Tag: A Slice of Silicon Hills (Page 1 of 2)

A Slice of Silicon Hills Eats Gluten Free with PrepDish

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Allison Stevens, founder of PrepDish. Photo courtesy of PrepDish.

Allison Stevens, founder of PrepDish. Photo courtesy of PrepDish.

Have you been trying to cut back on Gluten? If so, you’re not alone. According to The NPD Group, 29 percent of Americans are either quitting or trying to avoid gluten-containing foods. Finding a steady diet of gluten free meals – or even healthy meals for that matter – can be difficult. But that is the business model behind Austin startup PrepDish.
Allison Stevens founded PrepDish. She trained in the culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University and is gluten intolerant herself. The startup sells weekly gluten-free meal plans which can be downloaded from PrepDish.com. Each do-it-yourself plan has a recipe for four dinners, one breakfast, one snack, and one dessert and contains a grocery list of the ingredients needed. A few plans also contain salad recipes. The recipes are simple enough that a whole week of meals can be prepared in two to three hours, even for those less experienced in the kitchen.
Each meal plan costs $25 and there are currently 12 different plans to choose from on the site. One new plan is added each month.
Steven financed PrepDish.com through her personal chef business and uses the same recipes she prepares at home and for her clients. Since the startup launched last January, customers have downloaded about 750 plans.

Free Flow Research Focuses on Bringing More Immigrant Workers to the U.S.

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

ff341af7-1b76-42e2-87eb-6ecebf72ca38_540The United States may be the land of opportunity, but opportunity is useless unless there are individuals to take advantage of it. Today our country is currently lacking the scientists, engineers, and tech experts that our high-tech industry needs to be successful. While there are foreign students and tech experts to fill this void, the current U.S. immigration policy limits access to these resources.
Peter French created Free Flow Research to help solve this problem. The goal of the organization is to help immigrant graduates and entrepreneurs in STEM fields come to San Antonio, stay here, and fill gaps in the high tech industry. It will also continue to do research and support immigration reform.
French is pursuing these goals by creating partnerships with the STEM departments in Texas Universities as well as international student associations in order to find these students and give them more options for the future. He is also reaching out to local business like Rackspace and USAA so these students will have an easier path into a high tech job. In addition, Free Flow Research will work to educate employers on the benefits of hiring and sponsoring immigrants — as many are nervous about the legal processes involved.
Free Flow Research does more than just connect students with businesses, however. The organization is currently building a support structure to provide immigrants both funding and legal services if they come to work in San Antonio. By coming to Free Flow Research, foreign students will be able to receive guidance throughout the immigration process and take advantage of the visa options that best suit their situation.
Connect with them at Free Flow Research.
In addition to their other services, Free Flow Research is currently awaiting certification as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. When certified the organization will be able to self-sponsor cap-exempt H-1B visas for qualified workers. Because of their 501(c)(3) status, the organization will not be subject to the visa cap or annual application cycle dates – allowing them to sponsor visas year round. Sponsored immigrants will be able to work for Free Flow Research or will be contracted to work on third party projects.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Talks App Deployment with SocialREST

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

47404760-c3da-410f-a36a-64718dabbac4_120While most iOS app developers want to incorporate social media in on their new apps, the process is easier said than done. Facebook, Twitter and other platforms often have their own code – which developers may or may not be familiar with. That’s where SocialREST comes in.
This four-member Geekdom startup has created a Facebook code library that can greatly reduce the workload of the developer — both in integrating with Facebook and in adding specific Facebook functionalities. When developers put their apps on Facebook through SocialREST’s cloud service, they can use simple code shortcuts to access complex Facebook functions such as searching for friends.
Additionally, SocialREST protects their client’s apps from being affected by changes in the Facebook API. Because the startup acts as a middleman, they can handle all such changes on their end — saving clients the headache of having to go back and re-write code for all their deployed apps.
SocialREST is also putting the finishing touches on their Facebook analytics service. This will give developers a dashboard that shows all their apps’ social interactions and conversion rates – or how often a user downloads the app following a social interaction. The dashboard will also give developers all the information a Facebook login can provide, such as user profile information. According to Selby, this will help developers better plan out their social media strategy for their current app and any additional apps they create.
In the future, SocialREST plans to expand their service to Twitter, Google+, and other social sites.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Interviews Akimbo on Fast Cash

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

akimbo-financial-inc1191808213What is the fastest way to share money with friends and family? Always carry cash? Use pre-paid cards? With an Akimbo Card account, users can share money with any other Akimbo card holder instantly by using either a mobile app or the Akimbo Website via the internet. Akimbo accounts have both primary users and sub users, making it possible for parents to give “allowance cards” to their kids or employers to transfer funds quickly to secondary employee cards.
Created by CEO Houston Frost, the Akimbo card is a full-fledged Visa debit card used in partnership with Bancorp Banks. Users do not, however, need to access bank services to use the cards and transfer money between cards. In fact, Akimbo can essentially replace a normal bank account for day to day needs.
The Akimbo business model relies on interchange revenue – the small fees paid by banks for card transactions – as well as other fees such as ATM charges. Signing up for an account is free and there are currently no monthly fees, though there may be fees for creating additional sub accounts. Akimbo moved from Austin to San Antonio in February, and is currently located Geekdom of San Antonio. The startup has six full time employees, and around a dozen part time employees – many of which were acquired after moving to Geekdom.
For its next step, Akimbo is in the process of adding an “instant check loading” feature to their cards that will allow users to load the check on their cards within 30 minutes. The feature is now in beta.

Mexican Startup Biovideo Spotlighted on Slice of Silicon Hills News

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

ff91bc44-e40d-489f-bae8-e9ba60b6f78e_420Having a baby is incredibly special, and lots of parents want to capture those first few special moments on camera. But with the stress of having a baby, getting all the best moments on camera can be a difficult task.
Founded in Mexico by Carlos Villaseñor, Biovideo works with hospitals in Texas and Mexico to create a movie documenting all the special, emotional moments of your child’s birth – for free. The service is available in the United States at San Antonio’s Methodist and Baptist health system hospitals. It is also available in Mexico for 90% of the private hospitals in Monterrey, Mexico City and Guadalajara.
Parents can sign up for the service on the Biovideo website. After the patient signs a consent form at the hospital, a Biovideo team will handle the entire video process – editing the video remotely through cloud technology. The video is typically completed within 48 hours of the birth. When the new mother leaves the hospital, she can access video and online web page that lets her share the video with family and friends. They can also order a hard copy.
In fact, the Biovideo business model is directly tied to families sharing their videos. Brands such as Johnson & Johnson, Disney, and Pampers sponsor these videos and gain more visibility each time they are shared. The brands pay out more as vides become more viral. The brands will also follow up with the parents through Biovideo as the child develops.
In the future, Biovideo plans to expand in Texas to Austin, Houston, Dallas, and El Paso. The company already has a team of 70 employees and will be hiring as they expand to more cities. The decision to expand in the U.S. is largely due to larger market of parents — the U.S. has about 4 million births a year — and more opportunities to partner with brands. In Mexico, Biovideo only has access to the 16 percent of the population that can afford private hospitals. According to the Biovideo website, the company has already produced 150,000 videos for U.S. and Mexican families.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Rocks Out with Rockify

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

28aef08a-f7de-4504-987d-a21ade66c477_244Do you like music videos? Do you miss old MTV? If you do, then you’ll probably like Rockify. Created by Joel Korpi, the Rockify platform is designed to present music videos in a better format than other sites on the web. But there’s a twist, Korpi has created a complex algorithm that uses social media to identify what music videos users like — and more importantly – what they will like in the future.
To make this work, users log into Rockify with either Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or yahoo. The Rockify algorithm will then take in all the social data available from the primary user and the user’s friends, family, and connections, to find out what music the user will want to see. The platform also learns what you like as you interact with it. According to Korpi, Rockify can reliably find music that users are guaranteed to enjoy after about 80 hours of use.
Based in Austin, Rockify is taking full advantage of both Austin City Limits and SXSW. The startup is currently in the process of re-launching their ACL specific app and has a channel on its platform dedicated to SXSW. Rockify currently has a library of around 400,000 music videos which are indexed from YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo, and many others. It is also hosting exclusive ACL content.
The startup is currently in its second round of funding and is looking for entertainment oriented investors that can help the platform gain traction.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Features BudgetDoc

Reporter with Silicon Hills News
96a2728c-b8d1-4fe0-957c-01539bfe12d1_793Do you want a doctor?
Do you want to bypass the hassle of insurance claims and pay cash up front?
Then BudgetDoc wants to make your life easier by creating a network of doctors willing to give discounts to patients that pay cash up front.
Dr. Megan R. Williams Khmelev, Yevgeniy V. Khmelev, Gopinath Khandavalli, and Oliver Jensen founded BudgetDoc.
The site allows users to research doctors and the prices each doctor offers for services, as well as compare doctors and their ratings to find the best healthcare option. Users can also contact physicians though the site if they have any questions on additional prices and services.
The BudgetDoc network already has around 30 healthcare providers including doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and lab services – most of which are located in the San Antonio area. All providers are vetted through the Texas Medical Board. BudgetDoc is free, but requires users to sign up to use the site.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Features Austin-based MakerSquare

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

fb2398bd-1bea-4481-9fc9-4328d1432848_488Great tech startups need great developers – especially developers that are fluent in the latest coding languages used on the web. Unfortunately, the only way for companies to get such developers is to train them in house, or hope to find someone who has learned them on their own.
This week we talk to MakerSquare – a company created to address this problem by providing a 10-week training course that covers languages and skills that today’s tech companies need.
Based in Austin, MakerSquare has been working with several Austin companies to create a custom developer course. Students that graduate will have all the skills needed to be hired by these companies.
“The point of the course is two sided”, says Education Architect Harsh Patel. “One: To get people who want to get into web development into programming.. ..and Two: It helps companies in Austin find a lot of tech talent that they need. Because a lot of companies need web developer talent right now, but there’s just not enough.”
The intensive 10-week course is largely project based with students working alone, in groups, and with mentors from Austin tech companies. The training includes Ruby on Rails, JavaScript frameworks like jQuery and backbone.js, HTML5, and CSS3.
The first course will start on June 10 and can hold 24 – 28 students. The application process is still open. Applicants who do not make the first course may be placed in subsequent courses. MakerSquare plans to hold the first few courses back to back and hopes to be able to offer them more frequently this fall.
In order to be chosen for the program, applicants must demonstrate both a record of accomplishment and a drive to succeed.
“We look for people who have shown success in something else previously, whether it is technical-related or not,” says Patel.
Upon completion of the course, MakerSquare will help the graduates get internships, apprenticeships, or full time positions in tech companies across the nation. The current list of hiring partners includes uShip, Crushpath, PeopleAdmin, and others.
To apply for the developer training course, join as a hiring partner, or participate as a mentor in the program; go to Makersquare.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Talks with Austin-based Circle Media

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

50db8a1a-c635-42cf-ada9-a60b8a20091f_61This week, we talked with Circle Media founder and CEO Mark Piening about his new startup. Incorporated just last January, Circle Media officially launched at SXSW and was one of the five finalists in the Startup Austin Fast Pitch Competition. The Austin based company does data analysis for both event promoters and sponsors to help them better understand, and interact with, customers at their events.
“How do you help these sponsors and these producers of live events make the best live event experiences possible? The only way to do that is to know the audience.” says Piening.
Piening says that the value in knowing the audience comes from sponsors being able to specially target certain demographics. In some cases, sponsors could even connect with and interact with event attendees — offering them coupons or spontaneous opportunities which make the event a more personal and memorable experience.
To do this, the company collects data from event ticket sales, registration, drinks sales, tweets that reference the event, Facebook posts, Foursquare check-ins, consumer data sources and more. They then analyze the data and present it to clients to help them make informed marketing decisions.
The company presents the information through an online dashboard that gives clients everything from who came to their event to what those people said about the event afterwards — helping the clients make better decisions about programming, merchandise, concessions and anything else that was part of the experience. Piening believes this approach can create a fundamental shift in how marketing works.
“We think that the 21st century is the era of authenticity,” says Piening. “It’s an opportunity [for marketing] to really connect with people like friends, be treated like friends, and be respectful like friends in how they communicate with people.
Circe Media has already secured a fortune 50 software company and is in the process of process of implementing a solution for that client. They are currently recruiting marketing agencies and seeking other fortune 500 clients.
Circle media is now hiring developers with experience in Node.js, REAK, Redis, and user experience.

Austin-based StoryPress Lets People Record Their Stories

2a2184a0-370d-4e90-b936-5dfa152f3ec9_640x360This week Slice of Silicon Hills News Host Andrew Moore interviews StoryPress founder Michael Davis about his new iPad app for creating and saving family history through audio stories.

“StoryPress is trying to change the way that family history is preserved and passed down from generation to generation by making it fun and easy to record stories with you own voice,” Davis said.

Davis got the idea from his grandmother. A year and a half ago she had just received an iPad, and was looking for a recording application to record personal stories. None of the available applications were satisfactory – simply providing her with a big MP3 file which she had no idea how incorporate into something bigger. Davis created StoryPress to fill this need.

“Not only do we have the right interface to make it fun and easy, but we came up with the prompts so it’s not intimidating,” Davis said.

The StoryPress app can essentially interview its users by giving them a series of prompts grouped together in topic modules. After choosing one of the modules, users simply respond to each prompt given. When they are done, StoryPress automatically ties all the narration segments together into one audio book. If users feel the prompts are too constricting, they may also do a simple self recorded narration.

The current version app – launched last December — allows users to create audio books with custom book covers images, but future versions will allow users to add pictures and other media.

“The goal is to make it a real multimedia experience where the user can add pictures, background music, videos, and have the story live on one permanent URL,” Davis said.

Future versions of the app will also provide stock photos of iconic American imagines through several eras, as well as musical accompaniments, which users can purchase and add to their audio books.

Users will be able to create their first five stories for free, but will have to pay a yearly cloud storage cost of $49 of they want to create more. If users want a more tangible copy of their audio books, they can also order CD versions from StoryPress for a fee.

StoryPress has seen 4000 downloads so far, and they will be kickstarter April 1 to access more funding. StoryPress will be releasing an Android tablet in mid April.

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