Three Austin startups take the stage at SXSW

Companies beat out hundreds of startups for chance to make their pitch

Posted March 12th, 2016

For three Austin startups, Saturday was a chance to break out of the South by Southwest noise.

Bitfusion, PopUp Play and Thrillbox beat out hundreds of companies to win spots at the SXSW Accelerator competition. 

During the two-day event, 48 companies each take the stage to pitch before an audience and panel of judges. This year, 470 companies from around the world applied for a spot.

For Thrillbox founder Benjamin Durham, the two-minutes of stage time was a chance to make the case for his four-person company, which provides virtual reality data analytics. And he also wanted to put the spotlight on Austin.

"It's my town and we wanted to show how Austin can become a hub for innovation and the future of virtual reality and content production," said Durham, who spoke before a standing room only crowd. 

Bitfusion co-founder Subbu Rama, the competition was an ideal -- and inexpensive -- way to reach new customers for his startup, which develops application enhancing software. 

Bitfusion CEO Subbu Rama

"We want to get our name out there, but we don't spend anything on marketing," Rama said. "Going to conferences is expensive, with hotels and plane tickets. Here we just walked across the street."

And after the pitch, nine-person Bitfusion was approached by several potential customers, Rama said. "They came over and said, 'We can use your stuff.' That was great."

For Bryan Thomas, co-founder of PopUpPlay , which builds toys from children's designs, the stage "was a huge opportunity to tell our story to a lot of people.."

And the pitch itself? "From my perspective I think it went well. The judges asked great questions and seemed to really be interested in what we do."

Tonight the founders will find out whether they made it to the finals. We'll update here.

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