Since January, the Code for America fellowship team has worked with the City of San Antonio.
The team made up of Maya Benari, David Leonard and Amy Mok have met with citizens and city officials. They spent a few months here working and then went back to San Francisco to complete their project.
Now they’ve completed an early version of it and they want citizens in San Antonio to test it. They’ve created an app, Homebase, that makes it easier for homeowners to make home improvements in cooperation with the City of San Antonio. They’ve tested the app with homeowners. It streamlines the home building permit process and lets homeowners easily apply for building permits.
The Code for America team wants more people to try the Homebase app and give them feedback, according to Benari.
Nate McGuire and Tyler Hobbs, co-founders of Recipeas in Austin
Nate McGuire, co-founder of Recipeas, a recipe search app, recently answered a few questions about his startup, which is based at Capital Factory in downtown Austin.
Q. Can you explain your product in the simplest language possible?
A. Recipeas is an iOS recipe app that tells you what you should cook with the ingredients you have. We make it easy to search popular recipes by ingredient.
Q. What’s your secret sauce? What differentiates you from the competition?
A. The most significant difference between Recipeas and other recipe apps is our search process. We only ask you about a few ingredients and then give you recipe results that you can actually make from popular food blogs across the web. We determined each ingredient’s initial probability and decay rate so we are able to give users the most accurate search results possible.
Q. Who are your competitors?
A. There are a lot of great food apps out there; we are working to be the best in recipe search.
Q. Are you Bootstrapped, or do you have Venture Capital or Angel Investment?
A. We’ve bootstrapped Recipeas.
Q. Who makes up your team?
A. Nate McGuire (@natemcguire) and Tyler Hobbs (@tylhobbs)
Q. Who are your customers?
A. We built Recipeas for people who need to make something right now using the ingredients they have. It’s not for planning out elaborate meals, but rather someone making dinner on a normal night.
Q. What is your business model?
A. We offer in-app purchases to unlock your search results, and for unlimited results (1000+ recipes) we charge 9.99. We give you a few recipe credits to start so you can view recipes before you buy.
Q. What is the biggest win you’ve had to date?
A. It’s very early on, but we’ve been pleased with the initial launch. We’re working on a few updates, so that’s our main focus right now. We’re also adding new recipes for people to try every day.
Q. What are the most helpful Austin startup resources that you’ve used?
A. Our biggest resource has been being able to talk to people who have built and launched apps and food startups before. There are so many unknowns when you are building new software, if you don’t have the opportunity to talk to people who have done it before you can end up making a lot of mistakes.
Q. What are the advantages of being in Austin for launching your startup?
A. The biggest benefit is that we actually enjoy and can afford living here. That gives us a lot of freedom to work on things that we think are important.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. We’ve received really great feedback from users, and there are a lot of new features that we’d like to explore. We’re working on improving sharing recipes with your friends and being able to add and modify your own recipes.
Q. Anything else you’d like to add or say that I haven’t asked you about?
A. We really believe that machine learning can be used to improve and aid everyday activities. With Recipeas, we’ve done just that by applying some sophisticated probabilistic techniques to the very common problem of creating something delicious to cook for dinner.
Ever want something from the store – a sandwich, milk, batteries – but didn’t have time to get it? If you’re in central Austin, you can now use Favor.
Favor is an app based delivery service that gets customers food, drinks, or whatever else they need delivered right to the user’s location. The service is active between the hours of 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday and available until 2 a.m.Thursday through Saturday. Favor has a $5.00 delivery fee plus $2.00 minimum tip on top of whatever you ordered. Customers can order virtually anything as long as they have the local store name and an item description.
Favor serves the central Austin area – as far south as Oltorf and as far north as 55th street. They currently have 12 runners and are still hiring.
Founded by high school friends Zac Maurais and Ben Doherty, Favor started out in San Luis Obispo, Calif. delivering burritos and beer. The startup went though the boost incubator in San Mateo, Calif. where it was eventually funded by venture capitalist Tim Draper. Favor moved its operation to Austin as of June 5 to access a larger customer base. It has seen 2000 downloads in its first month of operations.
Favor is currently looking for a Sencha touch developer to help build more features into their app.
Loku is a local search site that promotes local discovery and highlights the quirks of each city. Loku recently released a mobile application that lets users discover what’s happening right around them like events, restaurants, news and tips as well as it lets users establish themselves as local experts for their cities. With the release of the app, Dan Street, CEO of Loku, has given us some more insight into the operations of Loku in this Q&A.
Why did you leave the investment firm of KKR to enter the startup world?
Prior to doing a startup, I worked at great firms like Bain, KKR, and Dell. I really liked my time at each of those places. But around 2007, I lost two grandparents who were really important to me, and thought about what I wanted to do in my life. I realized that one of my big goals was to use my career not just for me, but to leave something positive behind. Loku came out of that inspiration.
Why did you create Loku?
In particular, I chose local discovery because it meant something to me. For me, local grew out of a childhood ideal. I grew up in a lot of smaller towns and suburbs, where everybody knew each other, and you knew the local store owners. Sort of like Austin. As I grew my career, I ended up in urban places like NY or SF. I loved those cities, but felt like I lost something great about smaller towns. The purpose of Loku is to bring a smaller town feel to urban areas.
Loku had raised $1.68 million in angel and seed stage funding so far, do you plan to seek additional funding? If so, how much and when?
Yes, we’ll likely raise more money. We’re going after a big opportunity, with really tough technology. These kinds of businesses don’t come cheap.
How many people use Loku?
We don’t release numbers, I’m sorry. But it’s nearing 6 figures, and growing 50%+ each month.
Loku recently introduced its mobile app what has been the reaction to it?
People are really excited about our mobile app. We’ve seen great engagement stats, including 26+ flips and over 5 minutes per session. Although we have a long way to go, our ambitions are much higher, we’re excited to be where we are.
How does Loku make money?
At this point, our focus is on delivering the best experience for our users and attracting more folks to join our app — the app and community only get better with more people onboard. We have been successful with a number of revenue models but plan on focusing on users in the short-term.
Who are your competitors and how does Loku differentiate itself in the local search space?
Our idea, making discovering new things you’ll love on your cell phone a fun game, hasn’t really been done. There are a lot of people who might come close, but we don’t think anyone is a direct competitor at the moment.
Is Loku’s headquarters in San Francisco? What role does the Austin office play in the company?
We were started in Austin, and our heart is here. We recruit heavily from UT and Rice (my alma mater) and all but one of our employees went to school in Texas. At this point, having our exec team in SF is the right thing for our business. There is expertise in our space in the Bay Area that you can’t find anywhere else. At the same time, we’re committed to having dual HQ in Austin – it’s where we’re from.
How many employees does Loku have? Are you hiring?
We’ve got 14 people, which is a lucky number. At this point, we only take interns, and some of them end up with full-time offers. We do not hire outside of our intern program at the moment. As the app continues to take off, we will be adding folk in the next few months, but primarily through our internship program.
What are Loku’s plans for the future?
We really want to impact lots of people in a positive way. If we can make it fun, and cool, to be involved in your local community, we’ll all be very happy. To do that, we’ll need to launch native mobile apps, expand the cities we cover, and keep getting better every day.
Can We Studios, a mobile application development company, has received $1.5 million in funding through private investors.
The Austin-based startup plans to launch the CanWeNetwork this summer, a professional networking applications online.
Brooke Braswell and Dan Kloiber founded Can We Studios last year.
Kloiber an angel investor and technology entrepreneur, led the investment round. He has “founded and sold three software companies to Fortune 100 corporations, and currently sits on a number of technology startup boards,” according to the company’s news release. “The CanWeNetwork app meets a very critical demand in the marketplace today by having the ability to select and connect business professionals who would like to meet in real time and in person,” Kloiber said in a statement. “The CanWeNetwork app is very different than other mobile social networking apps available today because it is designed to select high-value personal introductions that open up new opportunities for each individual that otherwise would have been missed.”
The CanWeNetwork app is in private beta testing and is expected to be released this summer as a free app for iPhone and Android phones. The company will debut the app at SXSW Interactive.
Steve Papermaster (left) and Dr. Jiren Liu (right)
The venture capital continues to flow into Austin.
This time, Appconomy has landed $10 million in a first round venture debt funding deal designed to accelerate its operations in China.
Appconomy has created a merchant payment system called AppWallet and offers an app for smartphones, tablets and feature phones. The company has a Chinese corporate headquarters in Shanghai and a development center in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Its U.S. headquarters is in Austin. Qiming Venture, based in Shanghai, led the round and its managing director Gary Rieschel will take a seat on the company’s board of directors. Neusoft Corp. also took a stake along with existing investors Western Technology Investment and True Ventures.
“With these two, new cornerstone commitments from Qiming and Neusoft, Appconomy will move rapidly to bring our unique AppWallet marketplace for global brands and local merchants to China,” Steve Papermaster, Chairman and co-CEO of Appconomy, said in a statement.