It can feel like a needle-in-a-haystack search to find startups that are developed enough to take on their first round of funding. At the first full day of South By Southwest, Capital Factory did that for Austin startups, giving five “A-List” startups that the accelerator thinks are ready for a Series A funding an opportunity to pitch.
The companies presented to a panel of three notables, who followed up with a question each: John Thornton, a general partner at Austin Ventures; Jonathan Coon, the founder of 1-800 CONTACTS; and Penny Pritzker, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Here are the startups’ stories.
—Goodybag gets the first nod for being perhaps the most surprising out of the five presenters. The company targets the online ordering industry, and CEO Jay Panchel was quick to quiet any concerns that it might be another delivery app. It is not. The company focuses on food orders specifically from office administrators who are ordering large lunches for events like company meetings. Goodybag has the restaurant or a third party deliver the food that is ordered through its website by office administrators, who Panchel says account for $10 billion of the $70 billion food ordering industry. The service is free to the office administrators, who average $375 per order, while Goodybag charges the restaurants 12.5 percent, Panchel said. The company is currently only in Austin, which ranks number 36 for food orders, and wants to expand to larger markets.
—Aceable has built what seems to be a drivers ed program for millennials. The mobile education company is targeting people learning to drive and their parents, who typically pay $100 to $150 for the 32-hour online programs required to get a license in Texas, says founder and CEO Blake Garrett. The company teaches the required material through memes, animations, and short snippets of text (no more than 500 characters) using mobile apps and, now, online, Garrett says. Aceable plans to expand geographically beyond Texas first, and then into other sectors, such as continuing education, he says. The company currently has 30,000 students using its software, he says.
—Loop & Tie offers a service that streamlines gift-giving for corporations. The company offers a variety of gift options, ranging from $25 to $250, says CEO Sara Rodell. Its corporate clients log in the e-mail addresses of the people they want to give gifts to, and the recipients can select the gift they want, Rodell says. Both parties can communicate through the system, too. Loop & Tie charges a fee for every gift that’s sent, as well as a subscription charge, Rodell says.
—ManagerComplete is a company focused on people who franchise stores from corporate chains. It provides a service that helps the franchisees with multiple stores manage their operations, such as helping them cut down on the amount they have to e-mail or call each store. It currently works with more than 700 stores nationally, and charges a $99 monthly fee, according to CEO Jason Duncan.
—Chiron Health, founded by former health-IT stock analyst Andy Ohara, offers doctors a secure video-chatting platform, so the physicians can have routine follow-up sessions with patients over video chat rather than in person. The company is trying to resolve the difficulty physicians and practices have when trying to get reimbursement for telemedicine, Ohara says.