Techstars Austin Launches Tech Startups in First Texas Demo Day


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to be a part of what is happening in Austin. “People from around the world know what is going on here and are excited about it,” he said. He put Austin into context of Techstars’ global outlook, calling it a “powerful node” in the nine-city network.

Jason added that they knew that success of the Austin program would only be as good as its local entrepreneurial ecosystem. And Austin’s community, he added, couldn’t have been more responsive, dedicating both time and money to the Techstars startups.

He also discussed how the recently implemented JOBS act, which was intended to make fundraising easier for startups, has inadvertently made it difficult for founders to speak of their funding needs in such events as demo days. So, financing conversations were held behind closed doors after the official event ended and the general public was excused. I, as well as angels and those from institutions, had very productive discussions with many of these founders, and I would be surprised if any of the companies left demo day without six to 12 months of runway in funding.

I was struck by the way Jason seems to have smoothly transitioned from Techstars Cloud, the cloud SaaS and infrastructure applications accelerator he ran in San Antonio, to the Austin project, which is broader to reflect the entirety of the Austin entrepreneurial ecosystem of consumer, B-to-B, and hardware startups.

With the introductory remarks done, we plunged right into the 10 demos. The format, which Techstars and Y Combinator in Silicon Valley pioneered, features a brief introduction by a mentor describing the startup followed by one of the company founders. In most cases, the mentors had become investors and customers of the startups in the course of working with them, which, for me, is a strong testimonial about the power of the product being introduced.

The founders did their best to inject a little showmanship to keep their pitches interesting. Filament Labs, a physician–patient engagement platform, came out wearing scrubs. One of Atlas’ founders had a personal trainer do pushups on stage as she demonstrated … Next Page »

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Aziz Gilani is a partner at Mercury Fund in Houston. Follow @texasvc

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