful of other co-hosts.

“As co-hosts, Logictry is enthused to spearhead this catalytic forum bridging innovation and collaborative community engagement,” Fronda said.

World Logic Day began as a movement organized by UNESCO in association with the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences.

Emily Gupton, COO of FOLIO and Community Partnerships Director for Austin Women in Technology, is also a Co-Chair for World Logic Day Austin. “I am deeply passionate about community and collaboration as a cornerstone to rise the tides together,” Gupton said in a news release. “UN World Logic Day brings local and global communities together to drive solutions to real-world problems.”

World Logic Day focuses on the importance of logic in addressing contemporary challenges.

Logictry began hosting the United Nations Austin World Logic Day in 2019, and the event has grown dramatically since then. Logictry also unveiled its Logic.Wiki, which shares how AI, business leaders, creators, and community builders are partnering together to share knowledge.

The event started Sunday morning with a keynote on “Innovation and Impact: Charting the Course Ahead.” Quite a few of the following panels focused on artificial intelligence and its effect on the educational industry, healthcare, and business. Other panels discussed community building.

“In the face of this new wave of AI, we are all a little uncertain of the future, but together we can utilize tools like Logic.Wiki and communities like our Logic Circle to leverage this moment for positive change,” Chelsea Toler, co-founder of Logictry, said in a news release.

One afternoon panel focused on YouTube content creators. Collectively, the five panelists had more than 30 million followers. Kenzie Yolles, a 15-year-old beauty, makeup, and fashion content creator, has a manager.

The event concluded with a panel of changemakers, five women who were highlighted in the most recent issue of Austin Women Magazine. Austin Women Magazine compiled a World Logic Day Changemaker List.

“I see logic bringing a brighter future for all when sustained by character,” Sofia Sunaga, Co-Founder and Director of Intergen.Family and Co-Chair for World Logic Day Austin said in a news release. “Logic, coupled with character development, invites us to step deeper into the realm of AI, creating a future where human logic and ethical development go hand-in-hand.”

The event engaged people of all ages to discuss change and the problems that must be solved. Chief among them was Anika Chokhavatia, student leader, founder, and co-chair for World Logic Day. “We are the emerging leaders of tomorrow, and it is our responsibility to be aware of the changing world and our place in it,” Chokhavatia said in a news release. “This initiative fuels the future we hope to build. I’m particularly looking forward to the Responsible AI, Consumer Protection, AI Innovation, and Business panel, exploring concepts of accountability and bias in shaping our worldview.”

Advice for Female Founders from Nilima Achwal

In the latest Ideas to Invoices podcast episode, Nilima Achwal, founder of The Female Founders Lab, provides insights from her entrepreneurial journal.

Previously, Achwal founded Iesha Learning, a technology education platform to teach sexual education to junior high school students in India. She also launched and ran SEED, a social enterprise incubation program at Villgro Innovations Foundation in Chennai. In addition, she was a Kiva Fellow in Bolivia and wrote business case studies at the University of Michigan.

In this discussion, Achwal gives her views on entrepreneurship and her commitment to fostering a more inclusive and humanistic approach in the business world.

Some key takeaways from the podcast:

1. Inspiration for Female Founders Lab: Achwal moved to Austin about half a year ago and founded the virtual coaching accelerator. She was inspired by the city’s tech ecosystem, which she described as vibrant and collaborative. The atmosphere embraced her like a big hug.

2. Background in Impact Ventures: Achwal has spent 15 years in the impact venture space, working with startups focused on healthcare, education, food systems, media, the future of work, and sustainability. She spent six years in India and has experience in various aspects of the technology industry and startups.

3. Motivation behind Female Founders Lab: Achwal’s motivation to start Female Founders Lab stemmed from her challenges as a founder. She sought to create a more holistic and deep approach to accelerator programs that focused on founders’ whole selves and aligned their vision with tangible results.

4. Challenges Faced as a Female Founder: Achwal highlighted the challenges female founders face in finding mentors and role models. She discussed the importance of creating a space where female founders can be authentic and not feel compelled to conform to traditional, masculine business norms.

5. Importance of Diversity and Inclusion: Achwal emphasized the intrinsic value of diversity in reducing risk in business. She expressed concern about the “hijacking” of the diversity and inclusion narrative by political forces and stressed the importance of aiming for excellence rather than artificially creating diversity.

6. Advice for Women Starting Businesses: Achwal advised women not to get distracted by external noise and to focus on tuning into their vision and values. She highlighted the significance of authenticity and encouraged women to trust their intuition and feelings to gauge if they are on the right path.

7. Fundraising Strategies for Female Businesses: Achwal discussed female founders’ challenges in securing venture capital funding. She advocated for values-aligned investors at the early stages and suggested leveraging angel investors for initial funding.

Achwal also recalled a lesson from her experience as an entrepreneur. She faced huge challenges making inroads in the Indian education industry with her sex education product. She highlighted the importance of surrendering to a larger plan and releasing external pressures. Ultimately, she struck a deal to license her product to Tata, the largest IT company in India. Her perseverance led to a breakthrough, demonstrating the power of staying the course and trusting the process.

You can listen to the entire podcast below or wherever you get your podcasts.

Nilima Achwal, Founder of The Female Founders Lab

Nilma Achwal is the founder of The Female Founders Lab, a virtual accelerator and coaching service in Austin. Achwal moved to Austin about a year and half ago from Los Angeles. Before launching The Female Founders Lab, Achwal founded Iesha Learning, a technology education platform to teach sexual education to junior high school students in India.

Austin Startups See Uptick in Fourth Quarter VC Funding but Overall Deals and Dollars are Down for 2023

Austin startups raised more than $1.12 billion in venture capital in the fourth quarter of 2023,  an almost 10 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago, according to the latest Pitchbook-National Venture Capital Association Venture Monitor Report.

The fourth quarter VC funding is also an almost 46 percent increase from the $607 million Austin startups raised in the third quarter of this year.

The number of deals funded in the Austin Round Rock metropolitan area also hit 126 deals in the fourth quarter, an almost 11 percent increase from 114 in the fourth quarter of 2022.

For all of 2023, Austin startups raised $3.8 billion, down 30 percent, compared to $5.5 billion for 2022. The number of deals funded in the Austin Round Rock metropolitan area also dropped to 416 in 2023, down 15 percent from 492 deals in 2022.

The top deal financed in the fourth quarter of 2023 was $300 million to Firefly Aerospace, based in Cedar Park, creating rockets for commercial launches to orbit.

The second largest deal was Infinitum Electric, which makes electric motors and received $200 million in venture funding. The third largest funding went to Mach Industries, a defense startup developing hydrogen-powered unmanned aerial vehicles, weapons, and generators, and received $84.1 million.

Deal, fundraising, and exit activity were down for the fourth quarter, according to the National Venture Capital Association. But the market isn’t in crisis, according to Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of the NVCA.

“Rather,  the market has changed,” he wrote in a statement. “From interest rates to foreign conflict, the world looks very different than it did two years ago, and a new set of problems needs to be solved for.”

Overall, startups nationwide attracted $170.6 billion in venture capital, down $71.6 billion from 2022.

Top Austin VC Deals in the Fourth Quarter

Firefly Aerospace.   $300.0 million

Infinitum                   $200.0 million

Mach Industries          $84.1 million

Saronic                         $55.0 million

Paradromics                $50.1 million

Source: Pitchbook

Harbor Health Raises $95.5 Million to Expand Healthcare Services in Central Texas

Austin-based Harbor Health, a primary and specialty clinic group, recently announced that it has secured an additional $95.5 million in funding.

General Catalyst led the round of funding with participation from Alta Partners and *VC. To date, Harbor Health has raised more than $128 million.

The company plans to use the funding to provide more primary care services and specialty care offerings.

Harbor Health was founded by Dr. Clay Johnston, Eric Scott (from 8VC), and Tony Miller.

“We realized in order to maximize the impact of our innovations, we needed to combine our efforts into one enterprise as a vertically integrated ‘pay-vider’ – both a payer and a provider,” Johnston said in a statement. “We have built a geographically dense care model that is organized around integrated practice units and focused on member health conditions. This new investment and our rapid growth confirm our innovative care model is working, and we’re meeting more people where they are with collaborative, team-based care.”

Harbor Health is creating a new healthcare model that puts consumers in control of their health.

“Eventually, we see a future where current care design and benefit design models become obsolete, replaced by a health-producing and health-promoting system that follows people along their life journeys,” Miller said in a statement.

This new approach and the history of success by both Johnston and Miller have attracted attention in the marketplace and from investors.

 “There’s a strong appetite for a fresh approach to healthcare delivery among employers that prioritizes outcomes, enhances consumer engagement, and is proactive by design,” Chris Bischoff, Managing Director at General Catalyst said in a statement.. “We believe Harbor Health is providing ease of access to the largest covered population in the U.S. and bringing much-needed change as the company seeks to transform value-based care for the commercial sector. This aligns with our Health Assurance thesis. We look forward to supporting Tony, Clay, and the Harbor Health team in this new phase of growth.”

Harbor Health has eight locations in Central Texas, with more planned this year. It also launched two mobile health units. It employs 43 clinicians. Harbor Health touched consumers more than 25,000 times in Austin in 2023 with in-clinic appointments, virtual appointments, mobile clinics, and other modes of communication.

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