Tag: SXSW

Time to Apply for the SXSW Interactive Accelerator for 2015

imgresFor the past six years, Chris Valentine has overseen the SXSW Interactive Accelerator competition.

During that time, he’s witnessed a maturation of the Austin tech startup community.

“Last year was the best group from Austin so far,” he said.

Five Austin companies made the SXSW Interactive Accelerator finalist list in 2014 and three more were named as alternates.

The five included EvoSure and Shelfbucks in the enterprise and big data category, sonarDesign in entertainment and content technologies category, and Op3Nvoice, now known as Clarify, and Plum, formerly UBE, in the innovative world technologies category.

Pitching for the SXSW Health Accelerator gave Spot On Sciences national and international press, said Jeanette Hill, the company’s founder and CEO. It helped create a good buzz for our products, she said.

“The free press and coaching is invaluable for a bootstrapping start-up, and gaining the pro bono Interactive tickets were a very nice bonus, too,” Hill said.

The SXSW Interactive Accelerator has gained a worldwide reputation for showcasing innovative new companies, Valentine said.

“Of the 257 companies who participated, 50 percent of them have received funding,” Valentine said.

To date, companies participating in the SXSW Interactive Accelerator have received more than $1.78 billion in funding, not including grants, angel and seed funding, Valentine said.

Also impressive is the stat that big name companies like Google, Live Tree, Facebook, British Telecom, Huffington Post, Apple, Live Nation and others have acquired 12 percent of those companies.

The next SXSW Interactive Accelerator will be held March 14-15 at the Hilton Austin Downtown.

But the deadline to apply to participate is quickly approaching.

Startups have until midnight on Friday, Nov. 7th to submit an application, which costs $200 per startup.

Last year, the SXSW Accelerator received 500 submissions and selected 48 startups in six categories including enterprise and smart data, entertainment and content, digital health and life sciences, sociable, wearable and innovative world technologies.

“We don’t’ guarantee funding, but that’s a big part of the competition,” Valentine said. “We’ve had the top 20 VC firms in the country attend the event in the past.”

Past judges and emcees companies included 137 Venture, Access Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Austin Ventures, Draper Fish Jurvetson, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and many others.

The judges have included John Sculley of Apple, Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, Paul Graham of Y Combinator, Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet and professor of innovation at UT and many others.

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.

Winners of the 2014 SXSW Accelerator Competition

By SUSAN LAHEY
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.

Where Can I Get That Awesome SXSW Silicon Hills News Print Magazine?

IMG_2861Every night, you can find copies of the first print edition of Silicon Hills News at Fogo de Chao starting at 5 p.m. for Entrepreneur’s Lounge. This is an invitation-only party so if you’re not on the list, you might want to check one of the other spots.

This afternoon, I’m dropping some more copies by Capital Factory, the SXSW Interactive hotspot, coworking space and tech incubator and accelerator, nestled on the top floor of the Omni Hotel building downtown and at the Austin Chamber of Commerce offices.

In San Antonio, the magazine is available at Geekdom, the coworking and technology accelerator and incubator, based at the Weston Centre downtown.

Silicon Hills News copies are also available scattered throughout the Austin Convention Center and I’m (Laura Lorek) carrying around copies with me and dropping them at panels and parties that I attend. So if you see me, ask me for a copy.

On Sunday, copies will be available at the Silicon Hills News, Austin Technology Incubator and Central Texas Angel Network panel at the Austin chamber offices starting at 9:30 a.m. and running until noon.
After SXSW, the magazine will be available in PDF format at our website.

Hire, Fire or Skip? Find out With Austin-based ROIKOI

ROIKOI_Logo - CopyROIKOI is a new hiring application recently launched in Beta and the company is making a big splash at South by Southwest Interactive.

Austin-based ROIKOI is the signature sponsor of Entrepreneurs Lounge, an invitation-only party aimed at entrepreneurs, investors and insiders, held on the rooftop of Fogo de Chao every night through Tuesday. ROIKOI’s giant banner hangs from the rooftop.

Andy Wolfe, founder of ROIKOI

Andy Wolfe, founder of ROIKOI

The company, founded by Andy Wolfe, an ex-BazaarVoice employee, is backed by a number of successfull local entrepreneurs including Brett Hurt, founder of BazaarVoice and Andrew Busey, serial entrepreneur and mentor. The startup has raised $1 million to date.

ROIKOI is built around a fairly simple question – of everyone you’ve ever worked with, who would you hire and who would you not? The app is designed like a “game” that allows users to anonymously vote whether they would hire, fire or skip people they have worked with. The app features the top people leaderboards organized by company, geography and industry.

“Only great scores and great people show up. Negative scores and individual votes remain private. Apps like Secret and Whisper have shown that anonymity is key to authenticity, but ROIKOI is able to focus on the positive and use its data for good.”

ROIKOI seeks to solve the problem of finding top talent for companies from those who know them best. It seeks to provide better feedback than LinkedIn’s endorsements or Klout’s system.

Chat it Up at SXSW with Austin-based Banter

Banter_PlayStore_StreamAustin-based Banter just launched at South by Southwest Interactive.

Yes, some people say not to launch at SXSW because the signal to noise ratio is just too high. So much stuff going on SXSW that a new company might just lost in the shuffle.

But Banter’s app seeks to solve that problem.

Banter is the “first anonymous social network,” which connects people to topics and converstaions that they might be interested in. Users can reveal as much or as little about themselves as they choose on Banter and they can chat about whatever they want. It has created apps for the Android and iOs mobile phones, available for free download at Banter.

Andrew Busey

Andrew Busey

Andrew Busey, inventor of iChat, the first Web-based chat platform created Banter along with Tony Chen, ex-Zynga head of product.

Banter works by allowing people to make public or private chat rooms varying in size from a couple of people to large groups. The chat rooms can also be location-specific around a venue, conference or party. Public chat messages only last for 24 hours and private messages can last for six months.

The app is great for live events when people want to talk about the Oscars, Super Bowl, news events or when people go to a bar or an event together like SXSW.

“If you’re looking for a room that doesn’t exist Banter will let you create it or join the closest room in the same context,” according to its news release.

Tony Chen

Tony Chen

“Banter allows users to finally expand beyond friends and family to include new people that share views and interests,” according to its news release. “Chat was so popular during the early days of the Web because of how invigorating this experience of connecting with new people can be — especially new people that share your passions. But somewhere along the way, chat died and was replaced by social networking. Now, just as you might text your friend while waiting for the bus, you can chat with someone in South Africa about the 2014 World Cup. That’s the power of Banter.”

Guides to SXSW 2014 in Austin

By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News

Austin Skyline Photo licensed from iStockphoto.com

Austin Skyline Photo licensed from iStockphoto.com

It’s that crazy time of year in Austin when locals leave for Spring Break and rent out their houses and apartments for gobs of money to the estimated 30,000 people expected to attend this year’s South by Southwest Interactive.
That’s right, it’s the biggest, wildest and wackiest SXSW ever.
And while some think the event has jumped the shark, we don’t think so.
In fact, we get a lot of value out of SXSW every year and it’s a fabulous place to meet with all kinds of people. We always come away filled with new ideas.
This year, Silicon Hills News will launch its first print magazine at the event. Read this article on why we’re doing it.
To find a copy of it all you need to do is attend the Silicon Hills, Austin Technology Incubator and Central Texas Angel Network Pitch competition on Sunday in the Austin Chamber of Commerce’s offices. Hope to see you there.
Copies will also be at the entrepreneur’s lounge at Fogo de Chao and at Capital Factory, Techstars and other select locations around town.
But enough about us, let’s get to all the great panels, parties and people that make up SXSW.

To get a jump start on SXSW Interactive, check out the lineup of all the great events for University of Texas at Austin Entrepreneurship Week which kicked off last Friday.

The University of Texas has also published this 2014 Interactive Events and Activities schedule for all things Longhorn-related.

And SXSWedu Conference and Festival kicked off Monday and runs through Thursday.

The Austin Technology Council just released its member guide lineup of must-attend events.

Capital Factory has its agenda of SXSW events.

And don’t forget to read Joshua Baer’s 10 Austin Startups to Watch at SXSW.

Austin Ventures published this list of can’t miss events.

Mad Betty has published the party list.

And Fosbury has a directory featuring 30 local companies and landmarks along with the “best of” and “cant miss” spots in Austin.

Halfpastnow.com has created this “unofficial guide to SXSW.”

And the folks at WeAreAustinTech.com created the video embedded below as a guide for first timers.

Hackney House Returns to Austin for SXSW 2014

BannerHackney House, a venue that showcases the talents of East London’s creative, tech and design community, will return to South by Southwest Interactive 2014.
Last year’s event garnered millions in business leads with 1,500 people visiting.
This year, more than 30 Hackney-based businesses plans to use the space to show off their companies and to meet new contacts.
“Any business based in the borough is welcome to use the Hackney House Austin venue for free and attend all of its business and networking events,” according to a news release.
Hackney House will set up in more than 6,000 square feet of space at 721 Congress Ave.
Hackney House Austin will also be a chance for eight students from Hackney Community College to learn more about the creative tech sector. They’re taking part in the Millennial Mentoring Programme and will be attending Hackney House Austin’s events culminating in an interactive workshop with companies who are seeking their creative input into developing new products and services for young people. This is a partnership scheme with Austin Community College who have 6 students taking part in the programme.
British Airways, which is launching direct flights from London to Austin on its 787 Dreamliner on March 3rd, is one of the sponsors of Hackney House. Other partners, iCITY, Dazed and COnfused, Poke, Human After All, the Victoria and Albert Museum, all will make the trip to Austin on British Airway’s inaugural startup flights.
“Over the past year the relationship between Austin and Hackney has flourished and I am thrilled to welcome Hackney House back to the heart of downtown Austin during SXSW,” Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said in a news release. “There are numerous collaborations underway between students, tech companies, civic leaders and more from our respective cities and I look forward to strengthening our ties and having fun with our visitors in March.”

Ten Semi-Finalists Named for SXSW Pitch Competition

By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

imgres-6Silicon Hills News, Austin Technology Incubator and Central Texas Angel Network have picked the ten semi-finalists for a South by Southwest pitch competition to be held March 9 at the Austin Chamber Offices.

They are:
Pristine.io
Embrace Customers
Spot On Sciences
Filament Labs
Mahana
EyeQ Insights
SegUrWay
Fosbury
Lucid Tour
Articulate Labs

“What an amazing group of applicants this year,” said Kyle Cox, Director, IT/Wireless & University Development portfolio for ATI . “Our round 1 judges had a difficult time narrowing the field down to the 10 semi-finalists. The caliber of these local Austin firms is up there with any nationwide competition out there.”

The winners were chosen not only on the strength of their ideas from an investor standpoint, but also on their ability to tell their story in a manner compelling to the media. Frequently, it’s the back story that makes a startup stand out. That may mean stumbling upon the idea in an unusual way, enduring a remarkable struggle to bring it to fruition, embarking on an epic customer validation journey and the like.

Each of the ten finalists will receive one SXSW Interactive badge and be given the opportunity to pitch in front of a panel that includes Pat Noonan of Austin Ventures, Monique Maley of Articulate Persuasion, and Gary Forni of Central Texas Angel Network. Round one will take place at 9:30 a.m.

The five finalists from that round will go on to round two at 11 a.m. where they’ll pitch before Venu Shamapant of LiveOak Venture Partners, John Stockton of Mayfield Fund and Tom Chederar of VentureBeat.

The prizes include:

  • A series of profile articles in Silicon Hills News, following the company’s growth journey.
  • A three month membership in ATI’s Landing Pad portfolio.
  • A free spot in CTAN’s next investor pitch day.
  • Three hours coaching from professional pitch coach Monique Maley
  • Three hours consulting from ValentineHR on issues like hiring and recruiting and compliance.

The top winner will get a series of Silicon Hills articles and one other prize of his/her choice. The second place winner will also choose two prizes from those leftover and the third place winner will take the remaining prize.

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