In Quest to Foster Homegrown Startups, Sputnik ATX Announces 2021 Cohort

Ellen Glover
February 5, 2021
Sputnik ATX announced the five companies selected to be in its  winter 2021 accelerator program
Photo: Shutterstock

Austin-based venture capital fund and accelerator Sputnik ATX has announced the five companies selected to join its winter 2021 cohort.

Sputnik ATX was named after the satellite that launched into Earth’s orbit in 1957 — the first thing humankind sent to space. The word “sputnik” also means “partner” in Russian, which Sputnik ATX says perfectly describes the core of its mission: “to partner with and mentor startups that will change the world.”

The accelerator program lasts three months, and is full of various training, networking and mentoring opportunities. At the outset, Sputnik ATX invests $100,000 in each company through its SAFE note to help each establish company valuations. Then, at the end, the founders pitch to a group of VCs to get more funding. While Sputnik ATX is typically the first firm to invest in these startups, the accelerator’s alumni have gone on to raise funding from global VC heavyweights like Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins.

Sputnik ATX's Winter 2021 Cohort

  1. CribMD
  2. DocSpace
  3. Rex Academy
  4. TIDY
  5. Woostudy's

A key element of Sputnik ATX’s accelerator is its commitment to creating Austin-grown unicorns, says CEO and co-founding general partner Oksana Malysheva. Founders can come from anywhere in the world, but they are expected to relocate to Austin (or another city in Texas, depending on what makes sense).

Malysheva also says Sputnik ATX tends to work with more “technical founders,” because, as she puts it, “it’s easier for us to teach nerds how to do business than to teach MBAs how to code.” The goal, says Malysheva, is to teach these founders “secret handshakes of the VC and startup world,” enabling them to build successful, profitable startups right here in Austin without having to vie for a seat at the table in Silicon Valley.

“We think there should be other hubs [besides Silicon Valley],” Malysheva told Built In. “[Traditionally in Austin], if you were the next Airbnb or the next Google, more likely than not you would be overlooked and you would have to move your headquarters to California. And we think that’s a waste — it’s a waste for taxpayers and it’s a waste for us as investors.”

Of course, in light of the pandemic, this latest cohort is not expected to relocate to Texas right away. The classes will be entirely remote, but Malysheva says the founders are expected to move “as soon as practically possible.”

This will be the company’s seventh cohort since its founding in 2017. The selected startups focus on a variety of areas, including education, healthcare and D2C services.

The winter 2021 cohort is listed below. Descriptions were provided by Sputnik ATX but have been edited for length and clarity:

  1. CribMD: A subscription-based service that provides affordable, on-demand telemedicine and doctor house calls to patients in Nigeria, a country where primary care is in “short supply,” according to the company.

  2. DocSpace: A digital commerce and operating platform that helps doctors start, manage, and grow their digital telehealth practice, expanding access to patients.

  3. Rex Academy: A platform that helps schools better teach computer science, IT and coding classes to K-12 students. The platform can be integrated with existing school systems to support teachers without an extensive training process.

  4. TIDY: An app that helps users quickly and easily book an insured and bonded professional cleaner for their home, Airbnb or office space.

  5. Woostudy’s: A global edtech marketplace that leverages school data and AI to answer prospective college students’ questions quickly, then match them with “the college of their dreams.”

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