The Future 5 of Austin Tech, Q4 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 eight 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. You can check out last quarter’s Austin round-up here.
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Over the last few years, Austin has become a national tech hub with large funding rounds. The city is also home to sprouting tech startups looking to shake up the industry. This quarter, Built In Austin spoke with five seed and pre-seed startups across many verticals and told their founding stories. Read on to learn about the innovative companies featured in the Future 5 series and what’s next for them.
Built In’s Future 5 Up-and-Coming Austin Startups, Q4 2022
- Hangtight (App)
- Outlier (Sports Betting)
- PetPair (Pet Tech)
- StellarFi (Fintech)
- Wedy (Wedding)
Meeting new people and working a full-time job is hard, but Hangtight wants to make it a whole lot easier. The app works by connecting users to their second and third-degree connections and encourages them to interact with each other in real life.
According to the company’s co-founders Armando Vera Carvajal and Kate Grehl, by connecting people to mutual connections, it is more likely that the two parties will hang out since they already have similar interests. The app also recommends activities or places to visit with new friends.
“[People are] using social media not as a social connectivity app. It’s really social media in a news functionality, but they’re hoping to get connectivity out. So what we’re trying to do is use this digital pipeline to get people the physical connection that will allow them to create what is uniquely human, which is the fabric of being together in real life, face-to-face,” Grehl told Built In.
The platform launched this year and is currently in beta. A public app will roll out soon. Hangtight initially plans to attract MBA students because that demographic already uses tech and is used to networking with new people, according to Vera Carvajal and Grehl.
Outlier CEO and founder Evan Kirkham has a theory that sports fans, no matter the sport, will become more involved with their teams and games if they put money on them through sports betting.
“If you put a $5 bet on a random game random like the Detroit Tigers MLB game, you’re going to be so engaged in that game,” Kirkham told Built In. “Having some skin in the game makes it that much more exciting.”
His platform Outlier makes it easier for everyday sports fans to make informed bets on everything from their team winning a game to a touchdown made by a specific player. The platform provides fans with data and stats that users can leverage to make bets on major sports betting books like FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook.
Before launching Outlier, Kirkham founded Colorcast, a sports platform that lets fans commentate on their team’s games and stream to other fans. Colorcast, which has raised $5 million in funding since launching, recently rebranded to use the name Outlier.
Adopting and fostering pets depends a lot on location. Some cities have too many pets in their shelters while other cities have waiting lists with people wanting to adopt but not enough animals. Austin-based PetPair is helping anyone who wants to adopt or foster a dog do so no matter where they live.
The company’s platform is a three-sided marketplace used by animal shelters, fosters and people looking to adopt. Through the platform, fosters will be connected to a dog and are then responsible for uploading photos of the pet and updating their profile. Once a dog is adopted, PetPair will transport the pet to its new home anywhere in the U.S.
“In a few years, we see PetPair maintaining a community of fosters — numbering in the tens and hundreds of thousands — providing homes for millions of pets each year. We’re growing our foster network in Texas and beyond,” Daniel Miyares, co-founder of PetPair said.
Since launching in 2021, co-founders Miyares and Aanandh Chandrasekar have raised $1.2 million for their startup across two pre-seed rounds.
StellarFi is a fintech platform that helps people improve their credit by reporting recurring monthly payments, like Netflix subscriptions or monthly gym memberships, to the credit bureaus. The company’s founder and CEO Lamine Zarrad hopes that his platform will help underserved communities like LGBTQ, BIPOC individuals and people with disabilities get a better hold of their financial situation.
“Interest rates and the cost of credit are top of mind as consumers are assessing their financial profiles after 15 years of [a] bull market. StellarFi is an ideal product to help members assess and improve their financial well-being by building their credit and consolidating all their bills in one place,” Zarrad told Built In.
Zarrad was inspired to launch a fintech company focused on serving marginalized communities due to his life experiences as a refugee and former U.S. Marine. Prior to founding StellarFi, he launched and later sold Joust, a banking platform for self-employed individuals.
Since launching, StellarFi has had a number of major successes including hitting $1 million in average annual revenue and raising a $7.2 million seed round.
Wedy founder Rumaiza Fathima used to plan multi-million dollar weddings for celebrities. Now with her tech platform, she is helping other people plan their dream weddings in a timely manner.
Wedy helps couples find and book wedding vendors. Through the platform, people can book venues, photographers, caterers and DJs and pay for their services directly on the app. Through the app, couples can also lump all their vendor payment into one and pay off their entire wedding in monthly installments.
“We’re in 2022. You can buy a $100,000 Tesla online today and you can go on Zillow and price a $2 million home, but I cannot book a wedding venue that’s down the street here in downtown Austin,” Fathima told Built In.
Since launching, Wedy has raised $285,000 from angel investors and is planning to launch in several new cities by Q1 2023.