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Austin Techstars Demos 2014 Cohorts

At the back of Austin Music Hall, hundreds of cups of Demo Day IPA lined the bar, courtesy of the beer brewing robot company BrewBot, waiting to be gulped down by Techstars’ company founders, investors, mentors and other Austin tech watchers. “Who else would build a robot that brews beer other than a bunch of Irishmen?” said its charming founder on stage. I think Austin is just as likely a source – and our hometown tech community certainly loved the idea, execution and spoils of this start-up endeavor.

Yesterday was Demo Day for the latest Techstars Austin class and they did not disappoint. Most of the companies already have customers and revenue – all of them have rock-solid presentations and stories. I’ve seen a lot of nervous entrepreneurs on the stages of DEMO and Disrupt – these guys were a different breed. Confident, entertaining, visual, memorable. Every company I saw (I was a little late 😉 commanded the stage, showed their personality and thoroughly demonstrated why their business will thrive (and already is).

Here are three of my favorites. Lora Lorek of Silicon Hills did a great recap and included a funny story from Bob Metcalfe on his first impressions of Burpy, local grocery delivery service and potentially my new best friend.

  • Common Form –  The message is as simple as the service: do your taxes in five minutes from your phone. Sound good? For people with simple finances who qualify for a 1040EZ filing, Common Form is the easiest and most trusted way to file your taxes. If you get a refund, the service will cost you $20. If you owe, it’s free. This strong team of co-founders comes from Intuit, makers of Turbo Tax, and CEO Bill Hendricks is a UT grad from my days there.
  • Burpy – Developed while its founders were students at UT, Burpy is a grocery delivery service that promises to have your groceries from the store to your door, same day. They’ve grown the business from their UT dorm room to $75K in gross monthly REOCCURRING revenue and are now in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. This could change my life.
  • FashionMetric – This is one I really want to learn more about. I love shopping online and I hate the inconvenience of returning items through the mail. For years, I’ve wanted some sort of online dressing room or universal system for sizing, vs. reading strangers comments on how something fit them and guessing at their proportions. Introduced by the company’s mentor Brett Hurt, Fashion Metric has developed an algorithm and a network of retail customers and partners who are going to revolutionize the apparel sizing system, greatly reducing online returns and giving consumers more confidence about buying clothes online. They call it body measurement predictive analysis for online retailers. Cool stuff and fantastic presentation.
Kari Hernandez
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