Tag: DreamIt Ventures

DreamIt Ventures Accepting Applications for its Next Austin Program

dreamitDreamIt Ventures is now accepting applications for its DreamIt Austin 2015 class.

This will be the third year for the DreamIt Ventures program in Austin.

DreamIt Ventures offers a three-month accelerator program that helps startups to build strong business plans, develop strategic relationships and acquire customers.

So far, DreamIt Ventures has helped to launch 157 companies that have raised more than 4172 million in funding. DreamIt Ventures estimates the net worth of all the companies to be more than $525 million.

The DreamIt Ventures Austin companies each receive $25,000 in seed funding, plus the potential of up to $250,000 in follow-on funding. Teams also receive mentoring and access to industry-specific resources and potential beta customers. Meetings with DreamIt’s managers. The opportunity to present to investors at Demo Day, free legal services and office space and more.

Founding Partner Steve Welch, CEO Kerry Rupp and Dana Rygwelski, director of programs, will lead the Austin program, which will run from Jan. 8th to April 17, 2015.

Applications are due Nov. 7.

Cafe Commerce of San Antonio and Dreamit Ventures of Austin Win SBA Grants

logoCafe Commerce, the nonprofit focused on helping entrepreneurs in San Antonio and Dreamit Ventures of Austin have just won U.S. Small Business Administration grants.

The SBA received more than 800 applications for its first Growth Accelerator Fund competition. Cafe Commerce was one of 50 winners and the only one in San Antonio. Dreamit Ventures was the only winner in Austin. The SURGE Accelerator in Houston was the only other Texas winner.

“The SBA is empowering accelerators and startups that are on the cutting edge of successful, innovative new endeavors,” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said in a news release. “We’ve seen the enormous success of the accelerator model in communities like Silicon Valley. We believe we can export this type of sophisticated support structure across the country to help start-ups become commercially viable and create jobs more quickly.”

A panel of seven judges chose the winners.

All 50 organizations will receive $50,000 each in cash. They will be required to submit reports to the SBA on “jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained among other pieces of information.”

The SBA concentrated its support in parts of the country “where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Dreamit Ventures, founded in 2007, operates an annual accelerator program in Austin as well as other cities around the country like Philadelphia. Dreamit Ventures provides $25,000 seed stage investment in the companies in its portfolio.

Cafe Commerce, based at the main library in downtown San Antonio, launched this year and is run by Accion Texas and funded, in part, by the City of San Antonio.

Peter French, president of Cafe Commerce, and Ryan Salts, community strategist, created this video announcing their SBA grant win. Cafe Commerce plans to use the funds for a new accelerator program focused on the food industry called “Break Fast and Launch.”

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.

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.

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