Tag: ParLevel Systems

ParLevel Systems Receives $2 Million in Funding

images-1ParLevel Systems, based at Geekdom in San Antonio, has raised a little more than $2 million of $2.5 million in funding it’s seeking, according to filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company, which was founded in 2012 by Walter Teele and Luis Pablo-Gonzalez, seeks to make vending machines smarter by hooking them up to the Internet and monitoring them remotely. Nine investors have participated in its funding so far. The company is still seeking an additional $416,319.

ParLevel is dealing in a marketplace known as the Internet of Things, which envisions a future in which all kinds of everyday objects from refrigerators to cars are hooked up to the Internet and interact with other devices.

ParLevel was one of 12 startups that participated in the TechStar Cloud accelerator program in 2013. The company received $18,000 in seed funding and an optional $100,000 in a debt note. It also received $25,000 as one of the first recipients of the Geekdom Fund.

The following video was produced by Key Ideas for Geekdom and its “Geek of the Week” series on Geekdom members.

Meet the Geek – Parlevel from Key Ideas on Vimeo.

Full disclosure: Geekdom is a sponsor of Silicon Hills News

San Antonio MX Challenge Seeks to Solve Problems and Realize Dreams

Founder of Silicon Hills News

IMG_2424The XPRIZE Foundation organized a four-day adventure trip to visit tech companies in California last February.
XPRIZE Founder Dr. Peter Diamandis wanted to showcase space and ocean innovation to a select group of entrepreneurs.
Part of the event involved a Zero G flight in which the passengers float about weightless for several minutes. That’s where software entrepreneur Christian Cotichini literally crashed into Graham Weston, chairman and co-founder of Rackspace, during the flight.
When the flight ended, Cotichini, Diamandis and Weston met and dreamed up the idea for HeroX, a smaller, community-oriented version of the XPRIZE, which seeks to solve the world’s big challenges by creating and managing large-scale incentivized prizes focused on learning, exploration, energy & environment, global development and life sciences.
On Thursday night at an invitation-only event on the fourth floor of the Rio Plaza on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio, the first HeroX challenge officially launched. It’s called the San Antonio MX Challenge, a two-year $500,000 prize to foster entrepreneurship between San Antonio and Mexico.

The team behind the San Antonio MX Challenge: Tito Salas, Emily Fowler, Christian Cotichini, Lorenzo Gomez and Graham Weston

The team behind the San Antonio MX Challenge: Tito Salas, Emily Fowler, Christian Cotichini, Lorenzo Gomez and Graham Weston

“XPRIZE was a grand idea for very lofty things at an ivory tower aspiration level,” Weston said. “What I love about HeroX is it takes what we learned about offering big grand prizes and it brings it down to a city-level. We are not going to Washington, D.C. to change the world; we can change it in our city. The most important unit of economic action is the city. The HeroX prize is about bringing that innovation and technology to the city level.”
San Antonio has the opportunity to be the gateway to America for the entrepreneurs in Mexico and the San Antonio MX Challenge will serve as that catalyst to make it happen, Weston said.
San Antonio has so much of the infrastructure to offer entrepreneurs in the startup world, Weston said.
“Mexican entrepreneurs can come to America to launch their products and then go back to Mexico to build their companies,” Weston said.
San Antonio is the first city to launch a HeroX prize, but soon it will be everywhere, Weston said.
“HeroX is going to be in every city around the world from London to Lubbock,” he said.
HeroX democratizes innovation, Cotichini said, co-founder and CEO of HeroX. He sold his software company, Make Technologies, based in Vancouver, to Dell in 2011. He soon became immersed in studying the world’s problems. It almost made him become depressed until he read Diamandis’ book Abundance, which paints an optimistic view of the future. Cotichini then knew he wanted to be part of making that vision become a reality.
“This is the very first HeroX branded challenge,” Cotichini said. “The Internet is creating new models that allow us to be far more powerful as a species. These new models are going to change the world.”
Open innovation can change cities and companies. It’s a tool for anybody who needs innovation, he said.
HeroX is an online crowdsourcing platform that allows people to realize visions and live out dreams, said Emily Fowler, co-founder and vice president of possibilities for HeroX.
HeroX plans to launch hundreds of competitions worldwide.
Whereas the XPRIZE challenges offer prizes from $10 million to $30 million and last from five to eight years, the HeroX challenges offer prizes of $10,000 to millions and last from six months to a few years, Fowler said. Anyone can take on a challenge or offer one up, she said.
“We’re stimulating a new generation of entrepreneurs and it’s really interesting,” Cotichini said. “The millennial generation really gets the power of crowdsourcing and collaboration.”
One of those is Tito Salas, project manager of San Antonio MX Prize. He was born in Northern Mexico and graduated from the University of Texas with a double major in marketing and business management.
“The San Antonio MX Challenge wants to make it easy for Mexican entrepreneurs to move to San Antonio to launch their business,” Salas said. His role is to help provide Mexican entrepreneurs with Visas, mentors, business services, access to capital and more.
“We’re also looking to get together all of the entrepreneurs from Mexico in San Antonio and bring them to Geekdom to make something bigger,” Salas said.
Walter Teele, co-founder of ParLevel Systems .

Walter Teele, co-founder of ParLevel Systems .

Walter Teele and Luis Pablo Gonzalez are both from Mexico. They came to the U.S. to go to college. They graduated recently and launched ParLevel Systems, a company that connects vending machines to the Internet to monitor them remotely. ParLevel last year graduated from the Techstars incubator program. Teele and Gonzalez are building their company at Geekdom.
Teele sees the San Antonio MX Challenge as a way to fill a need that exists in helping Mexican startups.
“I think it’s going to give entrepreneurs in Mexico awareness that there are people here that want to support them and help them realize their dreams,” Teele said. “We don’t have a startup culture in Mexico. You have it here.”
Mexican entrepreneurs can benefit from the infrastructure that already exists in San Antonio, Teele said.
So far three people have expressed interest in registering for the San Antonio MX Challenge, said Lorenzo Gomez, director of Geekdom. The organization provides the criteria a company needs to meet to win the prize, but they don’t provide any seed stage capital or pre-determined solutions, Gomez said. Early registration ends on Aug. 25 and final registration is Jan. 14, 2015.
“The beauty of the prize models is it’s always the person that didn’t know they could win it that wins it,” Gomez said. “It’s probably going to be someone you never thought or maybe it’s someone that was very obvious. That’s one of the exciting parts of the prize is to see who steps up to solve it. It might just be one person with a magic Rolodex that makes it happen.“

Geekdom Fund Gives $25K Each to Two Startups

The Kirpeep Team: Sara Moffett, Steven Quintanilla, Kyle Jennings, John Lozano and Naomi Rios. Photo courtesy of Kirpeep

The Geekdom Fund has invested $25,000 each into two startup companies to be based at Geekdom, a downtown San Antonio coworking and collaboration space.
The teams are KirPeep and ParLevel Systems, said Nick Longo, director of Geekdom.
“Both teams attempted to get the Geekdom Fund in this past round,” Longo said. “For really a myriad of reasons, they didn’t make it through. But they took all of the advice we gave them and met with mentors and came back prepared to tell their stories.”
Longo and the four other members of the Geekdom Fund board met on Tuesday with applicants. The Geekdom Fund board meets every month. Last month, they did not give out any money. Previously, Grapevine, a reputation management firm aimed at hotels and restaurants, received a $25,000 Geekdom investment.
“I’m encouraging teams that apply for the Geekdom Fund to meet with mentors before they apply,” Longo said.
Geekdom members can find the hours that various mentors are available on the member dashboard online, Longo said. The Geekdom Fund Board members including Longo, Jason Seats, Pat Condon, John Mosher and Mike Troy all have times listed that they are available to meet with entrepreneurs.
Last month when the Geekdom Fund did not make any investments, the teams pitching weren’t as prepared as the board would have liked, Longo said. Each team must fill out an application including a Lean Canvas, or one-page business plan, and they are given 10 minutes to pitch their company to the board.
“This is their first money,” Longo said. “This opens up the opportunity for them to get more money.”
KirPeep hasn’t launched yet. The site is focused on creating a system for bartering.
“KirPeep stands for “Keep it real, people,” according to the company’s blog post. “Our vision statement says it all, “We empower those who provide value to the community by making it easy to exchange goods and services, with or without money.” We want to make it possible for individuals to trade not only goods, but also services in exchange for money, goods, or other services. What sets us apart from other bartering sites is the fact that we see how trading services benefit our communities.”
The KirPeep team is made up of Sara Moffett, Steven Quintanilla, Kyle Jennings, John Lozano and Naomi Rios.
ParLevel System, founded two months ago by Walter Teele and Luis Pablo Gonzalez, is working on a monitoring system for vending machine operators.
ParLevel installs a wireless meter inside vending machines so that the operators can get real-time access to their inventory, Teele said.
Right now, the vending machine world is divided up into new machines with the latest technology and older machines that require companies to visit them to find out what inventory needs updating, Teele said.
ParLevel seeks to give those operators with older vending machines real time information on inventory to save time and money, Teele said. The company is working on the software and hardware box now, he said. They came up with the idea after Gonzalez’s uncle told them about a problem he was having with his vending machine business in Mexico. He said he wanted to be able to see into the machines at any time to see what product he needed. Currently, a delivery truck operator must visit the machines and write down what they need. Then he has to go back to his truck and load up the inventory and go back to the machine and install it. The ParLevel System eliminates all of that, Teele said. Instead, the operator leaves the warehouse with the inventory when it’s needed at the machine, he said.
Both Teele and Gonzalez are from Mexico and they graduated from Trinity University and University of Texas at San Antonio.
“We are very entrepreneurial since we were little kids,” Teele said.
The Geekdom fund investment allows ParLevel to patent its idea and form its company and take care of other business, Teele said.
“It puts a challenge in front of us we have to fulfill,” he said.
Team dynamics are very important in the selection process for the Geekdom Fund, Longo said. He considers the team and its abilities over their idea, he said.
“No one is ever going to give you money for an idea,” Longo said. “They’ll give you money when you get to that next level, the product.”

Disclosure: Geekdom is a sponsor of Silicon Hills News.

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