Biotechnology Company Visolis Wins Global Venture Labs Investment Competition

AUSTIN, Texas - Visolis from the Indian School of Business beat out 39 teams from top graduate programs around the world to claim the grand prize at the 30th annual Global Venture Labs Investment Competition held at The University of Texas at Austin on Saturday, May 4. Visolis is developing the next generation of biocatalysts that can convert renewable feedstocks into chemicals and fuels at a price point competitive with petroleum based processes

The Visolis team, Akshat Pipersenia, Amrita Dutta, Aditya Jain, Ashish Kohli and Deepak Dugar, won a $75,000 package including office space at the Austin Technology Incubator, mentoring and consulting services; consulting with the McCombs entrepreneurship faculty worth $25,000; and cash. The winning team will also ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ OMX Stock Exchange on June 11, 2013.

Seismos, who won the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition in February, won the $20,000 Wells Fargo Clean Energy prize, part of the competition for a second year. Seismos, founded by graduate students from the Master’s of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) program at The McCombs School of Business, provides real-time measurements of oil and gas flows for enhanced oil recovery.  Judges for the Wells Fargo Clean Energy Track at the competition included Chad CochranRomie Basra and Puon Penn from Wells Fargo; Spencer Swayze from Ceres, Inc.; Dan Sharplin from Fat Tire Partners; and Alan Bickerstaff from Andrews Kurth LLP. 

The first runners-up of this year’s competition were Dan Kleinbaum and Luke Kyohere of Beyonic Technologies.  Beyonic, from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, has developed a mobile payment platform for use in the developing world.

Rounding out the finals were AGcerez, from the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration in Thailand and BriteSeed, from Northwestern University in Chicago.  AGcerez produces L’amai®, the world’s first longan-extracted probiotic sweetener.  Team members are Peera Sopitpongstorn, Waannasiri Aramwattananont, Danusorn Sitdhirasdr, Suchai Buranavalahok and Surasit Sachdev.  BriteSeed offers SafeSnips, a patent-pending technology that integrates with minimally invasive surgical tools to prevent accidental cuts into blood vessels. Team members are Paul Fehrenbacher and Jonathan Gunn.

Visolis was awarded the top prize after the three-day competition that featured 14 international teams and teams from 26 leading graduate programs around the U.S. Finals-round judges were Sabrina Parsons, Palo Alto Software, William Glasgow, Prime IX Investments; Stu Clark, investor and entrepreneur; and Phil Speros, Halsa Pharmaceuticals.

The Global Venture Labs Investment Competition simulates the real-world process of raising venture capital. It is a unique partnership that brings together graduate students and business leaders. The judges function as an investment group seeking to reach consensus on the business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the strength of the management team and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation all influence the judges’ decisions. 

Below is a complete list of all award winners for the 2013 Global VLIC:

Global Venture Labs Investment Competition Champion
Visolis, Indian School of Business (India)

Global VLIC Finalists
First Runner-up, Beyonic Technologies, The University of Texas at Austin
Second Runner-up, AGcerez, Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration (Thailand)
Second Runner-up, Briteseed, Northwestern University

Wells Fargo Clean Energy Award 
Seismos, The University of Texas at Austin

Global VLIC Semifinalists
American Water Recycling, The University of Texas at El Paso
Bearing Analytics, Purdue University
Cryoocyte, Harvard Business School
LeLux,  Sasin Graduate Institute of Administration (Thailand)
Nutri Food, Thammasat University (Thailand)
Seismos, The University of Texas at Austin

Wild Card Challenge Awards First Runner-up
VOC Diagnosis, University of Louisville 
Ori, Brigham Young University

Wild Card Challenge Awards Honorable Mention
Ecosurface, Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil)
WISEMAT, Thammasat University (Thailand)
Campus Tax and Financial Aid Services, Kennesaw State University
Medical Informatics, Rice University

E. Craig Nemec Achievement Challenge Awards
EEme, Carnegie Mellon University
CommSense, Purdue University
OmniSom Solutions, Johns Hopkins University
Neural Analytics, UCLA
Solaris, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong)
Red Duck Ketchup, University of Oregon

Venture Fellows Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
Beyonic Technologies, The University of Texas of Texas at Austin

Mystery Judge Competition
Medical Informatics, Rice University

About the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition

The Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, held at The University of Texas at Austin, is an annual, graduate student-centric event designed for new ventures from around the world, to obtain funding and feedback from investors and successful entrepreneurs. 

About the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs

The Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (TVL) is an entrepreneurship initiative that serves The University of Texas at Austin as well as the local entrepreneur and investor communities. TVL is home to the Texas Venture Labs Accelerator, a startup accelerator pairing graduate students pursuing degrees in business, law, engineering and the natural sciences with startup companies; the Venture Labs Investment Competition, composed of the annual Texas and Global competitions; and New Venture Creation, a hands-on course in which students develop and refine their business ideas.

For more information, contact:  Ramiro Palma, Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, Accenture Venture Partner


Student Alumni of the TVL Accelerator Found Bevy of New Startups

AUSTIN, Texas - A recent survey of student alumni of the TVL Accelerator revealed that as many as 60% of former students go on to either start their own company or work at an early-stage company. Below we highlight seven of the most recent companies to be founded by student alumni of the TVL Accelerator:

Michael Pierce, a current Accenture Venture Partner, is the co-founder of Equipboard, a social commerce site that allows consumers to research and buy the same equipment as their favorite professional musicians, athletes and more.  The site also allows users to comparison shop from different merchants and to save and share their favorite items.

Adrienne Lowenstein recently launched Haymakers, an online resource for other food entrepreneurs, with Elizabeth Winslow, founder of Farmhouse Delivery, a TVL company during the Fall of 2011.

Sid Allen, a former student and current Accenture Venture Partner at TVL, is the CEO and founder of Escapaide, a mobile concierge service for hotels.  Escapaide is now in beta and is currently in negotiations with several large customers.

Aaron Lyons, a former Accenture Venture Partner has just closed his first round of funding for Urban Dish, a fast-casual restaurant concept. He is preparing to open his first restaurant in Houston.

Dan Appel is the co-founder of AdBm Technologies, a company that has developed underwater silencing technology with applications in marine drilling.

Aimy Steadman, a current TVL student, is co-founder of BeatBox Beverages, an alcoholic beverages company, which placed second in the recent Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition.

Jaime Sutton, also a current TVL student, is the founder of G-Free in the City, a combined online menu-discovery application­ and restaurant consulting service for the gluten-free industry.

About the Texas Venture Labs Accelerator

The TVL accelerator is a practicum pairing graduate students pursuing degrees in business, law, engineering, and the natural sciences with startup companies.  Students help companies solve fundamental business challenges and develop winning strategies in areas such as business model assessment, market validation, competitive analysis, go-to-market strategy, and financial analysis.  Partner companies benefit from free, highly-skilled labor, in exchange for providing our students with a unique experiential learning opportunity.  TVL selects partner companies in July and December of each year.  In addition to working directly with our students, partner companies benefit from close ties to faculty, industry experts, as well as the Austin Technology Incubator and Office of Technology Commercialization.

For more information, contact:  Ramiro Palma, Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, Accenture Venture Partner


Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs Hires Rob Warren as Assistant Director

AUSTIN, Texas — The Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (TVL) is pleased to announce that Rob Warren has been appointed Assistant Director of the Program.  In addition to supporting Rob Adams in the operation of TVL, Rob Warren will assume responsibility for both the Texas and Global Venture Labs Investment Competition.  

As part of this mission, Rob will work to grow the Texas competition by opening the competition to other universities in Texas.  By contrast, his work on the Global competition will focus on attracting more international competitors and restructuring the qualification process for the competition.

Rob Warren will also teach several entrepreneurship courses to both graduate and undergraduate students at the McCombs School of Business.

About Rob Warren

Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Robert was a long-time resident of the province of Manitoba. He received his undergraduate education at the University of Manitoba where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree in 1985 and attended Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York earning his MBA in 1989.  Robert also holds a honourary CMA for his service to the Society of Management Accountants.

Since 1997, Robert served as the I.H. Asper Executive Director for Entrepreneurship at the University of Manitoba’s Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship.   During this time Robert was responsible for the creation of the Curry Bizcamp in Entrepreneurship, the Arni C Thorsetinson Canada-Israel Exchange Program, but is best known for the development and growth of the Asper School.  

As Executive Director, Robert developed the Asper School into one of the premier entrepreneurship programs in North America through his work in commercializing new ventures.  Since 1997, over 30 businesses have been launched by students participating in this program.  These businesses have a net worth in excess of $300,000,000 and one of these firms, NovaDAQ Technologies, trades on the TSX Venture Exchange. Academically, the record compiled by the participating students is equally impressive.  Including a world record 50 first place finishes at major business plan competitions, first place finishes on four continents and winnings in excess of $1,200,000. 

While at Manitoba, Robert also played a leading role in the formation of the Winnipeg Angel Organization and the development of the Manitoba Venture Challenge.  He consulted with the provincial government on the formation of a tax credit for angel investors and other programs to improve innovation and business development in Manitoba.  This work resulted in his appointment as a Council Member of the National Research Council of Canada.   Robert was also a sought after media commentator in Canada on business issues and has been a featured presenter on entrepreneurship around the world. 

About the Texas Venture Labs Accelerator

The TVL accelerator is a practicum pairing graduate students pursuing degrees in business, law, engineering, and the natural sciences with startup companies.  Students help companies solve fundamental business challenges and develop winning strategies in areas such as business model assessment, market validation, competitive analysis, go-to-market strategy, and financial analysis.  Partner companies benefit from free, highly-skilled labor, in exchange for providing our students with a unique experiential learning opportunity.  TVL selects partner companies in May and December of each year.  In addition to working directly with our students, partner companies benefit from close ties to faculty, industry experts, as well as the Austin Technology Incubator and Office of Technology Commercialization.

For more information, contact:  Ramiro Palma, Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, Accenture Venture Partner


Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs Announces Spring 2013 Accelerator Companies

AUSTIN, Texas — The Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (TVL) has announced that 11 companies will take part in the Spring 2013 Accelerator Program.  Of the companies that have been accepted into the program, nearly half are software companies, with the remaining companies being divided among hardware, biotechnology, consumer goods, and healthcare.  In addition, TVL will be working with the Office of Technology Commercialization on a special project for the second semester in a row.

“I am excited to see what the students and entrepreneurs in the program can produce this semester,” said Sid Allen, CEO of Escapaide and Accenture Venture Partner for TVL. “I have high expectations as, across-the-board, this is the best group of companies TVL has ever worked with.”

Below is a list of the Spring 2013 Accelerator Companies 

Cellular Machines designs and manufactures a $399 monitoring device that uses the cell phone network  to send text message alarms and continuously send reports to a Cloud Server.  Installation takes five minutes and no IT skills are needed.  While still a start-up company, Cellular Machines has installed over 170 products as part of a test marketing program through the www.refrigerationmonitor.com website.  Twenty percent of the customers have reordered.  All of the software and circuit designs were done in-house. The success of the test marketing effort prompted the company to redesign the product to achieve 35% less cost and add a line of wireless temperature sensors.  The TVL analysis will include recommendations of what markets to concentrate on and possible funding or merger opportunities.

Admittance Technologies is committed to improving the quality of life of patients with heart disease through innovative electrical engineering solutions. We provide a platform technology compatible with all existing pacemakers to determine heart volume in real time. CardioVol™, our flagship product, is ahead of the curve in three areas by providing: 1) the only device which can determine the hemodynamic stability of ventricular tachycardia, 2) an automatic therapy to tune the timing of pacemakers previously implanted in these patients, 3) the earliest detection of impending heart failure, and 4) technology that requires no additional surgery because we are piggybacking into devices already indicated in all patients with weakened hearts. We are currently working on a completely new platform with Texas Venture Labs involving tissue viability that will be valuable in markets such as kidney tumor surgery, organ transplant, and ablation surgery for arrhythmias.

Altogen Labs is a Good Laboratory Practice (GLP)-compliant laboratory that provides innovative biotechnology research services for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and academic institutions worldwide. Our scientists have years of experience and expertise that includes all types of pre-clinical CRO studies, cell and molecular biology research and development. Altogen Labs recently developed a bioremediation technology based on an approach using the most potent oil-degrading bacteria found at multiple oil spill sites in Texas. This technology allows remediation of large amounts of hydrocarbon-contaminated liquids or soil. We have completed laboratory and field tests, performed genome characterization, secured IP, and are focused on commercialization of this technology.

StatusPath is an online platform for recurring employee status reports. Our customized status report templates and status report samples, intuitive user interfaces, and built-in collaborative tools enable our customers to write and read better status reports more quickly. We love status reports, so you can too.

Moniker Guitars gives you the ability to design and purchase custom electric guitars online. Choose colors, shapes, and parts and even add text and graphics to make your new guitar truly unique. All our guitars are built in Austin, TX and shipped to your door. Design yours at MonikerGuitars.com

Inifinite io is a stealth-mode IT systems company developing disruptive technology for the data storage market.  Our game changing new technology combines Flash memory with Cloud storage to help data center managers gain control of exploding data storage costs.  It’s an accepted fact that eighty percent or more of all data is written once and never accessed again and that inactive data in the typical data center doubles every twenty four months or less.  Infinite io is developing technology to automatically control and manage the massive growth of inactive data that assumes the majority of most IT storage budgets while dramatically increasing the access performance of data that is actively used.

Vampire Labs was founded in Austin, TX, by a handful of eclectic, pioneering talents focused on ending vampire energy loss with innovations designed to save energy on a massive scale at minimal cost. To date, Vampire Labs has a dozen issued or pending patents for technology that eliminates vampire energy loss in mobile device battery chargers, external power supplies, and microprocessor cores.

AuManil assists the $40B (2015) online games market to reduce whale churn, increase whale conversion, improve whale acquisition and manage whales across a portfolio of games.  Our team of data scientists analyze an individual player’s financial and game play behavior to profile each player in order to predict lifetime value, churn risk and life-cycle patterns.  The patterns let our customers engage their players with personal messaging or offers to support that player’s competitive or bulk purchasing or Sunday-church-avoiding nature.

Carnegie Design Systems provides chip design services to the semiconductor industry in the processor, audio, communication, power and consumer electronic space.  Carnegie Design System has developed a class of encryption algorithms based on correction codes for the data security space.

IncentTo is a SaaS Sales Incentive Management and Marketing Program Management company designed to simplify and automate sales incentives and marketing campaigns.  It is specially  designed to improve the  performance of sales and marketing organizations through a web based system that quickly, efficiently, and consistently designs, deploys, procures, distributes and reports on sales incentive programs.

Kin Valley is the social network that provides the best way to Connect with KinKin are the people who are most important to you…your family, your best friends, and your family support system — teachers, coaches, teammates, troop leaders, etc.  Kin Valley also happens to be the only multi-generational social network where kids (including children under 13) and adults can interact freely.  Only Kin Valley is “Safe for adults” and “Super-Safe for kids.”  This makes Kin Valley the social network of choice for parents as well as many organizations including schools, sports leagues, and the Girl Scouts.

About the Texas Venture Labs Accelerator

The TVL accelerator is a practicum pairing graduate students pursuing degrees in business, law, engineering, and the natural sciences with startup companies.  Students help companies solve fundamental business challenges and develop winning strategies in areas such as business model assessment, market validation, competitive analysis, go-to-market strategy, and financial analysis.  Partner companies benefit from free, highly-skilled labor, in exchange for providing our students with a unique experiential learning opportunity.  TVL selects partner companies in May and December of each year.  In addition to working directly with our students, partner companies benefit from close ties to faculty, industry experts, as well as the Austin Technology Incubator and Office of Technology Commercialization.

For more information, contact:  Ramiro Palma, Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs, Accenture Venture Partner


Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs Selects 12 Startups for the Fall Semester

AUSTIN, Texas — Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (TVL) has accepted 12 new partner companies into its Fall class. The accepted companies are equally divided into one of two stages — early stage companies, with a business plan, executive team and need for capital, and growth stage companies that have a product, have had an early round of funding and have revenue-generating customers.

“Consistent with national trends, a lot of mobile, life science, and green startups applied this summer,” said Rex Morrow, an Accenture Venture Partner for TVL. “The overall caliber of company applications continues to increase every semester, making our job of choosing the right partners much harder.”

TVL taps the academic resources of The University of Texas at Austin to help entrepreneurs progress through company formation, venture backing and successful acquisition. Portfolio companies are chosen through an application screening process, and are assisted through partnerships with Austin Technology Incubator, the Office of Technology Commercialization and the Central Texas Angel Network.

A group of TVL students from multiple graduate programs across the university works side-by-side with a startup’s founding executives to address various challenges and tasks common for startups. TVL students come from across campus, including the McCombs School of Business, the Cockrell School of Engineering, the School of Law and the College of Natural Sciences. Additionally, TVL is piloting a partnership with The College of Pharmacy to address the growing popularity of life science startups applying to TVL.

Early development-stage deals include:

Central Texas Angel Network: As part of its ongoing partnership, TVL will work with an existing CTAN funded company during the fall.

Escapaide:Escapaide is a mobile concierge, offering customized leisure, hotel and transportation recommendations in real time. Unlike standard concierges and traditional travel products, Escapaide uses advanced AI algorithms to truly understand the unique preferences of each user and never leaves the traveler’s side as s/he explores a new city.

eyeQ:eyeQ provides brick-and-mortar retailers the ability to monitor consumer purchasing behavior, generate business intelligence and influence consumer purchasing at the shelf which increases sales by utilizing patent-pending algorithms to create at-shelf behavior reports for the retailer and providing the customer with a content rich buying experience.

Health Information Associates: HIA provides predictive modeling and healthcare analytics that help predict risk of future medical complications and adverse clinical outcomes, leading to proactive medical interventions, facilitating healthcare quality improvement and overall cost reduction.

Office of Technology & Commercialization:TVL will work with a raw technology coming out of OTC to assist in commercialization efforts.

Paybook:  Paybook’s innovative technology boasts an impressive capacity to both visualize and manage finances through mobile and web-based means. The personal financial management solutions (PFM) reinforce the value of online and mobile banking by enabling collaboration and transaction sharing among subscribers thereby automating the process of recording expenses while remaining feature rich in its approach.

Growth stage deals include:

AdBm Technologies: AdBm’s technology significantly reduces underwater noise due to pile driving and industrial operations and is fully scalable, durable, time efficient, easy to deploy and has lower manufacturing and service costs than alternatives.

General Electric:This marks the second semester TVL will be partnering with GE to apply its process to a raw technology coming out of GE.

GoingMyWay: GoingMyWay’s mobile application provides riders with information on all ride options around them, essentially becoming the Kayak of ground transportation. The application provides a safe and secure solution that allows riders and drivers to connect in real-time to find a mutually beneficial transportation solution.

Skyonic Corporation: Skyonic has developed revolutionary technologies that selectively and profitably remove and mineralize carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as sulfur oxide and nitrogen dioxide (SOx, NO2) and heavy metals (such as mercury) from coal combustion and other flue gas streams, while producing solid carbonate and bicarbonate minerals and hydrogen/chlorine based by-products.

TeVido BioDevices: TeVido uses the innovative process of printing human-like skin tissue for the development of skin substitute products for chronic wound care, burn treatment and reconstructive surgery. The implications for people suffering from severe burns and chronic non-healing wounds range from pain, reduced quality of life, loss of productivity and unsightly scarring all the way to amputation of part or all of a limb.

Unique Influence, Inc.: Unique Influence is a digital media marketing company that specializes in providing customer acquisition services using lean-startup methodology across paid search, mobile marketing, affiliate marketing, web display advertising  and search engine optimization for early stage companies.


For more information, contact:  Ramiro Palma, Texas Venture Labs, Accenture Venture Partner


Now Accepting Applications for Fall Partner Companies - Office Hours - July 10

We are currently accepting applications for our fifth class of partner companies, which will kick off at the end of August. If you’re an entrepreneur interested in putting your startup through TVL, go to our website to apply.  

Additionally, we’ll be hosting office hours from 11am - 1pm at the ATT Conference Center Coffee Shop on Tuesday, July 10. Come talk to our Accenture Venture Partners about TVL and your startup.


The Smallest Entrepreneurial Powerhouse in the World

By: Mark MacLeod-Smith, ICEHOUSE Market Validation Executive and visiting Venture Partner at Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs

On the far side of the globe there is a small country that is an inconspicuous hive of activity. According to The Economist, it has emerged as an “entrepreneurial powerhouse” leading the world in the generation of small and medium sized enterprises.  At present, few people are aware of the movement that has been taking place in New Zealand (NZ). With the innovative culture that embodies the nation, the country’s future looks bright. Centred around the creation of companies that serve global markets, this developing ecosystem is starting to move the Kiwis, as they are affectionately known, toward the forefront of innovation and establish the country as a role-model for other small countries that seek to “punch above their weight”. Although small in size and remote in location, New Zealand is proving that in today’s connected global economy these barriers are no longer insurmountable. In fact they could even be seen as a key stimulus for innovation.  If New Zealand keeps tracking at the current rate, it will only be a matter of time before it attracts the world’s attention.

It appears a couple of select individuals have already become privy to the Kiwi opportunity and are taking steps to ensure they get in on the ground floor.  Lifetime early-adopters and world class investors, Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and Peter Thiel of Paypal and Facebook notoriety, are already active in the New Zealand market, making a handful of early stage investments. Thiel, renowned for being ahead of the wave, has an enviable track record of early stage tech investments. After founding and exiting PayPal he funded a series of wildly successful companies including Facebook, Linkedin and Zyenga. He clearly knows a thing or two about high growth companies. It’s important to emphasise that Thiel isn’t just writing a cheque for a company or two but rather taking a bet on a nation. Recently he partnered with the New Zealand government to launch a New Zealand based venture capital fund that will help fuel the emerging wave of NZ tech start-ups. The $40 million fund, of which $15 million has been committed by the US billionaire, will provide much more than just capital. Thiel and his investment group, Valar Ventures, bring a wealth of experience, expertise and connections that will be used to tackle one of the most fundamental challenges faced by New Zealand companies, entering offshore markets. Well established in Silicon Valley, the group will be able to make the necessary introductions to plug their NZ portfolio companies into the US, should it be the right market.

Thiel is widely recognised as a technology investment guru. One can only surmise his reasons for investing in NZ but starting at a macro level, there are several indicators that suggest New Zealand offers an attractive opportunity. The World Bank ranked New Zealand #1 for starting a business in 2012 and Forbes pegged New Zealand at #3 on its “Best Countries for Business” list in 2010. As a population, New Zealand has a very strong work ethic. This combined with execution intelligence allows the country’s entrepreneurs to exceed expectations. Generally reserved by nature, Kiwis tend to be “blue collar” in their approach, avoiding flashy, gregarious acts of self promotion, though this sometimes limits their ability to sell the fruits of their labour.

A resourceful and inventive bunch, they would tell you that innovation is in their DNA. They call it something different though. Down under it’s called the “No 8 wire mentality”, a throwback to earlier years when New Zealand farmers struggled to source suitable fencing wire on a timely basis, eventually taking matters into their own hands and manufacturing the wire themselves. During the subsequent years, Kiwis began to use the wire to develop solutions to almost any problem. It seemed there wasn’t any predicament that couldn’t be fixed with some Kiwi brainpower and a length of No. 8 wire.  Over the years the term gained momentum and became ingrained as part of the country’s culture. It is this “Do It Yourself” psyche that enables the population to thrive despite the challenges that accompany being a small, isolated nation.

With such a deep vein of entrepreneurial talent and spirit, the government is cleverly taking steps to encourage the creation of new ventures. Through vehicles such as the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF), the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MSI) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), there is strong government support for entrepreneurs, incubators and investors.  It is extremely positive to see the government taking such an active role in their support of innovation. Of particular note is the NZVIF Seed Co-Investment Fund which matches, dollar for dollar, funds raised through accredited investment partners assuming they meet the specified criteria. This enables entrepreneurs to top up their round with funds from a passive investor, better known as the taxpayer.

Founded in partnership with the University of Auckland to address the worrying economic performance of the country, a key player in New Zealand’s innovation community is a business growth centre called The ICEHOUSE. The organisation has been instrumental in supporting and stimulating the development of the NZ entrepreneurial ecosystem. Launched eleven years ago it aims to be the place for turning entrepreneurial companies into international successes. The organisation has two areas of focus. Huge importance is placed on supporting established small to medium sized businesses. For these companies, capability building programmes are the way forward, taking key personnel out of the business and allowing them to up-skill and build their leadership and management capability. The flagship offering is the Owner Manager Programme. On average, businesses that have been through this programme show earnings growth of over 38% per year.

The other core focus of the business is start-ups. This part of the organisation consists of an incubator and an angel investment group. The Incubator provides entrepreneurs with customized growth programmes, utilizing a pool of experienced mentors, proven development processes and access to a global network. It has enjoyed its fair share of success. Recently one of their portfolio companies, M-Com, which provides mobile banking, alerting and payment solutions, was acquired by Fiserv. There are a host of other promising businesses that have graduated and are now tracking well including PowerbyProxi, a wireless power solutions company or Enlight Photo which creates practical, inventive products for photographers. Other notable alumni include Biomatters, a provider of bioinformatics software, The Optima Corporation which develops optimisation and simulation software for the emergency services sector and pioneering medical devices company, Nexus6 which has significantly impacted the life of asthmatics with the smart inhaler. Several of these companies have raised funds through the ICE Angels, The ICEHOUSE’s angel investment operation. The angel operation helps facilitate the much needed injection of early stage capital, not only to incubator companies but to any New Zealand startup. With over 100 members the ICE Angels are the largest angel group in the country and since inception in 2003 the group has provided over $32 million to New Zealand entrepreneurs. A recent addition was a $4 million seed fund co-managed by the ICEHOUSE and Sparkbox, an Auckland based early stage venture capital firm.

Ultimately the mission is to get alongside people who want to transform and grow their companies, helping to develop both their talent and the country’s prosperity. As such, The ICEHOUSE is involved with a handful of initiatives that benefit the broader business community. They assist with several investment competitions including the SPARK, the University of Auckland’s business plan competition, the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge and more recently they joined forces with their financial partner the Bank of New Zealand to hold the BNZ Virgin Business Challenge. Another initiative that has widespread impact is the International Entrepreneur in Residence programme which brings world leading business experts to New Zealand to help educate members of the entrepreneurial ecosystem on best practices and relevant business topics. Recent visits include angel investment expert Bill Payne and Market Validation specialist Dr Rob Adams.  A particularly inspirational event was the ICE Ideas Conference. Held in 2011, it brought together an impressive set of speakers and made a bold call to action.  It challenged New Zealand as a whole to get behind entrepreneurs and help generate an additional 3000 internationally capable, competitive and successful firms by 2020. To help facilitate and co-ordinate progress, the ICEHOUSE launched a platform called 3000.org. The site houses a bunch of key projects identified as being crucial for New Zealand’s future success. The back story is that the ICEHOUSE is not satisfied with the status quo and is thinking big, wanting to ramp up their level of activity and is asking other key organisations to do the same. The site seeks to connect people with these key projects and garner not just interest, but action. Each project has been identified as being a key driver of economic development and will ultimately help New Zealand move “up and to the right”.

The name “Kiwi” comes from the native bird that bears the same name. The creature is small, shy and flightless. In the past the bird may well have been a plausible proxy for the country; it had a relatively small population, contained a plentiful supply of innovative but reserved individuals and was unable to compete on the global stage. Things have changed. It has developed a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem, generating its fair share of success stories and now attracting the attention of world class international investors. Though still understated and reserved, the small nation has stealthily moved itself into a strong position that has it well placed to emerge from the base of the Pacific as a producer of globally capable businesses. With initiatives like the International EiR programme, 3000.org and the work of enablers like The ICEHOUSE, the people of New Zealand are pulling together to drive the country forward and secure the future prosperity of their nation. If New Zealand remains on track, great things are within grasp and, who knows, perhaps we will need to stop calling them Kiwis…




Now Accepting Applications for Fall Partner Companies - Holding Office Hours

We are currently accepting applications for our fifth class of partner companies, which will kick off at the end of August. If you’re an entrepreneur interested in putting your startup through TVL, go to our website to apply.

Additionally, we’ll be hosting office hours from 11am - 1pm at the ATT Conference Center Coffee Shop on Wednesday, June 13. Come talk to our Accenture Venture Partners about TVL and your startup.


Take a Look at the Work TVL Associates Did for This Semester’s Partner Companies

This past May marked the graduation of Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs’ fourth class of partner companies. Market validation, competitive analysis, and financial analysis prevailed as the dominant needs that were addressed by this semester’s class. A few of these companies are in discussions with investors to close their current rounds of fundraising. A brief overview of what each company does, and the value TVL Associates were able to add is listed below.

We are currently accepting applications for our fifth class of partner companies, which will kick off at the end of August. If you’re an entrepreneur interested in putting your startup through TVL, go to our website to apply.  

Additionally, we’ll be hosting office hours from 11am - 1pm at the ATT Conference Center Coffee Shop on Wednesday, June 13. Come talk to our Accenture Venture Partners about TVL and your startup. 


AgileLaw develops mobile applications for lawyers, allowing them to focus on their cases without being encumbered by administrative tasks. AgileLaw’s flagship product removes the unnecessary step and hassle of printing deposition exhibits by replacing reams of paper with mobile tablet devices. AgileLaw is developing a tablet application that will allow every attendee in a deposition to view, search, and annotate their own copy of the documents, while still allowing the lead counsel to direct the witness to specific pages during their testimony.

This semester’s projects for AgileLaw included case law research, market validation and competitive analysis. Case law research involved searching for previous rulings, laws or statutes that would defend a lawyer’s use of AgileLaw’s product as well as mandate its use by all other deposition participants. Market validation was performed through the implementation of a phone survey of twenty practicing litigators and a web survey with over 180 respondents. These data were analyzed to help AgileLaw size the addressable market, identify the initial target customer and prioritize the best ways to reach the target customer. The competitive landscape for all legal software was sifted and categorized into four groups: close competitors, future competitors, non-competitors and potential acquirers. Detailed product descriptions, business models and pricing were found for each of the close competitors, while acquisition history and business model were found for the potential acquirers. 

For more information, visit their company website.


CLEAR Tech entered TVL trying to bring a new lead recycling process to market that had been developed by researchers in Mexico.  Their focus was on undeveloped and developing countries that had no formal lead recycling industry.

Texas Venture Labs’ primary focus for this Stage II deal was to validate the technology and business model.  On this front, the amount of lead produced in most developing countries was found to be too low to justify the large capital expense of building a recycling plant.  In addition, the technology was billed as being game-changing and green, but the original inventor was unable or unwilling to discuss questions regarding the accuracy of these presuppositions.

CLEAR Tech has now pivoted into Portico - a company focusing on infrastructure development projects in the developing world.  Their new focus is on road-building and waste management solutions.


Datical creates database schema automation software for the $22B IT Systems Management (ITSM) market. Datical customers will see fewer downtime incidents related to database updates, a quicker time to market for new and updated business services and savings on both headcount and missed revenue due to downtime. Texas Venture Labs assisted Datical by performing primary market validation. Specifically, the team surveyed database administrators, examined open source software arrangements, and explored the current competitive landscape. 

For more information, visit http://datical.com/


Enerlyte helps consumers and utilities decrease energy consumption using behavioral analytics and innovative reporting. Enerlyte was also brought to TVL via CTAN, so TVL conducted due diligence at their request.  Our main deliverable was a report confirming Enerlyte’s stated market size; TVL conducted in-depth market research to make sure the market was indeed as large as claimed.  In addition, we participated in product demonstrations to verify functionality of the technology. 

For more information, visit http://www.enerlyte.com/.

Physicians Angels

Physicians Angels, Inc. is a data management solutions company for doctors, which enables health care professionals to run more efficient and profitable practices. Physicians Angels helps doctors provide better quality patient care by handling their data care. Virtual medical scribes perform services that do not require more expensive, ‘hands-on’ staffing, like transcribing patient visits for doctors in real time using VoIP software, document clinical information and help with prescriptions by interfacing with a medical practice’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software in real time, and managing and archiving data using a practice’s existing IT systems.

The Texas Venture Labs team helped the firm by preparing detailed financial statements, exploring domestic and international growth strategies, and researched potential funding options.

For more information, visit http://www.physiciansangels.com/.


Game Time Arena (GTA) LLC provides gamers with the opportunity to compete in online virtual matches against other gamers from around the world. By utilizing this platform, online gamers will be able to interact, communicate, and meet up with other gamers to arrange and setup competitive matches for cash with friends or any other gamer within the community.

TVL performed an in-depth market validation for Game Time Arena to help the company identify which market segment they should target with their first offering, using a combination of primary and secondary research.  In addition to market validation, TVL also performed a competitive analysis to identify similar companies and the feature sets offered, with recommendations to the company on how to differentiate from the competition.  Lastly, TVL explored the legality of wagering on competitive gaming to provide recommendations on where the company can operate as well as best practices to avoid punitive legal action.

For more information, visit http://www.gametimearena.com/.


With the launch of the WattStation, GE continues a century of innovation in the design and manufacturing of electrical distribution systems. GE’s WattStation enables fast Level 2 charging at home and on the road.  The modular design by renowned industrial designer Yves Behar is upgradable as more communication options become available. This allows customers to stay current with the latest technology in a rapidly changing space, while providing the ability for commercial property owners to qualify for LEED points.   

TVL was asked to investigate alternative revenue streams for the WattStation, using the mobile application as a platform.  The team brainstormed many different ways for GE to use the Watt Station mobile app in engaging with electric vehicle users, and performed in-depth analyses on those ideas which seemed to have the most potential for producing incremental revenue.  The team analyzed revenue opportunities in mobile advertising, data analytics, location-based services, and integration into rewards programs, and provided GE with recommendations on how best to implement those solutions.

For more information, visit the WattStation website

Terra Pave

Terra Pave is a startup commercializing specialty chemicals developed at UT with applications in road construction. The founders have close ties to TxDoT and existing distributions agreements in South America.  Terra Pave primarily needed to raise money to fund operating expenses and satisfy existing demand.

TVL’s primary focus was on Terra Pave’s marketing strategy: identifying the total addressable market both domestically and internationally, conducting a thorough competitive analysis to include sales volume and utilization of competing products, and laying out a go-to-market strategy in the US.

Currently, Terra Pave is in discussions with several local investors as they look to close out its Series A. Its next move will be to ramp up production through its contract manufacturers, build out its own production capacity, and finish filing for international patent protection.

For more information, visit http://www.terrapaveinternational.com/.


Titralyte was brought to TVL via CTAN. The company has licensed technology from the University of Texas to create a simple and fast method for testing water from hydraulic fracturing operations.  The TVL team members with scientific backgrounds researched product viability and applications. TVL also conducted numerous interviews with industry experts and potential customers in order to validate the market and determine an approximate market size.  In addition, TVL analyzed the company’s financial model and business plan.  Our final deliverable was a detailed report summarizing all analysis, interviews, and findings. 

For more information, visit http://www.titralyte.com/.

VChain Solutions:

VChain Solutions is a value chain solutions provider that enables companies to create a seamless supply chain across multiple software applications. VChain creates solutions that bring value through mass information analysis and advanced data modeling techniques.

TVL focused on market validation, competitive analysis and financial benchmarking. Market validation was performed through the development of an online survey that focused on cataloging existing frustrations in supply chain management and then measuring the corresponding level of frustration. This survey was administered to supply chain managers in various industries and helped VChain redirect their marketing focus towards high pain areas. Analysis of the competitive landscape included more than 50 companies in supply chain management and supply chain analytics. Each competitor was graded on a range of criteria to determine both gaps in the market as well as opportunities for differentiation of VChain’s product offering. VChain’s financials were reviewed and compared with a number of industry metrics found in market reports or developed from competitor data. Based on these comparisons, a number of changes to VChain’s projected use-of-funds and projected growth were made.

For more information, visit http://www.vchainsolutions.com/.


VecturaLux is an Austin-based fabless semiconductor startup with technology allowing 10G communication up to 40km over multimode fiber. Through our proprietary technology and use of digital signal processing we will bring 10G and 100G products to the market that will dramatically improve performance and reduce power.

TVL conducted market validation through several different approaches; first, we worked with several college campus’ IT departments to generate a market sizing and adoption report. In addition, we contacted data centers to distribute a survey in order to gain a deeper understanding of network upgrades in data centers.  Results were aggregated in the form of a report.  We also produced a report outlining key products and buyout transactions in the VecturaLux competitive space.  Additionally, we analyzed and refined their financial model, and created separate pro forma financial statements. Finally, we analyzed and researched various key assumptions in the financial model (such as inventory levels and R&D expenses) to provide advice as to reasonable estimates.

For more information, visit http://www.vecturalux.com/.


Winners of the 2012 Global Venture Labs Investment Competition NuMat Technologies. Photo by Steve Moakley.

Winners of the 2012 Global Venture Labs Investment Competition NuMat Technologies. Photo by Steve Moakley.