Startups, Be Financially Prepared Before Leasing Office Space

Nathan-k-smithThis guest post is by Nathan Smith, a commercial real estate advisor and owner of Austin Tenant Advisors. He specializes in helping startups find, lease and/or purchase office space in Austin, Tx. From site selection to negotiation to occupancy he advises them on the best locations, new lease and lease renewal negotiations, relocations and expansions, etc. Outside the office Nathan enjoys spending time with his wife and two children in Bee Cave, Tx and in running, biking, and racing in local triathlons and running events.

One of the biggest mistakes startups make when looking to lease office space is not being financially prepared. Just like a bank, Landlords want to be reassured that you qualify financially before leasing you office space, especially in hot markets like Austin, Tx. Gathering this info and positioning your company to look financially strong takes more time than you think so make sure you do this well in advance of beginning the office space search process. By doing this you will not only gain the Landlord’s confidence but you will also increase your chances of getting office lease concessions (tenant improvements, rent abatements, etc.)

Landlords will be making an upfront investment in your tenancy in the form of time, resources, tenant improvements and other lease concessions so it’s important for you to prove to them that you have the financial ability & stability to occupy and pay rent on your future office space.

Proving that your startup company is financially qualified takes more than a great credit score, 401k, expensive house, or great business idea.

  • If you are a startup that has been in business for a few years Landlords like to see current profit/loss statements, positive cash flows, balance sheets, and other sources of financing/funding. The landlord’s perception of these financial documents will dictate what form(s) of lease securitization they will need (e.g. security deposit, letter of credit (LOC), guaranty, etc). The amount of the securitization will depend on your financial strength, the length of lease term, lease rate, tenant improvement costs, lease commissions, etc.)
  • If you are a newer entity with no track record or you’re an existing startup with weak financials Landlord’s will want to see 2-3 years of personal tax returns or a personal financial statement from the person signing the lease. Depending on the Landlord’s perception of those tax returns they may require that you personally guarantee the lease, provide a larger security deposit, or provide a letter of credit (LOC) that covers the landlords up front out of pocket costs to do the deal (e.g. tenant improvement costs, lease commissions, re-leasing penalty, etc.).

Before you begin looking at potential office spaces make sure your financials are in order and have them readily available to show Landlords. It would be wise to have your business plan and pro-forma showing current and future financial projections readily available as well.

Be prepared to be required to sign a personal guarantee, provide a larger security deposit, or set up a letter of credit (LOC), otherwise the Landlord’s may not be willing to lease you space.

You only get one chance to make an impression! The more prepared you are the better your chances of proving your ability to pay rent, and in getting those much needed lease concessions.

Startups, Be Financially Prepared Before Leasing Office Space

Experiment Engine Closes $1M Seed Round

Experiment Engine, an Austin-based SaaS start-up, proudly announces the close of a $1 million seed round. Founder Collective, based in NY and Boston, joined the seed stage round with other notable support from Texas-based Mercury Fund. Two former E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year award recipients also participated: Dan Graham, CEO of BuildASign, and Rony Kahan, Co-founder of

Experiment Engine offers a SaaS web and mobile optimization platform that allows enterprises to conduct A/B tests through a marketplace of conversion experts. By providing on-demand access to skilled conversion rate optimizers, Experiment Engine has helped early customers triple tests run per month and drive conversion gains averaging 20 percent. Experiment Engine will use the funds to expand the conversation optimization platform and drive sales/marketing initiatives.

According to Claire Vo, Experiment Engine’s CEO and Founder, “Having run hundreds of A/B tests over our careers, my co-founder and I have a first-hand appreciation of the true impact continuous optimization delivers. By closing this seed round, we have the resources to accelerate our business and deliver our optimization solution to marketers who want to truly ‘Always Be Testing.’”

Eric Paley, Managing Partner of Founder Collective adds, “Across our portfolio and across the web, we see companies driving huge gains in results thanks to site optimization. Unfortunately, finding the talent and development resources to iterate quickly is a huge obstacle for most companies. We see Experiment Engine as a turnkey way for online businesses to take optimization to scale without taxing limited internal resources.”

Furthermore, according to Aziz Gilani, Mercury Fund Partner, “We met the Experiment Engine founders through TechStars Austin and during the course of the program fell in love with the founding team. Experiment Engine hits the sweet spot of our portfolio, great founders going after a large target market with quick adoption by early customers.”

Experiment Engine Closes $1M Seed Round

Infocyte Raises $500K for Assessment Platform that Determines If a Network Has Been Hacked

Infocyte, Inc., a San Antonio-based cyber security startup, has secured $500k in additional seed funding to accelerate development of its’ assessment platform, Pulse. Led by Austin-based LiveOak Venture Partners, the funding will be used to expand Infocyte’s development team ahead of their planned 1st Quarter 2015 product launch.

“The Infocyte team has a storied history and deep domain knowledge gained from their time in national defense,” said Venu Shamapant, General Partner, LiveOak Venture Partners. “We are excited to partner with them in their ambitions to bring advanced threat detection to a wider audience.” Pulse is an on-premises appliance that scans all workstations and servers in a network to find indications of compromise, unauthorized activity, and malicious code. The platform is unique in the assessment industry because it doesn’t stop at finding vulnerabilities; it goes further by discovering attackers who have actually breached the network. The product allows organizations to audit their networks to find out if any attackers have evaded in-place security measures and discover breaches before they end up in

With major hacks constantly in the news, enterprises are installing new security monitoring equipment and hardening their networks. But “hardening the front door won’t help if you already have an attacker entrenched inside your network, said Chris Gerritz, CEO & co-founder of Infocyte. “This is where an assessment capability that identifies post-intrusion activity comes into play.”

Infocyte has been performing assessments on financial institutions with an earlier version of the platform since August. Upon product launch, Infocyte will be licensing the platform to enterprise customers and security service providers.

Infocyte Raises $500K for Assessment Platform that Determines If a Network Has Been Hacked

WP Engine and Facebook Combine to Enhance Speed, Stability and Performance for HHVM

wpengineThere has been a new technological advancement for PHP developers and the developer community as a whole. For the very first time PHP and HHVM (HipHop Virtual Machine), an open-source project created by Facebook, can now run side-by-side on the same server, vastly increasing speed, performance and stability for websites in production environments. By doing so, modern websites and applications with dynamic content built on HHVM can see an average response time increase of 560%.

In conjunction with this development, WP Engine, a leading SaaS content management platform for websites and applications built on WordPress, today launched Mercury, the company’s new platform for dynamic content built on HHVM. Developed by WP Engine Labs, Mercury is 5.6X faster than the company’s existing platform that already delivers unparalleled speed to power websites and applications, even under high load conditions. Mercury is in alpha-labs production, already powering as its first user.

“The enhanced speed and performance by HHVM in production environments is an obvious boon for PHP developers and the WP Engine Labs team has done an impressive job in democratizing HHVM for the open-source community,” said Paul Tarjan, head of Open Source for HHVM at Facebook. “We are excited to work alongside the Labs team to fine-tune the stack to reach HHVM’s full potential and drastically speed up PHP execution. PHP is the bedrock of Facebook as well as much of the Internet and this announcement should come as a major fillip for the entire developer community.”

HHVM was designed to execute programs written in Hack and PHP and achieves superior performance by running PHP code exponentially faster than standard PHP 5.5. As a young project, the system sometimes requires rebooting, which has led to the technology being deemed too unstable to use in production environments yet. However, with the WP Engine Mercury platform, PHP kicks in instantly to handle the load when HHVM requires resetting. The fall back PHP stack is a highly optimized, market-leading WP Engine WordPress stack that several enterprises already rely on. This ensures that websites and applications not only benefit from the speed of HHVM, but also benefit from enhanced stability enabling HHVM to be used in production environments for the first time.

“WordPress is built on PHP and currently powers more than 22% of websites on the Internet and by allowing HHVM to run on WordPress speeding it up by 560%, this breakthrough will come as a huge boost to not just the WordPress community, but developers everywhere,” said Tomas Puig, Director of Labs at WP Engine. “It’s a testament to the Labs team that we are the first to enable HHVM and PHP to run side-by-side on the same server in a geo-redundant environment. With the Mercury launch, enterprises and businesses can rely on WordPress to host their dynamic content in an even more lightning fast environment.”

WP Engine and Facebook Combine to Enhance Speed, Stability and Performance for HHVM

Austin Tech Happy Hour Dec 4th

When you feel the chill in the air, you know the end of the year is approaching. We are kicking off the holiday party season with our December 4th happy hour at The Dogwood. Come celebrate a fantastic year for the Austin technology community with a frosty beverage and some great networking.

There are a limited number of free tickets available, then a bigger batch of early bird specials, and finally a pre-registration discount. If you miss all of those, you can pay the full price of $10 at the door. This event is at a bar, so you must be 21+ to get in. Every person that
attends will receive two drink tickets.


Phoenix Staff is an IT recruiting firm that staffs key roles in companies ranging from the help desk to a CTO/CIO – being high touch, low volume affords us the opportunity to truly manage that wide range.  The core of people we place fall into the category of “senior” in their chosen profession – again this is achieved by our high touch, low volume approach.  They are the best in their chosen area of expertise and when they aren’t actively looking, they are ready with a referral. What exactly does high touch mean? Simply put, we are the company that follows-up.

With venues like the CIO breakfast, our alignment in education and our ability to connect with the folks who people consider the “center of the Oracle universe or .NET universe or Linux universe” we are able to connect and, more importantly for you, get connected, quickly to those people who are looking. That allows us to be very specific in our attention for our clients and candidates.  Instead of providing a client with 15 resumes to review, we are able to spend the necessary time with the people behind the resume
to determine the best fit. Given the chance to prove that this is how
we operate, we very quickly become the exclusive providers to our

Austin Tech Happy Hour Dec 4th

Biggest Austin Presence at DEMO in History

Austin continues to make “Top 10” lists for everything, and break new records. Here’s one for you from the legandary DEMO conference in San Jose this week. A record-breaking six Austin companies launched at DEMO this week, and three of the six are being incubated at Capital Factory with one being an ATI graduate.

Demo Fall 2014

Student Loan Benefits

Student Loan Benefits has developed a modern employee benefit that allows companies to boost their recruiting & retention success by reducing their employees student debt. Think 401k for student loans. The company is being incubated at Capital Factory.

There are three main components to the SLB program:

  • Optimize – each employee goes through the SLB platform to compare & apply for 70+ consolidation, refinance, and relief programs.
  • Pay – SLB integrates with a company’s payroll system to automatically facilitate payments for the employee and utilizes repayment strategies to efficiently pay off the loans.
  • Match – employers can provide a matching contribution towards their employees’ student debt, just like a 401k.


Connect with life.

Smart devices are here: Wireless thermostats, activity monitors, networked music systems and a whole host of devices in the home.

Wouldn’t it be great if they all could communicate together? Wouldn’t it be even better if they worked in unison to make your daily routines easier and more enjoyable?

Now there is an app that does all that and works in the background so you can get back to the things that really matter.


ATI graduate DRAFT is an investment application company that offers community-based investment solutions. The DRAFT app helps self-directed investors make smarter decisions by demystifying the complexities of investing and lowers the amount of fees investors pay while also educating users on simple strategies to reach investment goals.


Obsidian is a Bitcoin exchanged based in the United States that allows people to trade Bitcoin without first sending their money overseas.

CurbEnergy (demo video)

Curb Inc., a clean energy tech startup at Capital Factory, introduced the Curb home energy management system and mobile application, today at DEMO Fall 2014 in San Jose, CA. Curb is taking pre-orders through its website and expects to begin delivering the system nationwide in the first quarter of 2015.

Suvola (demo video)

Suvola is creating a line of cloud infrastructure, web services and enterprise data management software for the emerging system-on-a-chip (SoC) based microserver market. Packaged and sold as self-contained appliances, products based on Suvola software will address the mid-market’s need for more cost-effective, easier to manage information technology infrastructure to support end-user desktop, tablet and mobile applications. The company is also incubated at Capital Factory.

Biggest Austin Presence at DEMO in History

Bigcommerce Raises $50 Million in Growth Equity; Investors Include SoftBank Capital and Telstra Corporation

BigCommerce_Logo01Bigcommerce, the ecommerce platform of choice for fast-growing brands, today announced it has raised $50 million in Series D funding. The company will use the funds to invest in product development, aggressively grow sales and marketing, and expand its business to new markets. The financing was led by SoftBank Capital, a venture firm affiliated with SoftBank Corp., and included Telstra Ventures and American Express, as well as existing investors General Catalyst and Revolution Growth. Steve Murray, a partner at SoftBank Capital, will join the Bigcommerce board.

“Bigcommerce’s easy to use, cloud-based platform allows businesses of all sizes to rapidly build and deploy full-service ecommerce and m-commerce tools to grow revenues,” said Murray. “We are thrilled to partner with Eddie and this outstanding leadership team as the business achieves scale and accelerates its growth both in the U.S. and internationally.”

Ecommerce as a segment of the total retail market is growing at 30 percent per year and is expected to reach $2 trillion in sales worldwide in 2015, according to Bigcommerce research. The company has seen significant year-over-year revenue growth and is approaching $5 billion in total online sales across merchants. Clients on the Bigcommerce platform experience 24 percent higher gross merchandise volume (GMV) over competitive platforms.

Over the past year, Bigcommerce signed several new agreements to provide clients with next-generation ecommerce functionality:

    • Bigcommerce recently announced the industry’s first open mPOS platform with Lightspeed POS and NCR Silver joining as launch partners to provide merchants with best-in-class, omni-channel solutions for businesses selling both online and in-store.
    • Also this month, Bigcommerce launched as a founding developer partner with Poynt — the world’s first smart payment terminal targeting the 16M merchants that will be upgrading ahead of the 2015 EMV mandate.
    • In October, Bigcommerce announced a new partnership with to streamline product sourcing for merchants. SoftBank Corp. is a one-third owner of Alibaba.
    • In July, Magento, an eBay Enterprise company, selected Bigcommerce as a SaaS ecommerce migration provider for its ProStores and Magento Go platform discontinuation.
    • Earlier this year, Bigcommerce partnered with Endurance International Group’s Homestead brand to re-launch 6,700 of their merchants’ online stores.

Bigcommerce recently added several new features to the platform, including Bigcommerce Analytics, an enterprise-grade real-time reporting tool; the Single Click App Store, an easy way for merchants to integrate their store with the other software they use to run their business; one-click payments setup, where merchants can set up popular payment options like PayPal and Stripe; and a new theme store packed with dozens of new free and premium themes.

“American Express is committed to helping small merchants, and our investment in Bigcommerce is one of the many ways we are working to equip these businesses with resources that can enable them to grow,” said Tyler Vaughey, Vice President, U.S. Small Merchants at American Express. “With the convergence of online and offline, many small merchants are looking for ways to strengthen customer engagement, and Bigcommerce has created a platform that enables merchants to address this key business objective.”

“Partnering with SoftBank Capital gives us access to the growing Asian market and opportunities within SoftBank Group companies, including Alibaba, while American Express and Telstra share our passion for helping businesses in the U.S. and Australia respectively,” said Eddie Machaalani, co-founder and CEO of Bigcommerce. “With this new round of funding, we will continue to level the commerce playing field so that every merchant has the opportunity to build a compelling brand and scalable business to effectively compete with the largest players in their industry.”

Bigcommerce Raises $50 Million in Growth Equity; Investors Include SoftBank Capital and Telstra Corporation

Tempo Semiconductor Launches with Focus on Low Power, High Fidelity, Mixed Signal Audio Semiconductor Solutions

Tempo SemiconductorOn December 20, 2013, Tempo Semiconductor acquired the assets of IDT’s Audio Business Unit, along with a highly skilled engineering and technical support organization committed to providing innovative solutions. Tempo is reigniting the value of these audio products, delivering new ultra low power, high fidelity, mixed signal semiconductor solutions to the handheld and portable devices market, as well as continuing audio support for PCs.

Tempo Semiconductor now offers the industry’s largest and most complete audio product portfolio for the computing and consumer markets, support for devices ranging from PCs, laptops and game consoles to tablets, smart phones, wireless speakers and smart headphones.  In addition to the PC, portable/handheld and software products, Tempo Semiconductor also acquired a highly skilled engineering and technical support organization committed to providing innovative solutions.

Led by former general manager of the SigmaTel ICG business unit, K. Gozie Ifesinachukwu, the Tempo team is comprised of leading engineers with practical experience in ultra-low power CMOS design.  For the past year, the team has taken the SigmaTel/IDT technological foundation and infused it with unique Tempo low-power DNA, resulting in new products with dramatically lower power loss. The result is new audio products for portable systems that reduce power losses by 5 to 10 times the conventional design at typical listening levels which can significantly extend battery life. These new products infused with low power DNA are fabricated using mainstream production facilities at the commonly available CMOS process nodes.

“Our team has been involved in PC HD audio since it was first introduced,” said Ifesinachukwu, Tempo president and CEO.  “We were very optimistic about where our   technology innovations were going when IDT purchased the SigmaTel audio business in 2006.  When there was an opportunity to acquire that technology and form a focused company around it and invest in and improve it, we jumped.  Tempo Semiconductor can now deliver the best audio quality at the lowest power to the growing handhelds and portables audio markets, as well as PC.  It is very exciting to show the progress of the past year in our public launch today.”

The Tempo team is delivering complete low power, high fidelity, mixed signal solutions to the market with several products on the 2015 roadmap being announced very soon. Tempo will be regularly announcing new products in its audio systems component line.  The company will also introduce its first software for speech recognition assist as a standard product to improve consumer audio experiences with capabilities such as acoustic echo cancellation, noise suppression and microphone beam forming.  Tempo also develops software drivers for Android/Linux and Windows with SoC partners to enable OEM’s and ODM’s to launch world class mainstream products faster

Tempo partners with Tier-1 industry leaders for wafer manufacturing and for test and assembly.  Tempo is a global audio supplier for a deep and growing set of ODM and OEM partners.

Tempo Semiconductor Launches with Focus on Low Power, High Fidelity, Mixed Signal Audio Semiconductor Solutions

Rivet Launches First-of-its-Kind User-Generated Content Marketing Solution

Rivet LogoRivet Works, Inc., a technology company that inspires consumers with user-generated content (UGC) solutions, today announced its launch as the first content marketing solution that promotes active engagement between people and their favorite brands. Rivet’s cloud-based platform captures the experience of the consumer by individualizing user-generated content marketing programs to produce thought-provoking and experiential content. With easy integration and implementation across both mobile and web channels, Rivet drives customer engagement, promotes brand awareness, enhances brand loyalty, and increases conversion rates.

Rivet (previously known as Together Mobile) enables the capture, management, and display of content across a wide range of outlets and formats to generate vastly more image, video, text location, user response, and testimonial content than traditional methods. Further, the platform links customers with the brand by uncovering customer preferences and intent as well as behavioral patterns while capturing explict opt-ins. The capture and use of user-generated content and data drives authentic brand experiences that connect, inspire, and engage consumers.

“Customer experience has emerged as the leading driver of commerce, and is positioned to have an ever-increasing influence on buying decisions,” says Michael Svatek, CEO and Co-Founder of Rivet. “We know that user-generated content is a strategy that not only connects a company to its market, but potential customers with experienced customers, building trust, inspiring purchase, and creating online community. The result is a riveting level of engagement and authenticity that stimulates purchase decisions and propels commerce.”


Rivet Launches First-of-its-Kind User-Generated Content Marketing Solution

Ambiq Micro Announces $15 Million Funding Round Led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Ambiq Micro LogoAustin-based Ambiq Micro, a leader in ultra-low power integrated circuits for power-sensitive applications, today announced that is has closed a $15 million Series C funding round to accelerate the development and marketing of its SPOT™ (Subthreshold Power Optimized Technology) platform. The funding round was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and was supported by existing investors including Austin Ventures, Mercury Fund, and ARM Holdings. KPCB partner Wen Hsieh will be joining Ambiq Micro’s board.

Ambiq Micro’s proprietary SPOT platform dramatically reduces the energy consumption of semiconductors by reducing the voltage level at which switching occurs inside the chips. The company already manufactures and markets real-time clocks (RTCs) using this technology and a microcontroller (MCU) family, manufactured using the same standard CMOS process, will be announced within the next few weeks. The MCUs will target Internet of Things (IoT) applications, particularly wearable electronic devices, where energy savings will translate into much longer battery life.

Battery life in many applications, especially those in the wearable and IoT markets, fall well short of what is desired and have hindered widespread deployment of these products. Ambiq Micro’s devices solve this problem, enabling the development of products with much longer battery life than is currently possible. Some will run for months or even years between battery charges. Other products will benefit from the addition of new features that would not otherwise be achievable within restrictive power budgets. The potential to use significantly smaller batteries will also provide more creative freedom for products designers too, allowing them to explore form factors that were not previously possible and to make smaller, lighter devices.

Ambiq Micro’s CEO and President Mark Foley commented: “We’re very privileged to welcome KPCB as both an investor and partner for growth. The firm is widely recognized as one of the most insightful and successful in the world. We’re also delighted that our earlier investors decided to participate in the new funding round, reinforcing our firm belief that our revolutionary SPOT platform is going to redefine the meaning of ‘ultra-low power’ in the electronics industry at a time when there is a global explosion in demand for small, battery-powered products.”

KPCB partner, Wen Hsieh, adds, “KPCB’s Low Power Everywhere initiative believes that in a world where consumers and businesses are always on, there’s an increasing need for devices with improved energy efficiency and battery life. Ambiq Micro has developed a 10X lower power MCU for mobile, wearables and IoT devices. We’re excited to back an exceptional team and to help them quickly scale this opportunity.” Mr. Hsieh joins the board of Ambiq Micro.

Ambiq Micro Announces $15 Million Funding Round Led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers