SXSW2014 Launch: FitChimp

We are doing a series of Q&A features around Austin-based companies that are launching their company or their product at SXSW 2014. If you’d like to be featured as well, please use the Submit News button. Today’s feature is with Truong-An, from FitChimp.

FitChimp LogoQ: Explain what you do in a way that my third grader can understand?
FitChimp is an interactive “micro-gym” that enable employees to step away from their desk and engage in energy boosting and pain reducing 2-5 minute micro-workouts without needing to change clothes or shower. Why? We are increasingly sedentary: Sitting for 9+ hours a day, slumping over our computer keyboard, with less time to engage in fitness activities. Our combined lack of “moving” has decreased our productivity by $225 Billion per year, increased employer health insurance costs, and led to a significant increase of chronic diseases and pain for employees (diabetes, cancer, lower back/neck pain). FitChimp provides an easy-to-rollout workplace wellness solution.

Q: What makes FitChimp unlike other wellness programs?
Before creating FitChimp we looked at the plethora of wellness solutions available, but found that regardless of the solution…..there was an overall lack of participation (<20%). We researched the barriers to participation, and created FitChimp specifically to remove those barriers. FitChimp does not require you to change clothes, shower, go to the gym, or find a trainer….we bring the gym and the trainer to you in a fun interactive package (yes, we said “fun”). Our technology allows us to create custom workouts for all interests and ability levels: whether you have lower back pain, need a pre tee-time stretch, or need a post-sales-meeting de-stressor.

Q: What was your “lightbulb” moment when you knew you had something?
Our hypothesis and hope was that if we removed the common barriers to wellness we would see an increase in participation. Some of our early customers have achieved over 60% participation over a 3-month period. Hearing positive feedback from a range of backgrounds has been great: Busy Moms who don’t have time to go to the gym, software developers who have eliminated neck and back pain, and runners who are preventing injuries with strengthening exercises…..The best was a programmer who said that FitChimp “worked significantly better than dumping coffee into his skull at 3pm.”

Q: Who are the hard working geniuses behind the company?
Dr. Trung Nguyen, Patrick Hitchins and Truong-An Thai are co-founders of FitChimp and we are all passionate about fitness and tech startups, specifically in the area of workplace wellness. It is really all about impacting the lives of average office workers that have to work more hours and are increasingly desk-bound. These are the hard working folks who by demands of their careers and lives, simply don’t have time to squeeze hours of fitness, showering, and changing clothes into their schedule. We have the right team and credentials to make a strong impact in workplace wellness, but our users will help shape our product and engagement in a way that will help millions of office workers world-wide.

Q: We’ll know we made it when:
Our mission is to remove barriers to wellness participation while improving the health, happiness and productivity of employees in their professional and personal life. Although we have full intention to expand nationally, we’d love to make a contribution to making Austin one of the healthiest/fittest city in America. We are thankful for the feedback and enthusiasm we’ve received from the employees of many of Austin’s top workplaces….they are helping us improve our product and concept.

Q: Who are some of your first customers?
Some of our early customers are Austin employers such as SpareFoot, Oppenheimer, Flocasts, Hoovers, Livestrong, and CSID.

SXSW2014 Launch: FitChimp

SXSW 2014 Launch: Access The Night

We are doing a series of Q&A features around Austin-based companies that are launching their company or their product at SXSW 2014. If you’d like to be featured as well, please use the Submit News button. Today’s feature is with Andrew Tuffin, from Access the Night.

Access the Night LogoQ: Explain what you do in a way that my mom can understand?
Access The Night is a social discovery app that instantly connects you with local entertainment options. We inspire our users to explore their locale through photo-maps, feeds, and forums that capture moments taking place around them in real-time. Anything from whats going on right now at a bar, unique neighborhood food options, outdoor attractions, and concert venues, we show you those experiences first hand.

Q: What was your “lightbulb” moment when you knew you had something?
The moment came during our beta testing stage for our relaunch last summer. All of the pieces came together that we had been working on for the last 8 months, and the true potential of what the platform could do was finally captured. We were showing the app to a group of friends present at the time, and seeing a product that people genuinely wanted to use in their everyday lives was truly invigorating.

Q: What is the “secret sauce” that will make you shine above the competitors?
The capacity for Access The Night to operate as a hyper local entertainment guide, wherever one may go across the world puts us ahead of the curve. I see a lot of value in using ATN as a discovery tool especially for traveling, and the technology we have put in place does not restrict us to markets where we are present in.

Q: Our first breakthrough came when:
When we transitioned from a primary deals service company to social discovery. The interface we originally launched with in 2012 relied on our clients to create the content on the app. We turned the focus towards generating a more socially engaging experience through pictures, one that could grow organically, and lower the dependency on other parties to create the material. We realized the majority of people who are looking for entertainment, are looking to share the same experience as others. A picture speaks a thousand words.

Q: The best advice we’ve received so far has been:
Don’t follow the trends, set them. This advice could apply to any industry, but it is especially relevant in Tech due to its prevalent nature to evolve so rapidly. Our team continuously puts emphasis on innovation and simplicity in attempt to lead the pack. We also make sure we are taking an objective viewpoint on our product. When you work day in and day out on a specific project, you have to step back and realize that something you may feel is understood might not be as innate to those who are looking at your vision for the first time.

SXSW 2014 Launch: Access The Night

SXSW 2014 Launch: The Right Arm

We are doing a series of Q&A features around Austin-based companies that are launching their company or their product at SXSW 2014. If you’d like to be featured as well, please use the Submit News button. Today’s feature is with Bill Leake, Founder of The Right Arm.

The Right ArmQ: Explain what you do in a way that my Great Uncle Ned can understand?
We’ve created an affordable, portable, stand-up environment for small form-factor laptops and tablets. In other words, a mobile stand-up desk for under $100. It’s also a great solution for anyone who wants to be productive but is suffering from back pain or some other condition that leaves them mobility impaired. Very needed in this world where, as USA today mentioned, sitting is killing us!

Q: What was your “lightbulb” moment when you knew you had something?
I knew we really had something when we took it to CES, and hooked it up to a small coffee table in a hallway, and every 3 minutes someone new would walk up to us and start asking questions. And of course, when we put it live on Kickstarter, and hit our goal almost immediately.

Q: Who are the hard working geniuses behind the company?
Eric Senn, a late 20’s serial entrepreneur who also writes screenplays and used to captain a football team, and Bill Leake, long-time Austin entrepreneur, tech CEO, and digital marketing maven.

Q: We’ll know we made it when:

  1. On the consumer front, we move beyond our phenomenally successful Kickstarter Campaign (continues through mid-March, and can be seen here) and some of the great press behind it like CNET’s article and successfully penetrate the retail environment into specialty stores, including wellness / ergonomic and electronics / computer accessories.
  2. On the business front, we open up several verticals, including possibly doctor’s offices, nursing homes, and industrial / factory application settings

In other words, when this grows from a PRODUCT, into a COMPANY, moving tens of thousands of units a month or more!

Q: What’s next for you guys, and how can our community help?
Well, for starters we can always use your support on Kickstarter. It’s a great product at a great price, and you have the opportunity to really make a difference in launching a consumer tech accessory hit for our town, a space in which we have precious little nationwide or global wins. http://www.therightarm.com/ is our domain name, and the Kickstarter is just an easy trip away. If the product doesn’t float your boat, we’d very much appreciate a facebook share, like, blog post, anything to help get the word out. If you moreover, have any experience getting products into big box retail, or any experience in dealing with reducing manufacturing costs at scale, we’d also love to hear from you. Next for us is reducing cost, getting this into retail in time for the Q3-Q4 2014 push, and coming up with the next iterations on this product, and our next couple of products. Lots to do!

SXSW 2014 Launch: The Right Arm

SXSW 2014 Launch: ROIKOI

We are doing a series of Q&A features around Austin-based companies that are launching their company or their product at SXSW 2014. If you’d like to be featured as well, please use the Submit News button. Today’s feature is with Andy Wolfe, CEO of ROIKOI.

ROIKOI LogoQ: Explain what you do in a way that my dad can understand?
ROIKOI is a new way to find and feature the great people at every company. Using anonymous peer rating, ROIKOI scores and ranks everyone on leaderboards organized by company, geography and industry to highlight the people that everyone loves working with. ROIKOI combs users’ Facebook friends and work history to identify people they’ve worked with and then lets users rate them with a simple hire or fire (or skip) vote. Then we calculate a score, or ROIKOI, that ranks users on leaderboards compared to others, and we show the top half of those leaderboards to showcase the best people.

Q: Where did this idea come from?
We saw a need to find and connect great people. My friend Ryan is a great guy and a really talented designer, but he is naturally shy and isn’t a good networker. I often found myself singing his praises and telling people how awesome he is. We all know people like Ryan, but they can be hard to find even though we individually know who they are. ROIKOI is a way to highlight people that do great work and are great to work with.

Q: What if I don’t rate well or don’t want colleagues to know that I don’t like them?
Our goal is to feature great scores and great people, so we only show names for people in the top of any given leaderboard. People who didn’t score at the top aren’t shown, and how users vote is never shown. Anonymity is key to authenticity. We want your ratings to be honest, and we want your colleagues to be honest in return. ROIKOI makes sure information about who you rate is never posted or viewable. We encourage users to share an outstanding rank on a leaderboard, their enjoyment of using the service, or to invite friends, but that’s it. We care about your privacy and will never disclose your ratings to other users or third parties without your explicit permission.

Q: Who are the hard working geniuses behind the company?
We’re proud of the great team of Austin-based entrepreneurs and engineers behind ROIKOI. I worked in product management at Bazaarvoice and Square Root. We have three full-time engineers – Dustin Mihalik, Aaron Forsander and Andy Nguyen – who have built a beautiful and clean product. And we’ve been lucky to have some part-time help with engineering, design, marketing and UI from great people like Jon Loyens, Alex Sexton, Victor Trac, Ryan Stevens, Becky White and Christian Rice. We’ve also been fortunate to have advisors such as Marc Davis, Chris Kerns, Ryan Pitylak, Andrew Busey, Sam Decker and Brett Hurt.

Q: We’ll know we made it when:
We’ve set some incremental goals for ourselves, like milestone user numbers by certain points in time, but we’re more interested in the quality of visits than the quantity. Do the people who use it like using it? Do they think it’s accurate? Do they make new connections? Do they tell their friends? We’ll know we’ve built a winner when our users become repeat users and keep coming back to see how their leaderboards are changing.

SXSW 2014 Launch: ROIKOI

SXSW 2014 Launch: SecondMic

We are doing a series of Q&A features around Austin-based companies that are launching their company or their product at SXSW 2014. If you’d like to be featured as well, please use the Submit News button. Today’s feature is with Andre Pacheco, co-founder of SecondMic.

SecondMic LogoQ: Explain what you do in a way that my mom can understand?
SecondMic is an app that lets anyone listen to smart alternative commentary while watching a sports game or show live on TV. We give voice to experts, athletes and fans to share their perspective and insight with TV viewers, directly through the app. Launch SecondMic, select the TV show and press Play to stream commentary in real-time with the TV, no delay. Once listeners tune in to a channel, they can interact not only with each other in real time with the game on TV, but with the commentator as well, who may then answer questions and mention it during the alternative broadcast.

Q: What was your “lightbulb” moment when you knew you had something?
I was grabbing lunch with my co-founder and we realized that we both mute our TVs and turn on the radiocast during a sports game. SecondMic was born when we learned that other die-hard fans do something similar. In an increasingly social world, TV only provides a one-way conversation. SecondMic is complementary to the world of television because it gives fans an opportunity to listen to multiple points-of-view on the game or show they are watching.

Q: Who are the hard working geniuses behind the company?
Francisco Prat and Andre Pacheco are the founders at SecondMic. We met eight years ago at Columbia Business School. Coincidentally we both went on to work on the same team at UBS after graduation. We left corporate life a few years later to start our own businesses. Francisco is an engineer and built two startups before SecondMic. Andre has a background in advertising and helped build one of the largest independent ad agencies in Brazil.

SecondMic ScreenshotQ: We’ll know we made it when:
When we can watch a Knicks game and listen to live commentary from Spike Lee. Or a boxing match narrated by Mike Tyson. Or the Oscars with live commentary by Ricky Gervais.

Q: Who are some of your first customers?
Our first three live commentators were a former professional basketball player, a popular basketball coach, and a reporter from a large NJ newspaper who happens to be a die-hard Knicks fan. Each gamecast had its own unique personality, developed by a combination of the commentator’s dynamism, fan interaction, and the actual game or show being played out. It’s amazing to see that a new point-of-view on a game or TV show can spark renewed enthusiasm among fans and attract more TV viewers.

SXSW 2014 Launch: SecondMic

Q&A Wednesday :: Filament Labs

Filament Labs LogoToday’s Q&A Wednesday is with Filament Labs, which had a tremendous launch at TechStars Demo Day at the Austin Music Hall a few weeks ago.

Q: Explain what you do in a way that my mom can understand?
Filament Labs is building a patient engagement platform, giving health professionals tools to manage their patients when they are away from the clinic.

Q: What was your “lightbulb” moment when you knew you had something?
It happened twice. The first occurred when we launched a product with Aetna alongside 30 well funded companies. That gave us a stamp of approval to operate in healthcare. However, the challenge for any healthcare entrepreneur is navigating the industry and finding a viable business model. The second moment is when our first paying customer approached us to pilot our product in 20 clinics nationwide.

Q: Who are the hard working geniuses behind the company?
Jason Bornhorst – Jason is the CEO and cofounder. Previously, Jason was the 1st hire at Mobiata and creators of FlightTrack – #1 travel app on iTunes for 4+ years. Mobiata was acquired by Expedia in 2010. Jason also founded University of Michigan’s TechArb, a student incubator endowed for the next 30 years.

Colin Anawaty – Colin is the CSO and cofounder. Previously, Colin created Plerts – an emergency mobile service underwritten by Lloyd’s of London and acquired by Rev Worldwide where he then spent 2 years managing product. Before that, Colin helped prototype an online game platform used by id Software for Quake Live and Riot Games for League of Legends.

Brian Gambs – Brian is the CTO and leads platform design and engineering. Brian brings over 8 years of experience in health IT through an acquisition by Web MD where he held a senior engineering role.

Q: What is the “secret sauce” that will make you shine above the competitors?
Our team is comprised of seasoned entrepreneurs with backgrounds in consumer mobile, scalable platforms, and health IT. As the industry moves from pen-and-paper and into the digital era, we are well positioned to capture and lead the market in patient engagement. We believe the Affordable Care Act will commoditize much of the industry, creating the need for healthcare companies to start operating more like consumer businesses. Aetna, Humana, and Kaiser Permanente are all great examples of the shift that’s occurring.

Q: Who are some of your first customers?
Our first paying customer is Corinthian Health, an infusion management company that operates 20 clinics across the US. Special types of injectable drugs are used to treat diseases like multiple sclerosis, crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Like dialysis, patients sit in a chair for 3-6 hours to receive treatment. These treatments occur 1-2x per month and often last for the remainder of the patients’ life. It’s been very eye-opening to learn how technology can help patients who struggle with managing day-to-day activities around their disease and drug treatment plan.

Q: The best advice we’ve received so far has been:
Focus on the whitespace. Everyone knows healthcare is a $2+ trillion dollar industry but answering “who pays?” is extremely difficult and obtuse. Affordable care act complicates that question as every facet of healthcare is undergoing significant change. To succeed, health tech entrepreneurs need to focus on the niches as even the niches are multi-billion dollar markets.

Q&A Wednesday :: Filament Labs

Q&A Wednesday :: Embrace

Embrace LogoToday’s Q&A Wednesday is with Bart Bohn, CEO of Embrace.

Q: Explain what you do in a way that my mom can understand?
Embrace makes sure someone at an online retailer personally reaches out when you have a really good or potentially bad shopping, customer service or product experience.  We are helping online retailers bring back some of the person-to-person relationship building that creates lasting loyalty, advocacy (and profits) that we all experience at our favorite physical stores.

Q: What was your “lightbulb” moment when you knew you had something?
We were invited to demo in New York City at the eCommerce Collective, which is a relatively small, private group of ecommerce executives.  After the demo, several of the executives had really positive feedback and that has led to a couple potential early customers.

Q: Who are the hard working geniuses behind the company?
Kevin Safford – Kevin is our Senior Data Scientist and comes with a background as a statistical physicist.  He worked at Ravel before joining the Dachis Group to mine the Facebook and Twitter fire hoses.

Bart Bohn – Bart is the CEO and is a serial entrepreneur.  He co-founded at Ravel, co-founded 3 Day Startup, founded the ATI SEAL program (UT’s summer startup accelerator), co-founded the Entrepreneur Lounge, was a Director at the Austin Technology Incubator, hosted the Wireless Seed Stage Forum, Chaired the Texas Wireless Summit and taught entrepreneurship at Trinity University.

Q: We’ll know we made it when:
When I get a call from the CMO of an online retailer, followed up by a hand written note, thanking me for my patronage and trying to learn how to better serve me.  And, I start over hearing the same thing from my friends, co-workers and all of our families.  In the end, once we all take for granted that online retail can have authentic customer service and experiences just like we find at good physical retailers.

Q: The best advice we’ve received so far has been:
This is easy – get out of the video games industry, go join Techstars, and do something different from all the other analytics companies spewing dashboards and data feeds.  Help your customers take the action that the analytics recommend.  Don’t just create work for them.

Q&A Wednesday :: Embrace

Q&A Wednesday :: AlohaTech / NiteWolf

Today’s Q&A Wednesday is with Raphael Cohen of AlohaTech, who is bringing NiteWolf to market.

Explain what you do in a way that my mother would understand?
AlohaTech is a web publication for women discussing mobile applications and social media news. Our main focus is providing readers with relevant and up-to-date content. Aloha has been branding for the pass couple of months, establishing a core presence, and focusing on providing value to our readers. Our speciality/niche will come in the form of our own product line in mobile applications. AlohaTech recently launched NiteWolf, a security application for women walking home alone at night. NiteWolf is currently available for Android mobile, and can be downloaded on the Google play market.

What was your “lightbulb” moment when you knew you really had something?
When I founded AlohaTech I knew I wanted to do something totally different in the tech industry. The vision is to provide women with cool and trendy application reviews. Aloha is less of a corporate structured publication, and more of a fun read on tech analysis. This way of thinking led to my NiteWolf ‘lightbulb’ moment occurring on 6th street. After witnessing the parade of youthful socializing, I realized the excitement has to end, and women have to walk home after a night of drinking. NiteWolf is a security option for the time women feel an uneasiness in their stomach. If you pass a dark alleyway, pop open NiteWolf and use the LED camera flash as a torch, or if you really feel threatened – hit the panic button and police sirens set at 6 decibels will blast from your handheld device.

What’s the “secret sauce?”
Mobile applications are becoming convoluted. Options here, and options there – with the customer being lost moments into the applications initial launch. I believe NiteWolf will make its mark because of its user-friendly interface, and the basic, but important functionality. When not in security mode, NiteWolf doubles down as a beautiful widget – displaying the time on your smartphones homescreen. This is prime real estate, and that is why AlohaTech choose NiteWolf to be a widget. If you find yourself in a sticky situation, don’t waste valuable time scrolling through your apps, NiteWolf is right there on your UI – ready to serve and protect!

What is the best advice you’ve received so far?
I was on a flight to Pittsburgh and I met a very intriguing lady. As our conversation deepened, I found out that she was a pioneer for the dot-com bubble in Silicon Valley. Here I sat with this successful, experienced and very powerful woman, and all she wanted to do was listen to my story. After I stopped trying to impress her, she said, “The importance behind the dot-com era was that nobody ever believed in failure, we didn’t have the time…so never look at what you’re doing as failure.” The obvious advice here is to keep going forward, put out relevant content, and stay positive. The real time (subliminal) advice I took from this moment – just listen, and listen to people’s story.

How does AlohaTech plan to generate revenue?
Advertising will be the primary source for generating income, but we are strategizing in other areas of interest. AlohaTech wants to provide an environment that serves a fresh feeling of value. Value can be in the form of free mobile applications, such as NiteWolf, or cool giveaways for website interaction. When Aloha’s following is large enough, a ‘luxury’ value will be introduced. Our luxury (paid) line of mobile applications will focus on cosmetics and beautification — but timing and patience is everything. For now, AlohaTech will keep building and trying to stay relevant in Austin.

Q&A Wednesday :: AlohaTech / NiteWolf

Q&A Wednesday :: SubtleData

Today’s Q&A Wednesday is Richard Bagdonas, founder and CTO of SubtleData, a platform for developers that want to create mobile solutions for the hospitality industry. Be their 125th follower on AngelList and win a Starbucks gift card.

Q: Explain what you do in a way that my mom can understand?

Everybody has a smart phones these days which are basically computers in the palm of your hand. The software developers who make applications for these phones want to have their apps “talk” to Point of Sale systems like the ones you find at the front of your local Walmart or at your favorite restaurants and hotels. Getting their application to talk to the Point of Sale is very tricky and requires a lot of extra software that runs locally on the Point of Sale and even more software that is in the “cloud.” SubtleData builds software that talks to many different types of Point of Sale systems and we let software developers plug their phone apps into our software. The result is that your phone can perform tasks like ordering an appetizer, paying your bill, and even getting your receipt emailed to you.

Q: What was your “lightbulb” moment when you knew you had something?

The “lightbulb moment” happened at the 2012 SXSWi conference in Austin, Texas. I was walking around with two iPads mounted to my back that displayed demos of web applications that had been built on the SubtleData platform. Someone from Facebook asked for a demo and proceeded to ask me if I wanted to sell the company. The hyper-local approach to our data and the fact that we are integrated with Point of Sale systems that had never been integrated like we had done made me realize that we were in for a very fun ride. My hunch was right. In the past 6 months we have had several more offers to acquire the company.

Q: Why wouldn’t app developers build their own integration to the Point of Sale system?

The Point of Sale industry works in mysterious ways. The Point of Sale companies are contacted daily by developers who want to integrate with the POS system. The POS companies have to say no to them. The reason is that it takes significant resources to get an app integrated into the POS and requires knowledge and experience with integrations that most app developers just don’t have. I equate it to asking a race car driver to build their own car. They are good at making a car go fast around the track, but most don’t have a clue on how to build one from scratch. The same thing happens in the POS world. App developers are discouraged from building their own by POS companies charging $15,000-$50,000 just to integrate their app. This barrier to entry is one that most app developers cannot get past. They have to integrate with many POS systems and the idea of spending that type of money before you get to write a single line of code is daunting. By contrast, SubtleData has paid the POS companies and provides them with an outsourced integration model. The POS company never has to talk to the application developer. They rely on our expertise in integration and providing an API to their POS that the app developer cannot break. The result is that the app developer gets their app integrated into many POS systems and gets to market right away because they can simply “plug in” to the SubtleData platform.

Q: How did you get to be the #8 trending startup on AngelList?

AngelList is one of those sites that takes patience, understanding and dedication. Our rise to the top of their list of thousands of companies started when Josh Baer (see Skylist, OtherInbox, Capital Factory) assisted me in cleaning up our profile so that it “popped” when you read it. I then created a system for contacting the investors who were “following” us on AngelList. My thought was that this was a task that you had to do by hand and most companies probably didn’t take the time to converse with these investors. It worked and our numbers started going up quickly. After a few days we were in the top 20, then the top 12 and as of today, the top 8.

Q: What is the “secret sauce” that will make you shine above the competitors?

Competitors in this space take several forms. Some come from the Point of Sale companies themselves offering their APIs to developers. The challenge for POS companies is that their offering is tied to one Point of Sale system. Some competitors also come from app companies that open up their internal API to other developers. The challenge for these companies is that the features they offer are directly tied to what their app does (such as mobile payments) and they are creating cookie-cut copies of themselves. Not only are these companies directly competing with their clients, they don’t have the full depth and breadth of features that allow developers to build the multitude of applications needed by the retailers. The secret sauce for SubtleData is that we are integrated into the top Point of Sale systems with a feature-rich, standardized API that works across all Point of Sale systems without having to change the code in the application.

Q: Has the BizSpark One program been positive for the company?

BizSpark One has been an incredible boost to the company. Microsoft spent over 8 months vetting SubtleData for the BizSpark One program. It was not a trivial process. The result is having access to every business unit within Microsoft as well as access to the top resources for investors, business development, marketing and public relations. An example of how much it has helped our organization is when we were introduced to the head of worldwide retail at Microsoft by Christopher Griffin, our BizSpark One advisor. Christopher was able to get us into the man that created the Walmart Point of Sale system and now runs all of Microsoft Retail. We could never have done that if we didn’t have the backing of Microsoft.

Disclaimer: I am an advisor to SubtleData.

Q&A Wednesday :: SubtleData

Q&A Wednesday :: Toopher

Today’s Q&A Wednesday is with Toopher co-founder and CEO Josh Alexander.

Q: Explain what you do in a way that my mom can understand.
Toopher saves consumers and businesses billions by preventing online fraud and identity theft. We do this using the location-awareness of your smartphone. This way, you can actually just leave your phone in your pocket, and your online security increases exponentially.

Q: What was your “lightbulb” moment when you knew you had something?
Online security is a huge problem – last year the global economy lost over $114 billion – that’s the equivalent of loosing Peru. We knew anything we did to solve this problem would be a good idea; however, we knew we had a great product when the first response from executives from major financial institutions and security companies upon seeing Toopher is, “Wow.”

Q: Who are the hard working geniuses behind the company?

Evan Grim – Founder & CTO
Evan is Toopher’s evil genius. Born of necessity, love, and a healthy dose of good ‘ol paranoia, Evan birthed Toopher as his personal solution to defend his sensitive data online. But who better to write the next-generation security solution than a Software-Engineering PhD candidate with nearly a decade of experience in the security and network industry? Evan gained this experience as a Research Engineer at the Southwest Research Institute.

Evan is working on a PhD in Software Engineering in the Mobile and Pervasive Computing Lab at The University of Texas at Austin.

Josh Alexander – Co-Founder & CEO
It’s always ironic when the guy in charge of strategic vision wears glasses. Josh is Toopher’s business juggernaut. With a deep and extensive background in investments, strategy, corporate finance, and enough tech know-how to be dangerous, Josh manages Toopher’s corporate and business development. Josh’s experience includes Adjunct Professor of Finance at the McCombs School of Business (UT Austin), Sr. Advisor at Durbin Bennett Peterson, CFO of Lucas Petroleum, and Consultant at Tucker Alan. Josh earned an MBA in Finance and Strategic Management with honors from the Wharton School, a BA in the Plan II Honors Program with special and high honors and a BBA in Finance with honors from The University of Texas at Austin, and a Professional Certification in Computer Science from Stanford University

Little known fact – Josh and Evan have known each other for over 15 years – in 1999 they were runners-up in the Tom Clark High School Talent Show.

Q: What is the “secret sauce” that will make you shine above the competitors?
Our secret sauce is location-awareness. Others have used the smartphone as a tool for authentication, but never in a passive way that gives users all of the security without any of the hassle. That’s Toopher’s intellectual property – we give users all of the benefits of current two-factor technology without the cost or hassle.

Q: We’ll know we made it when:
Toopher is committed to building a wildly successful company and solving an incredible problem. We could throw out all sorts of compelling benchmarks – earning over $100 million in revenue, creating high quality, sustainable jobs in Austin, or being invited to Mark Zuckerberg’s house, but ultimately, we’ll know we made it when we begin to reverse the trend of pernicious cybercrime growth.

Q&A Wednesday :: Toopher