Tag: Capital Factory (Page 2 of 5)

Coworking Options for Yogis, Dog-Lovers and Everybody Else

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Photo licensed from iStock

Photo licensed from iStock

Picking a co-working space is like a cross between choosing a place to work and finding your favorite hangout. What’s important to you? Ergonomic chairs? Community? The vibe? The snacks? Or, as one Yelper explained, the fact that they “play the same tunes I have on my iPod?”
And considering that the people around you might become your friends, clients, business partners and tribe what do you want them to be like? Older professionals? Hackers? Hipsters? Artists? Do you want to bring your dog? Do you want to share a coffee machine with investors? Do you want a yoga class in the same space?
Austin has a great array of coworking places that offer all of the above and more. We’ve compiled a directory of some of the area’s hottest co-working spaces for you to find your spot.

Capital Factory

In many ways, Capital Factory is the hub of all things startup. On the 16th floor of the Omni building, this is where you can rub elbows with many of the area’s most promising new companies, and the investors and successful entrepreneurs who mentor them. You get access to giant pillows and snacks like candy, chips, fruit, and the occasional pizza. Co-workers don’t get all the designer ergonomic office systems. They share long tables in a common room. But they are at hand for many cool events and meetups that happen in Capital Factory space.
Membership Fee: $150 for 15 hours a month; $350 for unlimited access
Address: 701 Brazos St., 16th Floor, Austin
Website: capitalfactory.com/work/coworking

Conjunctured

Conjunctured is a funky work space in an old house on the East Side. Started by a couple of geeks, Conjectured prides itself on the community its co-workers have created. Members not only work at the space during the day but also have happy hours, volleyball games, board games at one another’s homes and go tubing and group skydiving. Conjunctured plays music from its members’ iPods but also has a quiet room for people who need minimal distractions. And it’s dog friendly—if you call first.
Membership fee: $25 to $275 a month
Address: 1309 E. Seventh St., Austin
Website: conjunctured.com

Center61

Center61 in East Austin, is where you might want to be if the focus of your work is social good. Like, if what gets you up in morning is the environment or global justice or racial harmony and you’re looking for likeminded people to collaborate with, this would be the place to work.
Modern, airy and quiet, Center 61 is scientists, artists, business owners, technologists and more.
Membership fee: $10 to $200 a month
Address: 2921 E. 17th St. #4, Austin
Website: center61.com

GoLab Austin

In an old building on groovy East Sixth, the GoLab is a combination art gallery and coworking space. Founder Steve Golab offers lunch and learns and encourages the software and social platform developers to birth new ideas through collaboration and community.
Membership fee: $250 to $350 a month
Address: 621 E. Sixth St., Austin
Website: golabaustin.com

Link Coworking

Link Coworking is one of the best known and longest-lasting co-working spots in Austin. With a funky, modern space with ergonomic Turnstone furniture, Link has private, dedicated spaces as well as open working spaces. If offers a place for experts to come and give free consulting to members and the community and it holds and myriad events for networking and for fun.
Membership fee: $200 to $500 a month
Address: 2700 W. Anderson Lane, #205, Austin
Website: linkcoworking.com

Opportunity Space

Started by startup veteran Erica Douglass, Opportunity Space is specially designed for startups, rather than freelancers or solopreneurs. Operating out of a charming old house on Caesar Chavez, on the East Side Opportunity Space offers each startup a dedicated desk and, if they want, a dedicated room. And it has one thing few co-working spaces offer…a shower!
Membership fee: $500 a month for a dedicated desk
Address: 2125 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin
Website: opportunityspace.com

Perch Coworking

Perch coworking in East Austin offers ergonomic chairs, mail delivery and a community of what it calls “self-contained business people.” Perch has clean, modern space and focuses hard on the business aspect of getting work done and meeting with likeminded people who might also be good business contacts.
Membership fee: $175 a month; drop-ins are $25 a day
Address: 2235 E. Sixth St., Austin
Website: perchcoworking.com

Posh Coworking

Posh is the first Austin co-working space specifically for women. Elegant, if a little girlie, Posh not only provides co-working spaces but quiet meeting areas—named Elizabeth, Audrey and Marilyn–for members to meet with clients. Members rave about the warm feel, the writing lab, and the help of the owner, Blossom.
Membership fee: $125 to $400 a month
Address: 3027 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite 202, Austin
Website: poshcoworking.com

Soma Vida

So what if your requirements go way beyond ergonomic chairs and snacks? Soma Vida is a wellness community described by several Yelpers as “Nirvana.” It’s a yoga collective, a wellness center, a veritable Vallhalla of work life balance in an old house in East Austin. And best of all, it’s way less expensive than most co-working spaces. And memberships come with free yoga classes and entrance to networking events. Namaste.
Membership fee: $25 to $65 a month
Address: 1210 Rosewood Ave., Austin
Website: somavida.net

Tech Ranch Austin

Tech Ranch is another major startup hub in Austin, north of downtown. It’s an incubator that helps businesses from seed to scale. In a quiet office park off 183, Tech Ranch offers a range from general co-working in a modern setting to a dedicated desk, chair and locking cabinet space. Another great place to rub elbows with entrepreneurs and investors who are making new things happen.
Membership fee: $150 to $300 a month
Address: 9111 Old Jollyville Road, Suite 100, Austin
Website: techranchaustin.com

Vuka

The owners of Vuka envisioned the space as a co-working place, event venue and all around community gathering space. A giant, open warehouse with incredible tree light fixtures and funky furniture, Vuka is the perfect place for people who want to combine art with work. The venue has almost no parking, however, and some members report that all that combining of art, work and community can be a little distracting.
Membership fee: $150 to $300 a month; drop-ins are $15 a day ($5 on Fridays)
Address: 411 W. Monroe St., Austin
Website: vukaaustin.com

San Antonio Coworking Space

Geekdom

Geekdom is the place for San Antonio coworking. The local startup hub, Geekdom is steps away from the Riverwalk and offers month to month membership as well as dedicated desks and office spaces. Because it’s the hub of entrepreneurship, it’s also the place to encounter the up and coming companies and the investors and mentors who are helping them. The coworking space is moving into the historic Rand building downtown in late March and will have a specially designed space featuring showers, bike racks, kitchen, postboxes, phone booths and a special events center.
Membership fee: $50 to $200
112 East Pecan, 10th & 11th Floors
San Antonio, Texas 78205
Website: http://geekdom.com/san-antonio

Spokefly Wants to Change Urban Transportation One Bike at a Time

The freedom of a bike, photo licensed from iStock

The freedom of a bike, photo licensed from iStock

By JULIA BUNCH
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

377527v1-max-250x250The website of Austin startup Spokefly lists a variety of bicycles its members may borrow.

For example, Lee has posted a picture of his large commuter bike, Brittany has a medium road bike and Shawn has a medium cruiser listed.

Nate McGuire and Dan DeFelippi founded and launched this peer-to-peer bike share in October. The business lets bike owners rent their bikes to others.

“If you have an extra bike and want to make some money off it, you can list it with us,” DeFelippi said. “If you want a more convenient way to get around you can become a member.”

Bike owners make money based on the frequency their bike is ridden. Renters browse the site, find a bike near them, use a code to unlock the bike, and ride. Membership levels start at $14.99 a month for five monthly rides, two hour time limit and one day pass included. The highest rate is $79.99 a month for unlimited rides of premium road and mountain bikes.

Spokefly currently targets the urban population downtown and University of Texas students.

“The downtown worker is not necessarily replacing their commute [with Spokefly], but it’s good for not having to move your car or pay for parking,” McGuire said. “Downtown workers are very particular about how and when they will use [Spokefly.]”

Kelly Hannifin, a web designer working in downtown, rents a bike from Spokefly about once per week.

“We ride to happy hour and have a great time,” Hannifin said. “I love that the bikes are super close to where I live and downtown. They’re not just any old bikes. They are people’s nice bikes that they really take care of.”

She primarily rents a Spokefly bike for social reasons but that may change.

“In the summer when the weather is nice, I’ll use it for transportation more then,” she said.

Spokefly’s original targeted downtown workers, but quickly expanded to include University of Texas students.

377526v1-max-450x450“We’re getting more bikes at UT and it looks like students will adopt pretty quickly,” McGuire said. “We’re looking at [Austin Community College], [St. Edward’s University], and others around town. UT was easier because I’m familiar with it.”

McGuire graduated from UT in 2008 with degrees in finance and communication studies. After working at Apple Inc. and Ernst & Young, he realized he wanted to build businesses instead.

McGuire started working on the project last summer after his car was totaled. He spent about a month using other transportation, then looked at a bike rack and got an idea.

“I thought, ‘I’m just going to take a bike home,’ but there was no way I could actually do that.”

So McGuire created a way. He put together a rough prototype, and then approached DeFelippi about working together.

“It just worked out,” McGuire said. “He has a lot more technical experience than me. What you see now is a product of him and I working together.”

The pair met the year before at Capital Factory, an incubator that helps people become entrepreneurs and network with other talents.

“Our skills complement each other pretty well,” DeFelippi said. “He’s business with some development experience. I’m development with some business experience.”

This two-man team is part of the most recent incubator class at Capital Factory. While they have lots of ideas for expansion, their current focus is on a mobile site, set to launch by South By Southwest.

“It’s going to have a new features,” DeFelippi said. “A lot of them are user requests like adding more detailed descriptions of the bikes and brands, allowing users to take photos of the bikes to check security and allowing users to interact with bike owners.”

While both founders say their biggest challenge is getting users, as is typical with startups, the pair keeps close contact with current users.

“One or the other of both of us has met all users,” DeFelippi said. “We email every user when they sign up so they can talk to us. We might take them out to lunch. We want to know how we can improve their experience.”

Besides immediate growth with a mobile platform, Spokefly hopes to expand to other cities in time. McGuire listed several cities in the running with San Francisco topping the list.

“Austin is our initial test city, because we live here,” DeFelippi said. “But the long term plan is to grow across the US. We’re looking at bike-friendly reasonable environments, but still trying to figure it out.”

Women@Austin Provides Insights on Startups and Fundraising

The steering committee behind Women@Austin, photo by Sara Peralta

The steering committee behind Women@Austin, photo by Sara Peralta


By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News

The Capital Factory in downtown Austin smelled like roses and perfume on Thursday night.
Red heart balloons, roses and heart-shaped doilies decorated the tables, walls and windows of the main presentation room.
The tech accelerator and incubator hosted more than 100 women for the inaugural Women@Austin event, which kicked off with networking over wine and hors d’oeuvres. The event sold out in five days, said Jan Ryan, its founder.
“I think we hit a nerve,” she said.
A steering committee of 16 women began meeting last fall to plan for Women@Austin which aims to triple the number of women-funded companies in the next few years, provide more mentoring and increase the visibility of female entrepreneurs in the community.
“This is the debut of a new mission-driven community to really accelerate women in Austin,” Ryan said.
Josh Kerr, co-founder of Written.com, was one of the few men in attendance. He was one of the first ones to sign up, Ryan said.
Usually, Capital Factory is teeming with a lot of men working on startups. Kerr’s company is based there. But on Thursday night, the women took over except for the first speaker, Bill Wood, general partner at Silverton Partners. Laura Kilcrease, founder of Triton Ventures and founding director of the Austin Technology Incubator, introduced Wood. She said he was the first person she met when she moved to Austin in 1984. And he was the first person she consulted when she decided to become a Venture Capitalist and to establish Triton Ventures.
“He gave me insightful information,” Kilcrease said.

Advice from Bill Wood, general partner with Silverton Partners

Bill Wood, general partner of Silverton Partners, photo by Sara Peralta

Bill Wood, general partner of Silverton Partners, photo by Sara Peralta

And Wood provided insightful information about raising venture funds in his talk. Increasing the number of women-backed ventures is something he said he feels very strongly about.
“Women are under-represented and they add such a different dimension,” Wood said. Having women involved in startups leads to better outcomes, he said.
Women have “lifestyle obstacles” but those can be addressed and handled, he said.
Wood gave basic information on the different stages of how startups raise money from friends and family to angels to seed funds and then early stage funds and lastly, growth equity.
“We are a classic seed stage, early stage fund,” he said. “We’re the first institutional investor in our deals, but there are almost always angels where we invest.”
Venture capitalists look for a validation of a product’s market opportunity when they decide to invest in a startup, Wood said. Everything is driven by data and metrics today, he said.
“Business has gone from judgment and insight and wisdom to metric-based decision making.” Wood said. “That’s just the way it works…It’s all math. We’re looking for some validation in the numbers.”
The expectations also go up dramatically when a company gets venture capital, Wood said.
He also said there are lots of great businesses out there that don’t make sense for VCs.
“Don’t get your feelings hurt,” he said. “If you don’t raise VC money, that means you own more of the company. If it’s successful, good for you.”
VCs are looking for outcomes in the $100 million range, Wood said. It’s not just that the business is a really good business, but it has to be able to get to a size where it can provide a big return to investors, he said.
Silverton Partners only invests in Austin companies and most of its investments are in the software industry or consumer applications, Wood said.

Three Female Founders Give Startup Advice

From left - Jan Ryan, Patti Rogers, Heather Brunner and Erica Douglass, photo by Sara Peralta

From left – Jan Ryan, Patti Rogers, Heather Brunner and Erica Douglass, photo by Sara Peralta

Following Wood, a panel of three female founders took to the stage to share lessons they learned raising money and running companies. The panel featured Patti Rogers, founder and CEO of Rallyhood, a productivity platform for groups, Heather Brunner, CEO of WPEngine, a WordPress hosting company, and Erica Douglass of MarketVibe, a blog marketing startup.
Ryan asked them what challenges they faced launching their businesses and the lessons they learned.
“When you’re starting something new, every day is a new surprise,” Rogers said. “Having tolerance for that is super important.”
Douglass recounted how Josh Baer, co-founder of Capital Factory, told her that no one cared about her $1 million exit and that she shouldn’t mention that when she pitched investors because they think it’s too small. She cried, she said.
She did go on to raise $640,000 as part of the TechStars Austin program and she’s getting ready to raise another round soon, she said.
Women@Austin, photo by Sara Peralta

Women@Austin, photo by Sara Peralta

“Fundraising is something that takes all your time,” Douglass said. She recommended putting together a list of 125 active investors and spending a month or two just focused on fundraising. It’s important to find out if those investors have written a check in the last year, she said. Austin has a lot of people who say they are investors, but they never write checks, she said.
“You don’t want to waste your time with people who aren’t active investors,” Douglass said.
On the personal side, founders have to get used to rejection, Brunner said.
“Get used to the fact that not everyone is going to love your story,” she said. But make sure to get feedback from them, she said.
Brunner also recommended vetting venture capital firms and investors to find the right fit for a startup’s industry and for those investors who already had investments in that space. That will save time, she said.
She heard from a lot of investors who loved WPEngine’s metrics and were in love with the story, but it didn’t fit their investment metrics, she said.
Ryan also asked the panel how they coped with stress running a startup. Brunner and Rogers do Yoga a couple of times a week and Douglass plays games on her mobile phone with friends.
Lastly, Ryan asked them to give advice to other startup founders.
Rogers said it’s important to really know your story.
“And to continue to refine it and craft it and repeat it and make it better all the time,” she said. “And deliver it with clarity and confidence.”
She also recommended reading Steve Blank’s Startup Manual.
Brunner said it’s important to “know who your hero customer is and find as many of them as possible and talk to them. Make sure you really understand their psyche.”
Douglass told the founders not to opt out. She recommended reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In.”
The crowd at the Women@Austin event by Sara Peralta

The crowd at the Women@Austin event, photo by Sara Peralta

Voter Trove Helps Conservative Campaigns Move into the Age of Big Data

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

logoThe data machine that helped President Barack Obama win his second term was like a 21st century Trojan horse, crashing in on the Republicans. Way behind in technology, the GOP was completely unprepared for the strategic advantage the Democrats gleaned from collecting, sorting, and analyzing copious amounts of voter data. But if Justin Gargiulo, founder of Voter Trove has anything to say about it, the GOP won’t get caught without rich data analysis again.
Gargiulo calls his company “Radical Technology for Conservative Causes.” Among his current clients are Congressional candidates Pete Sessions and John McKinney and Texas attorney general candidate Dan Branch.

The Early Adopting Republicans

Justin Gargiulo, founder of Voter Trove

Justin Gargiulo, founder of Voter Trove

Voter Trove is a cloud based data management platform that Gargiulo created for conservative campaigns. The computer app allows volunteers to collect information about constituents from numerous sources—voter registration files but also social media and silo lists ranging from church membership directories to files to lists of petition signatories—to create a more complete picture of voters as individuals. That data is automatically integrated with other data streams, like that collected on robocalls, to craft outreach lists for phone calls, social media touches, text messages and email blasts. Currently, the app has a view that’s optimized for mobile but it’s working on a mobile app.
A political science major from Connecticut, Gargiulo worked as the principal analyst on reapportionment for the state’s Senate Republican caucus and also as the lead consultant on the reapportionment effort in 2011. The whole time, he was overseeing digital media efforts for members of the Connecticut State Senate Republican Caucus.
“I know enough code to be dangerous” said Gargiulo, who didn’t write the platform but was the one who knew what it needed to be. “I consider myself a technologist and I love it,” he said. “I’ve always been fascinated with platform technology in politics. I wanted to build the next thing to facilitate coordination in voter outreach.” He saw the Republicans were lagging behind the Democrats in technology. “It was like, here’s this file. Nobody knows what to do with it. The Democrats were doing this micro targeting thing but the Republicans were putting it in the voter vault and nobody did anything with it.”
Voter Trove was accepted into the Capital Factory incubator in November and is working toward being part of the accelerator.
Aaron Ginn, the official “Growth Hacker” for the Romney campaign, is also an advisor for Voter Trove. In the tech world, Ginn said, Republicans are a tight knit group.
“The big problem most campaigns are trying to solve right now is understanding how to slice and dice data and upload new data, integrating it across lots of different data platforms,” Ginn said. That might include Facebook ads, Eventbrite registrations, voter files and numerous silo lists. “The huge issue in the Romney campaign was getting into what voters think. That requires a very robust data tool. Lots of people are trying to solve different slices of that.”
Voter Trove’s chief competitor, Voter Gravity, has focused on the canvassing and phone bank aspect of that. But that’s not the piece that needs solving most, said Brent Buchanan, managing partner of Cygn.al, a Voter Trove customer and campaign communication firm with offices in Austin as well as D.C. and Alabama.

Making Data Easy

build-your-list-1“Justin’s platform is the most visually appealing of any we’ve looked at, and it handles data the best of any we’ve looked at,” he said. Voter Trove looks more like an e-commerce site than a database, he said. It’s simple for non-tech people to work with. For example, if a campaign has only budgeted for 5,000 pieces on a given mailer, it’s simple to go through the database and add or delete recipients based on characteristics. A counter on the side lets the user know when he’s hit the targeted number of recipients. Buchanan said the app tags and lists information in a way that makes it easy for staff and consultants to work with.
Voter Trove recently partnered with Campaign Grid which specializes in online media buying for campaigns. The data Voter Trove collects can identify not just previous voting history but other indicators of preferences. It might identify a group as second amendment supporters or people focused on education. With that information campaigns can target online ads more specifically, which is disruptive in the industry Gargiulo said.
Buchanan’s biggest rave about the app, though, is that “When we have an idea, (Justin) goes in and changes it. He makes it happen for us. There’s no “you use the system as built.’” Buchanan said. Gargiulo is relying on customer feedback, not theory. “If you build something today it won’t be the same thing you need for 2016. He’s setting himself up for long term success.”

Financing Thunderlizards in Austin at Capital Factory

CF+floodgate+silverton150Capital Factory, Silverton Partners and Floodgate announced Monday morning they are teaming up to provide matching investments for all Capital Factory incubator companies.
Josh Baer, co-founder of Capital Factory, made the announcement via a blog post and on Twitter. TechCrunch also posted this story on it.
In total, each startup will get up to $150,000 in venture financing through the program.
Here’s how it works: “a startup founder who can find two Capital Factory mentors that invest $25,000 each into the company automatically triggers a matching venture capital investment of $50,000 from Capital Factory’s in-house fund and $25,000 each from Silverton and Floodgate,” according to a news release.

Reaction from Twitter:

SpareFoot Takes Gold at Austin’s Third Annual Startup Olympics

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Joe Ross,president and cofounder CSID and Shawn Bose, vice president and general manager of UShip.

Joe Ross,president and cofounder CSID and Shawn Bose, vice president and general manager of UShip. Photo by Susan Lahey

“Eye of the Tiger” throbbed in the background, interrupted only by periodic swells of cheering as various teams won beer pong, foosball, darts and myriad other games at the third annual Startup Olympics in Austin Music Hall Saturday.
Sixteen startup teams competed but SpareFoot triumphed, winning more games than any other startup team and receiving a check for $23,000 to go to Kure It, an organization that funds cancer research. Uship took second place and Capital Factory won the third place trophy.
The top three teams win the biggest part of the pot, which this year was close to $60,000, according to Gillian Wilson, co-founder and president of the games and senior manager of human resources for UShip.
Gillian Wilson, co-founder and president of the games and senior manager of human resources for UShip. Photo by Susan Lahey

Gillian Wilson, co-founder and president of the games and senior manager of human resources for UShip. Photo by Susan Lahey

But every charity chosen by the various teams will receive some money.
Originally, the games started as a friendly challenge, said Shawn Bose, vice president and general manager of global business for UShip.
Several friends from different startups were “all out one night and it was like ‘We could beat you at beer pong….’” Bose said. Soon, the idea had ballooned to include eight startups and raising money for charity.
“You hear all these stories about cutthroat behavior in the valley and in New York,” he said, “here in Austin we have this great community, this culture of helping each other.”
Bose said he’d known of people who came to the event last year just to network and wound up working at one of the competing startups. He liked to imagine that there might be people hatching an idea for a new startup in the midst of the event, standing at the foosball table, or playing darts.
20140125_155400 (1)Last year, John Egan, now editor in chief at SpareFoot, was getting ready for his Monday job interview with the company when he attended the Startup Olympics.
“I think it’s a great event because it brings a lot of startups together that might not otherwise come together and it raises a lot of money for great charities.”
The founders have a rule that only startups can participate, meaning that a large company—like RetailMeNot—isn’t eligible to participate. But Bose said that didn’t stop the company from being one of the event’s biggest sponsors. Capital Factory had its own team of startups whose numbers were too small to form their own teams. Many teams wore costumes ranging from team t-shirts to togas and laurel wreaths, giant inflated body suits and hair-band attire.
20140125_165648Every year, there’s a mystery competition that is unveiled at the end of the day. The first year it was a bouncy castle, last year it was a mechanical bull, and this year it was a labyrinth the “athletes” had to navigate blindfolded.
The first year the event raised $3,000 for charity and has grown exponentially ever since. At some point, Bose and Wilson said, they’d like to see other cities adopt the event and possibly hold national or even global competition during SXSW.

Four Austin Startups Win the Regional 1776 Challenge Cup

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Aceable, Water Lens, Spot On Sciences and Reaction Housing were the four winners of the 1776 Challenge Cup Competition held at Capital Factory Friday night. The four will be flown to Washington D.C. to compete against the winners from 15 other global cities for a chance at a $150,000 prize.
1776, a new incubator in Washington D.C., began with the idea of supporting the most promising startups in highly regulated industries, said Melissa Steffan, a 1776 staffer. “We’re looking for companies that are doing amazing things in industries that are notoriously hard to work in,” she said. Those industries include education, health, energy and smart cities. The Challenge Cup was launched only six months after the co-working space opened.
Austin was one of 16 global startup hubs chosen by the incubator. Other cities involved in the challenge include London, Sao Paulo, Moscow and Beijing. Twenty seven local startups competed.
Evan Burfield, one of 1776’s cofounders, said that in many ways, the startup world was its own global community. “Everybody’s talking about the same things and they all speak English,” he said. “You’ll hear a guy with a thick Russian accent saying ‘We need to pivot.’” In Austin, he said, he was struck by the spirit of collaboration and support, how startups all seemed to want to help each other. By the same token, he said, “Austin’s out to win. The judges in there were all talking about who can we send who will win the championship.”
Aceable won in the education department. The company has developed native mobile gaming apps for online courses that are normally considered very dull—including driver’s ed. Mobile apps are how young people function now, said founder Blake Garrett. Aceable courses are “enjoyable, personal, attractive and fun.”
The company has submitted its first course to the state for approval. It also intends to produce courses for older drivers, defensive driving students and corporate training. Right now though, they’re going after teen drivers.
“ A lot of education companies can’t articulate: Who is your user, tell me everything about them, about who is going to buy your product,” said founder Garrett.
Spot on Sciences won in the health category. The company, which has developed a product that lets people in remote areas take, store and mail blood samples without degrading the quality of the sample, has become crucial in areas like rural Africa, especially for HIV testing in infants and new mothers and the Western Isles of Scotland where diabetes is common and access to a clinic or lab is nonexistent.
“From a quarter size splat of dried blood, you can do 30 or 40 different tests,” said Dr. Jeanette Hill, founder of Spot On Sciences.
Water Lens won in the energy category. This company has a simple, fast method for testing water that has been used in hydraulic fracturing. Many companies are reusing water from one well to the next, said founder Keith Cole. But there are certain elements the water may contain that will make water unsuitable for reuse and may even clog up wells permanently. Testing the water and waiting for results is a laborious process that requires some knowledge of chemistry.
These test strips can be dipped in the water and give the results of 12 tests in a couple of minutes.
Right now, Cole said, he doesn’t know of anyone doing anything similar, but they must be out there. In response to a question by judge Mark Murdock he answered “My scariest competitor is someone I don’t know who is doing the same thing…and we need to get there first.”
In the smart cities category, the winner was Reaction Housing. This company creates temporary housing for victims of natural disasters refugees and others who suddenly have no place to live. Typically, said founder Michael McDaniel, it takes FEMA 90 days to set up temporary housing. In the meantime, people live in church basements and gymnasiums, if they exist.
Reaction Housing systems were inspired by the stackable coffee cup. They are light enough to be moved by hand, include power and can be stacked and transported so that a whole community can be set up at once.
McDaniel said the company is not only looking at emergency housing but also temporary housing for field work—such as a new oil field opening up and many workers flooding in—and for events, like ACL and F1.
The judging panel included Josh Baer, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Capital Factory, Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet and professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, and Kevin Callahan, co-founder of MapMyFitness. As for 1776, they were thrilled with the judging panel they had: “This is actually one of the most distinguished judging panels we’ve had,” said Steffan.
Capital Factory offered free coaching for the winning companies before they go to Washington in May.

The Challenge Cup Competition Takes Place at Capital Factory on Friday

logoThis Friday, 27 Austin startups will compete for a spot in the Challenge Cup.
They are competing in four categories.
In the education category, the startups are: Young Potential Development, Prepify, CultureBooster, Code Arcade and Aceable.
In energy, the startups are: Water Lens, nCarbon, MaglevTrans, InfiniRel and Curb.
In health, the largest category, the startups are: ePatientFinder, vPhysicians, Visible Health, Spot on Sciences, Pristine, Help Find Care, Fuel Our Future, Filament Labs, Chiron Health and Atlas.
In the smart cities category, the startups are: Aunt Bertha Software, VoterTrove, Spokefly, Reaction, NeedTo, Local Magnet and 121Giving.
The competition, put on by 1776, a Washington, D.C.-based accelerator, is part of a global search for the most innovative startups with solutions to solve the world’s most pressing problems.
The regional competition gives the startups a chance to win a spot in the final competition, the Challenge Festival, to be held in May in Washington, D.C. The regional winners receive travel expenses a hotel for a week for the final competition.
At the final competition, the Challenge Cup overall winner receives a $150,000 prize in the form of an investment from 1776.
So far, the Challenge Cup has held events in the following U.S. cities: Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Boston. It still plans events in Denver and San Francisco in February.
International events have been held in Berlin, London. And other events are planned for Sao Paulo, Brazil, Cape Town, South Africa, Tel Aviv, Israel, Beijing, China and New Delhi, India.
The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs through 9:00 p.m. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. the companies will give one minute pitches. At 7 p.m., the judges will break and then announce the finalists.
The finalists, two from each category, will give five minute pitches and answer questions for three minutes from judges until 8:15 p.m. And after a fifteen minute break, the winners will be announced.
Tickets to the event are free but advanced registration is required.

Are You the Kind of Business the Texas Emerging Tech Fund is Looking For?

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Larry Peterson, executive director for Texas Foundations for Innovative Communities

Larry Peterson, executive director for Texas Foundations for Innovative Communities

If your company meets the criteria for the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, you may have a good shot at a $2 million investment. But don’t rush to fill out the application, says Larry Peterson, executive director for Texas Foundations for Innovative Communities.
Instead, go directly to a Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization.
“Once you’ve figured out how you meet those requirements, come meet with us and discuss it conceptually,” Peterson said. “We will give you a punch list: Fix these things, improve these things. If you meet the state’s criteria you can go before the board without that, but you will look less ready and it’s harder to come back from that. We’ll tell you ‘Here’s what you need to improve.’” The RCIC never tells anyone to quit trying for state funds, Peterson said. But with companies at various stages of readiness they give them homework to increase their likelihood of success before the state board. Once an organization has cleared an RCIC, he said, there’s an 85 percent chance they’ll get state funding.
Peterson spoke at a meeting about the fund Wednesday at Capital Factory. About 30 people signed up to attend the meeting, which was followed by a happy hour.
Ron Lehman, executive director of TMAC, which supports manufacturing companies in Texas

Ron Lehman, executive director of TMAC, which supports manufacturing companies in Texas

The Texas Emerging Technology Fund, created in 2005, tackles the problem of Texas companies moving to the coasts because they couldn’t find local funding, said Ron Lehman, executive director of TMAC, which supports manufacturing companies in Texas.
The fund has had some successes as well as some failures. The Austin Business Journal reported Thursday in an exclusive story that since the fund’s inception 14 startups backed by $17 million from the fund have failed or gone bankrupt.
To date, the Texas Emerging Technology Fund has invested $204 million into 143 companies with the largest number of investments, 72, given to biotechnology and life sciences companies.
Last May, the Texas Legislature approved $50 million for the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. The fund is targeted at providing seed stage and early funding for startups in Texas.
“We needed to create an environment that was more welcoming to new investments,” Lehman said. A company has 30 months to use the money and can apply for another round if necessary. Most investments are $2 million, since the state considers anything less than half a million too cumbersome to administer. For its participation, Lehman said, the state takes a percentage of money at exit and returns it to the fund. Usually that’s in the form of convertible preferred stock.
Companies that meet the state’s criteria for commercialization funding of an idea include those that are seeking to commercialize an emerging technology; are connected with a state institution, such as the University of Texas or the Johnson Space Center; offer significant economic benefit to the state and have a high likelihood of receiving other funding.
Or does it?
“It seems like relatively accessible money for the right companies,” said Jason Seats, managing director of Techstars Austin. “The most complicated requirement for most companies is that it has to tie back to a direct benefit for Texas and they have very specific ways they think about that… For some companies it’s going to be very easy to connect the dots.”
Keith Casey of Casey Software, formerly of Twilio, said that, compared to other states’ emerging tech funds he’s familiar with, Texas’ is much more practical and accessible.
Peterson said the process takes between 4-and-9 months, which can be much shorter than seeking funding with private investors. The state’s due diligence, he said, also tends to be less rigorous than a private investor’s would be.
“We do collect more data so in some cases our expectations are higher,” Peterson said. For example, the state is more interested in the projections for job creation than a private investor would be. And while many investors no longer require a business plan, the state still does.
Eighteen months ago, the Austin Chamber was doing the job the Texas Foundations for Innovative Communities—started by Pike Powers and the late George Kozmetsky—now does.
“We are trying to make sure they have a really good chance of success…and I think Austin was more willing to let them sort all that out,” Peterson said. “So we’re spending more time with each company and trying to beat them into shape in a kind of tough-love way.”
The Emerging Technology Fund plans to have more meetings at Capital Factory to ensure that local entrepreneurs know about the program and the state gets the best crop of companies.

Second Annual “Move Your Company to Austin” Competition at SXSW

imgres-4Joshua Baer, cofounder at Capital Factory and a serial entrepreneur, has announced the second annual “Move Your Company to Austin” competition.
The pitch competition will take place at South By Southwest. Baer announced the competition in his weekly Startup Digest Austin email newsletter.
Last year, Meritful, which is like LinkedIn for college students, won the competition in which it competed against five other startups.
The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based startup moved to Austin but it still kept an office in Ann Arbor.
The company’s competition, Pictrition, ended up moving to Austin on its own from Dallas.
“Maybe it’s because Austin is the most cost-effective place to launch a startup or the pipeline of talent coming out of the University of Texas,” Gordon Daugherty, a Capital Factory mentor and investor, wrote in a post on Capital Factory’s website. “Maybe it’s because of the 300+ days of sunshine each year or the vibrant live music scene. It’s no surprise that Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the US and everyone wants to live somewhere that is growing and booming versus the alternative.”
This year, the package for the startup moving to Austin is even more lucrative than the $100,000 package awarded to Mertiful.
The 2014 Move Your Company to Austin winner will receive a $50,000 investment prize and more than $150,000 in other prizes.
The competition will be held on March 7th during the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. “Five startups will compete for a cash investment, office space, housing, moving expenses, free groceries and more in an epic pitch competition,” according to Daugherty.

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