Out-of-state technology workers may be flocking to Austin right now, but our city already has its fair share of homegrown tech talent. Recently named the No. 1 place to start a business, Austin is considered Silicon Valley 2.0, in part because of Texas’ business-friendly climate, affordability (for now), and reputation as a world-class university town. Inspired by SXSW Interactive 2017, we are spotlighting eight local startups you need to know right now.
Headquarters: Bee Cave
What it is: A free app that automatically gives cash back rewards, discounts, rebates, and coupons at more than 100,000 retailers.
What you need to know: By linking directly to your credit and debit cards, Dosh allows users to get cash back automatically while making purchases, thus eliminating the need to clip coupons or scour for deals online. Though Dosh is still in beta testing, the company announced that it landed a $2 million seed round, bringing the company's total funding to $6 million.
What it is: Test for everything from STDs to food allergies in the privacy of your own home.
What you need to know: Housed in the newly opened Seaholm development, EverlyWell is revolutionizing how we understand our health. Choose from one of 12 kits ranging from thyroid and cholesterol tests to women's health and fertility. Though prices range from $69 to $399 depending on the kit, the basic premise is the same for all: take a sample at home, send the kit back to EverlyWell, and receive easy-to-read diagnostic reports directly to your phone. The company also makes sure a licensed physician reviews the results prior to you receiving them.
What it is: A “consumer genomics” company that wants to revolutionize how we interact with our DNA.
What you need to know: Despite being brand spankin’ new, Insitome was arguably one of the buzziest brands to come out of this year's SXSW Interactive. With Insitome, founder and CEO Spencer Wells (a UT Austin alum and co-owner of Antone’s), is hoping to bridge the gap between science and story by creating applications that allow users to explore their own genetic and ancestral information. Though Insitome is still very much in fundraising mode, if the response to Wells’ SXSW panel was any indication, we’ll be hearing more about this company very soon.
Headquarters: East Austin
What it is: A site connecting entrepreneurs directly to developers.
What you need to know: Started by Localeur co-founder Chase White, Loom gives entrepreneurs a place to post their idea without raising the cash usually needed to pay a developer. Developers in turn can peruse the site and offer their services in exchange for equity in the company, cash, or both.
What it is: An online marketplace that connects artists with contemporary art collectors.
What you need to know: After cutting his teeth as CEO at HomeAway (another Austin startup) Twyla CEO Brian Sharples teamed up with Matt Randall to launch Twyla, an online marketplace for art collectors. Twyla selects artists from around the world to create limited edition runs at accessible prices. Potential patrons can discuss their purchases with art dealers before they buy and can even use Twyla’s professional installers if they live in certain cities (including Austin).
Headquarters: 2nd Street District
What it is: Subscription-based service for designer jeans.
What you need to know: Redenim, launched in 2016 by CEO Kelly Ernst, is a service that gives subscribers access to high-end quality denim. For $29 per month, users can choose three different styles to keep for up to 30 days after which they send the jeans back. If they simply can’t part with a certain pair, subscribers can buy the jeans outright (they usually retail for around $200) or continue paying the monthly subscriber fee until the pants are paid off.
What it is: Technology that uses a heart’s electronic signals to verify a person’s identity.
What you need to know: Nominated for a 2017 SXSW Interactive Award, SoftServe’s Biolock technology monitors electronic signals from a person’s heart (ECG) and uses it to verify their identity. Embedded sensors in the steering wheel measure a person’s ECG and send that data via Bluetooth to authenticate the driver, thus creating the ultimate in vehicle theft prevention.
Headquarters: South Austin
What it is: An online platform that connects students across the globe.
What you need to know: PenPal Schools develops free, high-quality lesson plans to connect thousands of students across 170 countries. At the beginning of each six-week lesson plan, students are matched with three to four other kids from around the globe. From there, the group takes part in self-guided lesson plans, including videos, reading materials, and Q&A’s and shares answers via PenPal Schools’ messaging app. Backers for the platform include local venture capitalist Joshua Baer and former One Tree Hill star Sophia Bush.