Startup Southerner is proud to present the Southern Startup Report in partnership with LookFar, a New Orleans software development studio committed to supporting and accelerating technological innovation in the greater Southeast. The Southern Startup Report is a twice-monthly, curated newsletter covering the latest startup happenings in the American Southeast. Subscribe here if you like what you’re reading.
Southern Startup News | May 5 – May 19:
New Orleans, LA – Tulane Startup Wins International Business Model Competition – Tulane startup Instapath Bioptics has picked up $30K and a prestigious first-place finish at this year’s International Business Model Competition in Mountain View, CA. Instapath’s three-person team of Tulane researchers and graduate students are the first representatives of a Southern university to win the IBMC since the competition began in 2012. The startup came out ahead of a packed field of teams from universities including Harvard and Johns Hopkins.
It’s yet another win (and yeah, I said this last SSR too) for the New Orleans biotech cluster. While Instapath’s victory isn’t about to raise eyebrows on the strength of volume alone, the IBMC is a major competition that attracts serious international attention. Not only that, but they’re the second health-tech team – after BioAesthetics – to notch a major victory on the West Coast. We’re seeing these young companies clear the early funding gap that so often confronts Southern startups, and the manner in which they’re doing it makes them enormously credible ambassadors for the New Orleans tech scene.
Nashville, TN – Jumpstart Foundry, Entrepreneur Center Announce New Partnership – If New Orleans shows promise and progress as a health tech hub, Nashville is a model of what that potential might eventually lead to. The Tennessee city is a national epicenter for health IT startups (shameless plug: I did write an article on these regional hubs). 2016 alone saw health cluster startups raise more than $120M in the 11 deals that we were able to track.
Now, two of the city’s biggest names are partnering up to further promote sector growth. Jumpstart Foundry has spent the last couple of years narrowing focus from being a broad-spectrum accelerator, to a digital health accelerator, to a fund investing strictly in early stage health-tech companies. It operates as one of several micro-funds established throughout Tennessee by Solidus Capital, one of the state’s longest-running VC firms.
Jumpstart’s newest move will see them join forces with The Entrepreneur Center, a primary support organization for Nashville entrepreneurs. The EC has increasingly turned its eyes toward doing more to leverage Nashville’s enormous health care industry. Details of their partnership with Jumpstart are still fuzzy, but it’s worth noting that both groups have recently withdrawn from offering health-tech accelerators and have expressed interest in less traditional means of supporting prospective founders. Anyway, further reporting as events merit.
Bentonville, AR – Wal-Mart to Establish New Tech Hub in North Arkansas – Last Thursday saw entrepreneurs in Northwest Arkansas celebrate the opening of Exchange, a free coworking space in downtown Bentonville. Exchange is the result of a collaboration between RevUnit, a Bentonville producer of digital products, and Walmart. The coworking space is located next to RevUnit offices, and hosted entrepreneurs will – in theory – benefit from access to their team, but also to a network of Arkansas ESOs including Startup Junkie and Grit Studios.
One name that’s not necessarily on that list of open doors: Walmart. Unlike previous forays into the startup space – buying Jet for $3B, accepting pitches from retail startups – their involvement with Exchange looks to be largely hands-off. Resident teams will be drawn from numerous verticals, and Walmart has indicated that they largely intend the new space to be a learning opportunity for the company.
Volusia County, FL – FireSpring Fund Announces First Batch of Investments in Central Florida Startups – Volusia-based FireSpring Fund has selected 5 startups for its first round of investments. A 501(c)3 with the mission of creating a sustainable tech corridor in Central Florida, FireSpring last made news with their announcement of a $1M partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Now, $125K of that funding is being parceled out to local high-tech companies:
– Embedded Control Designs, a drone-tech startup that utilizes swarming technologies to provide highly-detailed information to farmers.
– Sensatek Propulsion Technology, a producer of remote monitors for gas turbines that gives operators advance warning of potential failures.
– Myers Devices LLC, a manufacturer of health-tech hardware that reduces the risks of contamination via frequently used suction devices.
– Censys Technologies Corporation, specialists in unmanned aerial systems, currently working to develop the flow of information in beyond-line-of-sight UAS operations.
– Weintraus LLC, a team of aeronautical experts developing the Hercules Space Tug, a concept space vehicle capable of moving small spacecraft in orbit.
North Carolina – Recipients of New Round of NC IDea Grants Announced – Six companies from around North Carolina will receive $50K each as they become the newest companies to receive NC Idea seed grants. Among the largest, longest-running early-stage private grants in the Southeast, NC Idea has now awarded over $5M to 120 North Carolina startups. The latest round saw over 173 applicants compete for 6 eventual awards. Recipients included edtech platform Connections for Autism and SiNON Therapeutics, a manufacturer of advanced pharmaceutical capsule technology.
Albany, GA – Microf – $96.7M Growth
Atlanta, GA – FullStory – $15M Series B
Atlanta, GA – QASymphony – $40M Series C
Jacksonville, FL – Finxact – $12M Seed
New Orleans, LA – Fluence Analytics – Undisclosed Series A
Orlando, FL – Edu(k)ate – $250K