Tag: startup

Austin-based Telestax Lands $4.7 Million in VC Funding

Telestax announced this week it has raised $4.7 million in funding.

Austin-based LiveOak Venture Partners led the funding round. The company plans to use the money on product development, customer support and marketing.

“We are thrilled to bring Telestax into our portfolio of promising companies. The exceptional team, high-value technology and resulting customer adoption of Telestax’s offerings made this a compelling investment for us,” Krishna Srinivasan, General Partner at LiveOak Venture Partners, said in a news release. “We look forward to helping Telestax with their market and product expansion.”

The Austin-based company makes a communications platform called RestcommOne, which blends telecommunications applications with enterprise applications to “deliver real-time communications business solutions that scale,” according to a news release.

Telestax, which launched its RestcommOne platform in 2011, has more than 170 commercial customers including Avaya, MetTel, Ping An Bank, T-Mobile, Unifonic and NTT-AT. The platform supports 900 million calls daily and 200 million messages.

“The last 12 months have been remarkable for Telestax,” Ivelin Ivanov, Telestax CEO and co-founder, said in a news release. “We launched RestcommONE, our CPaaS enablement platform, and our RestcommONE Marketplace; and today we have added another business partner with strong proven expertise in telecom and infrastructure software”.

Telestax, founded in 2011, has raised $5.9 million in two rounds to date, according to its Crunchbase profile.

Everfest Wants to Help You Discover the World’s Best Festivals

By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

imgres-1As summer kicks off so does festival season including the Keep Austin Weird Festival, Austin Chamber Music Festival and Bat Fest.

But hundreds of festivals also take place all over the world and often it’s difficult to find out what’s going on where and when.

The solution is Everfest, an Austin-based startup that seeks to be the marketplace for discovering festivals worldwide. But it’s not just listing music festivals. The categories include arts, book, civic, culture, faith, film, food, historical, performance and seasonal. And it even has a category for “unique” for gatherings such as the Austin International Drag Festival and Zilker Kite Fest.

“We want to be inclusive. We want to promote all the great festivals. We’re agnostic to scope and geography,” said Jay Manickam, co-founder. In fact, Everfest has seen festivals of all sizes claiming their pages and actively managing them, he said. It has festivals listed on every continent.

Everfest recently closed on $1.5 million in an angel round funding from investors including Bob Kagle of Benchmark, ATX Seed Ventures, uShip Founders and investors from Austin’s tech community.

And the Austin Chamber of Commerce last week named Everfest to its 2015 A-List of the Hottest Startups in the emerging or early stage category.

Manickam, co-founder of uShip and Paul Cross, founder of Ticketbud, founded the company in October of 2014 and officially launched in April. Everfest, with 12 employees, occupies a little cottage off Lake Austin Blvd.

The inspiration for Everfest came from a trip abroad.

“We were looking for a challenge in the consumer space around a passion,” Manickam said. “I’m an avid traveller. I’ve been to quite a few festivals.”

They came up with the idea for Everfest while touring Europe. Manickam and Cross travelled through small towns and big cities in Europe and noticed a plethora of festivals all around them, Manickam said.

As they did research, they discovered attendance at festivals is on the rise worldwide, Manickam said. And it’s not just music festivals that are popular. It’s also book and film festivals, food and wine festivals and more, he said.

The creative class sees festivals as a destination involving adventure, travel and entertainment, Manickam said. And now many young people value experiences over material goods so festivals meet their needs, Manickam said.

“All of us are dying innately to connect around passions we have,” Manickam said. “That’s really part of why you see so many festivals now than you did 15 years ago. People want to engage with each other. And the more we can make connections happen that wouldn’t otherwise happen the more opportunity we have to succeed.”

Everfest also created a mobile app that makes it unnecessary for festivals to create their own app. It also comes with a “find my friends” feature that lets festival attendees see who else is attending the event.

On the Everfest site, a consumer can create a calendar of fun through recommendations based on their taste profile. They can also share their calendar and see where their friends are going. The company plans to create a “User Generated Content” platform for people to post stories, pictures and videos of festivals they’ve attended.

Festivals are hot right now. It’s a worldwide movement. One out of three Americans attended a festival last year, Manickam said. And festivals are even more popular in Europe and South America.

“You’d be amazed at how many festivals there are in just in Austin that you’ve never heard of,” Manickam said.

Everfest makes money through partnerships in travel, accommodations and ticketing. It’s also working on some exclusive experiences too.

To qualify as a festival, an event has to be celebratory and that excludes work conferences. It also has to be inclusive and it cannot be a private club, Manickam said.

“There is a high demand for everything around festivals right now,” Manickam said. “People want to connect physically in an offline community.”

Austin-Based Bearch Gets $2.1 Million in Funding for Photo Sharing App “Unseen”

nrdtlnw1lilreyykhmtaSnapchat is one of the most popular apps right now for young people.

The company turned down offers of $3 billion and $4 billion from Facebook and Google, respectively.

Snapchat lets its users send videos and photos and messages which disappear after a little bit. That privacy feature appeals to young people who don’t want pages of data stored about them in some database, easily accessible by future employers, colleges and marketers.

So it only makes sense that more of these type of apps might start to pop up.

Austin-based Bearch announced recently it has received $2.1 million in funding for Unseen, its anonymous photo sharing app aimed at college students.

The company raised the money from Dirk Elmendorf, co-founder of Rackspace; Rony Kahan, CEO/co-founder of Indeed.com; Doss Cunningham, CEO of Woodbolt International and several other angels.

Bearch plans to use the money to market its app to more colleges and to continue to develop its features.

“First released in May 2014 to Texas A&M University students, Unseen was created by Bearch Co-founders Michael Schramm and Munjal Budhabhatti,” according to a news release. “Unseen connects students by providing a safe place to share thoughts, experiences, and struggles without fear of repercussions or judgment. The app requires no sign in, logins or names – only that the user associate with a college campus – and can be downloaded for free on the iPhone app store.” It also offers an Android version.

Spanning Cloud Apps Set to Double Its Workforce in Austin

imgres-16Spanning Cloud Apps announced that it more than doubled the size of its workforce last year and its revenue and customers quadrupled from 2012.
The Austin-based startup now has 40 employees, up from 16. It plans to double its workforce this year. The company also moved into new headquarters last year at 823 Congress, four times larger than its old offices.
Spanning Cloud Apps provides data backup and recovery for cloud applications. Its customers include Megabrands, Pivotal, Redfin, Jawbone and Netflix.
“2013 was a pivotal year for Spanning. We added world-class customers, expanded our product offering and established new partnerships with industry leaders including Salesforce.com and EMC,” Jeff Erramouspe, Spanning’s CEO and president said in a news release. “Leading enterprises and educational institutions are choosing our cloud backup and recovery solutions because of our product innovation and exceptional customer service. We’re the organization they can trust and partner with to protect their critical data.”
Last year, Spanning hired some key managers including Erramouspe, who replaced its founder Charlie Wood, now chairman. And Melanie Sommer became the new vice president of marketing. Spanning also closed on $6 million in Series B financing, bringing its total financing to date to $9 million.

Grocery Delivery Service Burpy Featured on a Slice of Silicon Hills

By ANDREW MOORE
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

179795_433710440061652_1513655363_n-1Ever wish you could call someone to go grocery shopping for you? Not bring you frozen food in a truck, but actually go to H-E-B or Walmart and pick up what you want as if you were going yourself. Well, if you live in Austin, you can now use Burpy – a grocery delivery service that does exactly that.
Burpy was founded by University of Texas mechanical engineering Senior Aseem Ali. Ali did not have a car for his first few semesters at UT, and had been looking for an alternative way to purchase groceries. Teaming up with four other UT students, Ali launched the company in March of 2013 and has made around 120 deliveries so far. Burpy also participated in UT’s Longhorn Startup program, where the five students were mentored by Sai Ganesh, Dennis Kashkin, Travis McCutcheon.
Users can order food and other items found at grocers such as HEB and Whole Foods directly from Burpy.com. The delivery price varies from $10 to $12 depending on the type of service you select — Burpy can deliver any time between 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. or can be scheduled to deliver at a specific time. Users are also able to upload an entire grocery list if they already know what they need.
In the last three weeks, Burpy has expanded its operation to serve the entire Austin area. It is currently looking to contract additional drivers for specific area codes.

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TeacherGraph Wants to Solve Communications Problems at Schools

The team behind Ed-Tech Startup TeacherGraph

The team behind Ed-Tech Startup TeacherGraph

Joseph Van and Tony Le founded TeacherGraph, a software as a service (SaaS) application online that allows schools to send messages via email or text to parents and for them to send back messages all on one platform. Van spent some time Wednesday answering questions about the new startup which has just launched out of private beta.

Q. In simplest language, please explain what is TeacherGraph?

A. In the simplest language, TeacherGraph is a tool that allows schools and parents to communicate more effectively by putting all that communication into one application.

Q. How does it work?

A. As a teacher or an as an administrator or anyone in the school you can reach one or many parents with a click of the button. It’s really simple for the school to message the community. And teachers can blast the class with any reminder. But parents can also reply back to them with email or by text. It’s private and secure. Text messaging is really, really popular. It’s increasing the reach you can get in these socially diverse economic situations for people who don’t have a computer or email.

Q. What problem are you trying to solve?

A. How schools, administrators and teachers can reach parents easily and effectively. Right now, there is no way to make sure that the messages that parents are sending are being received or that the messages the schools are sending are being received. TeacherGraph is a new tool at a very affordable price that can tackle all forms of communication within the school at once.

Q. Who makes up your team?

A. Tony Le is the co-founder and we currently have four developers who are really talented and energetic individuals. We also have two business development guys.

Q. Why are you guys the ones to solve this problem?

A. Tony and myself sit at the intersection of education and technology. We have backgrounds in technology, communications and education.

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

A. It’s a combination of things. We have a really, really great team with backgrounds in Google, Facebook and educational companies. There is a lot of talent on this team that is young. We’ve had a really vocal, awesome community of fans.

Q. Who are your customers?

A. We have tons of beta partners. As of Saturday, we opened up our Beta. We are working with a couple of schools and individual teachers throughout the U.S. K-12.

Q. Are you bootstrapped, angel funded or VC funded?

A. We are super bootstrapped. The bootstrapped route is doing very well for us.

Q. Where are you based in Austin?

A. Sometimes it’s on campus (at the University of Texas at Austin) and sometimes we’re based at Capital Factory. Other times we are working out of schools.

Q. What Austin startup resources do you use?

A. Austin has been such a great resource. The Capital Factory for one has been instrumental in connecting the right dots in starting a SaaS based company. We had a launch party on Saturday. It’s really awesome to know these teachers, administrators. It’s a great city to grow into.

Q. What’s the business model, how do you guys make money?

A. It’s free for teachers. Schools when they decide to adopt they pay on a monthly basis. Potentially – the pricing model is based on per user – per teacher.

Q. Who are your competitors?

A. We compete with all the really big enterprise level software companies that do 300 things at once. Then there are group text messaging services and another startup Remind 101.

Q. How are you going to acquire customers?

A. We’ll get customers through really great digital word of mouth. We have a very big Facebook following. It’s nice to see that active teacher community on Facebook. We can reach out to them on Facebook. We’re still pretty young. The Austin Ed-Tech Meetup in Austin has been a great resource.

Q. Anything else you would like to add or make a point of?

A. A lot of parents and schools want to know about the security of the platform. From a security perspective, how secure is this data and will this communication be public? It’s even more secure than it was in the past. When you are using Teachergraph the communications are encrypted and secure. Parents can safely receive texts and keep their communications anonymous.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Features BudgetDoc

By ANDREW MOORE
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
96a2728c-b8d1-4fe0-957c-01539bfe12d1_793Do you want a doctor?
Do you want to bypass the hassle of insurance claims and pay cash up front?
Then BudgetDoc wants to make your life easier by creating a network of doctors willing to give discounts to patients that pay cash up front.
Dr. Megan R. Williams Khmelev, Yevgeniy V. Khmelev, Gopinath Khandavalli, and Oliver Jensen founded BudgetDoc.
The site allows users to research doctors and the prices each doctor offers for services, as well as compare doctors and their ratings to find the best healthcare option. Users can also contact physicians though the site if they have any questions on additional prices and services.
The BudgetDoc network already has around 30 healthcare providers including doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and lab services – most of which are located in the San Antonio area. All providers are vetted through the Texas Medical Board. BudgetDoc is free, but requires users to sign up to use the site.

Greenhouse Founders Featured on A Slice of Silicon Hills News

58cd9642-7179-4c86-a0e6-828d61765b0a_244-1Finding Funding for your startup is hard, but Greenhouse is trying to make it easier.
The company is one of several firms taking advantage of the JOBS act of 2012, which relaxes regulations for equity investing and allows individuals to own stock in new startups without being SEC accredited. This means that you, or a friend of yours, can own equity in fledgling startups – as long as you go through a web portal that handles the legal issues.
This is exactly the service that Greenhouse provides. Founders R.C. Rondero de Mosier and Nathan Roach are based in Austin and San Antonio respectively, and hope to create a crowdfunding community in the south Texas area that benefits startups and investors as well as the local economies. With equity crowdfunding, the Greenhouse users will actually own part of the local startups they invest in, creating an incentive to stick with and promote such startups in the future.
“This creates a larger community because you turn your purchasers into advocates, and people are going to be ideally more long term engaged with you,” says Rondero de Mosier.
The JOBS act rules will go into effect as soon as the SEC releases regulations for those rules. Under old rules, only SEC accredited investors could purchase equity in private startup companies – or companies that had not already made an initial public stock offering. Such investors had to be either worth around a million dollars or prove that they made more than $200K annually for several years – a rule which Rondero de Mosier says excluded around 94 percent of Americans from investing in small businesses without public stocks. Once the new rules pass, companies like Greenhouse will open the door for those people by providing a web portal for such investment.
According to Forbes.com, the new rules will allow individuals making less than $100K – most of us – to invest five percent of their annual income in equity crowdfunding. Individuals making more than $100K may invest 10 percent.
Greenhouse is currently in beta, and plans to launch once the SEC rules are fully implemented. Users can sign up for the beta at FundGreenhouse.com.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Talks with Austin-based Circle Media

BY ANDREW MOORE
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

50db8a1a-c635-42cf-ada9-a60b8a20091f_61This week, we talked with Circle Media founder and CEO Mark Piening about his new startup. Incorporated just last January, Circle Media officially launched at SXSW and was one of the five finalists in the Startup Austin Fast Pitch Competition. The Austin based company does data analysis for both event promoters and sponsors to help them better understand, and interact with, customers at their events.
“How do you help these sponsors and these producers of live events make the best live event experiences possible? The only way to do that is to know the audience.” says Piening.
Piening says that the value in knowing the audience comes from sponsors being able to specially target certain demographics. In some cases, sponsors could even connect with and interact with event attendees — offering them coupons or spontaneous opportunities which make the event a more personal and memorable experience.
To do this, the company collects data from event ticket sales, registration, drinks sales, tweets that reference the event, Facebook posts, Foursquare check-ins, consumer data sources and more. They then analyze the data and present it to clients to help them make informed marketing decisions.
The company presents the information through an online dashboard that gives clients everything from who came to their event to what those people said about the event afterwards — helping the clients make better decisions about programming, merchandise, concessions and anything else that was part of the experience. Piening believes this approach can create a fundamental shift in how marketing works.
“We think that the 21st century is the era of authenticity,” says Piening. “It’s an opportunity [for marketing] to really connect with people like friends, be treated like friends, and be respectful like friends in how they communicate with people.
Circe Media has already secured a fortune 50 software company and is in the process of process of implementing a solution for that client. They are currently recruiting marketing agencies and seeking other fortune 500 clients.
Circle media is now hiring developers with experience in Node.js, REAK, Redis, and user experience.

ZippyKid Will Pay $3,000 & New iPhone for Employee Referral

Everyone knows by now that tech talent is in short supply nationwide.
So ZippyKid, a fast growing WordPress hosting site, is offering $3,000 and the latest iPhone to someone who refers the winning candidate for its job opening.
The company, based at Geekdom in San Antonio, is hiring a senior systems administrator. ZippyKid offers managed WordPress hosting to WordPress content publishers who don’t want to hassel with the technology behind their sites. It offers fast loading and top level security and it specializes in providing services to small businesses, a-list bloggers and entrepreneurs.
“We’re looking for someone who will help build one of the finest data center/ops teams in the world,” according to the job posting. “This means the ability to identify and hire top notch team members, the ability to identify gaps in the architecture and help us work towards closing those gaps.”
Vid Luther founded ZippyKid in 2009. The company recently raised angel funding from the founders of Rackspace, Slicehost and 500 Startups.
“ZippyKid has grown over the past two years by word of mouth,” Luther wrote in a post on Facebook. “Everyone we’ve hired, and every customer that has switched to has, has done it because a friend of a friend told them about us. So, with that in mind, we want to make the pot sweeter for this latest hire. This is a very important job at ZippyKid, and we want to reward you for telling your friends (who qualify) about it.”
To get the $3,000 referral bonus, the person hired for the job must meet certain goals for the first three months in the job. The total reward including the latest iPhone is worth $3,650.
To apply for the job, please visit this site and fill out the application. Make sure to say who sent you so they can get the referral bonus!

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