Emerging A-List Winners

Emerging A-List Winner: Everfest

The festival industry is showing massive growth but is largely disaggregated. There is no great, central place for festival attendees to learn details of events, even if the event is taking place in their own backyard. Everfest wants to improve discovery, connection and sharing of festival experiences before and after. Traditional social and travel sites aren’t the right place for festivals – Everfest is going to be their home.

Everfest is building the world’s largest festival community, spanning genre and geography to connect the full festival ecosystem of revelers, festival organizers and brands. Everfest starts with discovery and extends to a day-of mobile app that will be the last festival app attendees and organizers will ever need.

Leadership Insights

  • Founder Jay Manickam is one of the original co-founders of uShip, the world’s largest shipping marketplace, which has been a fixture of the Austin tech startup scene since 2004.
  • The company has seen small festivals grow up right in front of them. Manickam wants to perpetuate that here and all over the world, and is excited to work with local festivals to build something that can truly elevate them, and collectively Austin, to new levels.

Emerging A-List Winner: Bitfusion.io

The speed of doing business is only as fast as a company’s computer systems. Many key industries and tech functions like data processing, analytics, machine learning, financial services and pharmaceuticals require complex computations with faster turn-around time to speed time-to-market and boost profits, even as data volumes continue to mount. Currently, the recourse for data centers and cloud configurations is to keep scaling by adding CPU-based server nodes, which means adding costs and inefficiencies. The real need is to enable organizations to use seamless hardware acceleration without code rewrite.

Bitfusion offers unique software to transparently and automatically accelerate existing applications by orders of magnitude. Bitfusion unlocks hardware acceleration without requiring application rewrite.

Leadership Insights

  • CEO Subbu Rama has held engineering and leadership roles in hardware and software divisions while building CPUs, micro-servers, SoCs and cloud infrastructures, at companies like Intel and Dell. As a founding member, he built Dell’s first Cloud Infrastructure Marketplace.
  • All three founders: Subbu Rama, CEO; Mazhar Memon, CTO; and Maciej Bajkowski, COO, have at least 10 years in the semiconductor and tech industry each spanning multiple disciplines.

Emerging A-List Winner: Green & Grow Inc.

There is a global need to “grow more, with less”. The world needs to increase food production to meet the demands of a growing and increasingly wealthy population but to do so in a more sustainable way. Green & Grow Inc.‘s naturally derived Agriplier Technology addresses this need. Agriplier can be efficiently and rapidly integrated into today’s modern farming methods and has already been successfully tested in independently run field trials across the USA and internationally.

Green & Grow Inc. develops and commercializes new agricultural products. Our Agriplier Technology is naturally derived and increases crop yields above and beyond the current products in use today. Agriplier has been a top performer in independent field trials for the last two years in a row.

Leadership Insights

  • CRO Gary Nijak Jr. has worked on the Agriplier Technology since its discovery and manages lab based R&D and agriculture field trials. COO/CFO Gregg Spivey manages operations, go-to market strategy, industry relationships and finances. CEO Alan Sobba was one of the first investors into GGI and has years of experience in public policy and family farming.
  • With degrees in Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Natural Sciences and Business this diverse team can apply research and technology to agriculture in new, meaningful ways.

Emerging A-List Winner: ENTvantage DX

It is difficult for physicians to accurately diagnose the cause of sinusitis as either bacterial or viral. Since no definitive in-office diagnostic product exists, physicians routinely prescribe antibiotics while most patients aren’t experiencing bacterial infections. These antibiotics can make their condition worse and lead to antibiotic resistant infections. The over prescription of antibiotics has led to a worldwide crisis that is costly and deadly.

ENTvantage Dx provides physicians with timely information on the cause of ENT-related illnesses with rapid, in-office diagnostic tests. This $2.8B worldwide market opportunity and the device ENTvantage Dx is developing will allow doctors to reduce prescriptions and therefore reduce antibiotic resistant infections.

Leadership Insights

  • Joe Skraba, President and CEO, has 30 years of experience in commercialization and sales of a broad range of medical devices, in-vitro diagnostic devices and biotech products. He has engineered products, managed development teams on complex medical device projects and led large multinational R&D teams.
  • Chairman of the Board Rick Hawkins has been a life-science entrepreneur in Austin for over 30 years and founded multiple companies, including Pharmaco. Don Gonzales joins Hawkins on the Board a successful ENT physician turned entrepreneur who founded ENTrigue Surgical, Inc.
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Austin Chamber Connects with Africa’s Best and Brightest Entrepreneurs

Michele questionsThe Austin Chamber of Commerce, through Innovate Austin, and in collaboration with WeWork Austin and Dropbox Austin welcomed the Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF) on June 24, 2015 for a “Welcome to Austin – The Innovation Economy” workshop.

These 25 young African entrepreneurs are spending several weeks in Austin learning about the extensive startup community in the region, in conjunction with The University of Texas. The Fellows will have the opportunity to connect with our collaborative Austin startup scene, including growing partnerships and exploring the city’s entrepreneur ecosystem, ultimately ending in a pitch competition.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), part of President Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa. The goal is to empower the next generation of leaders with skills and knowledge to strengthen democracy, spur economic growth, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

“Austin’s innovation ecosystem has never been stronger. Austin is now ranked the number one U.S. city for startups in the latest annual Kauffman Index report,” said Michele Skelding, SVP of Global Technology and Innovation at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. “We are thrilled to partner with WeWork and Dropbox and welcome the YALI participants, who are poised to make their mark [with] extraordinary ideas impacting global change.”

For more information about MWF or YALI click here.

To meet UT Austin’s 2015 Fellows click here.

Rainbow wall


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2015 Austin A-List of the Hottest Startups

The 2015 Austin A-List of hottest startups awards reception was an exciting celebration of entrepreneurship. On May 14, 2015, the Austin Chamber of Commerce honored the winners for best startups in three key stages of development: Emerging (<$1M in funding/revenue), Growth ($1M-$10M in funding; $1M-$20M in revenue) and Scale (>$10M in funding; >$20 in revenue).

The winners in each category are listed below. We will be featuring each company on our blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more information about what makes them A-List material!

Emerging Winners

  • Everfest
  • Bitfusion.io
  • Green & Grow
  • ENTvantage Dx

Growth Winners

  • CognitiveScale
  • Neogenis Labs
  • Illumitex
  • Epic
  • Spark Cognition

Scale Winners

  • SpareFoot
  • Silvercar
  • Volusion

The video above and the Flickr page here are courtesy of Fit to Tweet.

Thank you to SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest, Google, Merrill Lynch, IBM, SkylesBayne, and SafeGuard World InternationalOxford CommericalTito’s VodkaIBMSXSWFOUNDERSCARDSILVERCAR and British Airways.

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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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