Austin Accelerator Sputnik ATX Picks Four Startups for First Class

Austin—Sputnik ATX has selected four startups to join its first accelerator class in Austin, only a few months after the city’s newest accelerator program opened its doors.

Sputnik says it received 207 applications from startups in 10 states and 9 different countries, and narrowed the pool down to four less than a month after its Dec. 25 deadline. The four companies Sputnik selected have some sort of tech angle, which they apply to retail, fashion, podcasting, and cat sitting. Sputnik requires at least one founder to move to Austin for the 12-week duration.

Sputnik provides $100,000 in funding to companies that are accepted, which is in exchange for future equity if the business gets further funding. The program plans to focus on product development, using a network of executives and investors to mentor the startups that join it, according to Oksana Malysheva, a Ukrainian-born physicist who co-founded the accelerator with partner Joe Merrill.

The four new startups are:

— A financial services and retail company called Pei Industries, which Sputnik says does business as YouPei.me. The startup lets consumers get cash back, cryptocurrency, and loyalty points for using credit cards at stores and restaurants. The business was headquartered in Los Angeles, according to its LinkedIn listing. Austin has another startup with a similar strategy, known as Dosh.

—Sputnik approached the fashion industry with Redenim, which is “a personal styling, data analytics platform for women that sends jeans to customers’ homes, matching their personal style and size.” In the vein of Stitch Fix or Le Tote, the business lets customers send back any jeans they don’t want to buy. The company is already based in Austin.

—Data analytics for all the podcasters out there, Backtracks aims to give podcast publishers and advertisers data and insights that can measure how to target their audience, Sputnik says. Backtracks is also from Austin.

—Hard to find someone you trust leaving your catbaby with? Sputnik is working with Meowtel on a tech platform that connects cat owners with verified, nearby cat sitters. Even though there are a few dog-focused apps to help people find sitters, Sputnik says there is an “unmet need for the cat community.” Meowtel’s founder, Sonya Petcavich, is a Dallas-based former manager at tobacco company Altria who started Meowtel in 2015.

The companies began their three-month program on Jan. 16 and will participate in a demo day at the end of it.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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