From Drugs to Data, Student Founders at Rice, UH Make Their Pitches

Houston—For the Bayou Startup Showcase, the third time proved to be the charm.

Wednesday evening’s demo day of the student startup programs from the University of Houston and Rice University showed a certain maturity, a gelling of operations both in terms of the joint summer accelerator and in the startups themselves.

The pitches this year were polished, probably the best cohort in the four classes I’ve seen. The entrepreneurs clearly stated their product and defined their potential customers. (I’m often surprised at how often startups rely on vague arguments of this is an $X-billion market without actually stating who will buy what they’re pitching.)

About 500 people from a cross-section of Houston’s innovation community—investors and entrepreneurs in energy, healthcare, and technology—were in attendance.

Among the innovations pitched included glasses to provide light therapy for insomniacs (OcuRhythm), a technology that connects sensors and sprinkler systems at much lower power to provide more precise watering for industrial agriculture operations (WavIoT), and a “surveillance system for your surveillance system” (Behaviorics.)

This year’s showcase featured a drug company for what I believe is the first time. Metabocentric Biotherapeutics is developing a therapy to block cancer cells’ ability to produce the glucose that helps them grow in metastatic brain cancer. The founders are University of Houston biochemistry professors and they have licensed university patents.

And, of course, this being a student accelerator, one startup pitched what the founder said is a better way to find a bar—not by location or price, but by atmosphere (Atmo.)

Here are the rest of the startups:

Muuve: An online community of runners that matches people according to running habits—post-run meal, time goals—and personality criteria.

BlueCura: Web-based lab management software.

Examtron: Cloud-based software for exam publishers that allows them to monitor usage of test banks and determine if users are cheating.

LeaseAlly: A website that offers landowners market information on mineral rights value in land before leasing to oil and gas companies.

Fitr: A grocery delivery company that specializes in people with restrictive diets, such as vegan.

Compa: A website to more efficiently recruit participants for research studies.

Grind: A portable and collapsible basketball shooting machine that automatically returns balls while a player shoots.

Induo: Offers small, job-specific online courses for sales professionals.

Ceraffect: Developing a headpiece that provides non-pharmaceutical symptom relief from migraines.

Topl: A mobile payment platform that offers loyalty rewards for shoppers and a lower cost for merchants.

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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