The Austin A-List: An Interview with uShip

As we prepare for the 2015 Austin A-List, we wanted to highlight some of our past A-Listers. The A-List aims to capture the breadth and depth of Austin’s innovation ecosystem for emerging, growth, and later stage companies. Our goal is to highlight as many great founders and thriving companies as we possibly can to help showcase Austin’s rich and diverse talent as we compete for global recognition and capital.

Today’s post features uShip‘s Vice President of Human Resources, Meg Garrett.  uShip is the global transport marketplace that’s reinventing logistics. By moving it entirely online and to mobile devices, it brings greater automation, transparency and efficiency to the traditionally inefficient shipping industry. Primarily serving the commercial freight, vehicles, and household goods markets, the uShip freight exchange seamlessly connects shipping customers – from freight brokers to business shippers and consumers – with feedback-rated transportation service providers that engage in online fixed price, spot market and auction-based transactions.

Meg Garrett Vice President Human Resources uShipWhy did you apply for A-List?

There were a few reasons for applying to the A-List.  The most important motivation was recruiting given the competitive hiring environment here in Austin. With so much new talent coming to town, or those looking to change roles, being on such a list can give you that edge at least on that initial search by candidates. We’re considered that quintessential Austin startup, born and raised here, close ties to UT and elsewhere, so having that recognition for both our current employees and to get noticed by potential employees was important.

What do you think it means / what does it take to be the hottest startup in Austin?

While uShip is known in Austin for setting the pace on office culture – our SXSW Nerds Rock parties are pretty legendary — even as the company has grown, it’s also an incubator of sorts for past employees to then start their own thing, fed by uShip’s entrepreneurial spirit. Being involved in the community is also a huge part of this. We initiated the Austin Startup Games and got other startups involved. One thing that may or may not play a part in the hotness factor is the industry in which a company sits. For example, we’re in shipping and transportation. Sparefoot is in the public storage space. Buildasign makes, well, signs. We’re not talking sexy industries here, but the cultures and employee camaraderie we’ve all built helps set us apart.

How did A-List impact your business?uShip_Logo

It had an indirect impact in terms of recruitment and brand awareness. It’s important to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to people finding that company that has culture and an established track record that is going places.

How has your business grown since A-List?

Over the past couple years, we’ve definitely been growing. In fact, what seemed like an impossibility in 2011, we outgrew our 18,000 sf space at 3rd and Brazos and added 9,000 sf at 4th and Congress. And we continue to outgrow that space as well. The business has also followed the same trajectory with increased revenue, user base and velocity of transactions on our marketplace.

Any advice for nominees this year?

Our CEO and Founder Matt Chasen always says, “Try to put yourself out of business every day, or someone else will do it for you.” In other words, you always have to continue to stay ahead of yourself and what you’re doing, testing, trying new things, always innovating. As soon as you become stagnant, someone else is going to eat your lunch. You’ve got to stay ahead of it.

 

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The Austin A-List: An Interview with TrustRadius

As we prepare for the 2015 Austin A-List, we wanted to highlight some of our past A-Listers. The A-List aims to capture the breadth and depth of Austin’s innovation ecosystem for emerging, growth, and later stage companies. Our goal is to highlight as many great founders and thriving companies as we possibly can to help showcase Austin’s rich and diverse talent as we compete for global recognition and capital.

Today’s post features TrustRadius CEO, Vinay Bhagat. TrustRadius is changing the way that business software is bought and sold, by giving professionals free access to in-depth software reviews written by real users, curating reviews and data into valuable market reports, and providing a trusted vehicle for vendors to amplify their customer satisfaction.

Vinay BhagatWhy did you apply for A-List?

As an entrepreneur, I’ve chosen Austin as my base. It’s a fantastic city to build a company and a great place to raise a family. My first company, Convio, thrived in Austin, employing 450 people, over 300 of which were in Austin at the time of our acquisition in 2012. As we built TrustRadius, we applied because we wanted to attract great talent and connect with Austin-based software companies that can benefit from being reviewed by their users on our site.

What do you think it means / what does it take to be the hottest start-up in Austin?

Being on the A-List was an important recognition for us and a great thing for our team members to share with their families. We want our team to be very proud of where they work. It came on the heels of being ranked the Fastest Growing Series A Backed Austin Startup by Mattermark. I believe that building a “hot startup” involves a few key elements. First, you need to be tackling a large, yet to-date unsolved or poorly-solved problem that can be monetized. Second, your proposed solution needs to be a good fit – that’s probably the hardest thing to address and often takes multiple course corrections or pivots. Third, you need to build a great team that all excel at execution and work collaboratively togethertrsutradius such that the sum of their contributions drives a multiplication effect. Fourth, you need to listen to your customers/your users, watch your competition and remain 100% intellectually honest about what’s working and what you need to change.

How did A-List impact your business?

It’s another arrow in our quiver to help attract great talent to join our team, and it’s also been helpful in simply raising brand awareness in Austin.

How has your business grown since A-List? We’ve now collected over 13,000 detailed user reviews and ratings from authenticated software users across 1,300 products. Our traffic has doubled in the last 12 months with 137,000+ buyers running 92,500+ software comparisons every month.

Any advice for nominees this year?

Austin is a very supportive entrepreneurial environment. Find people you can learn from and give back as much as you can. Be responsive when others ask you for advice. Of course, you’re running your business and that will take 99% of your focus, but raise your head sometimes and get other perspectives.

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The Austin A-List: An Interview with A-Lister Phunware

As we prepare for the 2015 Austin A-List, we wanted to highlight some of our past A-Listers. The A-List aims to capture the breadth and depth of Austin’s innovation ecosystem for emerging, growth, and later stage companies. Our goal is to highlight as many great founders and thriving companies as we possibly can to help showcase Austin’s rich and diverse talent as we compete for global recognition and capital.

Today’s post features Phunware‘s Chairman & CEO, Alan Knitowski. Phunware is the pioneer of Multiscreen as a Service™ (MaaS) – the only fully integrated services platform that enables brands to engage, manage and monetize their anytime anywhere users. Phunware has introduced category-defining experiences that challenge the outer limits of the most advanced connected devices for the world’s most respected brands.

Head ShotWhy did you apply for A-List?

We felt that we had accomplished a lot as a young company and wanted to see if we could achieve merit-based recognition for our early efforts in mobile.  Austin is a dynamic tech community and we wanted to throw our proverbial hat in the ring to gauge how we were doing against our local peers, specifically, and our local community at large.

What do you think it means / what does it take to be the hottest startup in Austin?

Being the hottest start up in Austin is a flattering and humbling honor as the local community is full of amazing people and fantastic companies. It is a reflection of a lot of work by a lot of people, over a lot of time, in pursuit of a common goal.  In order to receive such recognition, I believe that it requires operational execution and performance, including more form, substance and steak than hype, slideware and sizzle.  Said differently, I believe that merit-based awards require proof rather than positioning or PR.  In such a competitive marketplace and community, any recognition is incredibly worthwhile and exciting.  It further validates forward momentum and progress … not only for employees, but also for investors.phunlogo

How did A-List impact your business?

I think that A-List impacted our business by giving it more public visibility, both in Austin and in other locations that monitor start-up activity here.  We were really quiet about what we were up to at Phunware for a number of years as we got the business off and running.  A-List was really a PR coming out party for us.  We decided to let broader audiences know more about what we were doing and how we were performing against our goals.

How has your business grown since A-List?

Since becoming an A-List selection, our business has really flourished. We are now a back-to-back Inc. Magazine 100 award winner for growth, a back-to-back Forbes award winner for America’s Most Promising Companies, and the # 4 ranked company on the 2014 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 list for the 5-year period from 2009-2013 with a growth rate exceeding 17,000%.  Needless to say, all of this has been extremely surreal. We are very blessed and thankful to have been able to achieve so much so fast.

Any advice for nominees this year?

My only advice for new nominees is to embrace the opportunity.  Enjoy the nomination as a great milestone in your business’ history and celebrate your team, their families and your investors as part of the process.  Everyone is always working so hard to make their young businesses survive and thrive.  Really take a breath as part of A-List to enjoy a collective pat on the back.  You deserve it!

To nominate your company and learn more, visit the 2015 Austin A-List of the Hottest Startups nominations page. Nominations are open until April 24th!

Not a hot startup, but know an awesome candidate? Spread the word!  Help us discover and promote the very best Austin has to offer.

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The Austin A-List: An Interview with A-Lister Main Street Hub

As we prepare for the 2015 Austin A-List, we wanted to highlight some of our past A-Listers. The A-List aims to capture the breadth and depth of Austin’s innovation ecosystem for emerging, growth, and later stage companies. Our goal is to highlight as many great founders and thriving companies as we possibly can to help showcase Austin’s rich and diverse talent as we compete for global recognition and capital.

Today’s post features Main Street Hub‘s Co-CEOs, Andrew Allison and Matt Stuart. Main Street Hub’s full-service marketing platform combines social media, customer reviews, mobile and email marketing to help local businesses get more customers and keep them coming back while saving them valuable time. The company does that by spreading word of mouth for our customers, extending their customer service, managing their online reputation, and using Main Street Hub’s local business network for their benefit.

2014-10-06picWhy did you apply for A-List?

Our mission is to create thriving local economies, and it’s important that we’re as connected as possible to our community in Austin. Recognition on lists like this help us find great people in the community who are passionate about our mission and about making a big impact for our customers.

What do you think it means / what does it take to be the hottest startup in Austin?

In a rapidly growing startup scene like Austin, what truly sets companies apart is an unwavering focus on building strong company culture.

How did A-List impact your business?

There are many great companies in Austin, and in order to attract the best talent, you need to have a strong employment brand.  Being an A-List winner has helped us grow our employment brand here and attract some amazing people to work at Main Street Hub.

msh_logo-white_outline_without_tmHow has your business grown since A-List?

Since we were first featured on the A-List in 2012, we’ve more than tripled our customer count (more than 5,000 nationwide), as well as the size of our team (500 people).

Any advice for nominees this year?

Establish a focus and stick to it. It’s not what you say on your application that gets you on the A-List. Instead, it’s a clear vision and focus. For us, the focus is on our company mission and core values.  At the core of both of these two things are our customers. Every decision made at Main Street Hub is in the best interest of our customers. This allows us to remain focused and make a meaningful impact on local communities across the country. That’s what it’s all about for us — what’s it about for you?

To nominate your company and learn more, visit the 2015 Austin A-List of the Hottest Startups nominations page. Nominations are open until April 24th!

Not a hot startup, but know an awesome candidate? Spread the word!  Help us discover and promote the very best Austin has to offer.

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The Austin A-List: An Interview with A-Lister TeVido BioDevices

 As we prepare for the 2015 Austin A-List, we wanted to highlight some of our past A-Listers. The A-List aims to capture the breadth and depth of Austin’s innovation ecosystem for emerging, growthand later stage companies. Our goal is to highlight as many great founders and thriving companies as we possibly can to help showcase Austin’s rich and diverse talent as we compete for global recognition and capital.

Today’s post features TeVido BioDevices‘ CEO, Laura Bosworth. TeVido BioDevices is a privately held biotechnology company using 3D bio-printing of a woman’s own living cells – to build custom grafts for breast cancer reconstruction.

AVINDE-2013 hiresWhy did you apply for A-List?

I wasn’t initially familiar with A-List, but someone sent me the link to the nominations page. I thought it would be pretty great.  It wasn’t very obvious to me at the time what would come out of it, but am really pleased with the outcome and benefits.

What does it mean and what does it take to be one of the hottest startups in Austin?

I think it means the Chamber and the judges see a high level of traction in the company and management team. They are really looking for something innovative and different.  Companies should have the potential to be a highly scalable business serving a national and even global market.

How did A-List impact your business?TeVidoBioDevices-3D

The biggest thing for me is that the Austin Chamber has been instrumental in making sure we are aware of key opportunities that are going on. They’ve helped connect the dots with people in the new medical school to people in the industry, so we can form the nucleus of this new community. I’m not sure that without being on the A-List and having been connected with the Chamber we would be as plugged into the community. It’s been a key benefit for us. For example, during SXSW the Governor hosted a key networking event at the mansion and the Chamber was instrumental in pulling that together and getting us there. I feel like everyone’s looking out for me.

How has your business grown since A-List?

We were awarded grants from both the National Science Foundation and the National Cancer Institute. We competed in the LIVESTRONG Foundation Big C competition; we placed second out of 750+ global applications. Because of this funding, we’ve built out our own lab facility and we’re now hiring. It’s really exciting being a part of a burgeoning space in healthcare and medtech. We hope we’re one of the first companies to start the wave of what could come out of this community.

Any advice for nominees this year?

Focus on your elevator pitch. Watch out for buzzwords.  Make sure people understand what you actually do!

To nominate your company and learn more, visit the 2015 Austin A-List of the Hottest Startups nominations page. Nominations are open until April 24th!

Not a hot startup, but know an awesome candidate? Spread the word!  Help us discover and promote the very best Austin has to offer.

 

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