BuiltIn Austin - The Future 5 of Austin Tech, Q1 2023
Written by Abel Rodriguez
These tech companies are making serious innovations in their industry and might be working on the next big thing in tech.
Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming tech companies, Built In launched The Future 5 across seven major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five early-stage tech companies, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Austin’s rising companies from last quarter here.
* * *
Austin has proved to be a major destination for top tech companies like Tesla and Meta. The city also has an abundance of resources for emerging tech businesses looking to shake up their industries. Built In Austin spoke with five early-stage tech companies across many verticals this quarter to learn about their founding stories and future plans. Read on to learn about the innovative companies featured in the Future 5 series.
Founded in 2018, Aquifer is a video animation platform that uses automation to create and animate an entire scene using text or speech prompts. Chen Zhang and Matt Udvari co-founded the company after working together at an animation studio. Now they help brands with intellectual property create original content with low turnaround times.
“The one thing we’re focused on is extreme simplicity on the creation side and as much automation as possible while maintaining a cinematic level of quality,” Zhang told Built In. “We work with top brands and we know that fans of top brands expect those characters to look a certain way and to maintain that brand fidelity that they know and love.”
Since launching, Aquifer has raised $3.3 million in funding and has partnered with large brands, including national toy retailer L.O.L. Surprise!. Last year, Aquifer had a breakout year in which it made key improvements to its animation platform, launched new partnerships and released a new platform called Shoutouts that works similarly to Cameo.
READ MORE ABOUT AQUIFERAquifer Uses Automation to Help Brands Create Animated Videos
The live events industry is going through a reckoning as fans have become upset with ticket prices and the additional fees charged by some ticketing companies. Austin-based festivalPass wants to reinvent the industry with its platform that allows fans to purchase concert and event tickets through a monthly membership subscription. FestivalPass does not charge additional fees at checkout either.
“The live music industry is a $200 billion global industry that hasn’t been innovated in the last few decades,” Ed Vincent, founder and CEO of festivalPass, told Built In. “Ticketing experiences have been very transactional. What I felt was missing and needed was a membership community in the live event space that allows people to feel a part of the experience.”
Vincent and Stephan De Bernede launched festivalPass in 2021. Since launching, the company has posted more than 80,000 live events on its ticketing site and incorporated Web3 and NFT technologies. According to Vincent, developing new Web3 tech for the platform is crucial to scale festivalPass.
READ MORE ABOUT FESTIVALPASSThis Austin Tech Startup Is Changing the Way Fans Buy Concert Tickets
The service industry is having a hard time finding and keeping employees. Tipping platform Grazzy aims to help employers retain their staff by enabling workers to collect digital tips and receive those tips on the same day.
“Recruiting and retaining hourly employees is as hard as it’s ever been. It typically comes down to folks just wanting a little bit more money, better access to that money and better ways to save and spend,” said Russell Lemmer, CEO and founder of Grazzy. “If they worry less about their financial wellness in a job, they’re much more likely to stay where they are.”
Lemmer wants to continue the success he’s had by developing new fintech tools on the Grazzy platform aimed at service workers. To date, the company has raised $6.8 million in funding, which it will use to expand into more businesses nationwide.
READ MORE ABOUT GRAZZYGrazzy Helps Service Workers Earn More Tips and Access Their Money Faster
Logictry is an educational platform with a searchable database showcasing content on a wide range of subjects created by industry experts. The content is meant to help people make informed decisions, according to Logictry’s co-founders Chris Fronda and Chelsea Toler.
“We’re building a free, publicly available Wikipedia but of content that helps walk you through making decisions,” Fronda told Built In. “We’re working with experts or with the right people that really care about sharing valuable things that [others] can learn from. We’re really making sure that technology leads to the good impact that we want to see in education.”
The company has partnered with the United Nations to host a World Logic Day event and recently created content for South by Southwest. Going forward, Logictry will continue onboarding content creators to its platform and building out its knowledge platform.
READ MORE ABOUT LOGICTRYLogictry’s Knowledge Platform Aims to Enhance Online Learning
StudentVerse is developing an educational metaverse for students and school districts. The startup has been operating in semi-stealth mode since its founding last year, but recently began working with several school districts to continue developing the educational metaverse. According to StudentVerse co-founder Racheal Gallegos, the metaverse will be filled with gamified content where students can gain points to upgrade their avatars.
“I taught here in Austin and Las Vegas for 10 years and saw the huge potential that the platform had for engaging students in a whole new way,” Gallegos told Built In. “Students are obsessed with Meta and Quest and Oculus and all of these new technologies, so we really wanted to take students’ interest in those new technologies and make it educational.”
Gallegos said StudentVerse will continue to develop its metaverse platform. In doing so, it will partner with additional school districts to make the platform more relevant and educational for students.