Tag: Silverton Partners

Hive9 Receives $5.4 Million in Venture Capital

Darin Hicks, CEO of Hive9

Darin Hicks, CEO of Hive9

Hive9, which makes marketing software, announced Tuesday it has received $5.4 million in funding from LiveOak Venture Partners and Silverton Partners.

The Austin-based startup plans to use the money to hire five or more additional employees and for product development and marketing, said Darin Hicks, its CEO.

“Hive9 helps companies concentrate their marketing spending on activities that are going to have a positive financial impact on the business,” Hicks said.

Hive9, with 20 employees, spun out of Bulldog Solutions, a marketing agency, in April. Hicks has been working on the software marketing platform behind the product for two years.

When Hicks worked at Bulldog, he felt the pain experienced by large companies that didn’t have a centralized marketing plan. A lot of companies kept their marketing activities in disconnected PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets and a lot of the material was not kept up to date, Hicks said.

“We felt some of that pain ourselves as service providers,” Hicks said.

So Hive9 created a solution. Its software allows companies to put all the marketing information in one place and it allows companies to track performance and focus on revenue generating activities, Hicks said.

Hive targets large companies with big marketing budgets. Its software makes it easy to manage those products and track return on investment in one place, Hicks said. Its clients include TD Ameritrade, Zebra Technologies, Fiserv, Thomson Reuters and Docusign.

Gartner also named Hive9 as a 2015 Cool Vendor.

Hive9’s provides data, analytics and a dashboard products for companies to gauge the impact and return on investment of marketing activities.

“We look to back companies led by strong, domain-rich teams that target large underserved markets. Hive9 has achieved impressive customer traction in a short period of time, which is a testament both to quality of the team and the proven value they deliver to large and complex marketing organizations,” Krishna Srinivasan, founding General Partner at LiveOak Venture Partners, said in a news statement.

Clarify Lands $1 Million in Seed Funding

Paul Murphy, CEO of Clarify.io

Paul Murphy, CEO of Clarify.io

Clarify, which makes audio and video search technology, announced Wednesday that it has closed on $1 million in seed stage financing.

The Austin-based startup received funding from Projector Ventures, Silverton Partners and “additional notable support from Austin-based Blake Chandlee together with several other early Facebook executives; Michael Rauchman, a pioneer in electronic trading; Brett Hurt, the founder of Coremetrics and Bazaarvoice; and Sam Decker, a founder of Mass Relevance (now Spredfast) and now a Clarify Board Member,” according to a news release.

The company plans to use the money for engineering, customer support and marketing.

Clarify makes technology, called an API, that allows developers to create applications to easily tag and search audio and video files. Its targeting customers in the telecommunications, financial services, education and media markets. Its platform launched last month and has more than 400 companies signed up.

“The Clarify team is thrilled to secure this funding so that we can continue to expand our platform and introduce new capabilities to developers and businesses throughout the United States,” Paul Murphy, Clarify’s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We are especially proud that Austin has embraced Clarify with open arms. Two-thirds of our funding is from Austin, with additional funds coming from Chicago, Silicon Valley, New York, and London.”

When Silverton invests in a company it looks for exciting technology and a massive market opportunity, Kip McClanahan, Partner at Silverton, said in a statement. “Clarify delivers on both.”

Silicon Hills News did this profile of the company last month.

StepOne Closes on $ 4 Million in Venture Capital

Alex Mitchell,  President and co-founder of StepOne, photo courtesy of StepOne

Alex Mitchell, President and co-founder of StepOne, photo courtesy of StepOne

StepOne, an Austin-based startup that makes customer support software, announced that it secured $4 million in venture capital.

LiveOak Venture Partners led the round with participation from Silverton Partners. The company plans to use the money to add employees and to expand sales and marketing efforts.

StepOne has already landed Telstra, Australia’s largest telecomm company, as a customers as well as a major U.S. cable company.

StepOne’s flagship product, Contextual Care, focuses on helping large companies with complex products deliver excellent customer support.

Although lots of products currently exist to help companies deliver self-service customer support, StepOne has a different approach. It “predicts a customer’s question by measuring hundreds of customer attributes like what services they’ve purchased, the state of their billing cycle and the technical performance of the product, and then matches the customer to the optimal content for their predicted question,” according to a news release. “The adaptive software continuously learns which specific pieces of support content best serve various customers, improving its accuracy over time.”

“From product onboarding to in-life support, self-service for customers is broken,” Alex Mitchell, CEO and co-founder of StepOne, said in a news release. “Even though most customers prefer to solve problems themselves, they give in and finally pick up the phone. There is too much content presented to solve the problem and too many irrelevant results in search queries. Our goal is to make self-service become a driver of customer loyalty and cost savings. When you can answer the customer’s question before they’ve even asked it, they’ll stick with you.”

Last year, LiveOak Ventures invested an undisclosed amount of seed stage funding into StepOne.

“Since our seed investment, the StepOne team has achieved significant customer traction, so we are delighted to continue to support the StepOne team as they scale their operations,” Krishna Srinivasan, co-founder and general partner at LiveOak Venture Partners, said in a news release.

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

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

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:

HeyRide Disrupts the Traditional Cab Industry

Josh Huck, CEO of HeyRide

A new startup, Heyride is creating quite a shake up in the Austin transportation industry.
The company, founded in 2012, draws its inspiration from “the success of collaborative consumption companies such as Airbnb and car2go.”
Heyride has established an alternative marketplace to cabs in Austin. It’s a place where people can give and receive rides via their smartphones.
Last week, the Austin Chronicle published a cover story on HeyRide. Shortly after that the City of Austin issued a statement reporting the city had sent HeyRide a cease and desist order on Oct. 31.
The City reports that HeyRide “very closely resembles that of a taxi franchise and that any operation dispatching drivers to potential passengers ondemand requires a City Council approved Franchise Agreement, and that all drivers are required to successfully satisfy criminal background and driving history checks as set forth by the Austin City Code.”
The Austin American-Statesmen originally reported that the City had shut HeyRide down. But Josh Huck, its CEO, reported on the Austin Startups Facebook group that HeyRide is still operating.

Q. How did you come up with the idea for Heyride?

A. I was frustrated that I couldn’t get a ride during SXSW, and I wondered why I couldn’t just ask someone for a lift. I decided that it was pretty ridiculous that people weren’t able to connect in this way, as I’d been traveling around the world using services like Couchsurfing and Airbnb for years. So I decided to build it myself.

Q. How does it work?

A. You fire up Heyride, say where you are and where you want to go and a driver makes a bid on your ride. You choose who you want to ride with and they take you where you want to go. You pay electronically with your phone and the credit card you have on file.

Q. How many people are signed up for the HeyRide service currently?

A. We’ve currently signed up almost 1000 users.

Q. How many do you anticipate will use the service?

A. We’d like to take Heyride national, so we think the sky’s the limit. After Austin, we’ll be exploring new markets and spreading the word.

Q. How does HeyRide make money?

A. If you give a Heyride, you take 80% and Heyride takes 20% as a service fee.

Q. Why has the City of Austin taken action against HeyRide to shut the service down?

A. Actually, they haven’t taken any action yet. A cease and desist doesn’t mean Heyride is going anywhere. We don’t feel that the City of Austin actually understands our business model; specifically, the difference between a taxi cab company and people using a platform that enables peer-to-peer ride-sharing. Because of that, they’re standing beside old-school regulations that haven’t caught up to innovations in the marketplace. We’re confident that once we open a dialogue, we’ll be able to work together for a common goal: making Austin a better place where it’s easy to get a ride when you need one.

Q. How do you plan to deal with that?

A. We’re going to begin a dialogue with the city, mobilize our customers to raise their voices on our behalf, basically get people behind the idea of ride-sharing and take our case to people who can help us change any necessary regulations to accommodate this type of innovation.

Q. Who are your competitors?

A. There are a few similar services of note out on the West Coast, Lyft and Sidecar. But we’ve taken a different path with Heyride, creating a better user experience with more choice for the user and safety and privacy features that go above and beyond.

Q. Who makes up the HeyRide team?

A. You can find this on our About Us page at heyride.com.

Q. Is HeyRide bootstrapped? Do you plan to seek Angel of Venture Capital Investment?

A. Heyride received its Series A funding from Silverton Partners, a local venture capital group.

Q. Where is HeyRide located?

A. We’re nestled in the East Side of Austin at 1306 E 7th St.

Q. What kind of car do you drive?

A. I’m the proud owner of a silver 2005 Pontiac Vibe. It’s kind of a mutt, being half-Toyota, but I love it anyway. It gets 40 miles to a gallon, has leather bucket seats, a sunroof, an iPod adapter and a sunroof. Gonna be some rocking Heyrides in the ol’ P-Vibe!

Q. What’s your favorite local startup resource?

A. Digging on the Austin Startup Facebook Group – great place to interact in real-time with people in this community. Also, our investor Kip McClanahan’s awesome blog www.ReOverthinking.com is chock full of great resources for people who want insight into VC.

Q. Anything else you would like to make a point of that I haven’t asked you about?

A. I love running a business in Austin.

CopperEgg raises $2.1 million and hires new CEO

CopperEgg has raised $2.1 million to complete its first round funding.
The Austin-based cloud monitoring and analytics company also hired Bob Quillin as its new CEO.
Silverton Partners led the investment along with Webb Investment Network and several private investors including Kenny Van Zant of Asana.
To date, CopperEgg has raised $4.1 million.
“Cloud computing has grown dramatically over the last few years to address a broader base of customers who have ever increasing demands for speed, simplicity, quality of service and value,” Quinllin said in a news release. “CopperEgg is at the forefront of a second generation of companies who are enabling this mass adoption, through SaaS-based solutions that are smarter, faster, lighter weight, and more accessible than the previous generation of cloud monitoring tools.”
Quinllin previously worked at Hyper9, EMC Lonix and nLayers.

Famigo closes on a $1 million round of seed financing

Famigo announced today that it has closed on $1 million in a seed round of financing led by Silverton Partners, with participation from Zilker Ventures, Liahona Ventures and CapitalFactory.
Founded in 2009, Famigo has created a mobile phone application that lets families find kid-friendly content and restrict access to other mobile phone features on Apple iOS and Android mobile phones as well as the web. Famigo plans to use the financing to expand internationally and to expand its products.
“The mobile explosion has uniquely impacted families: kids are increasingly adept at using new technologies and parents suffer from an enormous responsibility to vet every purchase and experience,” Famigo CEO Q Beck said in a news release. “It doesn’t have to be that way: Famigo helps parents identify quality content, enforce their personal guidelines and better manage the mobile lives of their families. Silverton Partners’ investment validates Famigo’s technology as well as the business opportunity in solving the overwhelming frustration and concern parents feel around mobile technology and the family.”
For more on Famigo, please read this Silicon Hills News profile by Susan Lahey.

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