The 2016 Techstars Austin startup accelerator program just wrapped up on May 19 after 13 weeks of intensive mentor-driven learning. Considered to be one of the best accelerators in the U.S., Techstars first came to Austin in 2013 after it gradually expanded to other cities from its original launch in Denver in 2006.
“TechStars provided an environment for the most significant mental exercise and team hustle since my days in the US Army,”commented participant Ray Antonino of PermitZone. “Everyday, we were surrounded by 9 other companies kicking ass, talk about motivation!”
Program mentors included Andrea Kalmans from Lontra Ventures, Aziz Gilana from the Mercury Fund, Jeff Harbach from Kauffman Fellows, and Lori Knowlton from Homeaway, along with eight other heavy hitters in the startup arena.
Not only should these startups be extremely proud that they made it through the program, they should be elated that they were part of the less than 1% of applicants that were accepted into the program. All of these startups have the potential to make big impacts on their industries, and we’re excited to see what big things come from these Austin-based businesses as they continue to grow. A few of them even offer ways for Austinites to make extra cash through their platforms right now.
AUTHORS.me: AUTHORS is a platform for those who want to be just that — authors. They offer tools to help connect authors with publishers and provide supportive content to writers including blog posts and contest information. The importance of technology to their company comes in the form of tech that helps discover and predict the best stories for the entertainment industry. They use “predictive algorithms to discover, connect, and deliver the best projects to the right buyer.” Among their successes they can boast that their relationships with some of the largest publishers in the world helps them to close at least one new book deal every day. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
Bamba: Bamba utilizes technology to collect real-time data and insights from over 1.5 billion people in emerging markets such as Kenya, particularly those without access to technology such as smart phones. They are able to send SMS based questionnaires to a network of participants who are then given free air time for their phones for participating. Bamba then uploads the data in a matter of seconds, giving data to clients much more rapidly than through traditional techniques. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
Carserv: The Carserv software platform focuses solely on the auto repair industry and making its communications with clients more streamlined and manageable. Benefits to customers of shops using their software include detailed estimates delivered by phone, real time tracking of the repair process, and photos and explanations of parts needed for your repair. The best feature for consumers, however, is probably the ability to book an appointment and pay for the repairs using your phone. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
Casabots: Casabots is one of the pioneers in the new market of robots in restaurants. Casabots’ premiere robot is Sally, a customizable salad creator that allows customers to choose their ingredients and keep an eye on the calories going into their bowls. Greater options, portion control, and improved sanitation conditions make the robot appealing to both customers and business owners. The company recently announced that in addition to their three pilot restaurants, they will be adding select HEB and Hilton Hotels to their pilot program. Sally will soon be followed by Tony, a machine that creates Asian and Mexican food. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
Casabots is adamant that Austin is a perfect home for tech startups, particularly those in the food industry. They lay out a very compelling argument about this in a blog post from March. We completely agree with their assessment, especially because of these 6 Reasons Why Austin is Better for Startups than Silicon Valley.
HelperBees: This company has the potential to make huge impacts for families who need assistance connecting their senior family members with caregivers. The CEO’s close relationship with his grandmother and his personal experience with her and Alzheimer’s has inspired his work, creating a platform that focuses on quality over availability. It allows seniors to live their lives in their own homes with the assistance of these Helper Bees who assist with running errands, grooming services, and more. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
Kandid.ly: This service makes it easy for users to book a local, vetted photographer for events, portraits, baby shoots, and more (except for weddings). Customers who visit their website are able to browse local photographers, including their work and reviews, and book them for their event directly through their site. The site also handles payment processing and photo delivery. Kandid.ly is experiencing extreme growth, currently processing over 600 bookings per month, just in Austin. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
PenPal Schools: PenPal Schools’ goal is to “connect students through online curriculum to practice skills and explore the world.” So far they’ve connected over 100,000 students in classrooms in 170 countries, creating a cultural exchange that allows students to learn about life, food, culture, and history from a world far away from their own. These opportunities grow their reading, writing, foreign language, and critical thinking skills that are crucial to a 21st century education. Partnerships with Dell and The Clinton Global Initiative have helped PenPal Schools grow, and now the company has announced a partnership with Time Magazine that will create a World News course for students to access through the platform. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
PermitZone: PermitZone “provides contractors and do-it-yourselfers with the information and resources needed to stay compliant and pull permits online from anywhere.” As CEO Ray Antonino said in his pitch at Techstars, “knowing if you need a permit is a nightmare — getting a permit is even worse.” Antonino claims that they’re creating the most valuable set of data for construction permitting nationwide, and for those who have ever tried to do any sort of construction project, that data is critical. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
PopUp Play: PopUp Play takes the old-school concept of using your imagination to turn an old refrigerator box into a rocket ship and brings it into the 21st century. “We realize that modern technology doesn’t have to be at odds with imaginative play — it can enhance it,” Co-Founder Amelia Cosgrove explains on their website. Kids use an app (The Build Lab) to create a framework and customize their own structure, then parents are able to order their creation and have it shipped to them. The kids can then color their new structure and play in it. PopUp Play hopes to inspire the next generation of engineers, architects, and designers through digital creativity and physical play. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
Remidi: After a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Remidi is ready to take the music world by storm by offering a midi controller in the form of a glove. As a DJ and producer, CEO Andrea Baldereschi wants to create “a new chapter in the world of wearable technologies” by sharing a product that turns the wearer’s hand into an instrument. The goal is to bring music creation to everyone, to allow for creation, sharing moments, and bringing forth pure emotion. The glove is currently available for pre-order on their website for $349. Learn more about them through their Techstars pitch video.
Featured photo screen shot of Remidi from Techstar Austin pitch video