📬 Southern Startup Report: March 2 — March 15
On Monday, SXSW announced the 10 category winners of its much-anticipated Accelerator Pitch Competition. The companies that have participated in this competition over the years have gone on to raise billions of dollars, collectively, so it’s exciting to see multiple Southern startups on the list of winners. Congrats to ICON 3D (Social and Culture winner from Austin, TX), GrubTubs (Hyper-Connected Communities winner from Austin, TX), PolyPort (Security and Privacy winner from Atlanta, GA), and Leaf (Best Bootstrap Company from Nashville, TN)!
Of course, here in New Orleans, we’re looking forward to New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. If you’re planning to attend, I hope you’ll join us for LookFar’s sessions. Our Lead Engineer Ken Gaulter will be presenting Blockchain 101 on the morning of Friday, March 23 and later that day I’ll be moderating Red States, Blue Ocean, a panel inspired by the same themes as this email. I’ll be joined by Tasha Bibb from Innovate Mississippi, Chris Meaux from Waitr, Martin Roth from zlien, and Kesha Williams, one of our 2017 Ada Lovelace Award winners.
P.S. Speaking of the Ada Lovelace Awards, check out this post we put together in celebration of Women’s History Month, featuring previous Ada nominees sharing what it means to them to be a woman in tech.
New Orleans, LA — As the local tech community gears up for New Orleans Entrepreneur Week next week, there has been a wave of announcements of pitch competition finalists, including Propeller’s Water Challenge and Tulane’s Business Model Competition. We’re especially looking forward to the NOLAHI Challenge Pitch Finale and the Coulter IDEApitch competition. On Tuesday March 20, Alertgy, a noninvasive glucose monitor, Bonbouton, a wearable shoe insole monitor, and DIASYST, a smart app for diabetics, will square off in the NOLAHI Diabetes Care Challenge. Then on Friday March 23, AxoSim, ExemptMeNow, and Dig will compete for $100K at the Coulter IDEApitch.
Atlanta, GA — As usual, big things are happening in the world of Atlanta tech. Last week, Georgia’s governor announced that Facebook plans to build a $750M data center about 45 miles east of downtown Atlanta, and this week Waymo began testing its self-driving truck fleet in ATL. After announcing a $2.6M Series B funding round last month, local startup Volantio continues to make headlines. Their software promises to fix the problem of oversold planes, and it’s attracted attention (and investment) from British Airways, JetBlue, Qantas, and other airlines.
Austin, TX — Of course, too much has happened at SXSW for us to mention everything here but there were a few notable Austin-based startups that launched at the event. William Hurley took the main stage on opening day and launched his new quantum computing software startup, Strangeworks. A marketplace from former investment banker Thad Beversdorf, dubbed Spendindie, aims to put money back in the hands of independent businesses. Valkyrie Labs, which launched Wednesday, has already built a device to process neural network training at high speeds. ICON made a splash with their 3D printed house, which can be printed in under 24 hours for less than $4K.
Birmingham, AL — A recent report from Innovate Birmingham outlined the current challenges and opportunities facing the Magic City’s tech ecosystem. Based on interviews with 22 local startup CEOs, they found the need for a more organized and well-aligned tech community, more access to corporations, better communication with community partners (including lawyers, accountants, and local angel investors), and a clearer pipeline between local tech talent and startup jobs. The findings are relevant to many of our region’s burgeoning startup hubs. Meanwhile, two Alabama cities, Birmingham and Huntsville, were recently featured on a list of 5 up-and-coming tech hotspots outside of Silicon Valley.
Charlotte, NC — The latest accelerator cohort of Queen City Fintech was recently announced, and it features 10 financial technology startups from around the world, including one from Nigeria, one from Denmark, and two from Canada. Also included are three with roots in the South: Optimis and Live Give Save (both based in Charlotte) and Lilipad from Austin, TX. Meanwhile the growing Charlotte Angel Fund has been making news, with recent investments in The Waggle Company, a tech-enabled dog-walking platform, and Myxx, an omni-channel marketing platform for brands and grocery stores.
Dallas, TX — After opening a new emerging technologies office in Austin this year, Walmart is slated to open one in Dallas on April 5. The office, which is expected to have 45 employees by the end of the year, will conduct research in machine learning, computer vision, and IoT.
Greensboro, NC — At the recent Capital Connects pitch contest, blockchain startup Fluree took home the $10K prize, beating out 6 other finalists. The company currently has more than 300 customers beta testing their platform, including Fortune 500 companies and bootstrapped startups.
Pensacola, FL — Local entrepreneur Lloyd Reshard, CEO of the technology startup Cognitive Big Data Systems Inc., is working to launch a new tech training, research and development lab. Dubbed the Center for the Innovation Workforce, it will provide students with hands-on experience in programming, robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other advanced technology. Reshard and his wife, Robin Reshard, have recently been working with the history department at the University of West Florida to establish a proof of concept project called Real Blocks VR that simulates life in local neighborhoods at the turn of the 20th century.
Tampa, FL — A Tampa startup is one of 20 companies worldwide selected to compete for a $100K equity investment at the Challenge Cup Global Finals on March 22. Knack, which offers a mobile app that connects college students with peer tutors, has already launched at more than 40 universities nationwide and was featured by Inc.com as one of the top 30 Emerging Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2017.
“I wish I knew earlier on that it’s generally better to take a leap, make mistakes and learn from them in your business, rather than freeze and not take the risk at all due to fear of failure! You can’t have a reaction without an action, and there’s nothing worse than just staying in the same place.”
~ Anna Finch, COO of Realized Designs Projects, New Orleans, LA
Anna was a 2017 Ada Lovelace Award nominee. She and her husband Brien Teasley have more than 15 years of experience in designing for manufacturing. Last fall they shared their advice with Louisiana Technology Park on the 10 steps to bring a physical product to market.
Atlanta, GA — Micro C — $1M Seed
Austin, TX — DroneSense — $4.9M
Austin, TX — M.io — $5.75M
Austin, TX — Smarter Sorting — $5M Seed
Austin, TX — TurnKey Vacation Rentals — $31M Series D
Durham, NC — Teamworks — $15.3M Series B
Miami, FL — Magic Leap — $461M
Tampa, FL — ClassWallet — $735K
Tuscaloosa, AL — ThruPore — $540K
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 29 — Knoxville, TN — National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Spring Regional
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
April 1 — Chattanooga, TN — Camp BizSmart
April 8 — Atlanta, GA — Techstars Atlanta
April 20 — Atlanta, GA — Goodie Impact Pre-Accelerator: Hack Cancer + STDs
May 6 — Little Rock, AR — Delta I-Fund Summer 2018 Program
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 23 — New Orleans, LA — Blockchain 101: It’s Not Just Cryptocurrency
March 23 — New Orleans, LA — Red States, Blue Ocean: How Silicon South Presents Uncharted Opportunity for Startups
March 26–28 — New Orleans, LA — Vue.js Conference
March 27 — Tampa, FL — Women Making Waves in Angel Investing
March 27–28 — Atlanta, GA — AgLanta Conference
March 28–29 — Tampa, FL — Synapse Innovation Summit
March 31 — Tampa, FL — TiECON Florida 2018
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 16 — Chattanooga, TN — Small Business Innovation Research Road Tour
April 17 — Huntsville, AL — Small Business Innovation Research Road Tour
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.