Tag: South by Southwest

Winners of the 2014 SXSW Accelerator Competition

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Winner of the SXSW Accelerator programs, photo by Susan Lahey

Winner of the SXSW Accelerator programs, photo by Susan Lahey

The huge ballroom that hosted the SXSW Accelerator Awards Sunday night was packed and the mood was warm and festive as emcee Francisco Dao, founder of 50 Kings suggested a giant selfie, Oscars-style, and winner Barak Hachamov of Israel took a video of the group clapping for his award to send back to his family.
Hundreds attended the awards ceremony which seems to swell every year.
This year’s winner in the Entertainment and Content Technologies category was Waygo of Providence, Rhode Island. This app that lets people scan Chinese with their smartphone cameras to instantly translate it into English, without using a data connection. Another company, Word Lens, does the same thing, but only for Western text. Founder Ryan Rogowski said “It has been great to be here at South By, talking to other startups and being honest about how we’re all failing, even if we’re succeeding.”
ThriveOn, a San Francisco company that offers a mental health assessment and suggestions online, won in the Health Technologies category.
Synbiota of Montreal, won in Innovative World Technologies. Synbiota is a collaborative, open web platform that allows people to create materials, food, medicines and fuel using DNA as building blocks.
Samba.me of Tel Aviv, Israel, won in the Social Technologies category. Samba.me replaces “LOL” with actual reaction shots of people as they see what you’ve shared socially.
Skully Helmets won in the wearable technologies category. The motorcycle helmet is currently a “rear view mirror on steroids” that lets riders see what’s going on behind them without taking their eyes from the road ahead. But the company intends to increase its functionality to make it, “Google Glass that can save your life” according to founder Marcus Weller.
Trustev of Cork City, Ireland, won in the Enterprise and Big Data Technologies category. This company provides real time, online identity verification to eliminate fraud and increase revenues for retailers.
Avegant winner, photo by Susan Lahey

Avegant winner, photo by Susan Lahey

Winners each received a check for $4,000. There was also a one-minute fast-pitch competition for some of the entrants who didn’t make it into accelerator. Avegant is a multi-media device that offers virtual retina display, essentially using the back of the eyeball as a screen. That company won $1,000.
Waygo, photo by Susan Lahey

Waygo, photo by Susan Lahey

Some of the world’s coolest technologies were presented over Saturday and Sunday at SXSW Accelerator competition. Dresses with solar panels built in for charging your smart phone; software that lets you scan your house with a smart phone and create a virtual environment to try out paint colors, furniture and more; an artificially intelligent emotional recognition software that lets webcams read people’s micro expressions as they watch videos; technology in consumer products that monitors nutrition and onset of chronic conditions before symptoms occur….
Some of the sessions garnered so much interest the line snaked outside the door. Innovative World Technologies—a broad category for disparate kinds of products and services and wearable tech were two examples. As one judge put it wearable tech companies are “competing for the real estate of the body.”
All Accelerator competitors have the benefit of coaches who help them prepare their pitches. Judges included tech heavy hitters such as Pike Powers, Erick Schonfeld of DEMO, Garry Tan of Y Combinator, though at the ceremony when recognition of judges was called, only Ben Dyer, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT was present. He later joked that he should get more credit for having judged all those companies by himself.
Emcees included Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin and founder of Ethernet and 3Com, Laurie Segall—technology correspondent for CNN Money—and John Sculley, formerly of Pepsi and Apple.

Deadline to Apply for SXSW Accelerator is Nov. 8th

images-3Every year, tech startups look forward to the highly selective South by Southwest Accelerator competition at the Startup Village.
The 2014 SXSW Accelerator marks the sixth year for the competition.
The organizers are expecting more than 500 startups to apply for the 48 slots available. The deadline to apply is Friday, Nov. 8th.
“This event provides an outlet for companies to present their new technology of Entertainment and Content products, Social, Enterprise and Big Data Technologies, Innovative World, Wearable, Music, or Health technology to a panel of industry experts, early adopters, and representatives from the Angel/VC community,” said Chris Valentine, its organizer.
Past judges have included Tim Draper of DFJ, Paul Graham of Y Combinator, Craig Newmark of Craiglist, Bob Metcalfe of University of Texas, Guy Kawasaki of Alltop, Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, Naval Ravikant of AngelList, and Tom Conrad of Pandora.
The competition takes place March 9th and 9th.

Flying High with Interact ATX! (Adventures in Austin, Part 3.2.1)


Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 9.56.17 AMWow, wow, wow.
What a whirlwind has #SXSWInteractive been so far! I’m not even half way in and I’ve already had the pleasure of hearing addresses from Bre Pettis (CEO @ MakerBot), Travis Kalanick (CEO @ Uber), Joe Zadeh (Director of Product @ Airbnb), Scott Chacon (Vice President of R&D @ GitHub), Steven Blank (Author of Four Steps to the Epiphany and Startup Owners Manual) Elon Musk (PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, Solar Cities), and former Vice President, Al Gore.
I’ve also been able to play with some amazing new technologies like 3D Printers at UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering and motion-control software/hardware at Leap Motion’s promotional tent.
Not to mention, I’ve managed to score bunches of free t-shirts and get a few books signed – all while cluttering my pockets with flyers, cards, and stickers from plenty of early-stage startups. Oh, and my phone battery is dead for the what feels like the tenth time in the past two days.
But I wanted to take a brief moment to reflect on some of the amazing people I’ve gotten to know over the weekend. I’m at SXSW solely because of an organization, Interact ATX, that has sponsored badges for a youthful few in hopes of creating a community of entrepreneurial students from around the country.
Interact ATX was founded by Maran Nelson, a current senior at the University of Texas, who has been working with startups for the past few years. Nelson recently spent a summer in New York, where she came to appreciate the exotic appeal that Austin evidently had on the rest of the country.
“I was pleasantly surprised that a bunch of people thought Austin was the coolest city ever. Whenever I told people that I was from Austin, they would go crazy,” explains Nelson.
Nelson continues, “I asked myself, ‘What is the coolest thing that Austin has to offer each year?’ Clearly, I thought about South by Southwest. And then I asked, ‘what can I do to make something happen?’”
Nelson then got to work, reaching out to contacts at various universities as well as potential financial backers. The work, Nelson admits, “was a lot, especially for the first year for something to exist.”
But Nelson didn’t let logistical difficulties hold her back. At first, Nelson was told that having 25 or 40 participants would make the endeavor successful. “I said no, we are doing 100.”
InteractATXlogoUltimately, Interact ATX received over 500 applications.
Admitted students represent a wide range of universities, including: MIT, Princeton, Brown, The University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, Berkeley, Yale(!), Harvard, Rice, and The University of Texas.
Interact ATX sponsors – whose financial contributions subsidized badges, operations, and events – include Andreessen Horowitz, Peter Thiel’s 20 Under 20 Fellowship, Balderdash, Capital Factory, Highland Capital Partners, the Cockrell School of Engineering, Readyforce, Bain Capital Ventures, and many more.
“It’s been a great experience, interacting with like-minded people who are working on projects that are trying to change the world,” comments Param Jaggi, a student at Vanderbilt.
Jaggi has built upon his high school science research – an endeavor which took him all the way to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) – to begin commercializing an inexpensive and disposable green technology. Jaggi’s algae-based technology can filter carbon emissions from the exhaust of cars, which contribute to over 25 percent of global carbon admissions.
Thomas Sohmers is another gifted mind. Sohmers, currently working on embedded cluster computing, has cracked the code for retrofitting raw processors from cell phones and tablets to create high performance computers. Sohmers hopes that his technologies will eventually replace current servers and mainframes with more powerful systems that use less power. As a seventeen year-old high school student from Hudson Massachusetts, Sohmers is a finalist competing for $100,000 in seed capital from Peter Thiel’s 20 Under 20 Fellowship.
“It’s been really fun, I feel really honored to be a part of this group,” says Sohmers. “I really like Austin, it’s a lot better than three feet of snow.”
And then, there are the Longhorns.
Albert Rondan, Jeff Mahler, Chris Slaughter, and Dustin Hopper have teamed up with their professor from the University of Texas, Dr. Srirarm Vishwanath, to start Lynx Laboratories, a company which is producing a handheld 3D structural capture camera. For the laymen among us, their device is used like a traditional camera to capture and render objects or rooms in 3D.
“It takes the point and shoot experience of a 2D camera and applies it to a 3D concept,” explains Rondan, as he demoed a 3D image of an Interact Fellow’s face on his computer, using the software to circle around the face in surprising detail. The technology is impressive and is currently looking for funding through a recently launched Kickstarter.
In the words of Nam Chu Hoai, a student at Boston University, “The amount of energy at South By is overwhelming!” Indeed it is.
Fortunately, a select group of young entrepreneurs have each other to rely on as they navigate the brave new world of South by Southwest.
Please stay tuned for the next segment in Adventures in Austin!

Previous segments:
Apparently there’s this conference happening in Austin?? Adventures in Austin, Part 1.0.0

Adventures in Austin, Part 2.0.5: SXSW = big fun and big business.

TrueAbility Selected as a SXSW Interactive Accelerator Finalist

imgres-9San Antonio-based TrueAbility made the finalist list for the SXSW Accelerator in March.
TrueAbility, one of the TechStar Cloud companies based at Geekdom, is the only startup from Central Texas to make the list. A few Austin companies made the alternates list including Clay.io and Spot On Sciences.
TrueAbility will compete in the Innovative Web Technologies category on Monday, March 11 and Tuesday, March 12 at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin.
“TrueAbility helps companies hire only the best technical talent by assessing a job candidate’s technical skills in a live server environment–from anywhere in the world,” according to its description on the accelerator page. “TrueAbility shortens the recruiting process and delivers objective, easy-to-use pre-hire data that helps businesses hire great techs.”
trueability-2TrueAbility’s team is made up of Luke Owen, Frederick “Suizo” Mendler, Marcus Robertson and Dusty Jones. The company recently closed on $750,000 of seed-stage funding.
SXSW reported that more than 500 companies applied for the fifth annual SXSW Accelerator.

SXSW 2013 Open for Registration

As further proof that time flies, South by Southwest just announced it is open for business today.
That means you can register for the conference, which takes place next March 7 through March 16, but it’s going to cost you.
Badges to attend SXSW 2013 are $100 more than last year’s early bird prices for every type of badge. An interactive badge that entitles the holder to attend all the sessions, parties and other events related to the interactive conference costs $695 for 2013, up from $595 for 2012.
A platinum badge that provides access to the music, film and interactive conferences costs $1,195.
A few years ago, Ben Metcalfe reported in a post on his blog that he liked the price increase. In 2011, the price for an interactive badge rose 15 percent to $450 from $395. He argued that the price increase weeded out people who really weren’t serious about attending the event.
And despite the price increases in previous years, SXSW Interactive continues to have record breaking attendance every year. This year, conference organizers expect 40,000 people to attend the event. SXSW has become one of the most high-profile conferences for startup companies looking to gain the national spotlight. In years past, Foursquare and Twitter have found traction with the iPhone and iPad toting early adopter audience. But in the last few years, no clear app has emerged as the next big thing at the show.
SXSW’s mix of media, music and film has also made it one of the most entertaining high-tech conferences. Every year, the parties get bigger and better and have become an important part of the show. In recent years, the SXSW Interactive conference has focused heavily on the startup community with events like Startup Bus competition and the SXSW Interactive Accelerator competition.
So what do you think? Will the price hike lead to quality over quantity and a more manageable event?

Got a Great Idea for SXSW? Submit Your Panel Now

South by Southwest has become one of the must attend technology shows for those who want to stay on top of the latest trends in technology, music and film.
And a big reason SXSW has become so popular is that the show attracts top-notch speakers.
And the selection of some of those speakers and panels are crowdsourced through its PanelPicker process which began accepting proposals for the 2013 show that takes place March 8 – 17 in Austin.
To enter your idea, visit PanelPicker and fill out the forms. The deadline to submit proposals is July 20. After that, SXSW allows the community to view and rate the proposals. Voting begins on Monday, Aug. 13 and ends on Aug. 31.
The votes and the SXSW Advisory board and staff determine the programming for the show. More information can be found at the PanelPicker FAQ.
“The core of SXSW’s programming is to involve and engage the community with diverse and compelling content,” Roland Swenson, SXSW’s Managing Director said in a news release. “PanelPicker allows our community to not only have a voice in what we program, but share their innovative ideas. Every year we are impressed by the creative and forward-thinking submissions.”

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