📬 Southern Startup Report: September 27 — October 10, 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.

The news for our Southern startup community is a mixed bag this week. First and foremost, our hearts and thoughts are with everyone feeling the impact of Hurricane Michael.

While a new study showed that the US is quickly losing its competitive edgeas the worldwide hub of startup activity and venture capital, BIP Capital’s second annual State of Startups in the Southeast report shows some new, promising statistics for southeastern startups, including an average 20.6% annual growth rate in total funding across the region over the last 2 years.

Forbes also counted Atlanta and Charlotte, NC among their picks for The Top 10 Rising Cities For Startups, while multiple Southern startups recently made CNBC’s Upstart 100 list of promising startups to keep an eye on. The list included Austin startups data.world, Hypergiant, JASK, and RigUp, as well as DocSynk (Irving, TX), FreightWaves (Chattanooga, TN), and Neptune Flood (St Petersburg, FL).

~ Mallory Whitfield, Director of Marketing at LookFar, a New Orleans-based software development studio.

New Orleans, LA — At the recent MIT Solve Challenge Finals, two finalists from New Orleans pitched their ideas on the topic of how can coastal communities mitigate and adapt to climate change while developing and prospering? Tyler Ortego with ORA Technologies pitched their oyster solution while Julia Kumari Drapkin with ISeeChange had one of the winning pitches. The Idea Village is gearing up to launch their 2018–2019 season of programming including their IDEAx accelerator and a new ENERGYx accelerator, which is sponsored by Shell, and our friends at Camelback Ventures are recruiting for their fifth cohort of social impact and education founders. Local fashion startup Krewe recently snagged a feature in Fast Company, and the state has launched its first apprenticeship program to train more residents for technology jobs. Propeller has named 10 semi-finalist startups for their education pitch contest, to be held next week, while along with Good Work Network and Loyola University, they will be hosting seven European entrepreneurs. The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) named the New Orleans Business Alliance the winner of a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award for its New Orleans Health Innovators Challenge, which was designed to accelerate local growth of digital health businesses while improving residents’ health. Speaking of health innovation, the New Orleans BioInnovation Center is gearing up to host their annual Innovation Louisiana conference next month, where Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards will be speaking and four finalists will pitch for $50K+ in cash and investment prizes at the 2018 BioChallenge Pitch Competition.

Atlanta, GA — Four Atlanta startups (ThingTech, Loupe, TC Poly, and Blind Tiger Communications) have been chosen by the City of Atlanta for this year’s Atlanta International Startup Exchange program, a one-week exchange to Atlanta’s sister city, Toulouse, France. Mailchimp co-founders Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius were featured in a recent Forbes article, dubbing them “The New Atlanta Billionaires Behind An Unlikely Tech Unicorn.” Atlanta’s intelligent network automation startup Itential recently announced a new integration with Red Hat Ansible Network Automation, which will enable both network engineering and IT operations teams to create and execute network automation capabilities without writing code. Atlanta’s Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) will be opening a second startup accelerator for medtech companies, in conjunction with Israel’s Rambam Health Care Campus, while the search is underway for innovative AgTech solutions as applications have opened for the IoT.ATL AgTech Challenge. Nearly two years after hatching the idea, a collaborative of community leaders launched the Georgia Social Impact Map, an interactive platform designed to connect and educate stakeholders interested in accelerating impact investing for social outcomes.

Austin, TX — Female-led tech startups The Mentor Method and Rectify took home $100K each from Capital Factory during the recent pitch competition held at their Women in Tech Summit during Austin Startup Week, while Austin startup CarServ won the $250K top prize at Salesforce’s recent Dreampitch competition in San Francisco. Austin-based Cratejoy cut nearly half of their 43-person workforce recently as part of a restructuring effort, while ATX-based product design consultancy argodesign was acquired by DXC Technology. Dating company Match.com has teamed up with Austin’s Localeur on a new website that shares the top date spots in 10 cities recommended by locals themselves.

Birmingham, AL — Two Birmingham startups took home the prize at the recent Alabama Launchpad Startup Competition Finale. Moovmo, a ridesharing service for wheelchair users, won the $50K concept track prize, while Neowaste, which converts waste into low sulfur diesel fuel using a patented catalytic conversion process, won the $100K seed stage prize. A recent report from the State Department of Education showed an uptick in Alabama students enrolling in career technical courses, including robotics, pre-engineering, cyber security, and IT networking.

Dallas, TX — A recent survey by Capital One shows that 85% of DFW residents believe the area is a place for tech-related jobs and innovation, and the area has seen an influx of workers with UX/UI skills from places like Silicon Valley, Austin and Oregon. WeWork recently announced plans to open its first Dallas location next month. WeWork Labs will serve as a home for early-stage startups, and partner with local incubators and accelerators.

Durham, NC — Twenty-four semi-finalists from across the state have been selected by NC IDEA to participate in its 26th SEED grant cycle, out of a pool of 158 competitive applications. The final grant recipients, who will receive $50K each, will be announced in mid-November. A new entrepreneurship and innovation hub, AB Studios, will soon open in the heart of Durham’s historically African-American Walltown neighborhood, and a Durham startup, Optimal Solar, won the recent pitch competition for Google for Entrepreneurs’ Black Founders Exchange Program. Along with the winning pitch, they also received a spot in Backstage Capital’s recently-announced accelerator program. The NC TECH Awards announced the technology company finalists for their awards gala, to be held on November 15.

Nashville, TN — Music City has seen some shifts in leadership in their entrepreneurial support community, as prominent civic and business leader Margaret Dolan has been named President and CEO of Launch Tennessee, replacing the outgoing Charlie Brock, while the Nashville Entrepreneur Center recently named Clint Smith and Debbie Gordon as Entrepreneurs-In-Residence (EIR) for their new InFlight program. InFlight is a year-round program for early-stage startups in any industry. A recent report showed the tech sector in Tennessee growing rapidly, with nearly 3,000 new unique technology job postings each month in the Nashville area over the last year, though some locals are wondering if female founders are being left behind. Across the state, Memphis-area nonprofit Epicenter has raised $40 million to support entrepreneurs in the region, bolstered by an initial grant commitment of $10 million by FedEx Corp, while startup StoragePug won both cash prizes (totaling $10K) at Knoxville’s Startup Day pitch competition.

“In the Customer Development phase of your business, the best way to get good data when talking to customers is to ask about their life instead of your idea. Talk about specifics in the past, rather than generics or opinions about the future. When you talk to customers about your idea, you’re at risk of getting compliments and fluff rather than useful data you need to make product decisions.

Customers will lie to you, so never ask customers what they think about your idea. They own the problem, and you own the solution.

~ Hassan Riggs, Founder and CEO of Smart Alto, Birmingham, AL

Smart Alto helps real estate agents nurture their leads, clients, and referrals with text message.


We love sharing stories from a diverse range of founders, investors, CTOs, CMOs, and other movers & shakers from across the Southern startup ecosystem. Contribute a quote for a future edition of our “What I Wish I Knew Then” feature.

Athens, GA — ArunA Bio — $5.3M

Atlanta, GA — MoQuality — $2.5M Seed

Austin, TX — BuildASign — $280M Acquisition

Austin, TX — Shipwell — $10M Series A

Austin, TX — Stoplight — $3.25M Seed

Austin, TX — The Guild — $9M

Bradenton, FL — Eruptr — undisclosed

Cape Canaveral, FL — MoonExpress — $12.5M

Cary, NC — EasyVote Solutions — $1.5M

Charlotte, NC — Rabbu — $356K

Charlotte, NC — SmartSky Networks — $17.4M

Charlotte, NC — Tresata — $50M

Dallas, TX — iDonate — $10M Series A

Frisco, TX — Meritize — $13.2M Series A

Houston, TX — Quorum Software — undisclosed

Irving, TX — Caris Life Sciences — $150M

Miami, FL — Caribu — $1.3M

Miami, FL — Carie Health — $7M Series A

Miami, FL — Dvdendo — $3.25M Series A

Raleigh, NC — Remedy Review — $2M

Sandor, FL — RepScrubs — $1.35M

Tampa, FL — Perch Security — $9M Series A

Virginia and South Carolina — Emagine IT — undisclosed

October 11 — Nashville, TN — Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s InFlight Program Application Deadline

October 12 — Georgia — ATDC 2018 NYC Venture Showcase Application Deadline

October 12 — anywhere — Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative $750K Challenge on News and Information Quality

October 14 — Baton Rouge, LA — Get Started Louisiana Pitch Competition Application Deadline

October 15 — multiple locations — Backstage Accelerator Spring 2019 Application Deadline

October 21 — Houston, TX — TMCx Digital Health Accelerator Program Application Deadline

October 22 — New Orleans, LA — IDEAinstitute Registration Deadline

October 31 — Birmingham, AL — Innovation Depot’s Velocity Accelerator Application Deadline

October 31 — United States — Spearhead 2 Angel Investing Fund Application Deadline

November 2 — New Orleans, LA — ENERGYx Accelerator Program Application Deadline

November 2 — Atlanta, GA — IoT.ATL AgTech Challenge Application Deadline

November 8 — New Orleans, LA — IDEAx Accelerator Program Application Deadline

November 9 — Bentonville, AR — Fuel Supply Chain Startup Accelerator Application Deadline

November 9 — Chapel Hill, NC — Launch Chapel Hill Business Accelerator Application Deadline

November 15 — Austin, TX — SXSW Pitch Final Application Deadline

November 26 — New Orleans, LA — Camelback Ventures 2019 Fellowship Application Deadline

rolling deadline — Charleston, SC — DIG SOUTH Speaker Submissions

October 11 — Baton Rouge, LA — Tech Park Academy | Hit the (Pitch) Deck

October 11–12 — New Orleans, LA — Aspen Institute Socrates New Orleans Salon

October 11–12 — Miami, FL — Blockchain Shift Conference

October 12–14 — Gainesville, FL — Startup Weekend Gainesville

October 14 — Atlanta, GA — Atlanta Startup Awards

October 16–17 — Atlanta, GA — Venture Atlanta

October 17 — New Orleans, LA — PitchNOLA: Education

October 17 — Gulfport, MS — Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Consortium Pitch Night

October 18 — Atlanta, GA — Atlanta Startup Battle 5.0

October 18 — Atlanta, GA — Atlanta Corporate Innovation Summit

October 19–21 — Boca Raton, FL — Palm Beach Tech Hackathon

October 22–24 — Atlanta, GA — BuiltTech Week

October 22–25 — New Orleans, LA — Tableau Data & Business Intelligence Conference

October 22–26 — Chattanooga, TN — Startup Week Chattanooga

October 22–26 — San Francisco, CA — VC Unlocked: BAM! A Bootcamp for Accelerator Managers, by 500 Startups

October 23 — Birmingham, AL — Tech Tuesday: Smart Cities Panel Discussion

October 25 — Charleston, SC — DIG on the 1/2 Shell

October 26–28 — Little Rock, AR — JOLT Cyber Security Hackathon

October 30-November 1 — Dallas, TX — 20th Annual HHS SBIR/STTR BioTech Conference

November 5–6 — Nashville, TN — Distributed:Health Healthcare and Blockchain Conference

November 6–8 — Austin, TX — Developer Week

November 7 — Atlanta, GA — Startup Runway Fall 2018 Showcase

November 9 — Atlanta, GA — The Farm Atlanta Demo Day

November 12–14 — New Orleans, LA — Innovation Louisiana 2018

November 13 — Atlanta, GA — Atlanta Startup Battle Competition 5.0

November 13–14 — Jackson, MS — Accelerate: 19th Annual Conference on Technology Innovation

November 13–14 — Atlanta, GA — Southeast BIO Investor and Partnering Forum

November 13–15 — Baton Rouge, LA — Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week

November 14 — Charleston, SC — Charleston Angel Conference

November 15 — Baton Rouge, LA — Get Started Louisiana Pitch Competition

November 15 — Raleigh, NC — NC Tech Awards

November 17 — Raleigh-Durham, NC — Women in Tech Summit

December 6 — Tampa, FL — Tech is Our Future — Tampa Bay Wave Year-End Celebration

December 7–8 — Birmingham, AL — Teen Tech Bham Hackathon

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.