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Eric McMillanEric McMillan, CEO of BrickTrends, speaks at the "5 Austin Startups That Can Get Profitable on <$1M" panel during the 2013 SXSW Interactive conference March 8.
Seven Austin startups described their success stories on the first day of SXSW Interactive on March 8.
Josh Baer, founder of Austin tech accelerator Capital Factory, introduced the startups and explained how the Series A crunch has been widely discussed in the news. Series A funding is a company's first significant round of funding from investors, and Baer said the Series A crunch theory is that because there are so many companies seeking their first round of funding, there isn't enough to go around.
“It's not something I'm really seeing in Austin,” he said.
He said many startups can fail if their first round of funding stretches out too long but introduced seven startups that became profitable early on before they needed a first round of funding.
• Stormpulse offers products that help a company reduce its risk of losing assets because of weather risks, CEO and co-founder Matthew Wensing said. The technology tracks weather and a company's assets plus any area that leaves the company or its assets vulnerable. Wensing said when inclement weather occurs, it can have a domino effect on suppliers who are affected.
“When one supplier goes down, others follow,” he said.
Stormpulse got its start in 2004 and brought in $500,000 in revenue in 2013. Users include the U.S. Army and the White House.
• CEO and founder Andrew Eye from Taskbox, a task management app for email inboxes, said the average employee receives about 200 email messages per day and spends 40 percent of a day processing those emails. Taskbox allows a user to add due dates to important messages or mark as completed and to delete or archive unimportant messages. He said this is just one of the latest tools for personal productivity and social task management. Eye said some of their clients that signed on for pilot programs include McAfee, SailPoint and Austin-based BuildASign.com.
• Nuve offers customers products to protect their assets, such as fuel, freight trucks, concrete and batteries, CEO Antonio Arocha said. In 2010, he said companies saw $30 billion in cargo loss, and that increased by 15 percent in 2011.
“A lot of companies don't report these kind of things [to law enforcement] because it's really bad PR,” he said.
Nuve uses a sensor on the inside of cargo that can detect movements such as when concrete is being unloaded from a vehicle in a non-authorized area. The sensor records the information that the company can share with law enforcement agents or the vehicle's driver. Companies can monitor their cargo 24/7 through the cloud-based platform.
• Lynx Laboratories sets out to reduce the number of hours, days and even months it can take to produce 3-D models, such as information needed for 3-D printing and even architectural drawings, CEO and founder Chris Slaughter said.
“It takes an immense amount of time and expertise to create these,” he said.
Lynx Labs created the Lynx A camera that quickly captures the shape and motion of an image that can be imported into software. Slaughter said it can even piece together everything in a room, including all the measurements. The company is still raising its Series A funding.
• CEO and founder Bart Bohn from AuManil aims to analyze, track and recruit what are known as “whales”--high-spending gaming customers--in the online gaming industry. These customers are a small percentage of a game's players but help generate the majority of revenue, he said.
AuManil's technology helps game companies to use gameplay data and integrate it with the company's email list and push notifications. Customers can identify potential whales, retain them and recruit other gamers who pay little to nothing and turn them into whales, Slaughter said. AuManil is currently raising $500,000 in funding.
• Founder Nate Stewart from ZingCheckout wants to change how brick-and-mortar companies do business by integrating in-store, online and mobile capabilities. Zing's technology allows clients to connect their business on a cloud, PC and tablet. An example of this would be a client could take photos of an item in their stores on an iPad, and it would instantly appear in the company's online store.
“We're the only ones doing this,” he said.
So far, clients include Tupperware and Tesla Motors, and ZingCheckout has raised $250,000 in funding.
• BrickTrends sets out to change the brick-and-mortor retail experience to one that is just as pleasant as online shopping, CEO Eric McMillan said. He said online shopping grows 10 percent each year. In 2012, businesses brought in $3.5 trillion in retail revenue, $226 billion of which came from online sales, McMillan said.
BrickTrends' technology would allow customers to alert a sales associate that they need assistance or to wave a smartphone over a product and instantly read reviews or receive a coupon.
“We've been working on [the concept] for more than a year, and we're gaining momentum with top retailers,” McMillan said.
One of his clients, Phil Thompson, the chief technology officer for Fossil, said he is extremely excited to work with McMillan.
“We've got to think differently,” Thompson said during the panel.