Tech Wildcatters Pitch Day: Dec 2011 Edition

A packed house at the Magnolia theater watched as the graduates of the Tech Wildcatters fall program presented for the final time in front of investors, advisors, and enthusiasts on Tuesday afternoon. When I say packed house, I ain’t kidding. I thought the last pitch day this past May was crowded. But yesterday was even more so. So many fans wanted to look on and support the local startup community. Warm and fuzzies all around. I was in the very last row trying to live blog. But it was so cramped back there, I couldn’t type very quickly. I just ended up taking notes for this story.

Gabriella Draney kicked off the afternoon talking a little bit about the TW program and announcing that the events were being live-streamed on Ustream. I heard later there were a few technical hiccups, but it was certainly nice to have the support coming from places all around the globe, at one point reaching 12,000 viewers!

Jon Feld then spoke about the numbers — talking about how much investment they had done, how many companies had gone through the program, etc. Numbers were flying, and I couldn’t keep up with it all.

Brad Taylor came up to talk about the partnerships and sponsorships they have developed with local companies and organizations that have helped make the program so successful. Among them were Softlayer, Silicon Valley Bank, Haynes & Boone, Montgomery Coscia Greilich, TriNet, and Jackson Walker. My apologies if I’ve missed anyone. But the names were coming fast and furious.

Invensys CEO Sudipta Bhattacharya spoke briefly about his involvement with TW and where he sees the future.

Then Gabriella announced the event sponsors. Livid Lobster was handling the camera and other technical equipment for the live stream. Travis Wolff & Company, Invensys, and MCG were also there to support.

There was a Q&A panel that would post questions for each of the 4 presenting companies. The panel consisted of Mike Dodd of Austin Ventures, Ned Hill of DFJ Mercury, and Paul Ford of Softlayer.

And then on to the main event. Managing Partner of Trailblazer Capital, Joel Fontenot, introduced the first presenter, Device Magic. Device Magic eases the data collection hassles for organizations by allowing field force data collection on mobile forms. They have 50 daily downloads, 40 paying customers and have generated $140k in revenue in 2011.

David Gabriel then introduced Gerard Ibarra from Newton Insight, which we’ve covered last week. Newton Insight brings transparency to the chain-of-custody in the supply chain and logistics fields. They are looking to provide the service at a fraction of the cost of the big boys, by offering, among other features, a dashboard of dynamic performance metrics and a predictive alerting system.

Jeff Borden from Brand Protection Agency, a company from the inaugural TW 2010 program, gave a quick update on the company, and announced the seed round financing they were working on.

After a short break, Gabriella returned to the stage to introduce a native son of Texas who built the largest livestreaming service on the web, Ustream, Brad Hunstable to give the keynote speech. Hunstable started out with the history of Ustream, then transitioned into how to build the DFW ecosystem. Local incubators/accelerators were mentioned, as were (Ryan Roberts), and to my surprise a shoutout to us for supporting the startup community. Thanks a bunch! Hunstable then opened it up for questions. An angel investor seated towards the back (I won’t mention his name, unless he wants the credit) asked what we can do to get people (investors) to think less about investing in oil & gas and real estate, and think more about investing in technology. The question was applauded by many in the audience. Hunstable answered that while there is certainly the need for oil & gas and real estate, technology investment is where the future is, and it’s the best way to grow and support the local ecosystem of young entrepreneurs.

Michael Martin of Principal Solar introduced the 3rd presenting company, Mineful, which I wrote about last week. Mineful specializes in predictive customer retention. Mineful has sophisticated algorithms that predict a customer’s likelihood of not returning to your store, and allow rule-based criteria that can trigger the automatic delivery of specific messages to your customers based on metrics that you define.

The 4th and final presenters were the team from Paytap. Co-founders Sean-Michael Daley (CEO) and Chip Oxendine (CTO), demonstrated how their socialized bill paying platform would serve as the middle man. Examples include parents paying directly for a child’s cell phone bill, a adult child paying for their elderly parent’s senior care, or a concerned sister covering a wayward brother’s rent or utilities.

All are great companies with terrific pitches. But if I had to pick the best presentation, my vote goes to Newton Insight. They told the best story, by introducing a personal and human element, in the name of “William”. I think they have the best chance to succeed given their background in supply chain and logistics.

John Reed closed out the event, announcing that he was the only thing standing between the crowd and a happy hour next door at the Lemon Bar, courtesy of Microsoft. Best wishes to all the teams presenting. We look forward to the next TW class in early 2012.