Startups make their pitch at showcase

“Running is not a solo sport. Neither is starting a business.”

Owlspark logoSo says Julian Se, co-founder of Müvve, a mobile platform for connecting runners with like-minded partners. “Our app offers 16 dimensions of compatibility. After three weeks we already have more than 3,000 followers,” Se said during his pitch at the third annual Bayou Startup Showcase.

Fifteen companies from Rice University’s startup accelerator, OwlSpark, and the University of Houston’s RED Labs accelerator pitched their wares to friends, families and potential investors and partners Aug. 10 at the Texas Medical Center Accelerator.

“The summer has been intense, and now you’ll see how it all pays off,” said Kerri Smith, managing director of OwlSpark and associate managing director for the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. “The founders of these startup companies are about to impress you.”

OwlSpark is the startup accelerator founded in 2013 by two Rice engineering undergraduates, a humanities undergraduate and an MBA candidate. For 12 weeks it provides a class of teams with co-working space, mentorship and networking opportunities required to launch their companies.

The OwlSpark startups for 2016 that were presented during the Bayou Startup Showcase and the students involved were:

Atmo, an app that enables users to find the perfect bar. Sebastian Pilarski from McGill University and Jeff Wang, a Rice sophomore studying engineering.

BlueCura, a secure cloud-based research management platform. Beko Jang ’16, Colton Smith ’16 and Jonathan Jao, a Rice junior in computer science.

Compa, tools for university researchers to perform web-based recruiting of study participants. Keito Kawabata, former Rice staff member, and Brian Turner, a freelance designer in San Francisco.

Induo, a service that devises brief online, job-specific courses for career and professional development. Shriya Bhatnagar, University of Houston; Will Koh, a Rice sophomore in computer science; and Ned Lash, Jen Sun and Jeff Ye, all second-year graduate students at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

LeaseALLY, a service that provides market information and advice to landowners offered oil and gas leases. Bijan Breland, University of Texas at Austin, Lisa Huang ’16 and Camille Nichols ’16.

Müvve, a platform that enables runners to find partners based on ability and personality criteria. Avinash Ravishankar ’12 and Julian Se, University of Houston.

Topl, a mobile payment platform that offers loyalty rewards for shoppers and charges merchants half the price of credit-card companies. Chris Georgen ’16, Zihe Huang ’15 and Matthew Kindy ’16.

WAVIoT, a tool that connects sensor devices using a low-power, wide-area network and ensures broader data collection. Artem Nadikta, Fluid Systems Inc.; Anastasia Novinskaya, a Rice senior in computer science; and Marat Zaripov ’16.

Of the 33 Rice startups that took part in the first three classes of OwlSpark, 14 remain active and 12 are funded or are generating revenue, as in the case of CheckedTwice, an online gift registry for family holidays and birthdays that launched in 2013.

–Patrick Kurp is a science writer in the George R. Brown School of Engineering.



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