50 Austin Startups You Absolutely Must Know About
Austin is rising as a magnificent hub for tech startups. Not only is Austin host of SXSW Interactive Festival, but it has everything you need: access to money and investors, globally ranked startup accelerators, and a thriving community of entrepreneurs and mentors.
Below you will find 50 Austin-based startups you definitely should know about. You’ll see some established names, but we also hunted a few hidden, up-and-coming startups that are growing like crazy.
Business & Commerce
Createjoy is a platform for merchants to launch their own subscription eCommerce business. Once a Y Combinator alum (S13), they managed to raise $4.000.000 on September, 2014 from the likes of Andreesen Horowitz and Start Fund.
Part of their huge success is due to the rise of subscription eCommerce businesses like Dollar Shave Club. Some of the well-known startups that use their platform on a daily basis are Beard Brand, Fixed Foods and Wet Shave Club.
The problem with selling products in-store and online is how complex the whole process is. Luckily, Zing simplifies this by providing a point-of-sale and a suite of products that they call ‘seamless retail’.
After setting that up, you are steps away from opening an online store using their built-in integrations with services like Bigcommerce and Mailchimp. They support in-store retail, online merchants and multi-location stores.
We can’t leave Bigcommerce out of the Austin startup scene, especially since we mentioned it previously. Bigcommerce is a platform that allows businesses to create beautiful online stores. They raised $125M over 4 rounds, and they power stores in 150+ countries. Cool fact: Gibson’s online store, the electric guitar retailer, runs on Bigcommerce.
Sending a handwritten letter to a customer or an investor usually goes a long way. The problem is you don’t have enough time to write a personalized letter to each and every customer.
That’s where MailLift enters the picture: they offer personalized, handwritten letters for sales professionals for just $5/per letter. So far, they’ve worked with 889 companies, including Linkedin, 500 Startups and Rapportive.
Trendkite, established in 2013 and backed by $1.2M of funding, helps you understand what people think about your business so you can act accordingly. They offer a simple dashboard with qualitative analysis and brilliant insights for your brand or PR agency, allowing you to discover coverage opportunities, get into the conversation and quantify the effect it’s having on your business.
They have an amazing team with deep industry expertise that allowed them to sign clients like Overstock or Booking before having an actual product.
If you ever bought clothes online, chances you had to return something because it didn’t fit. FashionMetric solves the problem of returns by providing a simple way for online clothing retailers to get your real measurements in less than 30 seconds. You simply answer a couple questions about your body, while their refined algorithm crunches the numbers. Then retailers use this data ship you clothes that fit perfectly.
After going through Techstars in Austin 2014, FashionMetric closed a $1M seed round in January.
Fosbury is the classic pivot story in the startup world. They started as a mobile promotion app to drive repeat business using coupons, loyalty cards and gift cards. But as you know, the market talks, so they transformed their business to a platform that manages iBeacon technology for retailers. Now they work with clients like Nivea, Philips and Levis.
Feathr offers a suite of digital marketing products that help organizers of large events know, grow and monetize their digital audience.
The product is designed to keep your audience focused and engaged throughtout the year and beyond the event, so you can unlock new revenue streams. So far, they’ve raised $350k over the past couple years.
McDonald’s biggest trade secrets is their real estate insights – the location of their stores is a large contributor to the success of the company.
According to Chipotle’s CEO, this is the most valuable resource they learned after being acquired by the big M. IdealSpot wants to gather this knowledge and place it in the hands of everyday brick and mortar shops.
Press is one of the most powerful growth generators for early stage tech companies. In a cash-strapped world, the free exposure press gives you is invaluable.
The problem is most startups don’t set up their websites to encourage journalists to pick them up. This is where Totem comes into play: it allows you to build amazing press pages for your business in less than 5 minutes. If you don’t mind Totem’s branding and lack of customization, you can get your own page for free.
Appsumo is a free newsletter that helps entrepreneurs ‘kick more ass’ (yes, those are their own words). They used to offer daily deals, but now they distribute great content via their blog, and they offer amazing e-courses, both on growing online businesses.
Their flagship offer is SumoMe, free tools that help you grow your website traffic, which reaches over 2,000,000,000 page views every single month.
12. WP Engine
In a recent Tim Ferriss podcast, Matt Mullenweg stated that WordPress powers over 25% of the internet. WP Engine helps businesses and individuals host their WordPress sites for as little as $29/month.
They are known for their amazing customer service, and work with huge clients like Foursquare, Constant Contact and Buffer. They closed a $15M Series A round a year ago to focus solely on growth.
Building a hardware startup is extremely hard as there are so many variable that can make or break your company. ProtoExchange makes it easier by offering you your personal engineering team and hardware expertise on demand. T
hey offer assistance with research, design & development, and manufacturing and logistics. They are able to offer this with confidence because they have talent from companies like 3M, Samsung, and Tesla.
Patentio helps health professionals create and deliver personalized care plans that will actually be followed by the patient. Professionals create plans, content and reminders on a web dashboard, that pushes the information to the patient’s mobile phone via an app.
What makes Patentio extremely powerful is that it unlocks brilliant data insights about the patient’s adherence to the plan and their health outside the clinic. They were part of Techstars Austin 2013 class.
We all know the medical industry is ripe for disruption. This is what VisibleHelp, a company that specializes in delivering better care through digital health, is set to do in 2015.
Their flasgship product is DrawMD a mobile app that allows health professionals to visually communicate anatomy, conditions, procedures and concepts with your patients to improve understanding, retention and quality of care.
With the announcement of Apple Watch in 2014, the wearables market is thriving. Atlas capitalizes on that trend by building a wristband for a really specific type of people: athletes.
Atlas isn’t like anything else out there – they couldn’t care less about your steps and your sleep pattern. They are all about traking excercices, reps and calories burned in real time, so you can measure your success. It’s available for pre-order in yellow and green for $249.
Food & Travel Services
Goodybag is the easiest way to order food for your office. You start by selecting one of the +100 available restaurants.
You place your order online and before you know it, it’s delivered to your office. Done. They sold over +100,000 meals, which is pretty impressive for a startup that’s only a couple years old.
Surprisingly, Airbnb isn’t the only vacation and apartment rental portal in the world. You may not know it, but HomeAway went public on January 29, 2011. They offer over 1 million listings all over the world, including Europe, the Caribbean and Asia.
What’s more impressive is that apart from listings, HomeAway produces some of the most useful vacation and city guides we’ve ever seen.
Favor is Uber for local delivery. You can order anything from any store within the delivery area, and one of their verified ‘runners’ (guys dressed in cute green t-shirts that look like tuxedos) will get whatever you want for you.
Payment is cashless and done inside the app. If you are lucky enough to live in Austin, Dallas, Boston or Houston you should definitely give them a try.
It’s 2014 and you can’t live without Uber. If you have a home, you won’t be able to live without Lawnstarter either. With a few clicks, you can instantly schedule lawn maintenance and manage all outdoor services for your home.
Their contractors average 4.8 out of 5 stars among previous customers, and they pride themselves in providing ‘freakishly good customer support’. If you are in their areas of coverage, there’s no reason not to try them.
Competing with companies like Instacart isn’t easy, but it seems like Burpy, the Techstars incubated company, is doing just fine. They offer same-day grocery delivery, usually within a 2 hour window after you order.
One of their best features is the ability to search individual products, or upload your entire list, saving you at least a couple hours every time you need groceries.
Let’s go with another Uber-style app. Make your reservation via the TabbedOut app and go and enjoy a delicious dinner with friends. Here comes the magic: you don’t need to wait for the check; just pay when you are ready using your smartphone and leave. TabbedOut will even split the check for you and handle the math.
Guys, pay attention. All your dreams are now true. Brewbot is a beer-brewing robot that is monitored and controlled by a smartphone. They handle everything, from recipes to timing and temperature, so you just need to focus on picking the best ingredients in the market.
You can pre-order the Brewbot Original for $2800 + $580 (shipping). Yes, it’s a hefty price, but they have 70+ pre-orders so far. I guess someone has the money to buy a beer robot.
Localeur is a young startup, but it has everything it needs to be the next Yelp. It’s a community of locals who want to help you experience the best places to eat, drink, and play.
They secured $800.000 in funding (at a $4M valuation) last October, and they are using the cash to focus 100% on growth.
25. Loop & Tie
Choosing the right gift for someone you care about is a nightmare. The solution: instead of sending a single gift, Loop & Tie sends a gift collection within your budget.
Recipients have the option of choosing any item in the collection, avoiding the never-ending problem of picking one gift. With a few clicks you can send a gift to family members, coworkers or your whole list of friends.
Austin isn’t Amsterdam, but cycling is pretty popular in this texan city. Spokefly makes it easy for riders to rent bikes on-demand via their mobile app. You just need to reserve your bike, and pick the bike up within the next 30 minutes. At $0.15/minute it’s cheaper than Uber or public transportation for short trips.
Let’s face it: supply chain management is not the sexiest thing in tech. But it’s the difference between a successful eCommerce business and a nightmare.
Odoro plugs into every eCommerce platform out there and provides fulfillment, shipping and inventory management capabilities. In other words, Odoro is like your mom: it does what no one wants to do.
Riskpulse is the company that created Cygnus, a service that optimizes your supply chain transportation based on weather and what type of product you are shipping.
This reduces the transportation risk for manufacturers and shippers, saving them from costly mistakes. This year alone, Cygnus will protect over 500,000,000 cases of beer!
Cargo thefts aren’t as spectacular as they look in Fast & Furious, but they do happen frequently. The total losses resulting from cargo and fuel thefts worldwide are in the tens of billions of dollars.
Nuve develops and manufactures sensors and smart locks that help transportation companies protect themselves against fuel and cargo theft, while monitoring their location and optimizing their route via GPS technology.
Have you ever tried to fit a couple IKEA furnitures in the back of your sedan? In a world dominated by U-Haul trucks and Uber SUVs, Burro is breath of fresh air.
Their on-demand delivery service for large items is genius, and you can use it for things like IKEA shopping, Craigslist transactions, or product fulfillment for your business. Besides, it’s half as expensive as U-Haul, so it’s a no-brainer.
If you ever ran an eCommerce or any business that needs to handle shipping on a daily basis, you are well aware that it’s a living hell. This Austin-based startup label themselves as ‘Stripe for shipping’.
They offer a complete platform for shipping packages – labels, tracking and analytics for Fedex, UPS, USPS and regional carriers. They are Techstars and Capital Factory alums.
32. Book in a Box
You probably know Tucker Max for getting excessively drunk and carelessly insulting people. Besides being a best-selling author and angel investor, Tucker Max co-founded Book in a Box, a company that allows you to write and publish a book in 12 hours.
The process: you start by answering a specific set of questions designed to outline the book, and then, you talk about your ideas following that specific outline while they record them. Book in a Box then turns this audio material into your book with the help of world-class editor.
If you ever wondered what kind of guitar Billy Joe Armstrong plays, then this is definitely for you. Equipboard is the largest database of equipment artists use. You’re be able to discover, rate, save and buy the gear professional rappers, guitarists, drummers or DJs’ use in their own shows and recordings.
Most companies will create more video in 2015 than they did in the past 10 years. The problem is video is messy, and there is no clear process that helps shoot, edit and review media on a collaborative way.
Until now: Remark is a platform for video teams to share feedback, gather reviews and receive approval from other members or external shareholders. They raised a small seed round and participated in the Capital Factory accelerator, so if you are in the video space, definitely check them out.
Building an app is hard and time consuming. That’s why companies build drag and drop SDKs that allow you to add complex features with a few lines of code. For SMS, developers use Twilio. For payments, Stripe and for location, Cintric.
Well, for music and media files, developers should use Clarify. Simply drag-and-drop a few lines of code, and add any media file you want. Clarify process it immediately, allowing you to search any spoken word in them.
Plum is a suite of devices that allow you to control your home, your appliances and your lights directly from your smartphone. They have a super-simple, 4-step installation that anyone can follow, so you don’t need to ‘hire a guy’. You can pre-order Plum for $89 per device.
LookNook is the one-stop place for young people who care about interior design but don’t feel like dealing with the hassle and high-price point of regular design firms. You can browse their catalogues for the perfect room, or give them ideas of what your style is and they will design it for $99.
What’s even better is you can order everything featured right there on their site, and have it delivered to your place in days. It looks like they know what they are doing.
38. Reaction Housing
Reaction Housing is the parent company that produces Exo, an intelligently designed housing unit that provides sheltering and private living for up to four people. You can’t actually live in this house long-term, but it’s great for natural disasters, deployments or short term shelter.
Founder Michael McDaniel started working on this concept the day after hurricane Katrina. In addition to being useful, Exo is extremely smart: it offers a climate-controlled environment, phone chargers and a smart key.
Where you live is one of the most important choices you’ll make in your entire life so the possibility of buyers remorse makes the process extremely stressful for potential owners.
RealSavvy makes it easy and fun to pick your dream home by offering a Pinterest-style layout and the possibility to pin homes you find online. Later, you can share your board with family and friends so they can help you make the final decision.
I’m going to go on a limb and say that your place is full of useless old stuff you don’t need anymore. If that’s the case, then Gone is a perfect match for you. Just install the app, take a picture of the item you want, add a short description and submit it.
Gone handles everything, and you just have to approve their decision (selling, recycling or donating) with a single swipe.
Social, Tech & Transportation Apps
The email space is as crowded as an Apple Store on morning of the launch of the new iPhone. Yes, that’s pretty crowded. Fortunately, Boxer has something unique: it’s a high-performance mobile inbox tailored to you, that learns from your everyday work.
Founded in 2012, they managed to close a $3,000,000 Series A in October 2013 to build their next generation mobile inbox.
Thread is a young startup that launched in 2014 at the University of Texas. Everyday it shows you 10 people in your campus and lets you anonymously decide who to meet. If they like you back, Thread connects you via an in-app chat.
The main difference with apps like Tinder or Hinge is that they are designed specially for campus – each and every user is verified to ensure they are a member of the school.
Football vs. soccer. The eternal fight to name the most popular sport in the world. Togga settles for ‘soccer’, which is extremely weird because their players compete in England’s Barclays Premier League. Nevertheless, they offer 100% online live drafts, no salary caps and no squad limitations. Just pick your team and compete against your friends.
Subway. Bus. Biking. Finding the most efficient transportation method in a city is an extremely complex task. That’s what Ridescout is for – the app aggregates transportation data from public, private and ridesharing sources, so you can search and compare your options in real-time.
Ridescout was acquired in 2014 by Stuttgart-based Daimler, but it keeps operating as a stand-alone company.
‘The first rule of Unseen is you do not see the Unseen’. Any app that takes inspiration from Fight Club is worth taking a look at. Unseen is an anonymous photo sharing app for college campuses – no profiles, no likes and no followers. It’s all about sharing the moment without pressure, and meeting new people through the experience.
They refused to disclose user growth numbers, but we know they succeeded in attracting investors: $2.1M from high-profile investors like Dirk Elmendorf, Rackspace’s co-founder.
Swim teams are fun, but running one of them is a lot of work. You spend more hours sending email, making phone calls and managing schedules, and less time training your team. SwimTopia is a web platform that bring all your team’s information together, making it easy to access for children and parents so you can focus on coaching.
Now you have the possibility to set up an online store and sell branded merchandising to your fans, bringing some revenue to your team.
Able is the world’s first collaborative lender. They provide low interest loans to small businesses with help from their friends and family. If they manage to raise 25% of the total loan from friends & family, Able will provide the remaining 75%.
Sometimes raising angel or seed money becomes impossible, but if you really believe in the idea and your execution power, Able might be a great option.
Obsidian is one of the few digital currency exchanges in the United States. They aim to provide the best platform for regular traders, including automation and sophisticated trades, like stop-limit.
They are still in beta phase, but you can sign up to their waiting list by visiting their website.
BeehiveID is a new smart company that prevents fraud by detecting potential threats before they have the chance.
They work on the assumption that people who commit fraud don’t use their real identities, so they use a combination of social network inputs and image-matching algorithms to determine whether you are real or not.