Tag: Technology Startups

The Post Mortem on Short-Lived Tech Startup: Grapevine

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Photo licensed from Getty Images.

Photo licensed from Getty Images.

More than 90 percent of technology startups fail, according to a 2012 report from the Startup Genome Project.
The researchers found that most fail “due primarily to self destruction rather than competition.”
“For the less than 10 percent of startups that do succeed, most encounter near death experiences along the way.”
Some tech companies fail in a spectacular way like Webvan, a grocery delivery service during the dot com era that raised and spent more than $1 billion and closed down after just two years.
And others are just here today and gone tomorrow.
That’s the case of Grapevine in San Antonio. It was one of the first recipients of a $25,000 investment from the Geekdom Fund. Eric Larson and Richard Ortega founded the company, and a third co-founder Josh Seltzer joined Grapevine in 2012. The company lasted one year from inception to shut down.
On Tuesday night, the founders talked about their entrepreneurial journey and what led to their closing up shop at a post-mortem talk during SA NewTech, a monthly gathering of entrepreneurs at Geekdom.
Ortega recounted some advice Jason Seats, co-founder of Slicehost and now head of TechStars Austin, told Grapevine early on: “You want to be a must have and not a nice to have.”
Grapevine alerted businesses, primarily restaurants, to reviews left at Yelp, OpenTable and other review sites, about their establishments so that they could respond to them in a timely manner. They sprang to life out of a 3 Day Startup San Antonio weekend in the summer of 2012.
“We were all in,” Larson said. “Grapevine was what we did on a daily basis.”
By winter, Grapevine got some paying customers. At first, Larson did everything manually but by January, Ortega had a fully functioning software program.
They also joined the San Antonio Restaurant Association to find more customers.
The company applied to Dell to pitch at its first entrepreneur pitch day in January. Dell chose Grapevine as one of the lucky 13 to present in front of Dell executives. After that event, the company had two other meetings with Dell executives but a deal never materialized.
And then in the summer of 2013, Grapevine’s money ran out and it couldn’t raise additional funds. Larson, Seltzer and Ortega decided to shut down operations.
They shared a few of the lessons they learned from their startup journey:

  • You cannot have too much customer validation.
  • We were not solving the complete problem. We were only alerting companies about reviews. We weren’t solving them.
  • Design can’t solve core business model issues. “I kept trying to design a package that wasn’t neatly packaged to begin with,” Seltzer said.
  • Don’t outsource, do it yourself. Don’t build on top of other people’s services.
  • Be objective and look at your numbers.

And with a humorous bent, the founders shared some signs they knew they were trouble when:
1. Your developer has more tutorial bookmarks than actual lines of codes.
2. The person in charge of sales is still selling for their old company.
3. Your designer hasn’t opened Photoshop in two years and panics when opening PowerPoint.
4. You use the latest and greatest team collaborative app and you get nothing done.
5. You have more conversations in HipChat than you do with your own customers.
6. You are having a hard time getting customers to sign up for your free account.
7. You’re doing a presentation about the rise and fall of your startup and you’re working on your presentation 30 minutes before it’s due.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Rocks Out with Rockify

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

28aef08a-f7de-4504-987d-a21ade66c477_244Do you like music videos? Do you miss old MTV? If you do, then you’ll probably like Rockify. Created by Joel Korpi, the Rockify platform is designed to present music videos in a better format than other sites on the web. But there’s a twist, Korpi has created a complex algorithm that uses social media to identify what music videos users like — and more importantly – what they will like in the future.
To make this work, users log into Rockify with either Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or yahoo. The Rockify algorithm will then take in all the social data available from the primary user and the user’s friends, family, and connections, to find out what music the user will want to see. The platform also learns what you like as you interact with it. According to Korpi, Rockify can reliably find music that users are guaranteed to enjoy after about 80 hours of use.
Based in Austin, Rockify is taking full advantage of both Austin City Limits and SXSW. The startup is currently in the process of re-launching their ACL specific app and has a channel on its platform dedicated to SXSW. Rockify currently has a library of around 400,000 music videos which are indexed from YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo, and many others. It is also hosting exclusive ACL content.
The startup is currently in its second round of funding and is looking for entertainment oriented investors that can help the platform gain traction.

$80 Million Texas Emerging Technology Fund Available to Tech Startups

San Antonio-based Startech Foundation is now accepting applications to the Texas Emerging Technology Fund from south central Texas based technology startups.
The program is aimed at providing seed stage funding for technology startups, university faculty and others focused on emerging technology.
“Funds may be used for any legitimate business purpose but the primary focus of the fund is to facilitate those technologies that are ready to come off the lab bench and get into the marketplace,” Jim Poage, president of Startech, said in a news statement.
Companies interested in applying should contact Erica Amaya or at 210-458-2713 for details. Startech will be accepting applications until 11:59 p.m. on April 17.

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