Tag: Kickstarter

Silicon Hills News Launches a Kickstarter Campaign

images-1This week, Silicon Hills News launched its first Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to create a slick print magazine to be released at South by Southwest Interactive.
At SXSW, Silicon Hills News is hosting a startup pitch competition in conjunction with the Austin Technology Incubator.
We plan to distribute the 32-page color magazine at the SXSW panel. The magazine will feature a dozen or so Austin and San Antonio startup companies along with information on technology resources in both cities.
The Silicon Hills News mission is to shine a spotlight on all of the innovation going on in the Central Texas technology industry. For the past two years and four months, we have worked tirelessly to cover the Austin and San Antonio region. We’re also evolving into a networking platform for the technology industry in Central Texas. We seek to foster collaboration among people doing interesting technology ventures. We do this through event coverage, news stories, tech profiles, calendar postings, job listings, resource listings, expert contributors and soon monthly, quarterly and annual events and a section devoted to aggregating all of the local technology news.
Veteran technology journalists with two decades of experience covering technology lead Silicon Hills News. Laura Lorek and Susan Lahey understand business, technology and news startups. We are also trained journalists with a strong code of ethics and adherence to traditional reporting values.
We also believe in being a part of the community we cover. We are storytelling entrepreneurs blazing a trail in the new media landscape.
But we need your help.
To produce 5,000 copies of the magazine, we need to raise $5,000 and another $2,000 to pay for stories and photos and $500 more for marketing expenses.
We can do all of this with your support of our Kickstarter Campaign. But you don’t just get a warm and fuzzy feeling for helping out another bootstrapped startup entrepreneur, you also get perks.
For just $120, a startup can advertise on our site for a year – that’s just $10 a month (that’s less than a case or 36 packs of Ramen noodles) even pre-seed stage entrepreneurs can afford that. The ad is for 140 characters with a link and it will run on the main page for a year.
Technology companies with a little more disposable income might consider the $500 full page ad in the magazine or the combo for $1,000 of an ad in both the print and digital version of Silicon Hills News. You also get invited to a happy hour where we will debut the magazine and give you some free drinks.
If you like the job we are doing, please become part of our mission and support our Kickstarter campaign at whatever level you like. We’ve even got a $1 offering. We appreciate you and your support. Thank you, in advance, for helping to make our first ever print magazine possible.

WigWag Wants to Help You Make Your House Smarter

Handheld-Sensor-n-AppWant to know about the future of home automation?
Then check out WigWag, an Austin-based startup that has created a home automation system based on smart sensors.
The sensors can adjust lighting depending on the time of day and automatically start the coffee pot in the morning or turn up and down the thermostat.
“WigWag lets you build intelligent environments anywhere with Internet-connected sensors and devices by letting you graphically write rules, “When” [this] happens “Then” do [that],” according to the company’s Kickstarter campaign. “No complicated programming languages or computers necessary, rules are easily built on smartphones and tablets. The more WigWag and third party devices in your account, the more you can do!”
The company has currently raised more than $238,000, far surpassing its goal of $50,000 on its Kickstarter campaign. And it’s not done yet. It still has 19 days to go. Already, more than 1,000 people have contributed to the campaign.
Ed Hemphill, one of the company’s founders, recently answered these questions, via email, about the startup, founded in 2011.

Q. Can you explain your product in the simplest language possible?

Logo-WigWag-RGB-transparent-500pxA. WigWag is IFTTT for the physical world. WigWag ties all kinds of services and devices together in order to do intelligent things in a physical environment. Today the world of smart devices is fragmented and diverse, with a lot of products unable to talk to each other. Our system allows you to tie these devices together via a smartphone or web browser.
We have a language (DeviceJS) that allows programmers to tie devices together, without worrying about all the different protocols out there. You could call it a language for the Internet of Things. And one of the best thing about the WigWag platform is that you don’t need a programming degree to customize it.

Q. What’s your secret sauce? What differentiates you from the competition?

A. A huge differentiator for us is our use of Javascript (DeviceJS) as a way to tie to devices together. This Javascript execution run time can execute distributed, meaning that it’s not completely dependent on a cloud service or network connection. This also means it has less latency (since it does not have to always talk to the Internet) – so it’s fast and redundant. Plus programmers don’t have to worry about the location of a device, or the protocol the device uses. This means systems which span multiple locations are a *lot* easier to develop.

Q. Who are your competitors?

A. WigWag spans a couple of industries… First there is the traditional home automation industry, with players like Control4, uControl, MiCasaVerde and hundreds of others. Then there is the commercial AV automation sector, which is dominated by Crestron, and with mid-size players such as AMX and RTI. There are also cloud services home automation based companies a little more similar to WigWag, such as Lowe’s Iris, Smartthings and Revolv and monthly alarm system products like ADT Pulse. And then we have the device manufacturers who are creeping into the control system world, like Schlage via Nexia, and newcomers like August and Lockitron. There are lots of players and lots of fragmentation.
This fragmentation only makes our product more timely in the market.

Q. Are you Bootstrapped, or do you have Venture Capital or Angel Investment?

A. We bootstrapped for over a year and have also received some Angel investment.

Q. Who makes up your team?

Ed Hemphill – Founder, CEO – Ed was one of the early employees at LifeSize Communications, later acquired by Logitech. He has held positions in software engineering, sales support and management. Ed holds honors from the Phi Kappa Phi society for embedded systems software work for the US Government. Formerly a US Army Signal officer, he served with PSYOPS and later 3rd Special Forces Group including a tour in Afghanistan. Ed earned an MBA from the University of Texas, and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the US Military Academy.

Travis McCollum – Founder, COO – Travis is a lead Product Manager at LifeSize Communications for hardware infrastructure products, specializing in video bridging communications. Travis is a former US Army Signal officer and was stationed at Fort Hood for over five years, making a significant contribution to the Army’s Force XXI technology upgrade. Travis earned an MBA from the University of Texas and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the US Military Academy. Travis is currently *still* employed by LifeSize (not a former employee)

Q. Where are your offices?

A. We are in South Austin, right off Hwy 71. Our address is 4005 Banister Lane, Bldg 3, Suite 100C Austin TX 78704

Q. Who are your customers?

A. Our first customers are home automation enthusiasts and home/commercial AV integrators. We will later focus on specific vertical industries such as Retail and Healthcare.

Q. What is your business model?

A. For now we sell hardware sensors and devices which connect to our cloud service. The cloud service is free. Going forward we will have value added cloud services. The cloud services are a freemium model.

Q. What is the biggest win you’ve had to date?

A. We started a Kickstarter campaign on June 19th, and have raised over 230k to date.

Q. What are the most helpful Austin startup resources that you’ve used?

A. Austin has a ton of experienced tech entrepreneurs who are willing to share advice. There are also software development meetups almost every day downtown. In addition we have received great advice from folks at Capital Factory, Tech Ranch and the RISE group in Austin.

Q. What are the advantages of being in Austin for launching your startup?

A. Austin is loaded with talented software developers, many coming right out of UT. This is huge. Austin is also relatively low cost for office space. Our cost of doing business here is small in comparison to some other cities.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

A. WigWag will be expanding both our cloud service capabilities and our sensor products. Our system is easy enough for a novice, but powerful enough for a full automation integrator. So we plan to seek out specific vertical markets over the next year.

Q. Anything else you would like to add or say that I have not asked you about?

A. Sure: Our Kickstarter campaign will end on August 18th! Here’s the LINK.
After the KS campaign more information will be available at www.wigwag.com 🙂

San Antonio-based Soloshot Raises $53,000 Plus on Kickstarter

The team behind San Antonio-based Soloshot

Occasionally I stumble across a Kickstarter product and I slap my head and say “I wish I had thought of that.”
Of course, I wouldn’t have thought of this one because I’m a photographer who faces many challenges in life like taking a photo without the batteries dropping out of my cheapo camera.
But I do like this product and its ingenuity and it’s based right here in River City that’s San Antonio, Texas.
The team members behind Soloshot are the kinds of bright, young minds that San Antonio is working so hard to attract and cultivate. The fact that their Kickstarter campaign already exceeded its $50,000 goal with more than 200 backers and 21 days to go shows that San Antonio’s creative community is alive and well.
Soloshot is a device that connects to your camera and automatically rotates it to keep it pointed at you while you surf, skateboard, kiteboard, bike, unicycle, pogo stick hop or whatever you like to do. It’s like having a robotic camera operator.
The team behind the invention are “sports minded artists and engineer” who created Soloshot so they could capture their own footage while engaged in a variety of sports.
The team includes Chris Boyle from Queens, N.Y. who thought up the idea while surfing.
“Chris studied biomedical engineering at Boston University. At only 22 years old, Chris filed his first patent and formed his first company focused on the development of a catheter delivered heart valve,” according to their Kickstarter campaign. “Opportunity came calling from the desert, and Chris moved his company from California to San Antonio, TX where he joined a partnership of talented physicians, scientists and engineers working on bringing semiconductor manufacturing techniques to the medical field. After this revolutionary technology was licensed by a fortune 500 company, Chris packed up his boards and headed back to the beach looking for some rest and inspiration. Chasing a wave he had only seen photos of, he headed to Tortola’s Apple Bay. The wave did not disappoint, the creative juices again began to flow and the idea for SOLOSHOT was born.”
His partner, Scott Taylor is originally from California’s Bay area and has degrees from the University of Michigan in Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. He is also an expert in wakeboarding and owned two wakeboard and waterski schools. The partners met in the Dominican Republic where they were surfing and kiteboarding.
“One day, over a post kiteboarding beer, Chris told Scott about the automatic camera project he’d been working on. The two have been working furiously on SOLOSHOT ever since.”
The company is based in San Antonio because of Alex Sammons, its product development and manufacturing expert who has experience attaching cameras to remote controlled helicopters. Sammons has a chemistry degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Other team members include Ryan Savage and John O’Callaghan.

Uberpong’s Ping Pong Paddles Feature Austin Artists

As a kid, I played countless games of Ping Pong in my uncle’s recreation room with my brothers and cousins.
Now I’ve got a kid, and we play Ping Pong too.
But in all those years, the paddles still look the same: green and brown.
Now Uberpong seeks to change that.
They want to make Ping Pong Uber Cool and what better way to do that than with the coolest paddles ever?
Uberpong creates Ping Pong paddles featuring the designs of 20 artists and graphic designers. Hipsters no long have to suffer from green paddle syndrome.
So how do you get your hands on one of these uber cool paddles? There’s a Kickstarter Program for that. David Lowe of Austin is spearheading the project.
The program launched on July 16 and so far has 65 contributors who have pledged $3,289. But Uberpong needs to reach its goal of $10,000 to fund the project. It has until August 15 to do that.
“Uberpong is an Origin of Cool project with the aim being to bring more color and style to the game of table tennis” according to its posting. Why do they call it table tennis?
“Think of table tennis being the traditional, formal English parlor game, Ping Pong being the more contemporary American version and Uberpong being the future of the sport.”
The paddle artists include British artist Hannah Adamaszek, American design firm The Bungaloo and Swedish graphic designer Viktor Hertz.
This project is also a way to help out the local arts community as the paddles feature designs from Austin artists Jay Bramhall, Nathan Brown, Charlie Chauvin, Sophie Roach and Dan Patton. The artists each receive 20 percent on every paddle of their design sold.
Ping Pong is a hot sport for high-tech startups. And it’s even an Olympic sport at the summer 2012 games.

Full Disclosure: I just backed this project on Kickstarter because I think it’s clever, cool and artistic.

Austin-based Jumpshot launches on Kickstarter and raises nearly $100,000

A startup software company, Jumpshot, has successful raised $98,255 on Kickstarter to create a software program to clean up the hard drive of PCs and combat malware and viruses.
Its Kickstarter program exceeded its $25,000 goal and still has more than 40 days to go.
The software comes on a really cute USB stick and once it’s inserted into a PC, the software goes to work cleaning up tracking cookies, killing viruses and fighting spyware and other unwanted programs.
The program gets smarter as more people use it, according to its founders David Endler and Pedram Amini, two former security research managers in HP’s TippingPoint division. They launched the company in mid-July with a Kickstarter campaign.
“We left our day jobs and created Jumpshot for a totally selfish reason.” co-founder David Endler said in a news release. “We were exhausted being PC tech consultants to our family and friends. Don’t get us wrong, we love to help. But we knew there had to be a better more enjoyable way to assist them. We truly wanted to build something that passed the Grandma test, a product we were proud to leave behind that also wouldn’t impact the quality of our holiday gifts.”
The company decided to launch Jumpshot on Kickstarter because its “a scrappy self-funded startup and we’ve gone pretty far on our own,” co-founder Pedram Amini said in a news release. “Our dream is to leverage the momentum and cash from our backers to truly ‘kick start’ Jumpshot into a viable standalone product. The money will feed directly into USB manufacturing, advancing the Jumpshot engine and driving future improvements. We also appreciate the fact that crowd funding will transform Jumpshot into a better product by listening to the feedback of our early adopters.”

Austin Hacker Creates Apollo Armband Solar Generator

Every once in awhile I browse Kickstarter looking for cool projects by Austin inventors.
That’s how I stumbled upon Zimmer Barnes’ Apollo Armband Solar Generator project.
He came up with the idea of the solar armband generator while he had a broken arm. He rigged up a solar panel to the cast to create a generator for his mobile phone and other products.
So many of his friends and strangers liked the idea that he decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to mass produce the devices. He’s seeking to raise $3,200 and he already has 22 backers who have pledged $2,401. He’s got seven days to go to meet his goal.
Barnes is a member of the ATX Hackerspace, which is a community of people who love to make things.
Barnes also describes himself as a activist for “what’s come to be known as the “Real Life Superhero” movement. Over the last six years I’ve gone on a wild variety of missions, from doing park clean ups to breaking up fights; delivering aid to homeless camps living underground to removing gang graffiti; time indexing violent crime and mapping the data to trying to get mugged in one of Brooklyn’s most dangerous neighborhoods.”

The revival of Leisure Suit Larry thanks to Austin-based Replay Games

It looks like Leisure Suit Larry will make a comeback in the 21st century.
On Kickstarter, Austin-based Replay Games has raised more than $600,000 exceeding its goal of $500,000 to remake the popular game from 1987. It has 13,610 backers showing that Leisure Suit Larry is still in demand.
Al Lowe, the game’s original developer, has agreed to come out of retirement to work on the new version. And the game developers have secured the license to reinvent Larry for the modern world.
Replay Games is giving away all kinds of perks to people who pledge to its Kickstarter campaign including the chance for a $5,000 contribution to be a character at Lefty’s bar where Larry hangs out. Only 13 hours remain before the campaign wraps up but since it already met and exceeded its goal it’s a sure thing that Leisure Suit Larry will prowl again.
And the game makers have cut prices on perks during the last day to lure even more backers and money to the project.

Austin inventors created “The Mounty” and now seek funding on Kickstarter

On Kickstarter, Casey Hopkins of Portland, Oregon, set out to raise $75,000 to create the Elevation Dock for the iPhone. He ended up raising $1,464,706 from 12,521 backers.
He saw a problem. He found a solution. And the marketplace responded with a huge demand for his product.
He was one of the first companies to break the $1 million fundraising mark on Kickstarter, according to Silicon Florist, which has been following Hopkins’ story from the beginning.
Now a couple of Austinites hope their “The Mounty,” a simple, durable mount for the iPhone and other smartphones of similar dimensions will be a big hit. It was designed to work on a bike’s handlebars but it has many other uses for mounting on baby strollers, shopping carts and more. So far, Eleanor and Kevin have raised $10,303 from 266 backers on Kickstarter. Their project will not be funded if they don’t reach their goal of $29,000 in the next nine days. Watch the video and the back these innovative product designers. The Mounty looks like a useful tool for anyone with a smartphone. Full disclosure: I backed The Mounty with a $20 donation.

NewTek’s Philip Nelson’s kickstarter CD project

Philip Nelson is best known in the San Antonio high-tech community as a marketing executive with NewTek, a company which makes special effects software for the movie and TV industry. NewTek also makes the Tricaster, a portable TV studio in a little black box that lots of media outlets, bloggers, companies and schools use for remote broadcasting.
But now Nelson has undertaken a new venture. He’s launched a crowdsource-funded Kickstarter project to raise $4,988 to finish an album of country, folk and americana songs.
Nelson is half way to his fundraising goal and has 11 days left to make the rest. Alan Weinkrantz, Nelson’s friend and a San Antonio-based marketing expert who owns a high tech PR firm has offered to kick in $250 if 60 people from the San Antonio area pledge $25 each. (Full disclosure I pledged $25 to Nelson’s project.)

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