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Austin Startups Join the Techstars

By Tom Cheredar, March 10, 2020, 3:35pm, Picture in Picture

Aiming to provide products and services for everything from VR emergency response training to a “LinkedIn” for gig workers, a crop of startup founders gave presentations to a crowd of investors and entrepreneurs at the 10th Techstars Austin Demo Day last week.

Hosted by Denver-based international incubator Techstars, the event was the culmination of Techstars Austin program, a 15-week engagement in which startup founders participate in training and get mentorship from successful entrepreneurs. First run in Austin in 2013, this year’s program selected 10 total companies, hailing from New York, Florida, and Ohio – plus a big hometown presence from Austin firms.

The Demo Day event showcased plenty of companies that were either super useful or just downright cool – like the Austin-based music curation startup EarBuds. Founded by former NFL player Jason Fox, EarBuds allows people to listen concurrently with whatever is being played by a particular rockstar musician or pro athlete to get pumped up before a performance or game. “Imagine how many millions wants to know what the Rock is listening to when he’s up at 5am in the gym, or what Taylor Swift is listening to before she hits the stage,” Cox told the crowd.

Many of those startups are already seeing impressive success. For instance, Aquifer Motion, a company that combines augmented reality and machine learning to make professional 3D animation accessible for all creators, announced on stage that it’s now licensing its technology to Google. Also, Crave Retail, which builds internet-connected dressing rooms, announced that it’s placing its technology into 200 Under Armour brick-and-mortar locations, as well as stores for brands such as Perry Ellis and Victoria’s Secret. Another startup, SURVIVR, offers VR emergency response training to law enforcement professionals, and is anticipating a six-figure contract with the U.S. Air Force to use its services.

More relevant for everyday life is Austin-based Jolly, which offers a platform for services and gig workers to show off their experience via a profile and get in front of those looking to hire. Jolly essentially gives gig workers a way to document their reputation from job to job, rather than keeping it siloed in profiles from TaskRabbit, Lyft, Handy, etc. That’s something that should be even more useful as Austin’s working class grapples with the lack of opportunity left by the cancellation of SXSW due to coronavirus fears.

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