10 Austin startups you should look out for in 2016


This week is SXSW, and alongside the inevitable web storm over GamerGate controversies that will ensue, Austin’s startups are hoping to show off and connect. It is one of the United States’ up-and-coming technology hubs.

In the last few months, several companies have shown great promise to foster the city’s growth with potential future exits and more local angel investors. Here are just 10 of the companies that are bound to make more headlines in the months ahead.

1. Silvercar

Combining luxury and practicality, Silvercar‘s app rents out Audi A4s in 12 markets across the U.S. including Austin and Dallas. They raised a whopping $28 million in a Series C round at the beginning of January. As you might expect, Audi is among its backers (their President Scott Keogh is on the Silvercar board). They’ve also grabbed investments from Velos Partners, Austin Ventures and Blair LaCorte, formerly of Texas Pacific Group.

Rentals can be booked by the Silvercar app and all cars come standard with WiFi hotspots and SiriusXM radio. The company was founded by CEO Luke Schneider in 2012, formerly of car share startup Zipcar.

2. Student Loan Genius

Student Loan Genius

The hype here is facilitating employers’ aid to their new hires to get out of student debt. The Student Loan Genius platform simplifies the matching process wherein employers help pay down student loans, matching their employees’ respective personal payments dollar for dollar (doubling the rate of payback). According to the startup, that saves users over $31,000 on average, as well as cuts the payment period by a staggering 12 years.

Why are they such a big deal? They presented to and met President Barack Obama at White House Demo Day in 2015, who went on to reference the company’s project in a speech. The company was founded by Tony Aguilar and last raised $3 million from Gibraltar Ventures, Kapor Capital, Village Capital, Capital Factory and an affiliate of John Hancock/Manulife.

3. HeatGenie, Inc.

These guys deserve attention merely because the idea has crossed my mind a few times to carry coffee with me and let it heat up on its own without a dangerous electrical contraption attached to it. HeatGenie does just that, packaging solid fuel alongside soup or coffee so it can automatically heat when opened and be served at a toasty temperature. The cans are supposed to heat within two minutes at the push of a button.

They scored $2.3 million in February from 31 unnamed investors according to AustinInno. They are run by CEO/CTO Brendan Coffey (yes, Coffey) and President Mark Turner.

4. Vyopta, Inc.


Vyopta boasts it can become the go-to analytics hub for video conferencing, and a $5 million round in February from former Austin Ventures partner Chris Pacitti and his new AVX Partners firm is betting they’re right. That money is fueling a major hiring storm, more than doubling the team from 25 to 60 by the end of 2016.

“And the adoption of video is growing much more quickly over time, and we’re seeing that with Google Hangouts,” Co-Founder and CEO Alfredo Ramirez told AustinInno last month. “We get a lot of calls to expand coverage into that area.”

5. Datical

Photo credit: Datical
Photo credit: Datical

Datical is a big data integration company for mobile apps which has Deloitte, eBay and Fidelity Investments on its client list. Specifically, they help companies bring mobile apps to market faster by automating database capabilities. Their solution also helps companies make apps more secure, have less downtime and data loss, and mitigate costly errors typically associated with other database deployments. They grabbed $8 million in February from S3 Ventures, Austin Ventures and the Mercury Fund.

6. Xeris Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Photo credit: Xeris
Photo credit: Xeris

Xeris is one of the heavy hitters on the list, scoring $41 million in February in a round led by Redmile Group out of San Francisco. It’s a remarkable round considering their unassuming medical device business: they make injections for diabetics. They are in clinicial trials for a patented, non-refridgerated hypoglycemia solution. It’s the second major round in a year after a $17.9 million one in 2015.

7. Unwired Nation, Inc.

Photo credit: Unwired
Photo credit: Unwired

One of the fintech companies emerging out of the Austin startup ecosystem, Unwired Nation grabbed $4.8 million in January to promote its mobile banking platform for credit unions and community banks, such as Patriots Bank in Kansas. They also just added biometric security to their platform, which stores all sensitive financial information in the cloud instead of on your phone. According to Crunchbase, they last scored $4.6 million in 2012 and according to AustinInno, $1 million back in 2011.

8. Phunware

Photo credit: Phunware
Photo credit: Phunware

An e-commerce startup that helps brands engage with customers, Phunware raised $19.3 million late last year as part of a planned $50 million round from several dozen unnamed investors. Founded in 2009, AustinInno calls it one of the city’s fastest growing tech startups. But like some of the larger rounds on this list, Phunware has also raised a sizable portion from outside the Texan capital.

9. Savara Pharmaceuticals

Photo credit: Savara
Photo credit: Savara

With a gross of unnamed investors, the company raised $18.5 million late in 2015 for their AeroVanc inhalable antibiotic. Savara‘s product is specifically designed for cystic fibrosis patients. They have a number of big name grants from the the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Texas Emerging Technology Fund, Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Program, and National Institute of Health.

10. XOR Data Exchange

Photo credit: XOR
Photo credit: XOR

XOR offers data monetization advising and services and vets SME borrowers’ data to gauge their credit worthiness and prevent fraud. They call themselves the “nation’s first multi-industry, permission-based data exchange” that give companies access to “value from these previously under-optimized data assets.” They have raised $6 million so far thanks to non-Austin funders like Lakewest Venture Partners in Chicago, Fenway Summer in Washington D.C. and American Family Ventures in Madison, WI.

The company was co-founded in 2014 by CEO Mike Cook, CIO Brian Ketelsen and Business Leader Michelle Wheeler.

Featured image credit: Anya / Wikimedia Commons


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