25 startups set to graduate from Austin Technology Incubator

Jan 29, 2014
Austin American Statesman

Sara Rodell and Jeffrey Schwartz moved their company, Loop & Tie, to Austin two years ago to become part of the tech startup community. But when they arrived, they had few connections






Within eight weeks, they were accepted into the Austin Technology Incubator and began building a network of advisers and who helped them make changes to their business model






Since then, Loop & Tie has raised $625,000 from private investors and has launched its online service, which lets businesses give gifts of gourmet food and artisan housewares to employees or loyal clients






“ATI made introductions, provided feedback and connected us with UT students who helped us do market research,” said Rodell, who moved here from New York. “It made a huge difference in helping us get immersed in the tech scene and getting our business off the ground.”






Loop & Tie is one of 25 Austin companies that will graduate on Wednesday from ATI, which is affiliated with the University of Texas and the IC2 Institute think tank. The incubator is marking its 25th anniversary this year






Since its founding in 1989 by famed business leader George Kozmetsky, the incubator has graduated more than 150 companies, helping them raise more than $1 billion in investment capital. The current graduating class has raised more than $60 million






“The tagline for ATI is ‘We get you funded,’ ” executive director Isaac Barchas said. “We do that by surrounding these companies with talent they couldn’t otherwise afford to buy, including the professional staff at ATI; faculty and students at UT and a network of 350 mentors in the Austin business community.”






The incubator, which offers competitively priced space at its headquarters in the West Pickle Research building on North Braker Lane, focuses on four areas – information technology, wireless, clean energy and bioscience






The incubator currently has 30 student interns from disciplines including engineering and business. In the past, students have done financial modeling and product design; studied demographics and markets and researched grants for member companies






ATI companies typically are part of the incubator for two or three years, and graduate when they meet milestones allowing them to operate independently, such as signing paying customers






The incubator accepts new members on a rolling basis, and typically looks at about 150 companies for every five it admits









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