Tag: Spot on Sciences

Six Women Run Tech Startups to Watch in Austin

Laura Bosworth, co-founder of TeVido Biodevices, photo by John Davidson.

Laura Bosworth, co-founder of TeVido Biodevices, photo by John Davidson.

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

The stats don’t bode well for women-run tech startups nationwide. Less than 3 percent of venture-backed startups have a woman as a CEO.

But things are changing. Groups like Women@Austin, Women Who Code and Women in Technology are shining a spotlight on female tech entrepreneurs locally. And crowdfunding, bootstrapping, government grants and angel investors are helping more women entrepreneurs to launch and grow their ventures.

In fact, Nerd Wallet named Austin as one of the top 10 places for female entrepreneurs. And here’s six women run technology startups in Austin to keep an eye on as they expand their ventures:

Spot on Sciences – Dr. Jeanette Hill founded her medical device startup in 2010. It creates a blood collection device called HemaSpot. It lets people take a blood sample safely, securely and easily from a remote location and send it to their doctor for analysis. The company is bootstrapped but has received about $2 million in research grants.

TeVido Biodevices – Laura Bosworth is the co-founder and CEO of this life sciences startup that is making nipples from human cells using 3D printers. The company recently completed a successful crowd-funding campaign and received a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health and a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Fashion Metric – Daina Linton is a CEO and co-founder of the startup that acts as a virtual tailor. Her husband, Morgan Linton, is also a co-founder. They founded the company in Los Angeles and moved to Austin last year to participate in Techstars. They decided to permanently relocate and they recently closed on $1 million in financing. The company makes software and has a special algorithm to help people find the right-sized clothes online.

Testlio – Kristel Viidik is one of two co-founders of this startup that is a community of test engineers that test mobile apps to find bugs. The company, originally from Estonia, relocated to Austin to participate in the first Austin Techstars program in 2013. The company has raised $1 million.

Wisegate – CEO Sara Gates founded the company in 2010 and has since raised nearly $9 million. Wisegate has created a platform for IT leaders to interact and share information.

Double Line Partners – Zeynep Young founded the company in 2009 and has since grown it to $20 million in revenue and 120 employees. The startup makes software, data system dashboards and other tools to help schools improve the performance of their students in grades K-12.

Female Entrepreneurs Connect and Learn at Women@Austin

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Bzd3VsvIIAAS9bx“Leave Your Superwomen Capes at the Door”

That’s Jan Ryan’s only rule for Women@Austin events at Capital Factory. The meetings provide a receptive environment for female entrepreneurs to connect and learn from each other while enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres.

“Authenticity is what makes the magic for women,” Ryan said. “And being able to talk to each other with our guards down is when we learn.”

And since the group launched last February, Women@Austin has become extremely popular. The events have filled up within days of being announced and always have a waitlist.

For Austin Startup Week, the event filled up within five days with 140 women and a few men registered and a waitlist of 78 people, Ryan said.

The group also focuses on educating women-led startups about finding funding. Babson College recently released a study showing that women entrepreneurs have made considerable progress since 1999 in getting venture capital, but a wide gender gap still exists.

The study found “the amount of early-stage investment in companies with a woman on the executive team has tripled to 15 percent from 5 percent in the last 15 years.” Yet despite that progress, “85 percent of all venture capital-funded businesses have no women on the executive team.” And just 2.7 percent of venture capital funded companies had a woman CEO.

Bzdxmp9IUAAdUEjThe event also featured a special “Elevate” award given to Jimmy Treybig, founder of Tandem Computers and a venture capitalist in Austin since 1996. He’s been a big supporter of many female-founded companies in Austin and serves on many boards, Ryan said.

In a brief talk, Treybig advised entrepreneurs looking to raise money to study the VC firms and angels before approaching them. Entrepreneurs need to find out if the VC firm invest in their field, how much they invest, whether they invest in new entrepreneurs with little experience and whether they invest in Austin and does the VC have money, Treybig said.

Seventeen VCs turned down Treybig when he started Tandem.

Women entrepreneurs also need to research whether the VC firm has female partners, Treybig said.

“Or do they have a man that has worked with women all of their life, like me, and realize how special, how smart, how motivated and how much contribution women can make and that’s never a question,” Treybig said. “If there isn’t either a women or that type of man, then I wouldn’t spend time…or I would put it way down the list.”

“The main point is there are two types of VCs,” Treybig said. “One type is VCs that have run companies. Others are financial VCs. They might not have worked with a lot of women.”

For Naturally Curly, now known as TextureMedia, Treybig found Golden Seeds of New York to invest in the women-run company. Now Mike Maples Jr.’s VC Firm Floodgate Ventures, which invests in Austin startups, has a woman as a partner, Treybig said.

Lastly, women entrepreneurs must be able to show investors how they will get their money back and make a profit on the investment, Treybig said.

Ingrid Vanderveldt, former Entrepreneur in Residence at Dell, also spoke briefly about Belle Capital Austin, a venture fund she’s heading up locally that invests in women-run tech companies.

The event concluded with a 30-minute panel discussion on lessons learned from women run firms. The panelists included Jeanette Hill, founder of Spot on Sciences, founded in 2010, Crista Bailey, CEO of TextureMedia, founded in 1998, and Zeynep Young, founder of Double Line Partners, founded in 2009.

Ryan asked the panelists to talk about some of their failures and lessons learned from their ventures.

Hill advised new entrepreneurs to make sure that they have a good product and market fit. The product doesn’t sell itself, she said. It’s important to know how to market and sell it.

Bailey told new entrepreneurs to raise as much as money as they can to give their idea some gas.

Young advised new entrepreneurs not to give big titles to early employees. Reserve those titles for when the company grows and becomes successful so that those titles will be there to hire on the talent to grow the company, she said.

Spot On Sciences Makes Taking Blood Samples Easy

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

TX SBDC poster - 2013The most remarkable thing to Dr. Jeanette Hill about the evolution of her company, Spot on Sciences, is the myriad ways her blood collection device, HemaSpot, is being used. It has proven invaluable in research being done in Spain that shows taking blood pressure medication at night rather than in the morning can mean the difference between life and death. It is being used to collect blood samples from Himalayan snow leopards, to check blood among people with diabetes in the Scottish Isles and for AIDS testing in remote parts of Africa.

While Hill’s team is focused on the device itself, making it as practical and responsive to researcher’s needs as possible, scientists all over the world are discovering HemaSpot and asking whether they can use the device in their research. “I’m almost weekly surprised by someone wanting to use it for medical research, different tests that are taking place all around the world,” Hill said. “It’s surprising and exhilarating.”

Taking blood samples has always been messy and fraught with potential for contamination. It also creates a big problem for people like Hill’s mother who lives 20 miles from the nearest clinic.

“It’s such a burden for her to go in and get her blood tested,” Hill said. “It’s such a hassle to drive all that way…then the labs are only open during certain hours, and she feels lousy for days afterward. I thought isn’t there a better way to do this?” For decades, hospitals have used dried blood sampling to collect blood from newborns requiring only a small stick in the heel and then preserving blood on filter paper. Hill wondered whether she could use the same technique for adults. But that presented problems. Even with trained nurses taking the samples, there was a 20 percent rejection rate. It took hours for the sample to dry—longer if the weather was rainy. And while the paper was exposed to the air it was also exposed to numerous contaminants.

Hill began to work on HemaSpot, a small, plastic container in which sits a “flower” made of filter paper. The device comes with a lancet and alcohol wipes for cleaning the finger for a blood sample. The device only needs three drops of blood. Once the blood dries, researchers can perform up to 50 different experiments just by taking a tiny punch from the paper.

Hill is a rare combination of a research scientist and businesswoman. She received her Ph.D. in bio-organic chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis and did post-doctoral research in auto-immune diseases at Washington Medical Center. While in grad school, she founded Biochemical Resources, an Internet database source for research products and chemicals. It lasted a couple years and was beginning to get traction until the World Wide Web and companies such as Lycos and Yahoo came along and “did it a lot better.”

Afterward, she worked as a director for various small companies. She loved the variety and “chaos” of working for a small company, but when her last employer was bought by a larger company, she decided that was the time to go out on her own.

“We started in February of 2010 with just an idea,” Hill said. “By the end of that year, we had a prototype and some models. It took us another year to get our manufacturer.” Every time they ran up against a problem, like uneven blood flow over the filter paper, which would alter test results, Hill said, they thought “We can fix that.”

“That’s kind of cool,” she said. “This is an opportunity for us to make that a lot better….how can we make that very easy to use, a simple device where you understand immediately how to use it?”
They’ve been through a dozen iterations. Her biggest breakthrough, she said, was creating a design with eight blades fanning out so that the blood would flow evenly to all parts of the paper. With HemaSpot, each part of the paper has identical amounts of blood.

“Whenever you get a roadblock you either go around it or pivot and go the other direction, sometimes a couple times a day.” Hill said. “It’s my personality do a lot of different things…I don’t like where there’s a very narrow path and have to get permission to do things, and sometimes many layers of permission.”

SOS homepage pic 2013Ironically though, with any medical device, there are many layers of permission. Currently, the device is only approved for medical research through laboratories. Hill would love to see it available on the shelves for people like her mother, but getting devices approved as diagnostic tools in the U.S. is a lengthy process. It’s moving faster in Europe.
In the meantime, HemaSpot is enabling scientific breakthroughs.

Dr. Michael Smolensky is one of the world’s foremost experts in chronobiology—natural physiological rhythms such as circadian rhythms–and always wanted to understand better how to apply them to medical conditions. “I’ve been frustrated because I know that certain constituents of the blood that are important inaccurate medical diagnoses show very great predictability. They reach peak levels or lowest levels at times when appointments can’t be scheduled, and blood can’t be withdrawn. There was not means of getting blood samples from patients at those particular times of the day or night when they would be most valuable in getting accurate determination of the value of medical interventions.”

Smolensky has been working with Dr. Ramon Herrera, Director of Bioengineering & Chronobiology Laboratories at the University of Vigo, Spain. They discovered that patients who take their blood pressure medication at night are five times less likely to suffer a heart attack than those who take it in the morning. But they weren’t able to isolate why. They knew there was a change in some levels, such as cortisol, at different times of day. But what else was going on in the interactions between the medications and changes in the blood over a 24-hour period? With HemaSpot, they can get patients with hypertension to take their blood at three-hour intervals from home to look at all the factors.

“One of (Hill’s) strengths is that she is very open minded to criticism about her product designs and development, unlike many other that companies just want to get on the market and see financial flow,” Smolensky said. “She’s just very inquisitive and open minded, not a typical business personality. She certainly has the business acumen, but she’s also very science oriented.” And as a person, he said, Hill is “just delightful.”

Most of Spot on Science’s funding has come from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Small Business Innovation Research Program. Their phase II grant was for $1.5 million, and they recently received an additional $750,000. Hill has been pitching—and winning pitch competitions—since she joined Avinde accelerator for women entrepreneurs building scalable businesses.

“I had done a lot of talks but scientific talks,” Hill said. “The very first time I got up to pitch I was so nervous. It wasn’t a very good talk at all. I had just developed the company and came up with a name for it which was Spot on Biosciences. Someone said ‘You’re going to want to shorten that name. For one thing, it’s too long. For another, you don’t want to be the S.O.B. company.”
Hill did a lot of things right from the beginning, said Terry Chase Hazell, director of emerging tech at Avinde. “She made a clean break from her employer, protecting her IP, built a great team, she’s fully participating in the entrepreneurship scene and most importantly she picked a business model that could scale.”

Right now, Hill said, HemaSpot is being used in pilot studies but they’ll need to hit a certain critical mass to scale up. A study starts with a few patients. Once it’s determined that the device works, a research project increases that to 100 patients, 1,000 patients, 10,000…once it hits 100,000, Hill said, it will be time to scale up. She’s building relationships now to determine who would be a good investment partner for Spot on Sciences.

But what brings her to work every day, Hill said, isn’t growing the company. “We can see that this can make a difference in the world. This is going to change the way we do blood tests. This is going to advance clinical science. That’s what I love to hear.”

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Silicon Hills News’ print magazine on the Life Sciences industry

Austin Chamber Names 12 Startups to its Austin A-List for 2014

Founder of Silicon Hills News

BnEfhvbCEAAFIPpThe Austin Chamber of Commerce Wednesday night named 12 companies to its A-List of Startups for 2014.

In the “Emerging” category, for companies that have raised less than $1 million, the winners were Datical, Compare Metrics, Embrace, TeVido, TrustRadius and Spot on Sciences.

“You look at the companies that won last year and this year, it’s a great honor to be part of that group, because they are next generation of startups that are pushing us forward,” said Bart Bohn, founder of Embrace, customer relationship management software.

“It’s such a strong entrepreneurial business environment in Austin and it’s such an honor to be part of it,” said Jeanette Hill, CEO of Spot On Sciences, the maker of HemaSpot, a medical device that allows for remote blood sampling.

“It really means that all your hard work paid off. People see that what you’re doing is exciting and innovative and game changing and Austin is the place to be game changing,” said Laura Bosworth, CEO and co-founder of TeVido BioDevices, which uses 3-D printing technology to reconstruct and print breast tissue.

In the “Growth” category, for startups that have raised more than $1 million, but less than $10 million, the winners included Umbel, Square Root, Set.fm and TurnKey Vacation Rentals.

And in the “Scale” category, for companies that have raised more than $10 million, the winners were Novati and Chaotic Moon.

More than 250 startups applied for the Austin A-List awards, a 65 percent increase in participation from last year’s list, said Michele Skelding, senior vice president of global technology and innovation for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

BnE3GWTIYAES3kqSkelding and Hugh Forrest, executive director of South by Southwest Interactive, announced the winners at the inaugural State of Innovation event at the ACL Live at the Moody Theatre. Several hundred people attended the event which featured fireside chats by Laura Kilcrease, managing director of Triton Ventures, and Gene Austin, CEO of Bazaarvoice and Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at the University of Texas, inventor of Ethernet and co-founder of 3Com, and Mike Maples Jr., partner at Floodgate Ventures.

In addition, Mayor Lee Leffingwell proclaimed May 7th as “Austin Innovation Day.” He also discussed the city forming an “Innovation District” around the Dell Medical School. And Thomas G. Osha, managing director of Innovation and Economic Development at the Wexford Science and Technology, gave a talk about the development of Innovation Zones.

Four Austin Startups Win the Regional 1776 Challenge Cup

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Aceable, Water Lens, Spot On Sciences and Reaction Housing were the four winners of the 1776 Challenge Cup Competition held at Capital Factory Friday night. The four will be flown to Washington D.C. to compete against the winners from 15 other global cities for a chance at a $150,000 prize.
1776, a new incubator in Washington D.C., began with the idea of supporting the most promising startups in highly regulated industries, said Melissa Steffan, a 1776 staffer. “We’re looking for companies that are doing amazing things in industries that are notoriously hard to work in,” she said. Those industries include education, health, energy and smart cities. The Challenge Cup was launched only six months after the co-working space opened.
Austin was one of 16 global startup hubs chosen by the incubator. Other cities involved in the challenge include London, Sao Paulo, Moscow and Beijing. Twenty seven local startups competed.
Evan Burfield, one of 1776’s cofounders, said that in many ways, the startup world was its own global community. “Everybody’s talking about the same things and they all speak English,” he said. “You’ll hear a guy with a thick Russian accent saying ‘We need to pivot.’” In Austin, he said, he was struck by the spirit of collaboration and support, how startups all seemed to want to help each other. By the same token, he said, “Austin’s out to win. The judges in there were all talking about who can we send who will win the championship.”
Aceable won in the education department. The company has developed native mobile gaming apps for online courses that are normally considered very dull—including driver’s ed. Mobile apps are how young people function now, said founder Blake Garrett. Aceable courses are “enjoyable, personal, attractive and fun.”
The company has submitted its first course to the state for approval. It also intends to produce courses for older drivers, defensive driving students and corporate training. Right now though, they’re going after teen drivers.
“ A lot of education companies can’t articulate: Who is your user, tell me everything about them, about who is going to buy your product,” said founder Garrett.
Spot on Sciences won in the health category. The company, which has developed a product that lets people in remote areas take, store and mail blood samples without degrading the quality of the sample, has become crucial in areas like rural Africa, especially for HIV testing in infants and new mothers and the Western Isles of Scotland where diabetes is common and access to a clinic or lab is nonexistent.
“From a quarter size splat of dried blood, you can do 30 or 40 different tests,” said Dr. Jeanette Hill, founder of Spot On Sciences.
Water Lens won in the energy category. This company has a simple, fast method for testing water that has been used in hydraulic fracturing. Many companies are reusing water from one well to the next, said founder Keith Cole. But there are certain elements the water may contain that will make water unsuitable for reuse and may even clog up wells permanently. Testing the water and waiting for results is a laborious process that requires some knowledge of chemistry.
These test strips can be dipped in the water and give the results of 12 tests in a couple of minutes.
Right now, Cole said, he doesn’t know of anyone doing anything similar, but they must be out there. In response to a question by judge Mark Murdock he answered “My scariest competitor is someone I don’t know who is doing the same thing…and we need to get there first.”
In the smart cities category, the winner was Reaction Housing. This company creates temporary housing for victims of natural disasters refugees and others who suddenly have no place to live. Typically, said founder Michael McDaniel, it takes FEMA 90 days to set up temporary housing. In the meantime, people live in church basements and gymnasiums, if they exist.
Reaction Housing systems were inspired by the stackable coffee cup. They are light enough to be moved by hand, include power and can be stacked and transported so that a whole community can be set up at once.
McDaniel said the company is not only looking at emergency housing but also temporary housing for field work—such as a new oil field opening up and many workers flooding in—and for events, like ACL and F1.
The judging panel included Josh Baer, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Capital Factory, Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet and professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, and Kevin Callahan, co-founder of MapMyFitness. As for 1776, they were thrilled with the judging panel they had: “This is actually one of the most distinguished judging panels we’ve had,” said Steffan.
Capital Factory offered free coaching for the winning companies before they go to Washington in May.

© 2024 SiliconHills

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑