Tag: Austin technology incubator (Page 1 of 2)

Yan Engines Closes on $2 million in Funding

YanEnginesSplash1Yan Engines, a recent graduate of the Austin Technology Incubator, has closed on $2 million in funding.
The company has also developed a fuel efficient car engine and landed a contract to create a truck engine for the U.S. military.
Yan Engines recently graduated from ATI’s Clean Energy Incubator. The company also works closely with Prof. Ronald Matthews from UT’s Engines Research Laboratory in the Mechanical Engineering Department.
“At ATI, we look for major market disruptors, and Yan Engines fit that criterion and then some,” Mitch Jacobson, co-director, ATI Clean Energy Incubator, said in a news release. “By proving out that they could make a standard commercial engine 80% more fuel efficient, the future technology applications are literally endless. We are excited to continue to support Yan in its efforts to improve fuel efficiency of military fleets, shipping, power generation, and infinite other potentials.”
In 2008, Yan Engines completed a Honda engine prototype, which was built in Taiwan. But in the fall of 2011, the company moved to Austin and joine ATI.
To date, Yan Engines has raised $4 million through investors and contracts. Its latest investment came from New Energy Holdings, a private equity firm.

Four Austin Startups Shine at the 2014 ATC Startup Showdown

Founder of Silicon Hills News

imgres-8The Austin Technology Council’s Startup Showdown builds a bridge between the startup community and those who have more seasoned experiences and companies, said Josh Alexander, founder of Toopher.

Toopher, a security platform that helps businesses authentic and verify their customers online, won the ATC Startup Showdown in 2012.

“As a result we were able to connect and get really, really good advice from those who have been there and done that,” Alexander said.

“We’ve been very fortunate in our trajectory so far and we’ve been able to accomplish a lot, clearly, if not most of it, because of the wonderful community we have here in Austin,” he said. Toopher has raised $2 million.

Alexander spoke at the Austin Technology Council’s CEO Summit on Thursday during a noontime presentation of the four most promising local startups in the 2014 ATC Startup Showdown.

Alexander introduced Joseph Kopser, the CEO and Founder of RideScout, “the Kayak of ground transportation” and the winner of the Startup Showdown from last year. RideScout started in the Austin Technology Incubator. The company created a mobile phone app that lets consumers search and compare aggregated ground transportation options to find the best one. The company has raised seed stage funding last year, built out its team and launched in Washington, D.C., Austin, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.

“We wouldn’t have gotten to where we are today without ATC and its supporters,” Kopser said.

ATC chose one startup from each of four tech incubators based in Austin including the Austin Technology Incubator, Capital Factory, DreamIt Ventures and Techstars Austin.

Among Austin’s incubators and accelerators there’s a lot of collaboration and cooperation, said Isaac Barchas, director of the Austin Technology Incubator.

“The infrastructure is being built out in a way that makes the whole more valuable than its parts,” Barchas said.

Rick Hawkins, president and CEO of Lumos Pharma, an ATI company.

Rick Hawkins, president and CEO of Lumos Pharma, an ATI company.

The winning company from ATI was Lumos Pharma. The company is developing a drug treatment for autism, said Rick Hawkins, its president and CEO. Earlier this year, Lumos Pharma raised $14 million in a Series A funding round led by Sante Ventures and New Enterprise Associates. The company is using that money to finance pre-clinical and clinical development of its drug to treat Creatine Transporter Deficiency, a cause of autism and other mental disorders.

The winning company from Capital Factory was Cratejoy.

Josh Baer, co-founder of Capital Factory, said the incubator has made 30 investments since October. He said it’s the most active seed-stage investor in Austin right now. Capital Factory launched a syndicate investment on Angellist with $100,000 investment in Cratejoy and the company attracted another $350,000 in investment from around the country, Baer said.

Amir Elaguizy, founder of Cratejoy, a Capital Factory company.

Amir Elaguizy, founder of Cratejoy, a Capital Factory company.

“Cratejoy is an ecommerce platform for subscription-based businesses,” said Amir Elaguizy, its founder.

The company pivoted from Toutpost, a Y-Combinator startup, into Cratejoy after Elaguizy identified an unmet need for a platfrom catering to subscription based businesses. The company launched a Beta program recently and has signed up several paying businesses including Beard Brand, which sells grooming supplies for breads, Sumo Snacks, a subscription based jerky delivery to companies and a tie of the month club. Cratejoy, which has 10 employees, recently moved out of the Capital Factory and into a house in Austin because it’s expanding so quickly and needed more room, Elaguizy said.

Utz Baldwin, founder of Plum

Utz Baldwin, founder of Plum

The winning company from Techstar Austin was Plum, an “Internet of Things” company that makes an app that lets people control lighting in their home from their smartphone. The company, formerly known as Ube, went through the inaugural Techstars class. It has raised $1.5 million, including $307,600 through a successful Kickstarter campaign last year from 1,300 backers. The company has 11 employees and has its prototypes in hand, said Utz Baldwin, the company’s founder.

“I think Austin is the number two city in the country, outside of the Bay Area, for starting up a company,” he said. “We are intent on building a big consumer brand right here in the great state of Texas.”

The winning company representing DreamIt Ventures was Swan, a platform that allows consumers to order beauty services like hairstyles, makeup and manicures to the home or office.

Kerry Rupp, CEO of DreamIt Ventures in Austin, introduced Julia Andalman Swan’s founder. Andalman first pitched her company to Steve Welch of DreamIt Ventures in Dallas but she didn’t think he liked it. Then he called her a week later. He went home and talked to his wife about it and she thought it was a great idea, Andalman said.

Ten Semi-Finalists Named for SXSW Pitch Competition

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

imgres-6Silicon Hills News, Austin Technology Incubator and Central Texas Angel Network have picked the ten semi-finalists for a South by Southwest pitch competition to be held March 9 at the Austin Chamber Offices.

They are:
Embrace Customers
Spot On Sciences
Filament Labs
EyeQ Insights
Lucid Tour
Articulate Labs

“What an amazing group of applicants this year,” said Kyle Cox, Director, IT/Wireless & University Development portfolio for ATI . “Our round 1 judges had a difficult time narrowing the field down to the 10 semi-finalists. The caliber of these local Austin firms is up there with any nationwide competition out there.”

The winners were chosen not only on the strength of their ideas from an investor standpoint, but also on their ability to tell their story in a manner compelling to the media. Frequently, it’s the back story that makes a startup stand out. That may mean stumbling upon the idea in an unusual way, enduring a remarkable struggle to bring it to fruition, embarking on an epic customer validation journey and the like.

Each of the ten finalists will receive one SXSW Interactive badge and be given the opportunity to pitch in front of a panel that includes Pat Noonan of Austin Ventures, Monique Maley of Articulate Persuasion, and Gary Forni of Central Texas Angel Network. Round one will take place at 9:30 a.m.

The five finalists from that round will go on to round two at 11 a.m. where they’ll pitch before Venu Shamapant of LiveOak Venture Partners, John Stockton of Mayfield Fund and Tom Chederar of VentureBeat.

The prizes include:

  • A series of profile articles in Silicon Hills News, following the company’s growth journey.
  • A three month membership in ATI’s Landing Pad portfolio.
  • A free spot in CTAN’s next investor pitch day.
  • Three hours coaching from professional pitch coach Monique Maley
  • Three hours consulting from ValentineHR on issues like hiring and recruiting and compliance.

The top winner will get a series of Silicon Hills articles and one other prize of his/her choice. The second place winner will also choose two prizes from those leftover and the third place winner will take the remaining prize.

The Importance of ATI to Austin’s Tech Industry

Isaac Barchas, director of the Austin Technology Incubator, at its 25th anniversary celebration and graduation.

Isaac Barchas, director of the Austin Technology Incubator, at its 25th-anniversary celebration and graduation.

The Austin Technology Incubator started off as a lab at the University of Texas at Austin 25 years ago.
No one knew what an incubator was in 1989 but they understood labs so George Kozmetsky, dean of the business school and ATI’s founder, called it a lab for students to learn about entrepreneurship and technology transfer.
Today, that lab is one of the oldest and most successful incubators in the country. ATI has graduated 142 companies and six of them went public, 40 more merged or were acquired with larger firms and another 50 are still operating, according to a new report “The Economic Impact of Austin Technology Incubator Alumni Companies on Travis County.”
The report found that just in the last 10 years, ATI companies have had an $880 million economic impact on Central Texas and they have created 6,524 direct and indirect jobs.
“ATI has had a tremendous economic impact on Austin,” said Juan Sanchez, vice president for research at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s not too bad for a 25-year-old.”
On Wednesday night, ATI graduated 25 companies, which have raised $60 million so far in venture funding. Two of those companies, Black Locus and Hoot.me have already been acquired. Home Depot bought Black Locus in 2012 and Civitas Learning acquired Hoot.me last summer.
“In a very real sense, ATI was the only game in town 25 years ago,” said Isaac Barchas, ATI’s director. “Today, ATI is not the only incubator.”
Austin has Capital Factory, DreamIt Ventures, Techstars, Incubation Station, Tech Ranch Austin and more.
“Now Austin is the incubator,” Barchas said.
At the event, Josh Alexander, co-founder of Toopher, gave a humorous graduation speech. Toopher, founded in 2011, now has 23 employees and plans to expand in 2014, he said. Toopher has created software to detect identity theft and fraud online. The company, which created two-factor authentication security software, received $2 million in Series A funding last year.
ATI also handed out awards.
Manoj Saxena, founder of Webify and now general manager of Watson Solutions for IBM Software Group in Austin, won the Laura J. Kilcrease Civic Entrepreneurship Award.
“I want Austin to become the hub for cognitive computing in the country,” Saxena said, upon accepting his award.
The inaugural John Butler Distinguished Alumni Award went to Michael E. Webber, former ATI intern and now Deputy Director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.
More than 400 RSVPed to attend the graduation event. Greg Kozmetsky, son of the late George Kozmetsky, attended along with Pike Powers, a longtime economic development proponent for the technology industry who worked closely with Kozmetsky. Others attending included Laura Kilcrease, the founding executive director of ATI, Robert Peterson, director of the IC2 Institute, Gregory Fenves, UT executive vice president and provost, Bob Metcalfe, UT Professor of Innovation and many more.

Reaction from ATI to Calxeda’s Shut Down

images-4Isaac Barchas, director of the Austin Technology Incubator, penned a blog post titled “This Sucks” in response to news of the closing of Calxeda this week.
“Recent ATI graduate and rock star, Calxeda, will be shutting its doors,” Barchas wrote. “Investors unexpectedly pulled the plug on the company, which developed a novel architecture to allow low-power ARM chips to drive servers.”
Calxeda, founded in 2008 by Barry Evans, started out at ATI as a dream. Evan’s project also received investment from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, which allowed him to go from concept to prototype.
Calxeda’s technology garnered widespread praise. In 2012, Massachusetts Institute of Technology named Calxeda one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world. (Google, IBM and Facebook also made the list.) Calxeda also partnered with Hewlett-Packard to test its chips in its servers.
Calxeda graduated from ATI in 2012 and it grew quickly.
At the ATI graduation ceremony in January of 2012, Evans gave the keynote speech.
“I thought Calxeda would be big, but I didn’t know what that would look like,” Evans said at that time.
He talked about the company going big.
“Big, when you find it, is awesome,” Evans said. But he also mentioned that the company didn’t focus on its success, but instead its mantra was “TSBW – This Shit Better Work.”
“When you are running a marathon and you finish two miles, you don’t say wow this is great, you think I’ve still got 24 miles to go,” Evans said at the time. He said his company was in “corporate puberty.”
ATI plugged Evans into Austin’s startup ecosystem and other successful entrepreneurs, Evans said at that time.
The company employed 120 people and raised more than $100 million in investment capital.
“Those people just got pink slips,” Barchas wrote. “That’s awful. So is the fact that Calxeda won’t be the company that exploits the beachhead that they made in the ultra-low power server market.
But Calxeda burned bright. It brought a lot of really talented people (and a lot of money) to Austin,” Barchas wrote. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to the core IP or to the core team, both of which are massively valuable assets. I’m pretty sure, though, that this won’t be the last really interesting chip architecture company that’s made in Austin.
To Barry and his team, we raise a glass in sorrow, but also in deep appreciation.”

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.

AuManil Wins the Austin Startup Fast Pitch Competition at SXSW

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Bart Bohn with AuManil pitching at the Austin Fast Pitch competition at #SXSW

Bart Bohn with AuManil pitching at the Austin Fast Pitch competition at #SXSW

The free to play model dominates the multi-billion dollar video game industry.
So a lot of game makers capitalize on that by selling things to players in the game to make money.
AuManil, which creates software to manage the customer relationship market for video games, wants to make sure the game makers capture the most revenue possible.
AuManil won the Austin Startup Fast Pitch competition Saturday afternoon. The Austin Technology Incubator and the Central Texas Angel Network sponsored the event in the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s offices at South by Southwest Interactive.
It was a close race said Kyle Cox, director of wireless at the Austin Technology Incubator. He reported that AuManil won with 74 out of a possible 100 points. It was just two points in front of the next competitor, he said.
The other companies presenting included Circle Media, Dejaset, Ridescout and Tenduit.
As the winner of the competition, Bohn received a free entry into a funding cycle for CTAN and a six-month membership into the ATI portfolio.
Five Austin-based startups pitched to a panel of judges including John Stockton with Mayfield Fund, Krishna Srinivasan with Live Oak Venture, Bril Flint, chairman of CTAN and Pat Noonan with Austin Ventures.
“We’re AuManil, CRM for Whales,” Bohn told the panel as the first company to pitch.
Bohn explained that 70 percent of a video game’s revenue comes from whales or big fans, 20 percent from dolphins, moderately engaged fans, and 10 percent from minnows, fans that aren’t that engaged. AuManil’s software targets whales and allows the video game makers to use analytics to cater to their best customers.
“We’re taking game play data and mixing it with predicative and social analytics – acquiring, converting, retaining and migration from game to game to game,” Bohn said.
The company already has four games under management with its first product that targets increasing repeat business from engaged customers.
AuManil is seeking a $500,000 seed round of investment and already has 40 percent committed, Bohn said.
“We bring the measure to unmeasured media,” said Mark Piening of Circle Media. His company focuses on measuring brand engagement at events.
“We want to help brands understand what audiences want,” he said. It has created a software program that includes an “audience intelligence dashboard” that gives brands insights into consumer engagement.
Matt Peterson, founder and CEO of Dejaset, pitched his music app for bands to produce and sell live performances of songs to consumers. Dejaset is capturing more than 100 live performances in the next 10 days at SXSW. With the Dejaset app, bands can make their recordings available instantly for consumers to buy. Dejaset expects to have up to 3,000 artists signed up by this summer. The company takes a 50 percent cut of each song sold and provides a 10 percent cut to the venue hosting the band.
Ridescout aggregates transportation available to consumers in real time, said Jospeh Kopser, the company’s founder.
“Aggregation is the way of the future” Kopser said.
Kayak is focused on airlines and hotels and Ridescout is focused on transportation, Kopser said. It gets real time feeds of availability from pedicabs and other drivers that self report. It does not include services like Sidecar, which are not legally approved by the city of Austin, he said. The app also enables friends to get rides from friends for free, he said.
Lastly, Dave Perry, CEO of Tenduit, pitched the company that makes datacenters “more reliable and more efficient” with its software.
“Data centers suck,” Perry said. They require more energy than the entire airline industry, he said.
But most data centers operate at 50 percent or less of their capacity, Perry said. That’s due to lack of effective tools to manage all the computer servers inside, he said.
“It’s a huge problem and Tenduit is going to be part of that solution that makes that problem go away,” Perry said. The company raised $1.3 million in a seed round from friends and family and is seeking a $3 million Series A funding round to scale up sales and marketing, software development and operations.

Toopher Becomes an IT Portfolio Company at ATI

imgres-11The Austin Technology Incubator at The University of Texas announced that Toopher has officially graduated into its Incubator as an IT portfolio company.
Last December, Toopher closed a $2 Million Series A round of funding from investors including Alsop Louie Partners of San Francisco.
Toopher was started in 2011 by Evan Grim, a University of Texas PhD student in software engineering, and Josh Alexander, an adjunct professor teaching financial derivatives at UT’s McCombs School of Business. They developed security software that authenticates a person’s identity from a smartphone using its location-based technology so that they can log into online accounts. The software uses two forms of authentication to verify the user to prevent identity theft and fraud.
“Toopher is doing something that is very technically difficult, but is very easy for customers to integrate into their system, and is very simple to use,” Stewart Alsop, partner, Alsop Louie, said in a news release. “That’s what we look for: entrepreneurs that have solved a really difficult problem and have the opportunity to grow really fast.”.
“Toopher is revolutionizing authentication and finally making security work for us, utilizing the technology already in our pockets in ways mirroring our everyday activities and interactions” Kyle Cox, director of ATI’s IT/Wireless and Longhorn Startup Development Portfolios said in a news release. “It is great for Austin that this game-changing technology is coming from our students and faculty at the University of Texas, and we are excited for ATI to be part of the continued growth of Toopher.”
In 2012 cybercrime caused over $114 billion in losses and affected more than 550 million users with the bulk of those victims coming from the U.S.

ihiji Joins the Austin Technology Incubator

ihiji has joined the Austin Technology Incubator.
The Austin-based company makes software that allows companies to remotely monitor and support Internet enabled devices on a network. It has been part of ATI’s Landing Pad Program for the past two years.
ihiji founders, Stuart Rench, President; Michael Maniscalco, Vice President of Technology; and, David Rench, Vice President of Financ, sold their residential design build home automation company in West Palm Beach, Fla. in 2010 and moved to Austin under the ATI Landing Pad program.
ihiji joined ATI to tap into its network of peers, mentors, businesses and investors.
“Not only is Texas a great state for businesses, but Austin is on the rise, has a wonderful tech community and is also very livable. The structure of ATI was a good fit for our company and the Landing Pad Program helped us easily relocate from out of state and not miss a beat,” Rench, President of ihiji said in a statement. “ATI staff has been great. They’re there when you need them for ideas, thoughts, reviews and introductions. We’re also able to take advantage of multiple directors depending on our challenge, which is nice because they each have their own perspectives and areas of expertise.”

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