📬 Southern Startup Report: March 30 — April 12, 2018
These past few weeks have felt busier than normal for the Southern startup scene — you may notice that this week’s SSR feels a bit longer than usual, with plenty of news and recent rounds to report. That’s good news, of course, and more good news is the recent announcement of the forty Rise of the Rest finalists. The Steve Case-backed startup tour bus will be making its way across five Southern cities (Dallas, Memphis, Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Louisville) May 7–11. Learn more about the finalists and keep reading below for a full breakdown of the latest Southern tech startup news.
New Orleans, LA — Spring in New Orleans is always a busy time. As soon as things wrap up at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, the race towards Collision Conference (April 30-May 3) kicks off. Earlier this week Collision announced that it will be finding a new home in 2019, but there are plenty of adjacent events to celebrate Collision’s final New Orleans conference. Coding Contest, which has its roots in Austria, will host its first-ever U.S. contest in New Orleans on April 27, and StartupBus makes its way to New Orleans April 27-May 1. And there’s still time to get involved in upcoming opportunities: Propeller is accepting applications for their 2018 PitchNOLA: Living Well competition until April 15, and BlackTech NOLA is seeking speakers for their conference, which will take place during Essence Festival.
Atlanta, GA — Perhaps the biggest news out of ATL over the past few weeks is the confidential IPO filing by fintech firm GreenSky, which values the company at roughly $5 billion. That’s not the only big money coming Atlanta’s way, however, as the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta launched the city’s first impact investment fund with an initial $10 million, and Goldman Sachs staked a claim in the Engage Fund with a $1.5 million investment. After the recent ransomware attack on the city’s government, local tech industry leaders are calling on Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to publish a blameless post-mortem so that cybersecurity experts and municipalities can learn from the event. Meanwhile, the City of Atlanta is coaxing young tech talent to stay in town with a new program called Students2Startups that will pay for interns to work at eligible Atlanta-based startups.
Auburn, AL — At the recent Alabama Launchpad competition, 3 Alabama startups took home shares of a $100K prize. Energy H2O, a Tuskegee-based company that produces natural Alkaline mineral water, won the $50K prize, while FoPark (a parking management solution) and Tennibot (an autonomous tennis ball collector) took home the remaining prize money.
Austin, TX — Texas recently began cracking down on cryptocurrencies by issuing cease and desist letters. Earlier this week, the Texas State Securities Board issued a 14-page report detailing their enforcement activity. Meanwhile, cancer-fighting startup Genprex joins a growing list of Austin biotech companies that have gone public.
Birmingham, AL — The 3rd in a series of 5 reports by Innovate Birmingham was recently released, focusing on the ways in which Alabama-based large companies and corporations are part of (or not part of) the local tech-based ecosystem. The report shares important learnings which are relevant to many of our Southern tech communities.
Boca Raton, FL — New York-based CreativeDrive recently acquired Decora, a provider of 3-D images for online retailers, in a deal worth more than $100 million. Decora made its way to Boca Raton from Brazil in 2015 and is located in the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University.
Charlotte, NC — The Queen City is gearing up to host this year’s largest fintech conference outside of NYC and Silicon Valley. Fintech Generations recently announced their 2018 keynote speakers: internationally recognized financial industry strategist Jim Marous of The Digital Banking Report and Colleen Taylor, the Executive Vice President of New Payments at Mastercard. The conference will take place on June 13 at the AvidXchange headquarters.
Houston, TX — While the big winner at the recent Rice Business Plan Competition was Infinite Cooling from MIT, a number of startups born out of Southern universities also took home prizes. ClearCam (a medtech startup from University of Texas at Austin) took home $175K, Lapovations (a medical device company from University of Arkansas focused on improving laparoscopy) won $150K in total prize money, Lunula Health from Georgia Institute of Technology nabbed $100K, and New Orleans’ own Instapath received $25K.
Jackson, MS — While Mississippi legislators may be cautious after a state auditor recently reported that failed economic development projects over the past decade have cost Mississippi taxpayers more than $185 million, there was one bright spot: California startup View has created 335 new jobs at its Olive Branch production facility and has paid back a $44 million loan from the state. Out-of-state startups setting up shop in Mississippi are one critical component for expanding the state’s startup scene, but locals are doing plenty to keep the momentum going. A new nonprofit community crowd-funding platform, Citizenville, launched recently and a myriad of tech related events are taking place over the next few weeks, including Jackson’s Startup Weekend and C Spire’s MVMT 2018 conference.
Lafayette, LA — Last November, Mozilla announced they would be awarding Lafayette innovators a total of $115K in grants via their Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund. Earlier this week they named the 6 projects receiving the funding, which include STEM education programs to train students in coding as well as virtual reality initiatives that let students take “field trips” to solar energy plants and experience first-hand the impact of climate change and coastal erosion.
Raleigh, NC — At the Lulu eGames startup competition, hosted by North Carolina State University, local companies took home cash prizes totaling more than $100K. The companies ranged from biotech to arts ventures to cloud-based platforms. The biggest winners of the evening were VitalFlow, Sentinel Biomedical, NexS Software, and Tueri. Meanwhile, Cofounders Capital, which invests in early-stage companies, is ramping up a new $20 million fund. They plan to leverage the cash to make later-stage deals in order to attract more money from out of state investors.
Tampa, FL — At the recent Synapse Innovation Summit, thought leaders shared advice for the local tech community and learnings from other tech ecosystems. Jeff Vinik kicked things off with a vision of Tampa becoming the South’s startup leader over the next decade. Synapse co-founder Brian Kornfeld pointed to the example of Cincinnati, Ohio where companies such as Procter & Gamble and Macy’s have established “innovation challenges” offering prize money to spark the growth of the startup ecosystem there. Lakshmi Shenoy, the CEO of a new Tampa innovation hub, shared what she learned while working in Chicago’s startup scene.
“Woody Allen said that 80 percent of success is showing up, and I’ve found that to be true. I’m a hardcore introvert, so psyching myself up to network isn’t always easy; however, I’ve found that being part of a dialogue and participating in my community has been more valuable to my business and my psyche than sitting at home.
I’ll take the quote a step further and venture that more than 90 percent of success is execution. Sharing ideas and making plans are exercises in futility without action. It’s okay to move fast. break things, learn and iterate. That’s how innovation happens.”
Codebase is a mobile development firm and iOS Training Lab that offers paid apprenticeship opportunities to top performers. Codebase’s iOS Training Lab is currently gearing up and accepting applications for their Spring 2018 session. Aleshia’s husband and co-founder, Max Howell, created the Homebrew package manager for Mac, which is used by developers all over the world.
Atlanta, GA — BetterCloud — $60M Series E
Atlanta, GA — BitPay — $40M
Atlanta, GA — DataOceans — $3.2M
Atlanta, GA — FSLogix — $7.5M Series C
Atlanta, GA — RootsRated Media — $6.5M Series A
Atlanta, GA — SalesLoft — $50M Series C
Austin, TX — Intangible Labs — $125M
Austin, TX — YouEarnedIt — undisclosed
Carrollton, TX — Insurance Technologies Corporation — undisclosed
Dallas, TX — ATA RiskStation, LLC — undisclosed
Dallas, TX — OncoNano Medicine — $11.6M
Dallas, TX — OrderMyGear — $35M
Dallas, TX — Relativity Space — $35M Series B
Durham, NC — FoodLogiQ — $19.5M
Durham, NC — BioMetrix — $3M
Morrisville, NC — ShiftWizard — $1M
Raleigh, NC — Hip eCommerce — $400K
Tampa, FL — Script — undisclosed
April 15 — New Orleans, LA — PitchNOLA: Living Well Pitch Competition
April 20 — Atlanta, GA — Goodie Impact Pre-Accelerator: Hack Cancer + STDs
April 23 — Alabama — Alabama Launchpad Startup 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 28 — Nashville, TN — 36|86 Student Edition Pitch Competition
June 8 — Nashville, TN — Project Healthcare Portfolio
April 13–15 — Knoxville, TN — What’s the Big Idea 48 Hour Launch
April 13–15 — Mobile, AL — Techstars Startup Weekend Mobile
April 13–14 — Lafayette, LA — CajunCodeFest Opioid Healthcare Challenge
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 16 — Nashville, TN — Simply SaaS Meetup with David Cummings
April 17 — Huntsville, AL — Small Business Innovation Research Road Tour
April 18 — Little Rock, AR — Small Business Innovation Research Road Tour
April 18 — Austin, TX — The Blockchain Summit
April 19 — Jackson, MS — Small Business Innovation Research Road Tour
April 19 — Baton Rouge, LA — PitchBR SBIR Edition
April 19–22 — Dallas, TX — EarthX E-Capital Summit Investment Forum
April 20 — Baton Rouge, LA — Small Business Innovation Research Road Tour
April 20–22 — Jackson, MS — Startup Weekend Jackson
April 23 — Birmingham, AL — Velocity Accelerator 2018 Demo Day
April 24 — Little Rock, AR — The Venture Center Pre-Accelerator Pitch Day
April 25 — Baton Rouge, LA — LSU Inventorship Showcase
April 25 — Atlanta, GA — Simply SaaS Meetup with George Azih
April 25–27 — Charleston, SC — DIG SOUTH Tech Conference
April 26 — Austin, TX — Fund Conference
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 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 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 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
June 7 — Baton Rouge, LA — Pitch BR
June 7 — Atlanta, GA — InnoVenture Awards
June 13 — Charlotte, NC — Fintech South
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
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.