📬 Southern Startup Report: February 16 — March 1

This spring promises to be an exciting time for Southern startups. You’ll find an extensive roster of upcoming events near the bottom of this email, including the dates for the next Rise of the Rest Tour, which heads to Dallas, Memphis, Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Louisville in May.

A few weeks ago, we mentioned a number of podcasts dedicated to tech startups in our region, but DIG SOUTH’s new podcast, South Pod, launched shortly thereafter. One of their first guests, rocket scientist Krissa Watry, is helping kids connect safely with technology via her company’s newest app, iOKids. As Women’s History Month kicks off, we’re excited to see tech women like Krissa and these female tech influencers paving the way for a more inclusive tech workforce. You’ll notice a number of other wins for women in tech in the news section below.

~ Mallory Whitfield, LookFar Director of Marketing

New Orleans, LA — The tech news out of our hometown has been a mixed bag in recent weeks. While a story broke that Palantir has been testing a predictive policing system without the knowledge of City Council members since 2012, there were also plenty of bright spots. New Orleans was ranked #8 on a list of the best cities for women in tech, and local startup Joieful made it known that they are in the midst of raising a $1.2M Series A funding round. The local tech startup community has plenty to look forward to, as New Orleans Entrepreneur Week released the lineup for their 10th annual event. We hope you’ll join us for Blockchain 101, led by our Lead Engineer Ken Gaulter, and Red States, Blue Ocean, a panel I’ll be moderating where we’ll discuss the ways that Southern states present uncharted opportunity for startups.

Atlanta, GA — A new angel group, TiE Angels, recently launched and announced their commitment to supporting startups at the seed and Series A stages. Meanwhile Engage, the corporate-backed venture fund and startup growth program, announced their latest investments. Six of their investment picks are based in the South: Dev/Con, Homee, Intrinio, Stord, ThingTech, and Verady.

Austin, TX — Mobile app management and analytics company Phunware has announced a merger which values the company at $301 million. An IPO is expected soon, and the company also announced plans to issue cryptocurrency tokens called PhunCoins later this year.

Birmingham, AL — The babysitter app that won more than $80K from Alabama Launchpad last May is continuing to grow, adding markets and expanding its leadership team. Wyndy connects parents with trusted college babysitters in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, and Charlottesville. The startup is currently participating in Innovation Depot’s Velocity Accelerator program 2018 cohort.

Little Rock, AR — Little Rock’s Venture Center is currently in the process of narrowing down 260 applications from around the world for their next FinTech accelerator. They reported receiving a higher caliber of applicants than in previous years, and that many of the startups rely on blockchain. Meanwhile, Cadron Creek Capital launched a new $20 million fund focused on investing in growth-oriented technology and tech-enabled ventures.

Miami, FL — Augmented reality darling Magic Leap is back in the news, reportedly in talks to raise up to $400 million from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. After years of secrecy, details about what they’re working on are finally starting to come out. In December they announced their first product, an AR headset, and this week they confirmed that Weta Gameshop has been developing a retro science fiction game for them over the last six years. All that progress is not without hurdles; apparently their head of security has been trying to ‘extort millions of dollars’ from them with frivolous lawsuits.

Orlando, FL — Three entrepreneur support organizations in Orlando recently merged under the name StarterStudio in an effort to raise money more effectively. The deal brings together the Starter Studio accelerator program, Canvs co-working space, and Firespring Fund, which has raised about $1.5 million to date. The Orlando-based fintech company Fattmerchant, a credit card payment processor that recently added locations in Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas, is a Starter Studio grad.

Raleigh, NC — A new report shows that North Carolina’s startups raised $1.1 billion in 2017, up 36.5% from the previous year. A huge chunk of that money comes from just two startups: AvidXchange’s $300 million raise and SmartSky Networks’ $176 million funding round. The state, which has the highest percentage of women in technology jobs, is also making moves to expand the diversity of its future workforce. More than 400 high school girls from North Carolina recently took part in Girls Go CyberStart, a competition aimed at getting girls interested in cybersecurity.

Tampa, FL — Tech accelerator Tampa Bay Wave has joined forces with The Nielsen Foundation to launch the newly created TechDiversity Accelerator program. The new 90-day program is designed for early-stage tech companies whose ownership identifies as a minority, female, veteran, LGBTQ, or a combination thereof. Applications for the program close on March 31.

“Something I’ve learned that brought me personal clarity is that living your definition of success and not anyone else’s allows you to be the most creative and fulfilled. Being pressured on what society’s definition of success looks like and comparing your path to others is a sure fire way to never feel bliss (aka the transcendent yet fleeting feeling that makes us humans feel the most alive). The beauty of our short lives is that you have the choice to be an original and can impact the world in your own unique way.

The best advice I can give someone on living with your definition of success? Focus on building your eulogy and not your resume. At the end of the day, no one cares about your resume points but the stories you put yourself in that makes the biggest impact on others. We just have to wake up and realize that success is a byproduct of making the right decisions and living YOUR journey on YOUR terms!”

~ Kenny Nguyen, Baton Rouge, LA

CEO of ThreeSixtyEight, a strategic marketing agency that challenges brands to embrace their creative confidence.

Atlanta, GA — Greenlight Financial Technology — $16M Series A

Austin, TX — Complai — $1.4M Seed

Austin, TX — Guidefitter — $1.5M

Austin, TX — SparkCognition — $56.5M Series B

Austin, TX — ZenBusiness — $4.5M Seed

Birmingham, AL — Planet Fundraiser — $1.5M Seed

Frisco, TX — Meritize — $6.8M Seed

Nashville, TN — Crystal — $5M Series B

Raleigh, NC — BruVue — $1M Seed

March 6 — Miami, FL — Knight Prototype Fund: Arts & Technology

March 11 — Knoxville, TN — What’s the Big Idea 48 Hour Launch Deadline

March 20 — various — Rise of the Rest 7.0 Application

March 23 — Austin, TX — Texas Health Catalyst

March 26 — Atlanta, GA — Atlanta Startup Battle

March 31 — Atlanta, GA — Startup Runway’s Spring Cohort

March 31 — Little Rock, AR — Health InnovatAR Accelerator

March 31 — Tampa, FL — TechDiversity Accelerator

April 1 — Chattanooga, TN — CO.LAB Accelerators: GIGTANK + Consumer Goods

March 8 — Atlanta, GA — Startup Sisters: ATL

March 9–11 — Fayetteville, AR — Northwest Arkansas Startup Weekend

March 9–12 — Austin, TX — HBCU@SXSW

March 12–14 — Atlanta, GA — Teki Con

March 15 — Bentonville, AR — Nowhere Developers Conference

March 15 — Prattville, AL — Alabama Launchpad Startup Competition Finale

March 20–23 — New Orleans, LA — New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

March 20 — New Orleans, LA — NOLA Health Innovators Challenge Pitch Finale

March 21 — New Orleans, LA — Water Challenge 2018 Pitch Competition

March 21–23 — New Orleans, LA — JazzCon.Tech

March 22 — Atlanta, GA — Simply SaaS Forum

March 22 — Baton Rouge, LA — PitchBR 2018 Event #1

March 22–23 — Atlanta, GA — Innov8rs

March 22–24 — Austin, TX — VentureWell’s OPEN Conference

March 26–28 — New Orleans, LA — Vue.js Conference

March 27–28 — Atlanta, GA — AgLanta Conference

March 28–29 — Tampa, FL — Synapse Innovation Summit

April 5–6 — Atlanta, GA — ACC InVenture Prize Innovation Competition

April 6–7 — Jacksonville, FL — One Spark Innovation Festival

April 11–13 — New Orleans, LA — The Frontier Conference

April 11 — New Orleans, LA — The Future of Aerospace: AIAA Beyond B2B Startup Showcase

April 11–12 — Birmingham, AL — Alabama Cyber Now Conference

April 13–15 — Knoxville, TN — What’s the Big Idea 48 Hour Launch

April 16 — Biloxi, MS — Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Inc. 2018 Technology Expo

April 20–22 — Jackson, MS — Startup Weekend Jackson

April 25–27 — Charleston, SC — DIG SOUTH Tech Conference

April 26 — Austin, TX — Fund Conference

April 30-May 3 — New Orleans, LA — Collision Conference

May 2 — Atlanta, GA — Startup Runway Spring 2018 Showcase

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 9 — Birmingham, AL — Rise of the Rest Tour Pitch Competition

May 10 — Chattanooga, TN — Rise of the Rest Tour Pitch Competition

May 11 — Louisville, KY — Rise of the Rest Tour Pitch Competition

June 13 — Charlotte, NC — Fintech South

August 29–30 — Nashville, TN — 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival

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.