New incubator aims to fan startup flames in Aggieland

Jun 30, 2014
Austin American Statesman

University of Texas graduate MBA Dan Driscoll never expected to be building his startup in Bryan-College Station, but when Seed Sumo, a new technology incubator near Texas A&M University, recruited Driscoll’s company to be part of its first accelerator program, he and co-founder Kate Dailey headed to Aggieland

“We had interest from accelerators in New York, but the caliber of Seed Sumo’s mentors and resources really stood out,” said Driscoll, who started his company, ReQwip, as a UT student two years ago

Since ReQwip – which operates an online marketplace for buying and selling new and used cycling, triathlon and outdoor gear – doesn’t officially launch until next month, relocation costs were also a consideration

That’s what Seed Sumo founders are hoping other entrepreneurs will discover. Founded this year by a group of Bryan-based entrepreneurs and investors, the accelerator’s goal is to help make that region a top 10 startup community within the next decade

Patel and Seed Sumo co-founder Doss Cunningham are top executives at Bryan-based Woodbolt International, a $250 million sports nutritional supplement company

Seed Sumo operates out of Woodbolt’s sleek new headquarters, which offers perks including a cafeteria where complimentary healthy gourmet meals are served daily; a 20,000-square-foot fitness facility with free daily personal training and group exercise classes, plus numerous meet-up areas throughout the campus with multimedia systems and an R&D lab for product development

The incubator isn’t affiliated with Texas A&M, but it collaborates with Startup Aggieland, A&M’s student business accelerator that Patel credits with fostering the region’s growing entrepreneurial culture

Eight companies were chosen from more than 500 candidates to participate in Seed Sumo’s first three-month mentoring program, which began in May

The companies include AskAgs, whose mobile app matches people with questions to people with answers; Gazoo, which uses cloud technology to allow students to securely access a university’s lab computers from any device; and Prepify, which provides free SAT preparation and other services to low-income students

Seed Sumo’s model is similar to that used by tech accelerators operating in Austin, Silicon Valley and elsewhere, including TechStars, Y-Combinator and DreamIt Ventures. In exchange for a 6 percent to 11 percent stake in the company, Seed Sumo provides startups with up to $50,000 in seed funding, as well as office space and services such as legal counseling and public relations coaching

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