Tag: Geekdom (Page 1 of 10)

San Antonio’s MX Challenge Shuts Down Without Awarding Prize

imgres-5Without any fanfare or publicity, San Antonio’s MX Challenge closed in July without awarding its $500,000 prize.

Jesus Salas, the program manager, posted a message to the site: “Hey innovator,
Thanks for the interest that you showed for the MxChallenge. After evaluating the low demand on the competing participants we decided to shut down the MxChallenge. However, we are still welcoming Mexican tech-companies that are interested in expanding their operations at Geekdom. So, for more information about opening a tech-office at San Antonio, please contact info@geekdom.com.”

The competition officially launched in January of 2014. Salas was based at Geekdom.

In May of 2014, Salas said 30 teams had signed up for the challenge during a presentation at Geekdom.

The prize was worth $500,000 for the individual, team or organization that created a model to assist ten Mexican startup tech companies to open offices at Geekdom in San Antonio. The prize was supposed to go to the team with the best business plan, the most revenue generated and the most jobs created.

The MX Challenge was the first community-based project from HeroX, a platform for competitions to solve local and global problems. The founder of XPrize, Dr. Peter Diamandis co-founded HeroX in 2013.

San Antonio-based Infocyte Lands $500,000 in Funding

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

IMG_4254Infocyte Inc. just landed $500,000 in seed stage funding led by Austin-based LiveOak Venture Partners.

The San Antonio-based startup plans to use the funds to further develops Pulse, its cyber security assessment platform.

This is LiveOak’s first investment in San Antonio.

“The Infocyte team has a storied history and deep domain knowledge gained from their time in national defense,” Venu Shamapant, LiveOak’s general partner said in a news release. “We are excited to partner with them in their ambitions to bring advanced threat detection to a wider audience.”

Infocyte plans to release its product, which is currently in beta testing, to the public early next year, said Chris Gerritz, CEO and co-founder of Infocyte.

Gerritz and Ryan Morris, co-founder, both formerly worked as officers in the U.S. Air Force on Security Hill at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio in cyber security roles.

Infocyte created Pulse, a software and hardware device installed on a company’s computer network to monitors and scan for any irregularities such as malicious code or unauthorized activity. The product detects and identifies attackers and audits a network pro-actively before an attack takes place, Gerritz said.

“What we offer is a proactive security assessment that asks a question that no other security assessment does and that is are you comprised right now?” Gerritz said.

A lot of times, intruders can remain on a network, undetected, for months or years, Gerritz said. Infocyte’s software seeks to find them and deal with them before they cause major problems, he said.

“The majority of security assessments right now look for holes in a network that could be exploited by hackers,” Gerritz. “Our assessment answers has anyone actually used those holes to comprise your network. Are they in your network right now? Do you know about them?”

Generally, Infocyte’s customers are companies that don’t know that they are comprised yet, but they want to know if they are, Gerritz said.

The malware remains hidden on a network so the intruders can gather intelligence over time like credit card numbers, Morris said. The companies generally don’t know they’ve got a problem until the FBI tells them, he said.

Gerritz and Morris founded the company in May of 2013. They received $200,000 in initial funding from an unnamed angel investor. The company is based at Geekdom in downtown San Antonio and now has three employees, Gerritz said. Infocyte has hired some contractors and wants to hire two more people, he said.

Since August, Infocyte has been working by providing professional assessment services to detect vulnerabilities with local banks and credit unions. When it releases its software and hardware product in February, Infocyte plans to target Fortune 1000 companies, initially in the financial services and retail industries.

Gerritz and Morris just returned from Dublin, Ireland and the Web Summit, where they pitched Infocyte to an international audience.

San Antonio-based Storific Wins People’s Choice Award at M2M Conference

Zachary Stovall and Kyle Cornelius, cofounders of Storific.

Zachary Stovall and Kyle Cornelius, cofounders of Storific.

Storific, the startup that relocated recently from Paris to San Antonio, won the People’s Choice Award last month at the Machine 2 Machine Evolution Conference and Expo in Las Vegas.

Storific has created a free mobile phone app that lets people order and pay for food and skip the lines at a restaurant.

The M2M Conference, sponsored by AT&T, lets startups pitch their technology to AT&T executives and audience members. More than 100 people attended the conference which featured 15 teams pitching their technology.

“As the winner of the Audience Choice Award, Storific received $5,000, a Samsung tablet and a future partnership with AT&T and Samsung,” according to a news release.

“We are in collaboration with AT&T and Samsung to help small businesses across America leverage the power of mobile,” Co-founder Zachary Stovall of Storific said in a news release. “Stores need a tablet with Internet to accept Storific mobile orders. This partnership will accomplish that by helping us equip small businesses with Internet-enabled tablets powered by AT&T and Samsung.”

Storific is based at Geekdom in downtown San Antonio.

Showcasing New Programmers at CodeUp’s Demo Day

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Greg McCabe, Michael Jaime and Caitlin Daily, creators of Pro-Sifter at CodeUp Demo Day

Greg McCabe, Michael Jaime and Caitlin Daily, creators of Pro-Sifter at CodeUp Demo Day

Michael Jaime sold his car and bought a bike so he could pay his tuition and participate in CodeUp, a 12-week bootcamp that teaches non-programmers how to code.

Each day Jaime would bike three miles to Geekdom at the Weston Centre in downtown San Antonio to learn a hodgepodge of programming languages including JavaScript, SQL, HTML and PHP.

On Wednesday, Jaime and his team showed off their newly acquired skills during a presentation of their capstone project, Pro-Sifter, a web app that allows users to find professional hairstylists, makeup artists and more and to rate and review them.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” Jaime said. “I’ve always been interested in web development.”

Jaime was one of 23 students in the latest CodeUp program. They graduated on Wednesday and presented their projects at the Pearl Studio to a standing-room only crowd of more than 70 potential employers.

This is the second CodeUp class to graduate. The first class graduated in April. Out of that class, 25 of the 27 students have found employment or have made money as programmers, said Michael Girdley, co-founder of CodeUp. They’ve gotten jobs with Labatt Foods, Parlevel, Heavy-Heavy and various web development shops, he said.

Passion and determination are the qualities that make good CodeUp students, he said.

“These people have all had to make life sacrifices to be here,” he said. “They self-select. Those are the traits of being a good employee. They are the type of people you want to hire.”

IMG_3537CodeUp costs $9,875 for a 12-week program. Some of the students use a Crowdfunding portal to raise the money for tuition. CodeUp refunds half of the tuition if a student is able to find a job within six months.

“It’s a way to get behind someone when they’re changing their life,” Girdley said.

Kyle Cornelius, co-founder of Storific, a mobile application for ordering food from restaurants, attended the CodeUp Demo Day to scope out the talent.

“Codeup is a terrific bootcamp because they come in prepared and ready,” he said. “The skills that they learned are all things we use.“

Storific is looking to hire two backend developers, Cornelius said.

“Most of the people here do fit the bill,” he said. “We’re just trying to find people who share the same passion with us.”

Chad Keck, CEO and founder of Promoter.io, a company feedback system based on the Net Promoter Score, planned to interview some of the jobs candidates in the next few days. He’s hiring a full stack engineer, a front-end engineer and a junior developer.

Andre Dempsey, Nicole Sumrall and Andrew Samaniego with Tweets for Charity project at CodeUp Demo Day.

Andre Dempsey, Nicole Sumrall and Andrew Samaniego with Tweets for Charity project at CodeUp Demo Day.

Nicole Sumrall worked on the Tweets for Charity program, a Web application that allows Twitter users to donate to selected charities by tracking the number of tweets they post in a month and a per-tweet donation tied to that number.

She joined CodeUp to change the direction of her life. She previously worked at Best Buy in the cell phone department while pursuing her graduate degree. She has a B.S. from UTSA and a M.S. in English literature from Texas A&M in San Antonio.

“When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get into a Ph.D. program, technology was the next best thing.,” Sumrall said. “ I really enjoy creating things. It gives me a creative outlet in programming. I learned about CodeUp from a friend and then I applied.”

And she’s glad she did. The program opened her up to new ideas. And now she’s eager to pursue a job as a web developer.

One of Cole Reveal’s roommates had previously enrolled in the last CodeUp class.

“I saw the culture that was at Geekdom and it just blew my mind. It was something I had to gear my life toward,” Reveal said.

His team’s capstone project was Diversity Thread, a “resource for potential employees looking to get noticed specifically designed for minorities and women.”

Reveal has a math degree but he was working at a New Balance store, selling shoes. He wanted a more challenging career.

“This gave me new skills,” Reveal said. The program helped Reveal sharpen his problem solving skills and broadened his ability to acquire information, he said.

“CodeUp has opened our eyes,” he said. “The instruction here is unmatched.”

Justin Mason also worked on the Diversity Thread project also, which he calls a “diversity” LinkedIn.

“For the past few three years I ran a tech company without any technical skills myself. I paid a lot of contractors,” Mason said.

He worked on his startup, Vela, out of Geekdom for the past year and half. He started it in Southern California.

The CodeUp program gave him the skills he needed to program his own site. He no longer needs to hire programmers. He’s now looking for a job as a web developer.

“This was empowering,” Mason said.

Caitlin Daily earned a degree in nuclear medicine from Incarnate Word, but she couldn’t find a job. She decided to enroll in CodeUp and she found her passion.

“I wanted to stay in San Antonio,” Daily said. “I needed something quick to get me into new fields. “

She worked on the Pro-Sifter project. Now she’s looking for a job as a web developer specializing in back end development. She feels like CodeUp prepared her for a career in coding.

“I have no fear going into any interview,” she said.

Frank Pigeon retired from the military in 2003 as a computer operator and analyst and works at Fort Sam Houston as a civilian project engineer. But he always wanted to learn how to code.

“I came to the last Demo day and I was blown away by the projects I saw and I said I’ve got to do this,” Pigeon said.

So he enrolled in CodeUp. His team’s capstone project, Community-Helpers, is “a web application that connects seniors with odd-jobs done around their house to the youth in their community who are ready to earn some money.”

“A few months ago I would never have the tools to accomplish this,” he said.

Ashley Webb, Greg Vallejo and Daniel Jimenez, with the ChartBabe team at CodeUp Demo Day

Ashley Webb, Greg Vallejo and Daniel Jimenez, with the ChartBabe team at CodeUp Demo Day

Ashley Webb got introduced to coding through her WordPress blog, LeonaLovely.

At CodeUp, she worked on a capstone project, ChartBabe, a way for new moms to track all of their babies’ activities electronically including feedings, diaper changes and naps.

Webb plans to continue working on the project and adding new features, including creating a mobile phone app. Webb’s son, Jasper, is 18 months old. Her second child is due in November. Coding provides her with flexibility.

“It seemed like a big price tag at first,” she said. “I don’t even have a job yet and I already know it was worth it. I can’t believe the knowledge I’ve gained in 12 weeks.”

SAPitch Provides an Informal Setting for San Antonio Startups to Pitch to Investors

Founder of Silicon Hills News

The Walkingspree team at SAPitch

The Walkingspree team at SAPitch

One of the big problems in growing San Antonio’s technology startup industry has been lack of access to capital for entrepreneurs.

The Geekdom Fund has provided $25,000 to a handful of tech startups in the earliest stages of their companies, but the real need comes with follow on funding in larger amounts ranging from $250,000 to a few million.

The solution might well be found in groups like the newly created SAPitch. The organization, headed up by Michael Girdley and Cole Wollak, brings together entrepreneurs and angel investors in an informal setting for lunch. Everyone buys their own meal and four startups pitch their companies before investors.

On Wednesday afternoon, Storific, Walkingspree, HighNoon and Lightphile presented their companies to investors at Café Commerce in the downtown library.

Walkingspree, a seven year old company with revenues of $2.3 million last year, already has 80 corporate clients and more than 44,000 registered members for its software as a service platform for digital health. The company has created a physical activity program aimed at corporations looking to increase the health of their employees.

Walkingspree CEO Hiran Perera said the company has created its own Bluetooth-enabled device called the “Inspire.” The watch-like device tracks steps, calories, time, distance and goals.

The company’s platform also incorporates other activity trackers like the Fitbit. With customers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Mercer Total Health Management and Texas Health Resources, the company is on track to top revenues of $3.4 million this year.

The company has been bootstrapped so far with one angel investment, Perera said. It’s looking for a strategic investor to develop and Android-based product and further expand its sales and marketing.

Kyle Cornelius and Zachary Stovall, co-founders of Storific, pitched their app-based business that allows consumers to order food via their mobile phones from restaurants and skip the lines. The company recently relocated its headquarters from Paris, France to Geekdom in San Antonio with six employees. They are looking to raise a seed stage round of investment to further develop and market Storific.

HighNoon, which has been in business about eight weeks, wants to bring the custom barn buying experience online. It is already selling a couple of barns a month but plans to create a platform for customers to buy a new and efficient barn tailored to meet their needs, said Pegy Brimhall, one of the founders along with Sonja Howle and Alex Guerra. It was seeking seed stage funding.

David Barrick and Logan Butler, co-founders of LightPhile, pitched their lighting control device to manage an entire concert lighting experience with an iPad. The company received a $25,000 initial investment from the Geekdom Fund. It’s looking for additional funds to finish developing its software interface for the iPad and hardware device.

The Techstars Cloud Program Returns to San Antonio in 2015

Blake Yaeger

Blake Yaeger

The Techstars Cloud program launched in San Antonio in 2012 with 11 companies and the next year another 11 startups participated in the 2013 program.

But the program, launched by Graham Weston, CEO and Co-Founder of Rackspace at Geekdom, went on hiatus in 2013 when Jason Seats moved to Austin and launched the Techstars Austin program.

Now it’s back.

The Techstars Cloud program will return to San Antonio in 2015 and will be led by Blake Yeager, who served as a mentor to the first class when he worked for HP Cloud Services. He later quit to join ZeroVM, a 2013 Techstars Cloud company acquired by Rackspace.

“I am extremely excited to be taking over as the Managing Director for the Cloud program,” Yeager wrote in a blog post on the Techstars website.

“The roster of alumni from the first two Techstars Cloud programs includes some great companies and even better founders,” Yeager wrote. “I don’t want to name names, because I know I will leave someone out, but these companies have raised serious money and are doing amazing things. I am excited by the opportunity to continue to build on the legacy that Jason and these first two classes have pioneered.”

“The next Techstars Cloud program will be kicking off in San Antonio in early 2015 with applications opening up this Fall, according to Yeager.

3 Day Startup at Geekdom Nurtures New Entrepreneurs

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Stephanie King with the rest of the Spotduct team at 3 Day Startup San Antonio

Stephanie King with the rest of the Spotduct team at 3 Day Startup

Stephanie King attended a 3 Day Startup program at Geekdom in San Antonio last weekend with an idea for a company.

“I quickly realized I needed more focus,” she said.

Instead of pitching her idea, King joined Spotduct, a startup focused on creating short videos for brands tied to a prize for consumers who watch them.

Spotduct, a four-person team led by Will Shipley, produced a 30 second video promoting Hint water. At the end, viewers were asked how many bottles of Hint appeared in the video. Those who got the correct answer, 11, won a prize. The Spotduct team plans to build an online interactive video platform by earning revenue from pay per click video quizzes tied to the videos they create.

“It was a good experience because it taught me what it takes to pitch our idea to investors,” King said. “We also worked on an idea under pressure and we had to create a viable product in a weekend. That’s a skill set you can’t get anywhere else.”

Spotduct was one of seven startups that spun out of 3 Day Startup on Film, Music and Fashion last weekend. The 80/20 Foundation funded the program. It’s one in a series of thematic 3DS programs held at Geekdom, the coworking and technology incubator downtown.

More than 40 people participated in the weekend bootcamp to create a company. The other teams included Jukebox, a subscription music box, Dreamland, family friendly events focused on the arts, Syndicated Video Network Television, branded Internet-based TV channels, Noiiz, a marketplace for musicians to sell their creations, Puro Pinche, a mobile events calendar focused on San Antonio, and Campfire, a video storytelling site.

On Sunday, the teams pitched before a panel of judges who asked questions and provided feedback on their ventures.

The Jukebox team at 3 Day Startup

The Jukebox team at 3 Day Startup

The Jukebox team wants to provide a monthly subscription based box that gives people a novel way to experience music. The box would contain a promotional CD from an independent musician along with band swag such as T-shirts, guitar picks and more.

The idea is similar to Barkbox and Birchbox and other subscription-based models. The team included Tim Slusher, Candyce Slusher, Cynthia Marshall, Hannah Zhoa and Sean Mcleod. The box is aimed at the 16 to 30 year old age group. Each box is estimated to cost $15.

Jukebox expects to send out its first boxes by August, said Candyce Slusher.

The Puro Pinche team built an entertainment events calendar site optimized for mobile viewing.

Stephanie Guerra, founder of Puro Pinche

Stephanie Guerra, founder of Puro Pinche

Stephanie Guerra launched the blog Puro Pinche in June of 2010 and now she’s looking to expand the site and monetize it.

Nic Jones, Greg Vallejo and Miles Terracina worked with Guerra to create the mobile events site.

“I’m a Geekdom member,” Guerra said. “I’ve seen startups come and go out of Geekdom. I wanted to be a part of it and see how my company could grow.”
Vallejo is a student at CodeUp at Geekdom.

“I came to this wanting to plug into the entrepreneurial community in San Antonio,” he said.

The team behind Syndicated Video Network Television wants to tap into the city’s rich broadcasting history to create streaming online TV channels, said Luke Horgan, its founder. He created an example of a San Antonio channel at Purosa.snvtv.com.

“The next generation of TV could be created here,” Horgan said.

Storific Relocates from Paris to San Antonio and Launches its App

159f2ab03c4472445ef2361e15389708-originalThis weekend in San Antonio, people will be able to skip lines for select cafes and eateries thanks to Storific’s mobile-ordering app.

The company, originally founded in Paris in 2009, has relocated to San Antonio and is based at Geekdom, the downtown collaborative coworking space and technology incubator.

The company’s app, which is available for download on both iPhone and Android devices, lets people order and pay for food and drinks on their mobile phone.

On Friday, July 18th, Storific plans to host a party, Storific’s Food Truck Friday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Travis Park in downtown San Antonio. It’s free and open to the public. At the event, Storific’s Cofounder Kyle Cornelius and Chief Marketing Officer Zachary Stovall will demonstrate how the app works.

Storific is working with cafes, fast food restaurants, food trucks, bars and clubs so consumers can skip the lines at various establishments and get great customer service. Its partners include Murphy’s Deli, Midpoint Grill, Revolucion Coffee + Juice and The Sandwich Garden with more expected soon.

Brewing New Tech Startups at UTSA

BsN7NIzCAAAGneuA can ban on the Comal River in New Braunfels prompted a University of Texas at San Antonio engineering team to create a solution.

They created the PalmKeg, a mini-keg sized insulated beer cooler to make transporting beer on the river easy.

“It’s the perfect eco-friendly beer container,” said Amber Ernst, senior at UTSA majoring in entrepreneurship and art.

The team created a prototype of the product and plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign in August, said Nic Villarreal, who graduates at the end of the summer with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. The device also serves as a vacuum-insulated growler and the team has talked with independent brewers about selling it, Villarreal said. The device is expected to retail at $99.

BsN7JQNCQAAIm9sThe PalmKeg team consists of Ernst, Villarreal, Peter Mancuso, who graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering earlier this year and Bradley Tanton, an entrepreneurship business major who graduates in the fall.

The team pitched their idea at Geekdom last Wednesday as part of the conclusion of a summer entrepreneurship class offered for the first time by UTSA. Anita Leffel, assistant director of the Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship, fashioned the six-week class after the popular 3 Day Startup program, spun out of the University of Texas at Austin. Nine students participated in the class.

“The best products come from a true need and a market and product fit,” Leffel said.

The UTSA Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship turns out about 15 to 20 entrepreneurial ventures annually, Leffel said. CITE, led by director Cory Hallam, creates a pipeline for students, faculty and businesses to develop new technology ventures.

The eight-year-old program recently landed $300,000 worth of funding from Rackspace’s Graham Weston’s 80/20 Foundation. And it received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. That NSF funding designates UTSA as an Innovation Corps Site. It’s the first university in Texas to receive that designation from the NSF.

That funding will allow CITE to provide each student startup in its program with seed stage funding to allow them to prototype their products and provide capital to get them to the proof of concept stage, Leffel said.

The $300,000 grant from the 80/20 Foundation spans three years and is focused on creating more startup companies for San Antonio, said Lorenzo Gomez, the foundation’s executive director.
CITE’s programs include the semiannual $100K Student Technology Venture Competition and the Technology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp.

One of the grand prizewinners of the 2014 CITE competition recently moved into Geekdom, the technology incubator and coworking center located in the Rand building downtown.

The support for CITE is about connecting the different parts of San Antonio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Gomez said. CITE is doing a great job of showing students how they can become entrepreneurs, he said.

“There’s a high likelihood the next Rackspace will come out of CITE’s program,” Gomez said.

Geekdom supports the CITE startups by providing them with a discount on membership and office space, Gomez said. But the grant from the 80/20 Foundation is for the CITE to use to support the program, he said.

UTSA appointed Teja Guda, biomedical engineering assistant professor of research, as another assistant director of CITE. The program also plans to hire a full-time program coordinator in the next few months.
So far, more than 500 students at UTSA have competed in CITE’s technology business competition. That has resulted in 80 new ventures.

“Several past competition winners have established startup companies, secured funding, hired CEOs and are on their way toward commercial success,” according to a UTSA news release. “The center also fosters the more than 100 student-owned businesses on campus in the Roadrunner Business Incubator.”

San Antonio Ranks Third on Forbes List of the Nation’s Tech Hot Spots

Tower of America in San Antonio Texas City  AerialForbes names San Antonio-New Braunfels as one of America’s technology hot spots.

The greater San Antonio area earned the number three spot on the list behind number one, Washington, D.C. and number two, Riverside, Calif.

Forbes reported that San Antonio-New Braunfels gained 18.3 percent in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math jobs between 2011 and 2012. The growth during the last two years has been 4.5 percent.

Forbes hired Mark Schill of Praxis Strategy Group to examine the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan statistical areas.

“Notably absent from our list of the 10 metro areas that enjoyed the strongest growth over that period: the country’s largest cities,” according to Forbes. “Chicago, New York and Los Angeles all lost tech jobs over the past 11 years. Silicon Valley? For all the buzz over Facebook and other hot social media companies, the San Jose area has 12.6% fewer tech jobs today than in 2001.”

San Antonio has a large biomedical industry and cybersecurity industry. The city has also nurtured its technology startup community with the founding of Geekdom, nearly three years ago.

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