Tag: beta summit

InnoTech Austin Kicks off Wednesday

imgres-3The 10th anniversary of InnoTech Austin kicks off tomorrow at the Austin Convention Center.
And one of the most popular events is the annual Beta Summit which showcases some of Austin’s hottest new startup companies.
This year’s conference, which is sponsored by Presidio and the Austin Technology Council, is free to register with the special discount code of INNC in the discount code field.
The conference features special sessions on mobile applications, security, big data, agile, virtualization and more.
The free registration does not include the CIO Gala luncheon, Women in Tech Summit or the eMarketing Summit.
The Women in Tech Summit is an all day event that features top women IT executives and mentoring opportunities. Registration is $32 with discount code TECH2G.
The CIO Gala luncheon features leaders from USAA. Registration is $47 with the discount code TECH2G.
The eMarketing Summit features a full day of sessions designed for the marketing professional. Registration is $79 with discount codeTECH2G.

Full disclosure: InnoTech is an advertiser with Silicon Hills News

San Antonio’s CallGrader In DreamIt Ventures Philadelphia

Jon Dobbertin. co-founder of Call Grader

By L.A. LOREK, Founder of Silicon Hills News

At InnoTech San Antonio’s beta summit earlier this year, CallGrader won the competition.
The group of four close-knit friends created a software as a service customer application program for companies in the heating and cooling industry. They worked out of Geekdom on their venture.
A few months later, CallGrader applied and got selected to participate in the incubator program DreamIt Ventures, based in Philadelphia.
In September, Jon Dobbertin, Dan Garcia, Ben Niemietz and Chip Mobley all packed up and flew to Philadelphia. They rented two one-bedroom apartments close by the accelerator. Their wives, all four are expecting babies within four months of each other with the first due date set for Dec. 1, stayed in San Antonio.
“It’s been a little crazy,” Dobbertin said. He was in town last weekend and stopped by Geekdom for the 3 Day Startup San Antonio pitches on Sunday night. “We’ve been flying back and forth. But it’s been a phenomenal experience.”
The program has allowed Call Grader to expend its network, Dobbertin said. Every week, they meet with business people and listen to seminars from entrepreneurs who have been there and done that.
Dobbertin especially liked talks with Duck, Duck Go Founder Gabriel Weinberg and David Rose, founder of Gust.
CallGrader had a beta product in the marketplace when it entered the program, but now the company has launched and its revenues are projected to exceed what the team originally forecast by the end of the year, Dobbertin said. He declined to provide specifics.
“We’ve had a really successful launch out of Beta,” he said.
CallGrader has also pivoted into a cloud-based platform for providing businesses a way to efficiently communicate with customers. It has also built a rich database that allows companies to get all kinds of information on their customers including social media profiles to better tailor their service, Dobbertin said. And next year, it’s rolling out a chat platform, he said.
The DreamIt program has been hectic but it has pushed the team members to do more work in a short period of time than they would have gotten done on their own, Dobbertin said.
“We’re working around the clock, seven days a week and putting in 14 hour days,” he said. “In that three months we were able to do 12 months worth of work.”
CallGrader receied $25,000 in cash and $75,000 worth of credits for free hosting from Rackspace, Amazon and Azure. It has also received another $20,000 worth of legal and accounting services, Dobbertin said. But the most valuable part of the experience has been the mentorship and network the team received, he said.
To get to the next level, CallGrader plans to raise a seed round of investment, Dobbertin said. The company would like to raise its money in San Antonio so they can stay here. But they have already applied to the Benjamin Franklin Technology Fund, which would require Call Grader to be based in Philadelphia, Dobbertin said.
“We hope to find our funding here so we don’t have to move everyone to the East Coast,” he said.
Call Grader shows what’s possible for startup companies in San Antonio, said Alan Weinkrantz, a public relations expert who knows the team.
“It’s nice to see a company start and incubate here and go on to get accepted to a top tier incubator and relocate to Philadelphia.”

DreamIt Ventures recently expanded its program to Austin. It is based at Capital Factory. DreamIt Ventures just selected its first class of companies. They will have their demo day at SXSW 2013.

Five Austin Startups Demo Products at the InnoTech Beta Summit

Evan Baehr, co-founder of Outbox

By L.A. LOREK, Founder of Silicon Hills News
The Beta Summit at InnoTech Austin on Thursday featured five innovative startup companies.
Joshua Baer, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Capital Factory, served as the event’s moderator. He pitched his startup, OtherInbox, at the InnoTech Beta Summit a few years ago.
The startups each had eight minutes to showcase their companies to the standing-room only audience of more than 150 people. The startups included TrustRadius, Outbox, Ube, Skyence and Compare Metrics.
First up, TrustRadius, a company so new that Baer hadn’t heard of them yet, gave a demonstration of its enterprise software review site.
With consumer services like Yelp, people can find a thousand reviews of Home Slice Pizza on Congress Ave. but few reviews on expensive enterprise software programs companies buy to run their businesses, said Vinay Bhagat, TrustRadius Founder and CEO.
That’s the problem TrustRadius seeks to solve. It has launched a beta program for its review site for company software.
The site providers users with a template to evaluate a software product based on quality, customer service, ease of use and more. The reviews can also be sorted according to company size and industry. So a company technology professional can get relevant results for a small, medium or large business.
TrustRadius plans to make money through partnerships with software vendors and through subscription plans to premium content, Bhagat said.
Next up, Evan Baehr, co-founder of Outbox, gave an overview of his startup seeks to disrupt the bureaucratic and slow-moving U.S. Postal Service.
Outbox received $2.5 million in funding to create a new and better way to deliver mail to people in the digital age, Baehr said.
They built a product that digitizes all postal mail and delivers it to a user’s computer, phone or iPad. The product is in beta testing in Austin and already has 200 users.
Outbox seeks to innovate where the U.S. Post Office has failed, Baehr said.
“We’re young, we’re hip,” Baehr said. “We’ve got great outfits and really cool cars.”
Everyday Outbox’s employees, decked out in bright red Under Armour shirts, drive their white Outbox Prius cars to pick up customers mail. They then open the mail and scan each piece into a highly secure website. Customers can then access their mail and decide which items they want hard copies of to keep. Those items are delivered every Friday to the customers.
Outbox charges $4.99 a month for the service. Customers only need to send a picture of their mailbox key to Outbox to get started. Outbox then scans the key and creates a copy of it using a 3-D printer, Baehr said. The service is available in 40 zip codes in Austin right now. In the coming months, Outbox will expand to San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, Baehr said.
Outbox plans to integrate online bill paying into its service to make it easy for its customers to pay everything online, Baehr said. Right now, only 14 percent of bills are paid online, he said.
In the beginning, Outbox tried to partner with the U.S. Post Office. Baehr and other Outbox employees met with Postmaster General in Washington, D.C. to pitch their idea for digitizing the mail. The U.S. Post Office was not receptive, Baehr said. So they pursued the idea on their own.
At the end of the presentation, Baehr handed out postcards with a code for free two-month discount to the Outbox service.
Baehr talked so fast and enthusiastically that at one point he joked he felt like he was selling a Ronco Knife set.

Utz Baldwin, CEO and founder of Ube, demonstrates the Ube app to turn on lights

Next, Utz Baldwin, CEO of Ube, joked “That’s what happens folks when you feed your kids Redbull for breakfast.”
Ube recently won the People’s Choice Award at DEMO Fall 2012. The company plans to launch next month its free iOS app to control IP-enabled devices in the home like lighting systems, smart TVs and thermostats.
Baldwin is a former CEO of CEDIA, the global organization representing the connected home industry.
“The Internet of things is here,” Baldwin said.
Right now, creating a connected home can costs thousands of dollars and requires all kinds of hardware. Ube replaces all that, Baldwin said. With the app, anyone can control lights, TV and other devices in their home using a smartphone, a Wi-Fi router and the Internet.
Baldwin demonstrated how he could dim lights with his smartphone. He ended his presentation with a question to the audience.
“What will Ube controlling next month?” Baldwin said.
The fourth company to pitch, Skyence showed off its cloud services management software. The company launched six months ago and is in a private invitation only beta, said Tony Frey, its co-founder.
The software helps companies manage their files in the cloud on services ike Yammer, Shoutcast and Dropbox, Frey said. Skyence filters across all the cloud services, he said.
Skyence can track files and let management know who is using them and who are they sharing the files with online, he said.
Lastly, Compare Metrics’ Garrett Eastham, founder and CEO, provide an overview of his feature-driven search engine for e-commerce sites.
“We’re adding a new layer of interactivity and discovery on top of e-commerce sites,” Eastham said.
Compare Metrics has created a platform that delivers only the most relevant features to a customer. The platform becomes more intelligent the more a user interacts with it. It learns a person’s preferences and then makes product suggestions based on certain features. The company has a patent pending on its feature discovery and comparison platform.
Compare Metrics makes money by selling categories to e-commerce sites on a monthly basis. It is a software as a service company and charges $500 per month per category to retailers.
Its first customer, LivingDirect.com, goes live next week with Compare Metrics’ platform, Eastham said.

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