Deep Space Ventures makes big moves at Tech Wildcatters Stage 5 Gauntlet graduation

The “Stage 5” Gauntlet Tech Wildcatters presentations took place this afternoon at House of Blues, and played the setting for a big day for the Dallas startups community, with the starring members of the scene being Deep Space Ventures and two startups that have been fixtures in the scene for some time: Sellery and Tech EdVentures.

In meeting with Deep Space’s Stephen Hays, I learned just ahead of their presentation on stage that they’d invested heavily in both startups.

“We’re proud of our investment and absolutely thrilled to be partnered with both companies,” said Hays. “In both companies, we were the largest contributors to each company’s funding rounds, and have a board seat in both companies as well.”

Selery's Justin White on stage at the Stage 5 Tech Wildcatters presentation at House of Blues..

Selery’s Justin White on stage at the Stage 5 Tech Wildcatters presentation at House of Blues..

Selery, led by co-founder Justin White, raised $350,000 in a round capping off their tenure in the Wildcatter’s accellerator, with $150,000 of that coming from Deep Space Ventures, according to Hays.

Selery recently became the first company to reach level 4 and 5 in the Tech Wildcatters Gauntlet, and recently presented at Launch’s own Dallas New Tech this month.

Selery is a fulfillment service specializing in serving small to mid-size businesses. Usually these sized retailers have issues using bigger services due to the cost, and monthly minimums. Selery solves these issues with a pay-as-you-go model. Also, unique to Selery, is the option to personalize, and brand your shipping boxes, so customers see your logo on their delivery box, rather than a generic looking box, or another fulfillment service logo.

Another company Deep Space had in it’s sites was a company whose founder I’ve known for quite some time due to his involvement in and around the community: Tech EdVentures.

Founded by Dr. Allen Selis, Tech EdVentures raised $700,000, with $500,000 originating from Deep Space Ventures. Tech EdVentures brings robotics, engineering, and coding classes to children. Classes start as young as pre-k, for robotics, and 3rd grade for coding classes.

“…according to U.S. News 9 out of 10 schools don’t offer computer programming coursework,” said Selis. “Our solution is to provide fun and immersive after school programs, and summer camps that teach children STEM skills they need to get ahead in today’s tech-driven world.”

Their activity and differentiator has, amazingly, remained remarkably consistent over the last several years Selis has been stumping his startup. If you read recent coverage of them or go back to when they were first covered in Launch in 2014: a commitment to in-person classroom learning aimed at enthusing kids around technology education.

Allen Selis presenting at NoD in 2015 his startup Tech EdVentures. Photo Credit: Chirag Gupta.

Allen Selis presenting at NoD in 2015 his startup Tech EdVentures.
Photo Credit: Chirag Gupta.

Hays seemed equally enthused about working with Tech Wildcatters as an investment partner. He described the notion of investing in “Stage Five” graduates of the Gauntlet as a “no brainer.”

“I have a robust pipeline. We’re looking at twelve different startups right now that I’m really in love with,” said Hays. “Curating a large lead list is hard, though, and Wildcatters helps immensely with that. Our investment in Wildcatters far exceeded our expectations.”

Hays was enthused about the exit prospects for both, and noted that Selery, was already in revenue.

“They’re a rocket ship,” said Hays. “Already doing $50k in revenue a month.”

Deep Space Ventures was founded in January of this year. Prior to his tenure at Deep Space, Hays was an investment banker who previously served at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, the investment banking arm of SunTrust Banks, Inc.

At the moment, Deep Space is entirely invested in Texas-based companies, having previously put $1 million into connected car device startup Vinli’s most recent funding round. This came just a few weeks after they invested $750,000 into marketing analytics platform provider Panamplify.

In his conversation with me, he indicated that while he’s considering a couple of companies that interest him outside of Texas, his investment strategy very much revolves around the incredible value he sees as relatively untapped by investors that were perhaps more experienced, yet still remarkably absent from places that aren’t Silicon Valley.

Learn more about the companies discussed in this post with the following playlist, which includes their Dallas New Tech presentations as well as their presentations on stage at the House of Blues Wildcatters event.


Mark Hopkins