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10 Austin Startups to Meet at SXSW 2011

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For those planning to hit South by Southwest this year, I figured I’d share a few local area startups you should make it a point to meet while you’re down in lovely Austin, Texas. I polled some locals, as well as consulted my notes about cool startups, to pull together this list. Feel free to debate the merits of it in the comments or add your own suggestions. For those who didn’t get a chance to meet last year’s recommended startups, check out the 2010 crop of SXSW Austin startups and say hello to them, too. Some of the companies on this year’s list as well as some from last year’s and many others can be visited on Thursday, March 11 during the Austin Startup Crawl. And welcome to Austin.

  1. Mutual Mobile. This firm builds apps — and lots of them. The firm built Google’s Boutiques app (s goog) as well as iOS (s aapl) apps for NASA, Dell (s dell) and StumbleUpon. It also worked with Gowalla to translate the location-based services’ app to BlackBerry (s rimm) devices and improve Gowalla’s Android app.
  2. Ravel. Big data nerds rejoice, because Zach Richardson, COO of Ravel wants to help you generate structured data from the web. It has also developed a version of Google’s Pregel built on the Hadoop stack called Golden Orb for large-scale graph processing tat it plans to open source at the end of March.
  3. FoodontheTable. This company offers a neat web-based service and a potentially lucrative niche in the ad market, by helping consumers plan meals then create shopping lists that correlate to deals in their local grocery stores. A basic version of the service is free, and one can upgrade for more complete meal planning and access to additional recipes and storage for $10 a month or $70 a year.
  4. WPEngine. Given that there are almost 18 million WordPress sites (see disclosure), and not all bloggers are thrilled to host those sites themselves, WPEngine, which is a host for WordPress blogs, is a pretty interesting play. The company launched last July, and says that because it only does WordPress hosting, it can allow site owners the ability to fully customize their configurations exactly as they would if they were hosting it themselves.
  5. HurricaneParty. This free iPhone app is one of those trying to combine your location, your friends and makes party recommendations based on who’s there and how close it is to your physical location. The software bears a resemblance to the GroupMe, Beluga, Yobongo phenomenon. The app launched last year.
  6. SharpSkirts. This startup aims to become a community for women entrepreneurs and provide classes, events and other resources to help women push other women to succeed at the startup game. Founder Carla Thompson was formerly at Guidewire Group, and many entrepreneurs may know her from her days helping organize the DEMO conference (disclosure, Thompson is a friend of mine).
  7. Macheen. There’s nothing social about this company, which means many in the dev-focused SXSW crowd may ignore it. But Macheen, which has created a sort of cloud-based mobile virtual network operator for retailers and device makers, has the potential to fill a very big need in the connected devices community. And the potential payoff there could be huge. I wrote about Macheen’s launch this week.
  8. MassRelevance. This startup offers Software-as-a-Service that helps big businesses manage and monitor their brand via social media, as well as engage with actual and potential customers in real-time. It launched in December with $2 million in funding from Austin Ventures and Mike Maples Jr.s’ Floodgate Capital.
  9. Socialware. Wondering if errant employee tweets may put your big business at risk? Socialware aims to help companies who have to worry about heavy compliance issues protect themselves while still enabling them to use social media. The company dubs itself “social middleware” and last month raised $3 million from Floodgate, G-51 Capital and Silverton Partners.
  10. Envaulted. Register a credit card with Envaulted and get 1 percent cash back on all the purchases you make. The company also tries to negotiate group discounts based on where its users are shopping, and may even have a plan for all the data its able to collect.

Disclosure: Automattic, maker of, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

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19 Responses to “10 Austin Startups to Meet at SXSW 2011”

  1. While self-promotion may be the lowest form of promotion, I’m okay with it.

    My company is BizGreet ( and we are the only video platform in the creative optimization space (like Tumri or Teracent, but for video ads). Our ads dynamically morph based upon viewer data, working especially well over Facebook.

    Check out our panel at SXSWi- “How to Personalize Without Being Creepy” –


  2. While self-promotion is the lowest possible form of promotion, I’m okay with it.

    My company is BizGreet – we are the only video platform in the advertising creative optimization space (with Tumri & Teracent). Our video ads dynamically morph using viewer data – making a big impact on Facebook right now. Here is a link to our panel: “How to Personalize Without Being Creepy”

  3. Great list!

    Amanda McGlothlin, Creative Director of Mutual Mobile will be speaking in SXSWi panel Future 15 on designing for Android, Monday March 14 @4:30PM:

    Mutual Mobile is also hosting an International Mobile Landscape Workshop, Wednesday March 16 11:00AM:
    Description: A panel of mobile industry leaders will deliver high-level tips and analysis to help entrepreneurs, startups, and large companies build an international mobile roadmap. Join us in discussing mobile user behavior in international markets, enterprise mobility solutions for international organizations, and mobile global success stories.

  4. It’s refreshing to see the startups spread across a myriad of industries. Last year was ALL about group check-ins and location based startups. It’s cool of course, but it’s not representative of the whole.

    Let’s add to the fray as well! is launching at SXSW. We’re building the world’s first mood-driven live entertainment guide. In other words… we help you answer the question “what are you in the mood to do?” by helping you find movies, live-music, dining, theatre and outdoors options based on how you’re feeling right now!

    Because their are already a ton of SXSW guides out there, we’re going to focus on regular fun Austin (non-SXSW specific) events for the next 2 1/2 weeks.

  5. nice list, thanks for that. Although I am not coming there I would like to mention also some interesting startups from Europe. One is which lets users to go into any store, take picture of the product and find out if there is cheaper one on the net, second is which enables user to transfer real time video. I don;t know if these guys are going to be in Austin but European startups are worth attention.

  6. I will throw our hat into the ring – moved here from NYC last summer – CloudContacts. This will be my 6th SXSW and my first as a local – both resident and startup.

  7. We’d also like to not-so-humbly add Rocksauce Studios to this list, especially since we’ll be having a coming out/informative speech on March 13th, specifically for SXSW.

    Rocksauce Studios is a Mobile Software Design Studio, comprised of veterans from several of the other Austin App Development companies who decided they wanted to do things a bit differently. Our focus is on being honest with the client about the viability of their idea in the marketplace, then working with them to make sure they have a chance to succeed.

    This means focusing on UX, Branding, Design and Marketing for apps. We’re not a development studio – we focus on the user experience and personality of apps and app businesses. We only work with clients who have a chance of success and who are willing to try and truly make something exciting in the mobile space.

    We have had great success in the few months we’ve been working together and we invite everyone to come out to head to our website and read-up about our SXSW Event – Rub Some Sauce On It: Why App Branding, Design & Marketing Matter.

    • Hey Q,

      I was browsing EventBrite’s SXSW channel and came across your event. There’s no admission to get in, is that right? I saw The Great Nostalgic is playing (kudos on getting them, btw) and y’all have an open tab, but I wanted to verify that there’s no entry fee since the event seems to be free on EventBrite.

      I’m an iPhone user, so I’m stoked to see what you guys bring to the mobile world.


  8. Stacey,

    Thanks for the mention of Food on the Table! We’re excited to be on the list and we’re loving what’s happening with Food on the Table.

    By the way, we are a dyed-in-the-wool lean startup & it’s driven *everything* we’ve done. Check out Manuel’s talk at SXSWi lean startup on Saturday and come by during the startup crawl, share some stories and meet our team!

    p.s. we’re hiring!

  9. Great list Stacey….but I am compelled to do a me too for TabbedOut (

    Who better to meet at SXSW than the company that will tote you around on a bus with cold beer making stops at Austin’s coolest bars? Bars that, by the way, also accept TabbedOut for opening, viewing and paying your bartab?! Oh, and TabbedOut will be free – just sayin.

    Hop aboard visitors to the home of keep’n it weird and to great entrepreneurs – sometimes one-in-the same :) !

    We are part of Startup Crawl and here’s a list of our current events:

      • Very true Stacey and much appreciated!

        Great list of startups this year indeed…love Hurricane Party guys as well as Mutual Mobile with whom we’ve worked with on a couple of stealthy projects – stellar shop and what amazing growth in just a year. Little known fact, both groups of founders incubated out of the same office (Trellis Partners) during the early days.

        Excited to have our city filled with tech savvy visitors. Sure, sxswi is getting big and some folks are complaining but for companies like those on this list, it’s great for recruiting, generating new ideas and, of course, finding partners to help you grow.

        Great article as always Stacey!

  10. Great list Stacey! Some of my favorite companies (I should disclose that I’m an investor in WPEngine, MassRelevance and Hurricane Party).

    Others Austin startups I’d recommend – Infochimps, Gowalla, Keepstream, RecycleMatch, Qrank the Game, VolunteerSpot, NaturallyCurly and of course my own OtherInbox.

    If you want to learn more about Food on the Table, Mutual Mobile, WPEngine and 15 other Austin startups don’t miss the ATX Startup Crawl on Thursday 4-8pm.

    For a curated list of entrepreneur events at SXSW, check out

  11. sguengerich

    #11 – Appconomy, hometown ATX and just launched at Launch.IS conf. You can put all of the cool people you just met from those other 10 companies into Appconomy’s new iPhone group app and talk with them across multiple channels (which no one else does) about everything from the future of mobile start-ups to your favorite bar-b-q at Southby. See y’all next week!