Tag: accelerator

11 Startups Join DivInc’s Latest Accelerator Program

DivInc Cohort Three, courtesy photo

In 2016, Preston James, Ashley Jennings, and Dana Callender founded DivInc to bring greater entrepreneurial diversity to Austin’s technology industry.

The 12-week accelerator program, based at Capital Factory, has graduated two cohorts so far and made a big impact on providing women and minorities with greater access to mentors, funding, partnerships and the overall inner workings of the local tech industry.

To date, 18 companies and 24 founders have participated in the DivInc program. They’ve collectively raised nearly $600,000, according to a news release.

On Tuesday, DivInc announced 11 new startups, run by eight women and seven men, for its third accelerator program, which begins Sept. 5th.

The numbers are bleak for funding for diverse founders, with “only three percent of VC funding going to women founders and less than two percent going to African American and Latino founders,” according to a news release.

“Just think about the socioeconomic impact an inclusive, innovative tech startup ecosystem will have,” Preston James, co-founder, and CEO of DivInc said in a news release. “With the population shifting to 51 percent people of color by 2040, it’s not only imperative but essential that these demographic groups be major contributors to economic growth in the U.S. Imagine in Austin alone…with a potential backlog of 1,000 tech entrepreneurs of color and women, and if on average, one out of 25 became successful entrepreneurs that creates 100 jobs and $5 million of wealth. That would translate to 4,000 jobs and $200 million in revenue contributed back to the city.”

The third DivInc cohort includes the following:

● Dr. Jennifer Davis and Stephanie Cantú, founders of Data Bot Box (AI and psychology)

● Dion Jones, founder of enautics (B2B SaaS)

● Roman Gonzalez, founder of Gardenio (Marketplace for Gardeners)

● Shambrekia Wise, founder of FuzeU (Education Tech)

● Yogi Patel, founder of iuzeit (Mobile App)

● Wes Riddick and Cristina Rodgers, founders of Maximus Box (Retail Tech)

● Sara Brinton, founder of Penguino Travel (Travel Tech)

● Stephanie Labay, founder of Retreat Place (Travel and Wellness Tech)

● Anna Renery and Dan Driscoll, founders of Sponsorfy (MarketPlace)

● Ashley Behnke, founder of Spot Loc8r (Mobile App)

● Airion Watkins-Clark and Ethan Isaacson, founders of WutzGood Inc. (Mobile App)

At the conclusion of the program on Nov. 30th, the startups will pitch their startups at a Demo Day event.

Tech Ranch Austin helps move startups forward

Every Tuesday, Arthur Chong drives 144 miles from the Houston suburb of Katy to Tech Ranch Austin.
He’s part of Venture Forth 12, an 8-week $495 class at Tech Ranch Austin that covers everything from creating a three-year financial forecast to putting together a pitch deck, a set of 10 slides to pitch a company to investors. Each Venture Forth program has 10 to 15 entrepreneurs. The weekly sessions require the entrepreneurs to do homework, upload documents to a class website and present them in class. They also get feedback from a network of mentors during a “meet the mentor” night.
“The Venture Forth class has certainly helped me plan my next step,” said Chong, founder of Alpha Cares, a web-based childcare management system. He’s currently deciding whether to seek venture financing or continue to bootstrap his company. He found out about Tech Ranch Austin while attending a Bootstrap Austin event.
Tech Ranch Austin is an incubator, accelerator and co-working space for early stage entrepreneurs, which offers special programs to help entrepreneurs.
“There is certainly nothing in the Houston area that speaks to seed level ventures,” Chong said.

At the end of the party at Tech Ranch Austin

Kevin Koym, who has founded several ventures and worked for several companies including NeXT, which is now part of Apple, founded Tech Ranch Austin three years ago with Jonas Lamis. About a year ago, Lamis left to join one of the Venture Forth companies: Piryx, a fundraising platform for nonprofits, political campaigns and personal causes. It’s now known as Rally.
The idea for Tech Ranch Austin first surfaced in 2003 when a close friend committed suicide, Koym said. Tech Ranch Austin honors their friend’s memory, he said.
So far, 300 entrepreneurs have gone through Venture Forth and hundreds more have attended Tech Ranch Austin’s “campfires,” which it holds twice a month on Friday afternoons. The informal sessions invite entrepreneurs to gather to discuss a wide range of topics.
TechRanch also rents office space to startup companies. Teamtopia, a Capital Factory 2011 winner, rents space there. Tech Ranch Austin’s staff also rents out office space for other events and offers consulting services.
“The thing that is making this place work is community,” Koym said.
Tech Ranch Austin held a “ranch warming” party Thursday night that attracted around 300 people to its headquarters at 9111 Jollyville Road. The crowd included many past Venture Forth participants.
Breanne Hull, with the Venture Forth 10 class, credits Tech Ranch Austin with helping the former schoolteacher learn business fundamentals. She launched Educlone, an online training site, last May.
“I didn’t know what a sales funnel was before Tech Ranch,” she said.
The collegial environmental and interaction with the other entrepreneurs also helped her refine her business ideas.
“It gave me a great forum where I could throw out a crazy idea and say what do you guys think,” she said. “They are really forward thinking people who are really supportive. Even now, I’ll e-mail someone from my cohort and ask their advice.”
Vivian Wied, president of Sagepoint Solutions, graduated from Venture Forth 11. Her company provides fundraising tools, signup sheets and scheduling tools to parents and volunteer groups. The tools are all free and supported through advertising. Wied launched her venture in September of 2009.
“Tech Ranch is a very supportive environment,” she said. Her classmates helped her refine and change her business plan.
Joe Gilson, founder of AnalyzIt.com, a fleet data analysis company, attended Venture Forth 9 and he credits the experience with focusing his business.
“It helped me to pivot from where I thought my product had traction to a point where my product had traction and customers.”
Other people in his class had transportation knowledge and experience and could help him with his venture.
“Now I have a viable business,” he said. “Tech Ranch helped take my venture from hey I’ve got this product to hey I’ve got this product people want to buy.”

Tech Ranch Austin’s 3rd anniversary in three words

Tech Ranch Austin, an early stage accelerator and incubator for entrepreneurs and their ventures, celebrated its third anniversary Thursday night at its new headquarters in North Austin at 9111 Jollyville Road. About 300 people turned out for the event which featured live music, a short speech by Kevin Koym, founder of Tech Ranch Austin, and lots of food, wine, beer and socializing.
During the event, which lasted from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., we pulled people aside to find out their thoughts on Tech Ranch Austin in three words and recorded them with the trusty Flip camera. We’ll post a story later on along with a slideshow from the party. (Full disclosure: I’m in Tech Ranch Austin’s Venture Forth program, which helps early stage entrepreneurs.)

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