Capital Factory Pitch Day Offers Peek at Upcoming Austin Innovation
In addition to “Is SXSW too big?” another comment I heard frequently during the four days of Interactive was, “Josh Baer is everywhere.”
And Baer, founder of Austin’s Capital Factory, did pop up ubiquitously over the festival, whether its was as his virtual avatar on social media or in person at the Austin Hilton and the Austin Convention Center, where South By Southwest was being held. (Perhaps, in addition to investing in companies that are “reinventing e-mail,” Baer has stashed away a biotech firm that’s perfecting cloning?)
Baer, who is among the most ardent of evangelists for all things “Startup Austin,” also hosted a standing-room-only pitch day for a baker’s dozen of Capital Factory startups. Here are a few of those companies and, possibly, a preview of Austin-based innovation in the coming year:
Aceable—Remember those long hours sitting in a driver’s ed classroom listening to an instructor drone on about defensive driving? Aceable writes software so that such required courses can be taken via smartphone or tablet. Aceable has raised $500,000 and plans to branch out into other types of training sessions, such as workplace HR courses.
Cratejoy—E-commerce subscriptions programs (think Book-of-the-Month club online) are growing and Cratejoy offers budding e-retailers a platform to manage customers and track and ship goods. The company says it currently has about $1 million in sales.
Famigo—This startup is geared to making smartphones and tablets kid-friendly by providing access to apps parents approve of. Only parents can swipe out of the protected-mode, which keeps kids away from advertising and prevents access to the Web. Also, Famigo offers kid-friendly app suggestions that change as the child grows up. The company says it expects to have 40,000 subscriptions by the end of this year.
Local Plant Source—The commercial landscape business is a $30 billion market but as much as 20 percent of the plants grown by farms are destroyed because they don’t meet the needs of landscapers. The startup aims to reduce inefficiencies by creating an online marketplace for wholesale growers and buyers. So far, the company says it has nearly a quarter of Texas farms signed up on its site.
Loop & Tie—This gifting service, which I wrote about in December, is concentrating on the corporate gift market and aims to be the “gift card’s sophisticated cousin.”
Mahana—The company has developed an app that helps restaurants track when customers visit and what they eat. Are they gluten-free? Do they love Bananas Foster? The restaurant can then analyze the data to create a VIP list for frequent diners and offer them bespoke promotions.
NuHabitat—In hot real estate markets, information is key. But NuHabitat says most home listing sites are not updated often enough and don’t have access to the Multiple Listing Service used by real estate agents. For a subscription of $50 a month, the company gives agents the ability to display only their properties via MLS, not those from all agents.