Tag: Uship

Austin Chamber’s New A-List of Startups to Watch

Stacy Zoern, CEO of Community Cars, Inc., runs a car manufacturing business out of Pflugerville.
But that’s not the most remarkable part. Zoern, who uses a wheelchair to get around, wanted to find a car that would provide independence to wheelchair users.
Online, she found the Kenguru, an electric smart car. Only problem was the company ran out of money and shut down operations. So she raised $1.4 million and partnered with the company and they moved the defunct car operations from Hungary to Texas and began manufacturing the bright yellow smart cars in 2010.
That innovative and entrepreneurial spirit earned Zoern’s Community Cars Inc. a spot on the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s A-List, which recognized this week 28 innovative technology startups.
Zoern’s is the only car company to make the list.
The list is meant to shine a spotlight on some of the region’s most innovative technology startups that are seeking funding. To compile the list, the chamber’s tech partnership sought input from investors.
“Austin is rich with innovative startups that are primed for growth and simply need exposure and, most importantly, capital, to transform potential into reality,” Susan Davenport, senior vice president of Global Technology Strategies for the Austin Chamber, said in a news release.
Silicon Hills News has done profiles of several companies on the list including InfoChimps, BlackLocus, Calxeda, MapMyFitness, MassRelevance and Gazzang.

This slideshare contains screen grabs of the homepages of the 28 companies that made the Austin Chamber’s list for 2012.

BuildASign wins the Startup Olympics Summer Games

BuildASign won the first ever Austin Startup Olympics Summer Games.
The company, co-founded by Dan Graham, received a $10,000 prize to donate to its charity of choice.
BuildASign chose Austin Pro Bono, a nonprofit that connects lawyers and other professionals to nonprofit organizations.
“SpareFoot took home the silver this year, earning $5,000 for Kure It Cancer Research. Our charity of choice was founded by a self-storage business operator to support kidney cancer research,” according to the company’s blog post. Adlucent earned the Bronze, finishing in third place. It earned money for Austin Pets Alive.
The other startup teams participating each won $500 to donate to their designated charities. Boundless Network designated Capital Area Food Bank; uShip picked Communities in Schools of Central Texas; Spredfast selected Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas; Mass Relevance selected Austin Children’s Shelter and WhaleShark designated Austin Children’s Museum.
uShip won the Startup Olympics Winter Games held last January at its headquarters.
The Summer Games kicked off shortly after noon on Saturday at the Krieg Softball Complex with the running of the torch by uShip’s Co-Founder Jay Manickam, which Sparefoot’s Co-Founder Chuck Gordon received on a podium. After the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, Gordon released about a dozen white doves to a cheering crowd and announced the official beginning of the games.
Adlucent won the first event, the 400 yard relay followed by BuildASign and uShip.
Altogether, the games consisted of seven events: kickball, tetherball, tug-of-war, basketball, the relay sprint, 400 meter sprint and the advance sprint which consisted of a relay team performing various tasks including dizzy bat, egg and spoon race, sack race and the three legged race.

Geni Glynn with Sparefoot and Summer Games organizer

“These games are a lot more competitive,” said Geni Glynn, spokeswoman with Sparefoot, who helped organize the games. She was comparing the summer games to the winter games which raised $2,300 for charity. This time, a lot more prize money for charity was at stake.
In fact, Sparefoot had rules for its competitors such as no alcohol until after the competition, Glynn said. Sparefoot also had to contend with much larger teams. Sparefoot with 45 employees was the second smallest startup to compete. Mass Relevance with 35 employees was the smallest.
About 300 competitors and their supporters were expected to attend the games, Glynn said. She expected several hundred more for the after party that was held at the field around 6 p.m. at the end of the competition.

Jay Manickam, cofounder of uShip

uShip, the defending champs, did not put any restrictions on its employees, said Manickam. He says the games started off as just a fun idea among some friends, but it quickly took off.
“There’s a groundswell of support and a real interest among the startup teams in giving back to the community through charity and having fun together,” he said.
The games embody the startup culture in Austin of camaraderie, competition, collaboration, hard work and giving back by supporting local charities, Manickam said.
“The ultimate goal is to make this a national competition,” Manickam said. He envisions an annual Startup Olympics competition at South by Southwest with teams from other high-technology regions like Silicon Valley, Boston and New York. He’s already received interest from other regions.

Photo courtesy of Austin Startup Olympics

Austin Ventures, Consero, SVB Financial Group & Silicon Valley Bank, KHRG, Dos Equis and Deep Eddy Vodka sponsored the event. Dos Equis provided 300 cases of beer and Deep Eddy Vodka staff showed up in a classic Volkswagon Bus packed with Deep Eddy Vodka and Sweet Leaf Tea. With temperatures soaring well into the 90s, the refreshments provided many of the athletes with the sustenance they needed to compete.

Austin Startup Olympics Summer Games this Saturday

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games will kick off July 27th in London.
But you don’t have to wait that long.
Some of the best geek athletes in Austin will be demonstrating their athletic prowess this Saturday at the Summer Austin Startup Olympics.
(And if it’s anything like the Winter Austin Startup Olympics, held last January at UShip’s headquarters, these Olympics involve prodigious amounts of beer drinking, Tito’s vodka swilling and merry making.)
And it’s all for a good cause.
Each startup chooses a charity and all the money raised to goes to support those charities. Here’s a list of this year’s competitors and their charities.

· Adlucent – Austin Pets Alive
· BuildASign – Austin Pro Bono
· Boundless Network – Capital Area Food Bank
· uShip – Communities in Schools of Central Texas
· Spredfast – Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas
· SpareFoot – Kure It
· Mass Relevance – Livestrong/Lance Armstrong Foundation
· Whaleshark – Austin Children’s Museum

Photos courtesy of Austin Startup Olympics

uShip took the top prize in Austin’s inaugural Startup Olympics competition. BuildASign captured second place and Sparefoot came in third.
The summer games take place at the Krieg Softball Complex at 517 S. Pleasant Valley Road. Opening ceremony starts at noon. Events will last all day.
The summer games include sprints, kickball, basketball, tug-a-war and tetherball.
The after party and awards ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. and will be held at the Krieg Softball Complex also.

This is a slideshow from the last startup Olympics in the parking lot across from Uship.

Veteran entrepreneurs advise startup founders to have “intestinal fortitude”

Founder of Silicon Hills News
The buzz surrounding the Initial Public Offering of Facebook and the billions Mark Zuckerberg will receive might make people think that running a startup leads to fame, fortune and fun.
But several entrepreneurs offered up a different view at the Texas Venture Labs “Been There, Done That” panel last week at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business. The panel was made up of alumni of the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition. They also served as judges for the finals competition.
“Expect extreme highs and extreme lows,” said Robert Reeves, director of the IT and Wireless Portfolio at the Austin Technology Incubator. He cofounded Phurnace Software with Daniel Nelson. They won the Texas Venture Labs Competition in 2006. They went on to raise $5 million in venture capital from S3 Ventures and in 2010 sold Phurnace Software to BMC Software.
“You have got to have a certain intestinal fortitude that you don’t have yet, but you’ll get there,” Reeves told the audience of about 100.
Jay Manickam, UT class of 2004, started UShip with two other UT graduate students: Matt Chasen and Shawn Bose. They entered the TVL Competition during its second year and they finished in last place.
Since graduating from UT, Manickam and his cofounders have raised a little more than $7.5 million in two rounds of funding and now have 100 employees at UShip. The company also recently launched a reality TV show on A&E called “Shipping Wars.”
“It’s not where you finish in this competition, it’s the fact that you’ve done it,” said Rob Adams, director of the TVL Investment Competition. “I was an investor at the time and I turned the deal down.”
“In the first stages, things are very, very emotional,” said Hassan Johnson, who created ThaTrunk while at UT as a platform for hip-hop artists. “It’s a rollercoaster, just enjoy.”
ThaTrunk has since evolved into a mobile proximity sharing app for creative content. It was one of TVL’s first portfolio companies. Last summer, Hassan participated in DreamIt Ventures accelerator in Philadelphia and has raised six figures in angel investments.
“Now we’re back on the fundraising trail,” Johnson said.
Angel networks, in general, play a vital role in any entrepreneurial venture, said Jeff Harbach, he serves as executive director of the Central Texas Angel Network. He also owns several small businesses including two 7-Eleven convenience stores. He received his MBA from UT where he co-founded Texas Venture Labs.
He advised entrepreneurs to start off going to the local angel network, accelerators and incubators.
“Start getting feedback as soon as you can,” Harbach said. “Be active in your ecosystem.”
A big mistake entrepreneurs make when talking to potential funders is saying they need money right off the bat, Harbach said.
“That’s the wrong way to go about it,” Harbach said. “If you’re looking for money, ask for advice. If you’re looking for advice, ask for money.”
Texas Venture Labs works closely with the Central Texas Angel Network, Adams said.
“If you look at how deals get funded in today’s environment it’s usually an angel type investment,” he said.
One of the biggest highs as a new entrepreneur comes from getting a customer’s first payment, said Sangram Kadam, who received his UT MBA in 2010 and co-founded Ordoro, inventory management software for online retailers.
But for every customer that says yes, 100 will say no, he said.
Ordoro received a $600,000 angel investment late last year.
“Since then we’ve been growing fast and furious,” Kadam said.
But as a startup founder, he’s gone without a salary and he has eaten many meals consisting of raman noodles.
Aaron Lyons, who finished his MBA in 2011, has launched a restaurant concept called Urban Dish. He’s raised $600,000 toward a $700,000 goal to fund his company.
To launch his venture, Lyons sold his car.
“I got real familiar with the bus schedule,” he said.
He also maxed out a lot of credit cards.
“Just in a day, you hit huge highs and huge lows,” Lyons said. “I’ve gotten used to something bad happening tomorrow, “ if he gets a huge check from a funder or some other good news.
When asked when is the right time to start a company, Johnson said “right after school.” That’s when you’re used to being poor. If you go work for a big company, you might get used to the perks and nice environment, he said.
Reeves said “another good time to start it is after you get fired.” He referred to unemployment checks as startup capital.
Reeves and Manickam also said it really helps to have a technical founder.
“We didn’t have one,” Manickam said. “Nowadays it’s almost a prerequisite.”
“You’ve got to have a geek on staff,” Reeves said. “No one is gong to fund anything with just a Powerpoint presentation.”
Make sure to get family support on your venture, Lyons said.
“If you do have someone else in your life, it’s not just you making the decisions,” he said. “It can add additional strain and pressure. When you have a family to support, you just have that much more on your shoulders.”
But families can also support your venture.
Reeves said his wife “called me on my bullshit.” She supported him, but she also kept him grounded.
“It’s important not to have just a good coach but an ass kicker,” Reeves said.
When seeking investment capital, always check out the profile of the investor to find out what they back, Reeves said.
“Meet the investors on a regular basis,” Kadam said.
Also, share your idea with people who will listen, Harbach said. “Get their feedback.”
The idea is all about the execution, he said. And feedback is essential, he said. The Central Texas Angel Network has office hours on Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Mozart’s coffeehouse.
Also, things take longer than you expect, Reeves said.
“Much, much longer,” he said.
Never come back from having coffee with a potential investor and tell your significant other you’re getting funding, he said. He made the mistake of doing that.
“Keep your perspective. This is one of many meetings. Tell everyone about your venture,” Manickham said. “Live it. Be proud of what you’re doing. You never know who will be able to help you.”

The importance of play at Austin Startup Olympics

Never underestimate the importance in play in the workplace.
People who play together have better collaboration and social skills, according to SocialWare, which produced this info graphic on the Importance of Play in Enterprise.
But the guys at uShip already know that. They got together with seven other startups companies: BuildASign, Mass Relevance, Adlucent, Sparefoot, Spredfast, WhaleShark Media and Boundless Network to participate in the first Startup Olympics. The teams participated in ten activities on Saturday which involved copies amounts of beer and camaraderie. The events included foosball, darts, shuffleboard, pop-a-shot basketball, beerpong, flipacup, ping pong, trivia, connect four and an obstacle course.
In the end, uShip took home the big trophy, followed by BuildASign and Sparefoot. About 200 people participated in the events, which raised lots of money for local charities.

Geek athletes compete at Austin’s Startup Olympics

Put Geek athletes into the Google search engine and what do you come up with?
A correction suggestion for Greek Athletes.
So the conclusion must be that Geek athletes are an evolution of the ancient Greek athletes that invented the Olympic Games in 776 BC in Olympia in Greece.
And as part of that evolutionary process, now a team of Austin innovators have created the first Austin Startup Olympics which features Austin’s elite startups Adlucent, Boundless Network, Build-a-Sign, Mass Relevance, SpareFoot, Spredfast, uShip, and WhaleShark Media competing in 10 grueling activities including Ping Pong, Foosball, Darts and Trivia.
The games begin today at 2 p.m. at the uShip headquarters. The event is closed to the public, but an after party to raise money for charity will be held at Club De Ville. “Bands performing at the after-party include The Lemurs and Burgess Meredith. All proceeds from the $10 cover charge will benefit local charities,” according to a news release.
You can also follow today’s action on Twitter.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Austin Children’s Museum, Austin Pets Alive, Austin Pro Bono, Capital Area Food Bank, Communities in Schools of Central Texas, the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas , Kure It, and Livestrong/Lance Armstrong Foundation. Sponsors for the event include Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Cedar Door.
The Startup Olympic organizers want to challenge other startups, particularly those in Silicon Valley, to come to South by Southwest and compete in the second Startup Olympics. Contact StartupOlympics.org for more information.
“Guys like Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican Bobsled team were true innovators, giving their particular sports a new twist, a new look that made them legendary,” Shawn Bose of uShip and co-Chair of the Austin Startup Olympics said in a statement.
“You’ll find that same innovation among Austin’s startups – not only among those competing in the event, but citywide,” said Bose. “We’ve brought new ideas to existing industries and businesses. Many of these ideas came about during fierce games of ping pong, beer pong or even Connect Four while squatting at ‘innovative work spaces’ like Crown and Anchor Pub and Mozart’s Coffee Roasters.”

“Shipping Wars” featuring Austin-based UShip

Tip of the hat to Bryan Menell at AustinStartup for bringing this new “Shipping Wars” show to our attention. The reality show debuts on Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. on A&E and it features a competition among some of the best haulers with UShip, an Austin-based company that created a global marketplace for shipping items.

“From rookie haulers to seasoned veterans, no shipment is too big or bizarre for these carriers, who compete in a high-stakes, deadline-driven race where any setback can cost big bucks,” according to UShip. In the first episode, the haulers compete to get a “4,000 lbs., 22-foot steel horse and an oversized 7-foot-long Venus Flytrap” across country on deadline or lose money.

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