The Future 5 of Austin Tech, Q3 2022
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 startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, 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 startups from last quarter here.
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Built In Austin’s quarterly list of unique up-and-coming startups spans a wide range of industries, from edtech to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Keep reading for the unique founding stories about these early-stage Austin startups.
BUILT IN’S FUTURE 5 UP-AND-COMING AUSTIN STARTUPS, Q3 2022
- Ceresa (Edtech)
- Cottage (Edtech/Talent Agency)
- Project Venkman (NFT)
- Sigo Seguros (Insurtech)
- Zeno Technologies (Fintech/Energy)
Ceresa is an edtech platform that allows companies to facilitate the career development of early- and mid-career professionals as they advance into management positions. Ceresa co-founder and CEO Anna Robinson launched the company in 2018 with the goal of boosting the careers of women and people of color, whom she said are often lacking feedback and mentorship in their careers.
The company’s personalized career development journey incorporates training and mentorship around personal and professional skills, ranging from self-awareness and relationship-building to higher-level leadership skills.
Ceresa is currently generating more than $1 million in annual recurring revenue, with big-name clients like Nordstrom, Walmart and Blackstone.
Cottage co-founder and CEO Hunter Hodnett created a platform that allows junior software engineers to gain real-world experience by doing work for young startups on a budget.
The platform allows startups to use no-code tools to create a prototype of the work they want done. Components that can’t be developed with no-code tools are broken down into smaller jobs that are manageable for junior engineers. The first engineer to finish a project wins a cash prize, turning the work into a competition of sorts. The winning engineer’s code is then inserted into the no-code tool using Cottage’s proprietary technology.
Hodnett currently uploads the competitions by himself, which he said causes a bottleneck in the system. In December, he plans to create a platform that allows startups to upload their own prototypes to be turned into competitions for junior engineers.
Project Venkman helps brands bring their customer rewards programs into the NFT world. Companies can create digital assets that can be used by consumers to get discounts, gain access to special member events or get early access to exclusive products.
The NFT world rewards loyalty because the value of a digital asset rises or falls based on the promotional efforts of the community. Gavin Gillas, Project Venkman’s CEO, said he wants to offer that same sense of ownership and loyalty to his clients’ customers.
Gillas co-founded the company after Chive Media Group approached him to launch Bill Murray’s NFT project, the Bill Murray 1000 Collection, which pairs colorful portraits of the actor with stories and anecdotes from his life. The company has dropped 800 of the NFTs so far. Another 200 are being reserved for special offerings.
Sigo Seguros aims to eliminate bias and barriers for Hispanic drivers purchasing auto insurance.
The mobile-first insurtech platform is the first insurance company that can digitally onboard Spanish-speaking customers, according to Sigo Seguros co-founder and CEO Nestor Solari. Unlike other insurance companies, it does not require a driver’s license or consider credit score, education level and employment type — factors that Solari said adversely impact working-class immigrants.
Sigo Seguros launched last year in Texas, and it has already attracted thousands of customers and seven figures in premiums, Solari said. The company plans to expand to another market in the first half of next year.
Oil and gas companies are known to make speculative land purchases, which can get expensive if it doesn’t pay off.
Zeno Technologies has developed a data aggregation and analytics platform that allows these companies to make more evidence-based decisions so they can deliver consistent, positive returns to their investors.
Zeno’s technology helps oil and gas companies analyze multiple operational scenarios through financial modeling. The software makes data insights available to both reservoir engineers and finance executives alike, ensuring all parties are on the same page.