It’s a wrap for 84 startups that spent the past four months participating in MassChallenge Texas’ inaugural Austin class.
And thanks to $500,000 in cash prizes awarded on Wednesday night, five Austin-based companies are leaving the accelerator program with funding.
Participants -- chosen from a pool of 500 applicants -- arrived in Austin from five continents, 11 countries and 12 states. A total of 45 companies were from Texas and 33 were Austin-based.
“We have proven that small businesses can have a big impact,” said Mike Millard, managing director of MassChallenge Texas. “We look forward to further strengthening the Texas innovation ecosystem with our next cohort in 2019.”
Participants took part in a program that included access to mentors, investors, training and networking, as well as free co-working space at WeWork offices across Austin. The program also focuses on connecting startups and large corporations for partnerships that benefit both sides.
“Corporations want to innovate and that’s what these startups are doing,” Millard said in an earlier interview. “Startups need expertise, they need customers and they need mentorship, which is what corporate partners can provide.”
Farhaj Mayan, founder of Arlington-based Fade, said the program led to big changes for his startup, which lets men book, schedule and pay for barber appointments using an app.
“We leveraged MassChallenge’s network and resources to build on areas that were really lacking in our company,” Mayan said. “From redesigning our (user interface), fine-tuning our sales and go-to market strategy to optimizing our product, the Fade team has really benefited from the last four months.”
MassChallenge is a nonprofit organization and unlike many for-profit accelerators, it does not take equity in its portfolio companies. The organization, which based in Boston, announced Austin as its second U.S. site last year.
Participants in MassChallenge Texas gathered at the Hyatt Regency Austin on Wednesday night to demonstrate their products and services, and to hear the cash prize winners announced.
Austin startups had a strong showing, walking away with five of the eight prizes. (The other winners are based in Greece, San Antonio and Washington, D.C.)
The Austin winners were:
- EQO, which uses molecular solutions for environmental problems, received $100,000.
- Sempulse, which develops sensors that can be applied to the ear and monitor vital signs within two seconds, received $100,000.
- Cloud 9, which provides mental healthcare to at risk patients, received $75,000.
- GrubTubs, which turns food waste from restaurants into animal feed, received $50,000.
- Popspots, grocery retail technology, $25,000.
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