Startups

Austin's PopUp Play heads to SXSW finals

Posted March 13th, 2016

Austin's PopUp Play made the cut.

The two-year-old startup is heading to the finals at the South by Southwest Accelerator competition today. Eighteen companies were chosen to move forward out of 48 that pitched yesterday.

PopUp Play,  founded by husband-and-wife team Bryan Thomas and Amelia Cosgrove, lets kids create playscapes they design themselves using an app.

PopUp Play got off the ground with a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign last spring and opened for non-Kickstarter campaign orders in November.

It works like this: After downloading a free app on an iPad, kids can create a castle, gingerbread house or rocket of their dreams. For a flat fee of $99, their design is created using fiberboard and arrives in a flat box within days. The 4-foot-by-4-foot designs are made to be easily assembled by kids themselves.

PopUp Play lets kids design their own castles

"We wanted to give kids an outlet to actually build and create as an alternative to the passive consuming experiences that seem to dominate play," Bryan Thomas told me. 

PopUp Play has already brought in some high profile investors. It has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from backers including Capital Factory, Floodgate, Silverton Partners and Techstars, Thomas said.

PopUp Play is the sole Austin company to make it to the finals. Two other Austin startups, Bitfusion and Thrillbox, beat out several hundred applicants to win spots at the Accelerator competition, which is in its eighth year.

For PopUp Play, taking the stage yesterday "was a huge opportunity to tell our story to a lot of people," Thomas said.

Today he gets another two minutes to make his pitch to judges and a live audience. Grand prize winners receive $4,000, two badges for the 2017 SXSW Interactive conference, various accelerator sponsor gift, and, most importantly, exposure to potential investors and customers.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Hilton Downtown Austin tonight.



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