📬 Southern Startup Report: April 13 — April 25, 2018
The Southern Startup Report is a twice-monthly, curated newsletter covering the latest tech startup happenings in the American Southeast. It is produced by LookFar, a New Orleans-based software development studio. Subscribe here to get the SSR delivered to your inbox.
It’s an exciting time for Southern startups. The DIG SOUTH tech conference is currently underway in Charleston, and a recent analysis of the most active nonprofit, public or university investment funds showed that many of them are based in the South. Houston-based TMCx Innovations, Innova Memphis, Texas Venture Labs, SCRA Technology Ventures out of Columbia, SC, and Tampa Bay Wave all made the list.
I also recently met with Ron Ondechek Jr to learn more about how the Louisiana Startup Prize is incentivizing innovation in our region. Here in New Orleans, Collision Conference kicks off next week, followed by Inc.’s GrowCo just a few weeks after. The future of Southern startups is looking bright.
New Orleans, LA — Digital data services company iMerit announced plans to open its first U.S. delivery center in downtown New Orleans. The company, which currently has operations in California and India, said they will eventually create 100 new jobs in New Orleans. Speaking of jobs, Zippia released their list of the 20 best places to work in New Orleans, and we’re thrilled that LookFar (that’s us!) was chosen as #1! Other local tech companies on the list included Zlien, Lucid, Geocent, TurboSquid, Mudbug Media, and Search Influence. Meanwhile, in economic development news, the New Orleans Business Alliance released their 2017 Annual Report, and the Startup Genome survey is wrapping up soon. In order to be included in the analysis, New Orleans needs 50 responses by Monday, April 30. At the beginning of this week, our city was still short of that goal, so I encourage you to take the survey ASAP.
Atlanta, GA — As usual, there’s plenty of news to report from Atlanta’s tech scene. Home Depot announced their biggest ever technology expansion, with plans to increase their tech workforce by a third, adding 1,000 new jobs in the next year. Marketing platform Terminus is also expanding, with 150 new jobs on the way. Atlanta startup UserIQ recently acquired Bangalore-based Appunfold, while Carvana has acquired Atlanta-based augmented reality software startup Car360. Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center has announced the seven startups that will be graduating from their incubator next month: Clean Hands-Safe Hands, Cognosos, Greenlight, Groundfloor, Gozio, Predikto, and Rented.com.
Baton Rouge, LA — A U.S. Army National Guard veteran took home the $1K prize at the recent Pitch BR competition, beating out finalists Acadian Labs and Pecan Analytics with his plan for a 3D printed bioactive medical device. RNvention is a Lafayette-based medtech startup founded by husband and wife team Wayne and Dawn Nix, who are both neonatal nurses.
Charleston, SC — The S.C. Department of Commerce Office of Innovation recently granted nine local organizations more than $719,000 as part of its Startup Fuel Challenge grant series, which aims to build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem. The local awardees included Flagship3 Incubator, Conway Innovation Center, The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, South Carolina Women’s Business Center, NEXT Upstate, Knowledge Park Innovation Center, S.C. State Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub, INSPIRE Lab, and Venture Carolina.
Conway, AR — Kim Lane, CEO of the The Conductor, was one of 6 experts from the U.S. who served as a delegate and mentor to international startup community organizers at the recent Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Istanbul. Lane, who was promoted to CEO earlier this year, trained organizers of Startup Huddle, a program intended to help entrepreneurs around the world thrive by strengthening their local support networks.
Houston, TX — City business leaders are hoping to spur the local innovation economy by transforming a former Sears into a startup hub. Rice University announced plans for a $100 million redevelopment of the 190,000-square-foot building and surrounding land. Partners on this project include Station Houston, an incubator which will be in charge of operations and organizing networking events to create a community of entrepreneurs.
Knoxville, TN — A marketing startup focused on Gen-Z micro-influencers took home the $10K prize package at Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s recent What’s The Big Idea 48-Hour Launch competition. SWARM beat out five other startups to secure the win.
Lafayette, LA — The mayor of Lafayette, Joel Robideaux, recently proposed that the city create its own cryptocurrency to raise money for public finance. In his annual address, he continued by calling the city a technology hub and he encouraged citizens to think of ways that artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality might be used to improve local government.
Jackson, MS — The recently released 2018 Innovation Report profiles the work done by Innovate Mississippi, which focuses on early-stage innovation and technology companies. They announced that they accelerated 103 companies in 2017, creating 6,000 jobs and raising more than $173 million in private investment since the program began. The report also includes profiles on local startups like Curtsy, Vsporto, Cattlog, Finaius, Kopis Mobile, Online Exchange, Glo, and Campusknot, as well as an article on Women in STEM which features Ada Lovelace Award nominee Dr. Sarah Lee.
Miami, FL — A recent report placed Miami 8th in the U.S. for total amount of venture capital investment, with $1.3 billion in deals in 2016. While being home to Magic Leap undoubtedly helps skew those numbers in their favor, there’s plenty happening throughout South Florida. E-Builder’s recent sale to Trimble for a half-billion dollars is one beacon of hope, while health care technology company Modernizing Medicine offers another: not only did they raise $231 million from a New York City investment fund last year, they’ve also donated $1 million to support STEM initiatives at two Boca Raton high schools. Meanwhile, the finalists for the 20th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge were announced, and Fort Lauderdale based automated accounting services startup Xendoo recently won this year’s eMerge Americas’ Startup Showcase competition.
Pensacola, FL — The Emerald Coast is aiming to become a startup hub, with the recent launch of Rise Gulf Coast, a campaign with the goal of creating 1,000 new entrepreneurial businesses in the area over the next 10 years. The local startup community also welcomed their first 1 Million Cups event recently, where kick-off presenter Alex Hill shared the story of founding his company, Florida Coconuts. Pensacola-based Cognitive Big Data Systems was recently chosen to participate in the RocketSpace Mobility Tech Innovation Collaborative accelerator program.
Raleigh, NC — The tech industry in North Carolina appears to be booming, as the area saw more than 20,000 high-tech job openings in March. NC IDEA also announced a new Micro-Grant Pilot Program which will award project-based grants in the amount of $1K — $10K to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea. They are accepting applications from early stage North Carolina startups now through May 14th. The New Ventures Challenge Accelerator has also announced their 12 finalists, which includes New Orleans’ own HABERDAShe.
“The primary thing that I wish I knew at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey is to not be afraid to reach out to well known individuals.
What I have learned is that, even if you don’t have your product or service fully launched yet, there are many people more than willing to offer guidance and solid advice to help you succeed. You just have to make yourself known to them.
So put yourself out there. Go to tech conferences. Shoot potential advisers or investors an email. As the old saying goes, ‘Closed mouths don’t get fed.’ ”
~ Cordelro Brown, Tuscaloosa, AL
Cordelro is a Digital Engagement Associate at Founder Gym, an online training center for underrepresented founders who want to build successful tech startups. He is also the Founder of Rapid Dissent, a digital media/crowdfunding platform for social activists.
Atlanta, GA — onQ — $6M
Atlanta, GA — RoadSync — $2.5M
Atlanta, GA — Stord — $2.4M Seed
Atlanta, GA — Top of Mind Networks — undisclosed
Austin, TX — BigCommerce — $64M
Austin, TX — GitLinks Inc. — $555K
Austin, TX — PullRequest — $8M Series A
Austin, TX — Revolution Insurance Technologies — $1M
Austin, TX — Student Loan Genius — $4.7M
Austin, TX — TheWaveVR — $6M Series A
Austin, TX — Veros Systems — $3M Equity Funding
Charleston, SC — Ceterus — $10M Series B
Charlotte, NC — BovaMetrics — $100K
Dallas, TX — Traxo Inc. — $810K
Dallas, TX — WNDYR — undisclosed
Durham, NC — Grid Therapeutics — undisclosed, Series B
Nashville, TN — Contessa Health, Inc. — undisclosed
April 30 — Dallas, TX — NextUp Female Founders Dallas Pitch Competition
May 1 — Chattanooga, TN — Camp BizSmart
May 3 — Nashville, TN — PreFlight Startup Program Scholarship
May 4 — Alpharetta, GA — AgTech Conference of the South Pitch Off
May 6 — Little Rock, AR — Delta I-Fund Summer 2018 Program
May 14 — Durham, NC — NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant Pilot Program
May 28 — Nashville, TN — 36|86 Student Edition Pitch Competition
June 8 — Nashville, TN — Project Healthcare Portfolio
April 27 — New Orleans, LA — Coding Contest
April 27-May 1 — New Orleans, LA — StartupBus
April 30-May 3 — New Orleans, LA — Collision Conference
May 1 — New Orleans, LA — Equity Investments: A Crash Course
May 1 — Charlotte, NC — Charlotte Venture Challenge
May 2 — Atlanta, GA — Startup Runway Spring 2018 Showcase
May 3 — Atlanta, GA — Her Perspective
May 7 — Dallas, TX — Rise of the Rest Tour Pitch Competition
May 8 — Memphis, TN — Rise of the Rest Tour Pitch Competition
May 8 — Atlanta, GA — Atlanta Startup Battle
May 8 — Jackson, MS — C Spire MVMT Conference
May 9 — Birmingham, AL — Rise of the Rest Tour Pitch Competition
May 10 — Chattanooga, TN — Rise of the Rest Tour Pitch Competition
May 10 — Augusta, GA — Invest Augusta Conference
May 11 — Louisville, KY — Rise of the Rest Tour Pitch Competition
May 15 — Houston, TX — Startup Grind Celebrates Texas Female Entrepreneurs
May 15–18 — Nashville, TN — Nashville Startup Week
May 18–20 — Atlanta, GA — Techstars Startup Weekend
May 22 — Memphis, TN — Startup Grind Memphis Hosts TJ Jefferson
May 23 — New Orleans, LA — PitchNOLA: Living Well Pitch Competition
May 23 — Tampa, FL — PoweredUp Tech Festival
May 24 — Atlanta, GA — Simply SaaS Forum
May 24 — New Orleans, LA — Adobe Creative Jam
May 29-June 15 — New Orleans, LA — NOLA CODE Summer Camps
May 30-June 1 — New Orleans, LA — Inc. GrowCo Conference
June 7 — Baton Rouge, LA — Pitch BR
June 7 — Atlanta, GA — InnoVenture Awards
June 13 — Charlotte, NC — Fintech South
June 13 — Tampa, FL — IGNITE Tampa Bay
June 15–16 — Raleigh, NC — Cryptolina Blockchain Conference
June 15–17 — Atlanta, GA — TERMINUS Conference + Festival
July 5–6 — New Orleans, LA — BlackTech Weekend NOLA