San Antonio’s Geekdom Fund Aims to “Pre-Seed” Tech Entrepreneurs

3/24/14Follow @angelashah

Austin gets a lot of the startup spotlight in these parts, especially as the spring brings in the hordes of South By Southwest. But about an hour south, in San Antonio, boosters are working more quietly on a number of programs to kick-start entrepreneurship in South Texas.

Among those efforts is Geekdom, an Alamo City-based co-working space, which was started by Rackspace founder Graham Weston in late 2011 to be a centralized hub of startup activity in the city.

Rackspace, the San Antonio cloud-hosting company, along with its founders and employees, loom large in entrepreneurial efforts in the city. Before Techstars shifted its Texas location to Austin last year, the Boulder, CO-based program ran its cloud accelerator out of Geekdom. And the San Antonio co-working space is also host to the San Antonio Mx Challenge, the first offshoot of the HeroX competition started last year by Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the XPrize Foundation. The contest encourages entrepreneurs to use business and cultural ties between San Antonio and Mexico to convince Mexican IT startups to expand into South Texas.

Two years ago, Geekdom launched its namesake Geekdom Fund, for which tech startups apply monthly for the chance to receive $25,000. To apply, the companies must be members of Geekdom. In return, Geekdom takes a 6 percent interest in the company. The review board will next meet on Thursday to evaluate the latest batch of applicants.

The review board meets monthly to evaluate up to six proposals. The members do not have to approval any of the applications but the entrepreneurs are evaluated based on a first-come, first-served basis, says Cole Wollak, who runs the fund.

“We take up to six teams max,” Wollak says. “If there are five awesome teams, we’d do five. Most of the time, we’re funding in one meeting, two companies.”

The Geekdom fund does not offer formal programming or mentorship sessions like Techstars or Capital Factory. Wollak says the fund tries to create a collaborative community among entrepreneurs. “Geekdom is really just space and infrastructure where things can happen and the people in the ecosystem make it what it is,” he added.

After growing up in Saudi Arabia, Wollak came to San Antonio to attend Trinity University and joined Geekdom at its founding four years later. While studying for his degree in engineering sciences, he became active in the entrepreneurial community, both on campus and within the city at large.

I spoke with Wollak about his goals for the fund, the sorts of startups they are investing in, and his own entrepreneurial ambitions. Here is an edited version of our conversation.

Xconomy: Tell me about the Geekdom Fund.

Cole Wollak: The Geekdom Fund started two years ago. We actually have two funds and each fund raised … Next Page »

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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