Tag: SXSW Accelerator

Innovative Startups Should Apply to the SXSW Accelerator

imgres-4At South by Southwest Interactive for the past six years, innovative tech startups have clamored to get into the SXSW Accelerator to showcase their company before a tech-savvy audience.

This year, the deadline to apply to participate in the SXSW Accelerator is Nov. 7th.

But don’t procrastinate. This is a highly selective accelerator that only takes the best of the best.

The event is open to early stage companies in six categories: entertainment and content technologies, social technologies, enterprise and big data technologies, innovative world technologies, wearable technologies, digital health & life technologies. The startup get to pitch before a panel of industry experts, early adopters and those people with money in the Venture Capital and Angel investment community.

“Past judges have included Tim Draper of DFJ, John Sculley of Apple/Pepsi, Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, Paul Graham of Y Combinator, Naval Ravikant of AngelList, Guy Kawasaki of Alltop, Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital, Chris Hughes of New Republic/Facebook, Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures, Albert Wenger of Union Square Venture, Scott Weiss of Andreessen Horowitz, and Bob Metcalfe of Ethernet/3Com to name a few,” according to Chris Valentine, organizer of the event.

The event will be held March 14th and 15th at SXSW in Austin. Apply now at SXSW.

Five Austin Companies Make the SXSW Interactive Accelerator Finalist List

Photo courtesy of SXSW Interactive

Photo courtesy of SXSW Interactive

Today South by Southwest Interactive announced the finalists for its 2014 Accelerator competition, the sixth annual event.
SXSW officials selected 48 finalists in six categories, including five Austin startups. And three other Austin startups were named as alternates.
In the enterprise and big data category, the Austin finalists are EvoSure and Shelfbucks.
In the entertainment and content technologies category, sonarDesign made the list.
In the innovative world technologies category, OP3Nvoice and Plum, formerly UBE, made the cut.
No local technology startups made the list for the health technologies, social technologies or wearables technology categories. But Filament Labs made the alternate list in the health category, Ferris Labs made the social technologies category as an alternate and Tsugi was an alternative in the innovative world technologies category.
The event takes place March 8-9th on the fourth floor of the downtown Hilton Hotel at SXSW Interactive’s Startup Village.
“Over the past five years of companies competing in SXSW Accelerator, 56 percent have gone on to receive funding in excess of $587 million and 9 percent of the companies have been acquired, so the judges are looking for truly innovative companies to raise the stakes,” SXSW Accelerator Event Producer, Chris Valentine said in a news statement. “All of the finalists have demonstrated the capability to change our perception of technology and we now have to recognize the utmost potential within a very distinguished group of entrepreneurs.”
The winners receive badges to the 2015 SXSW Interactive event, sponsor gifts and exposure to potential investors, customers, press and more.

This year’s SXSW Accelerator finalists include:

Enterprise and Big Data Technologies

AddSearch (Helsinki, Finland)

Addy (San Francisco, CA)

Databox (Boston, MA)

EvoSure (Austin, TX)

Fieldwire (San Francisco, CA)

Map-D (Cambridge, MA)

Shelfbucks (Austin, TX)

Trustev (Cork City, Ireland)

Entertainment and Content Technologies

Artiphon (Nashville, TN)

Eyeris (Mountain View, CA)

Fliptu (Los Angeles, CA)

MentorMob (Chicago, IL)

Namo Media (San Francisco, CA)

PlayCanvas (London, United Kingdom)

sonarDesign (Austin, TX)

Waygo (Providence, RI)

Health Technologies

ActiveProtective (Allentown, PA)

AdhereTech (New York, NY)

Kinsa (New York, NY)

Pixie Scientific (New York, NY)

Plantiga (North Vancouver, Canada)

Sensible Baby (Somerville, MA)

ThriveOn (San Francisco, CA)

Yingo Yango (Weatogue, CT)

Innovative World Technologies

CubeSensors (Ljubljana, Slovenia)

InsideMaps (Mountain View, CA)

Monsieur (Atlanta, GA)

OP3Nvoice (Austin, TX)

Plum (Austin, TX)

Synbiota (Montréal, Canada)

The Eye Tribe (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Viddyad (Dublin, Ireland)

Social Technologies

Ansa (Orinda, CA)

Connect (San Francisco, CA)

Felt (Telluride, CO)

MobiSocial (Menlo Park, CA)

PPLCONNECT (Montreal, Canada)

Samba.me (Tel Aviv, Israel)

Surfly (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Terranova (Chicago, IL)

Wearable Technologies

Bionym (Toronto, Canada)

Fashion Discovery Labs (San Francisco, CA)

Jon Lou (Staten Island, NY)

Kiwi Wearable Technologies (Toronto, Canada)

Mighty Cast (Montreal, Canada)

Pauline van Dongen (Arnhem, Netherlands)

People+ (San Francisco, CA)

Skully Helmets (San Francisco, CA)

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.

It Takes a Startup Village and Chris Valentine Created One for SXSW

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

chris valentineChris Valentine seems to be everywhere at once in SXSW Startup Village, watching, analyzing, conferencing, counting. One minute he’s in the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom gauging the crowd and seemingly an instant later he’s transported to the Austin Chamber offices (which actually can only be reached by an escalator, an outside door and an elevator).
This is his baby. The Startup Village, which last year was the darling of SXSW Interactive, was an idea he brought to Interactive director Hugh Forrest three years ago. Last year, he introduced Startup Austin—a series of events within the event– to showcase all the reasons Austin is a great city to build to transplant a startup. Ultimately, he’d love for Startup Village to consume an entire block of buildings…like an actual village.
There is a palpable energy in Startup Village. Everyone is hopped up on the possibilities of the new technologies, new companies, new investments. And Valentine shares in all of it.
“I’m so excited by all of it,” he said. “There are so many incredible things happening with technology and I get to work with some of the most amazing, smartest people alive. I was fortunate to find something I am passionate about. I love what I do, I am good at what I do and I’m respected for what I do. ‘Before, I did events but I didn’t specialize. I didn’t have a passion. Now I love to focus on technology.”
He says this despite the fact that managing the Accelerator and Startup Village is fraught with potential failure.
“Because it’s such a large event you don’t get to do what you do at other events, like rehearsals,” Valentine said. “And it’s fluid, things are constantly changing. At other events it’s considered rude if you walk out but because at SXSW it’s actually okay…. The deal with startups—there were 56 at the accelerator this year– is there’s a lot of volatility. We’ve had startups that got acquired, like, two weeks out. Some people run out of money. Some are in acquisition mode and their buyers say ‘We don’t want you to market.’”
Add to that the staffing reality that Valentine works with two professionals, Michelle Murdough—Accelerator assistant– and Maria Alonso—Startup Village assistant—but everyone else on his staff of 50-60 people are volunteers.
And yet, Mudough said, “Perfection is his starting point.” Murdough has worked with Valentine six years on various events including SXSW. She noted his focus on detail, down to making sure each pen on the judge’s table works.
“The smallest thing is something he would obsess over, more than….” she gestures a big picture. “And I’ve been like: Are you kidding me? You really want me to sit and check on every pen? Sure enough, one of them doesn’t work.”
They’ve had their blow ups in all the tension, but over the years they’ve learned to work together when something cranks up the pressure, like today when a pitching team that was supposed to pitch at 3:30 never appeared. Someone had to talk to the judges, the other teams, the emcee and make changes that would all be upended if the team suddenly showed up. Valentine and Murdough spell each other in those moments, taking turns dealing with the circumstance. “He has a huge heart and a tremendous focus on his work,” she said.
Valentine sees SXSW Accelerator and Startup Village as part of the startup ecosystem of the city that has been steadily growing over the past 10 years.
“I love this community,” he said, “the eclecticness, the quality of lifestyle…we have our own identity as far as a tech community. A new wave coming up and we’re different from the other tech communities. SXSW is not your traditional conference and I think people see and appreciate that. It’s so intertwined with the city. More and more the city realizes the value of startups, that they create vibrancies, possibilities.”
Valentine wound up as SXSW Accelerator and Startup Village Producer by a circuitous route. He got his degree in communication and behavioral science. But what he really loved was the arts. When he was a kid he lived part of the time in New York and New Jersey and his parents often took him to the museum. He began volunteering at various arts events just to be around the arts and wound up being asked to run the events. Two years in a row he created a Dancefest with 39 dance companies and 450 dancers over five days.
He was working as a recruiter with Intelquest when he decided to ask the marketing department if he could switch jobs and become their event manager. When he showed the head of marketing his portfolio, they were thrilled.
“People love it when you are passionate and have a lot of energy,” he said. Two years later, he was asked to run events for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and they elevated him to Executive Director. Then he started his own events video and audio company for the Chamber of Commerce and tourism industry, but when the tourism industry slowed down he segued to other jobs. He took on events management for the Busby Foundation for Central Texas for families of patients with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) which he still does.
When he feels overwhelmed by the pressure at SXSW, he remembers the families he deals with who are dealing with really painful issues and it restores his perspective. “People are dealing with really hard life issues,” he said.
But none of that means he lets anything slide.
“This event is very, very important to Chris,” Murdough said. “This one has his name and reputation on it. This one has to go right.”

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 Accelerator Winners Announced

Special Contributor to Silicon Hills News

From Funf left to right: Nadav Aharony, Alan Gardner, Cody Sumter From Ginger.io: Anmol Madan and Ryan Panchadsaram

After two days of intense preparation and pitching, with contestants wandering the Hilton halls muttering to themselves while looking at note cards, the SXSW Accelerator competition wound up Tuesday evening. Six Austin companies were invited to compete, but in the end, none prevailed.
Winners included the Funf Project in the News category; Ginger.io in the Health category; Vitzu Technologies in Innovative Web Technologies; Mobile, Condition One; Wemo Media in the Entertainment Technologies category and Thirst Labs in the social category. Brand Yourself won the Bootstrap award.
Winners—who were judged on creativity, viability, product and team–received $4,000, tickets to next year’s SXSW and a Swiss backpack to carry their gear when they return, among other things.
The categories and the local competitors in each category included News Related Technologies–Umbel, Social Media and Social Networking Technologies—Hoot.me and Scene Tap, Mobile Technologies—Toopher and Foreca.st, Innovative Web Technologies, Entertainment Technologies—Tugg Co., and Health Technologies.
Hoot.me and Umbel made it to the finals.
Michael Koetting of Hoot.me had just left the stage 10 minutes before the winners were announced.
“We just feel really privileged, really blessed we made it this far. We’re just waiting to see what happens. Regardless South By’s been an awesome experience for us.”
Of the 600 initial applicants the list was whittled down to 48 that were permitted to pitch in two minutes presentations on Monday. Tuesday, the 18 finalists each had five minutes to present, followed by a question and answer period.
Emcee Brad King, a professor of journalism and Emerging Media Initiative Fellow at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and former reporter and editor at Wired and MIT’s Technology Review has been at SXSW since its inception and has served four years as an emcee. He’s seen the quality of the Accelerator program improve over the years both in terms of the quality of companies and the caliber of judges who are able to share their expertise with participants.
“The quality of companies is improving as Chris (Valentine) and the group have understood health and innovative technologies and where the different segments are coming from. The three medical companies are amazing…it used to be easy to see that one was better than the others but this time the overall quality was really high.”

Greg Wright with the Houston Technology Center Incubator

Part of the reason for that was the coaching done by volunteer coaches using a system devised by the Houston Technology Center Incubator. Greg Wright, Director of IT Acceleration for the center had a coaching system that Valentine chose to use across candidates, Wright said. In it, candidates do not send Wright and the other coaches their SXSW applications or other information. They only send their two minute and five minute pitches. That way, coaches have to respond only to the effectiveness of the pitch and can’t fill in the gaps mentally. They are helping participants prepare pitches with an audience of venture capitalists in mind.
“A lot of these founders are so familiar with their technology, their solution, they don’t know how to describe what it is. They’ll tell you it’s cloud based and interactive and mobile and you have to say ‘I have no idea what it is you do,’” Wright said. “The coaches really listen and reflect back ‘It sounds like what you’re doing is….”
“It’s important to make sure they describe what the problem is they’re solving and who has that problem. If we can relate to the problem, it’s often easy to appreciate it….. If it comes across like a marketing pitch we try to make it more authentic.”
Presenters can have several phone calls with their coaches to get ready for the presentation and they were “all over the board” Wright said. Some were bootstrapped, others had up to $5 million in investment funding.
Besides the high quality of companies, there’s a high caliber of judges who can offer deep insights to participants.
“Tim Draper (founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson) can speak to things as an entrepreneur, as venture capitalist…people like Bob Metcalf (professor of innovation at the University of Texas) can give the panel really good feedback. It’s not ‘You should have a business model, it’s here are the four things that you should do to increase your presence in your industry.”
Months before the event, Houston Tech center got the idea to throw its own accelerator event at SXSW and within weeks of announcing it had nearly 100 participants from as far away as Finland for it’s HATCH accelerator competition. Ironically, Wright said, while it was worried that it hadn’t had time to properly publicize the event, it did manage to get an blurb in the SXSW Interactive calendar with a “read more” link that led only to a notation: #HATCH2012.
Nonetheless the event filled to capacity and beyond. Perhaps, Wright considers, having nothing but the hashtag indicated “If you don’t know about HATCH, you’re clearly not cool enough to be there.”
Wright and King both praised Valentine’s choice to keep all the startup activities in one Startup Village.
“Chris really worked to make the Hilton the epicenter of entrepreneurship. This is the first year and we’re seeing the fruits of that. The Hilton was just swarming with people…I’m imagining the Hilton being the place you book to stay if you’re a startup.”
The advantage to having so many tech startups in one place is multifold. For one thing, conversations can reach a higher level.
“You don’t have to say let me explain this…I don’t have to convince you that the web is important.”
Throughout the sessions, entrepreneurs expressed relief at having so many people who shared their experiences and at being validated in the competition.
As Alan Gardner of Funf put it: “It’s good to know we’re not crazy.”

Six Austin Startups to Compete at SXSW Accelerator

South by Southwest Interactive announced today the 48 companies that will participate in its SXSW Accelerator program this year.
SXSW received applications from more than 670 companies and selected 48 companies to present in the fourth-annual SXSW Accelerator, sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark.
The SXSW Accelerator competition takes place on Monday, March 12 and Tuesday, March 13 at the Hilton hotel in downtown Austin.
Six Austin companies made the cut including SceneTap, Hoot.me, Umbel, Foreca.st, Toopher and Tugg.

Round-up of recent tech news in Silicon Hills

Are you wonder struck over the amount of money, deals and companies flowing into the Austin area?
It’s exciting times in the Silicon Hills, the high-tech region of Austin and San Antonio.
Not only is Austin, which is known for its start-up culture and high-technology ventures, taking off like a shotgun blast, but San Antonio’s tech entrepreneurial scene has begun to bubble up to the surface like Texas crude.
So much has happened in just the past week that it’s difficult to keep on top of all the activity. So we’ve rounded up the best deals below and if we’ve left anything off, please add to it in the comments section.
San Antonio-based Rackspace Hosting Inc. has opened up satellite offices in Silicon Valley. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote a nice story about their new offices. The official opening is Dec. 1, but already employees, including Uber-blogger Robert Scobel, who runs Building 43, a technology site that specializes in video interviews with technology entrepreneurs, have moved in.
Meanwhile, Geekdom, a new collaborative workspace at the Weston Centre in downtown San Antonio, continues to host events including 3 Day Startup San Antonio and Start-up Ignite’s Hack-a-thon.
In Austin, Evernote’s CEO Phil Libin flew in to open the company’s first U.S. satellite office in the Bridgepoint Parkway Office Complex. It’s hiring a bunch of people for the Austin operations too.
Speaking of moving to town, the Austin American Statesman reported that SceneTap, a social media app for bar patrons, announced plans to relocate its operations from Chicago to Austin.
And BlackLocus, an e-commerce pricing analysis company, announced Austin as the headquarters of its company, which recently graduated from the LaunchPad program at the Austin Technology Incubator.
Meanwhile, Rapid 7, an online security firm, just landed $50 million in funding and will use the proceeds, in part, to expand its Austin operations
And ServiceMesh, a Santa Monica-based cloud platform maker, has raised $15 million and plans to expand its Austin operations, according to this story by Lori Hawkins of the Austin American Statesman.
Capital Factory graduate, WPEngine closed $1.2 million in series A financing, according to this post from Bryan Mennel at Austin Startup.
Last, but not least, SXSW continues to release a bunch of news about next year’s Interactive conference. The deadline for entering your start-up into its SXSW Accelerator is today. It was actually Friday, but SXSW, which often extends deadlines at the last minute, pushed it until today. So if you’re a totally procrastinator, get your application in now.
Tech Ranch Austin’s next Venture Forth program begins Nov. 29, and full disclosure SiliconHillsNews is going to be participating in the program. Tech Ranch still has a few openings left, but it’s limited to 15 entrepreneurs.

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