Austin's thriving tech scene and low cost of living have made it a popular spot for entrepreneurs: a study by the Austin Chamber of Commerce found that the city has a higher density of startups than Silicon Valley as well as a strong early-stage funding presence. With nearly 50 incubators, accelerators and other spaces for up-and-coming tech companies, it's no wonder that Austin is a thriving place for entrepreneurs.
DataFox crunched the numbers to find the 5 early-stage startups in Austin poised for a breakout year in 2016. We analyzed pre-Series A companies founded after 2012, and ranked them by our proprietary Growth Score, the output of a machine-learning algorithm to predict revenue growth. Here are the Austin startups poised for a breakout year in 2016.
This financial services startup helps SMBs set up and maintain retirement accounts for their employees, as well as reduce the fees workers often pay on their accounts. By offering an easy-to-use platform and automating a lot of paperwork, Honest Dollar hopes to make retirement accounts accessible to more people. It recently made headlines by partnering with Lyft to offer its services to the ridesharing company’s employees, and was the winner of SXSW’s 2015 ReleaseIt pitch competition.
The company was founded in 2014 by William “whurley” Hurley, a former Apple Research and Development engineer and IBM Master Inventor. With a freshly closed $3 million seed funding round, Honest Dollar is in position to spread its mission even further in 2016. "Honest Dollar is excited to be profiled as a leading startup to watch," said Hurley. "As we enter 2016, Honest Dollar is positioned to be the leading fintech company in the global financial services marketplace."
Localeur is a platform for locals to share their recommendations for restaurants, watering holes, activities and more, so that visitors and residents alike can get top-notch reviews. The company was founded by former Bazaarvoice employees Joah Spearman and Chase White, who realized that they wanted more authentic, knowledgeable reviews than what Yelp could provide. The pair created Localeur to fill that gap.
"There hasn't been one silver bullet, one sudden product discovery or a single VC investment that has fueled Localeur's growth," said Spearman. "Instead, it's been the consistent, diligent process of slowly building our team, enhancing our product and engaging our community that has put us in position to find rapid, sustainable growth. Travel-local is a $1.3 trillion industry, and our competitors like Yelp have never been weaker, so although we've grown our active user base 15x this year, we know our best growth is still ahead of us."
The millennial-friendly startup's angel investors include Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine, Mike Murphy, former chief revenue officer for Facebook, and Steve Pamon, head of sports and entertainment marketing for JPMorganChase. After launching at SXSW 2013, the company has expanded rapidly: it built up its presence in Austin before launching in five cities in 2015, seven in 2015 and eventually boasting a presence in 20 U.S. locations. And according to a press release, international expansion is on the horizon.
The Virtuix Omni is an interface that brings the sci-fi vision of virtual reality one step closer. The omnidirectional treadmill allows users to move naturally and freely in a virtual world. After years of development, the treadmill and specially designed shoes were presented at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Though the Virtuix Omni has largely been presented as a video game enhancement, and demoed for popular games such as Fallout 4, the company has been exploring other use cases including military applications.
Founded by former investment banker Jan Goetgeluk in 2013, Virtuix raised $1.1 million in a Kickstarter campaign that it later supplemented with a $3 million seed round in 2014 led by Tekton Ventures and Maveron, and an $880,000 convertible notes issuance in August 2015. After years of development and refinement, Virtuix looks poised to tap into the growing virtual reality market.
4. The TechMap
TechMap makes it easy for entrepreneurs, investors and job-seekers to navigate the startup scene. It provides comprehensive information on local companies, talent, and events, and hosts meetups like the CoFounder meetup, currently the largestin Austin, to bring entrepreneurs together. The company’s laser focus on tech allows it to provide the most relevant experience, from hosting hackathons, mapping coworking spaces, to creating cofounder and job connections.
The TechMap was founded in 2013 by Johan Borge and secured $50,000 in funding from Texas Capital Real Estate, where Borge is CEO. Though The TechMap is only available in Austin, the company's website notes that it plans to expand soon. As Borge notes, "It’s not about the idea. It’s about executing it!"
Verb is a social enterprise whose goal is to spur the growth of other socially motivated companies and entrepreneurs. It runs massive, international competitions that provide triple-bottom-line focused companies with funding, PR and mentorship. Through its proprietary platform, Verb connects large corporations with social entrepreneurs, and runs competitions on behalf of large clients including LIVESTRONG, the Everglades Foundation and IBM.
The company was founded in 2013 by Tom Meredith and Suzi Sosa, who received Ernst & Young's Social Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2014. In June, Verb closed a $2.3 million seed round, one of the largest ever by an Austin-based company, led by cofounder Tom Meredith. Between this recent funding round and its rapidly expanding team - major recent hires include a COO and chief creative officer - Verb will expand its proven model in the coming year.