Here are 6 Texas companies that are competing in this year’s SXSW Accelerator Pitch event

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In its 10th year, the SXSW Accelerator Pitch event has selected 50 company finalists representing 10 different categories to pitch their innovative ideas at the 2018 annual conference. Out of the 50 companies from around the globe, six are based in Texas.

1. 14bis Supply Tracking: Houston

Security & Privacy Technologies finalist

While taking a course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the four co-founders of 14bis Supply Tracking worked on an project to try to stop counterfeit parts from being used in airplanes and making it into the aerospace industry.

“We are trying to create safer flights for people and cargo, ultimately,” said Alexis Dames, co-founder and CMO. “We do this by ensuring each part that’s on the airplane is the part that’s supposed to be there.”

At least 2 percent of parts in circulation are known to be counterfeit, according to the company’s website. 14bis Supply Tracking’s goal is to track each part of an airplane from its creation through every step of the supply chain.

Dames said SXSW is an opportunity for the company to present its solution to the world, make connections with other industries and present the new era of blockchain, which is a way of keeping continuous, linked records.

“It’s almost overwhelming,” Dames said. “We feel very privileged to be there.”

Based in Houston, 14bis Supply Tracking drew inspiration for its name from Alberto Santos-Dumont’s invention of the 14bis, a wooden and fabric lined aviation craft.

2. Apptronik: Austin

Hyper-Connected Communities Technologies finalist

Austin-based company Apptronik aims to create robots to help first responders and put robots in “dull, dirty or dangerous jobs.”

The company started at the UT Human Center Robotics Laboratory and has since grown to have 14 employees and five contractors in Northwest Austin.

The company’s technology revolves around series elastic actuators, which act like the muscles of a robot and allow the joints to move, and control circuitry. They work with an open-source platform that can be adopted by anyone.

CEO Bill Welch said the company has a bipedal, or two-legged, robot and a human exoskeleton developed. Both are meant to “partner with human beings in a much more productive and safe way ahead for the human race.”

“We’re willing to share our product with everybody,” Welch said. “We want to help the whole industry move forward. We’re not afraid to compete later when we all have something innovative and useful.”

At SXSW, Welch said Apptronik is looking for exposure.

“We’ve been operating under the radar purposefully as we develop our technology,” he said. “We’re poised now to make a big decision. We can continue this very manageable growth, or we can say, ‘We’re ready now to say let’s accelerate this.’”

3. FastVisa US: Dallas

Enterprise and Smart Data Technologies finalist

In an effort to help nonprofits, higher education, government, law firms, enterprise human resources and other industries, FastVisa US aims to streamline the immigration workflow process from end-to-end.

Co-founder and CEO Paul Kang said he saw the process firsthand when his wife immigrated from South Korea. He said he knew there had to be a better solution.

Kang said the current U.S. immigration process is still in the pen-and-paper world.

“I want people to know that with immigration, there’s an issue with processing,” he said. “There’s a systematic issue in the process overall.”

Kang said the current political climate is putting pressure on organizations that have to go through the process–FastVisa US is helping.

The company chose Dallas for its headquarters because of the city’s immigrant population and is now part of The Dallas Entrepreneurship Center (The DEC).

“We’re always looking for partners and customers,” Kang said. “We want to work with everyone … everything touching and helping immigrants.”

4. GrubTubs: Austin

Hyper-Connected Communities Technologies finalist

Austin-based GrubTubs’ mission is to integrate cities and farmers to connect to supply chains.

The company collects food waste from restaurants, uses it to feed grubs, then partners with farmers who feed the grubs to farm animals. GrubTubs said it is able to divert waste from landfills, save costs and help local farmers, according to the company’s website.

While the company’s headquarters is in downtown Austin, the grubs are housed at a farm in Buda, Texas.

5. ICON 3D: Austin

Social and Culture Technologies finalist

Working in stealth until March 12, the Austin-based company is working toward building the first up-to-code 3-D-printed home in the U.S. According to the SXSW Accelerator Pitch website, ICON 3D has a contract with New Story (YC S15) in bringing to market the promise of robotic home-building.

6. m.io: Austin

Enterprise and Smart Data Technologies finalist

At a previous company, the founders of m.io found themselves wanting a solution for communicating across multiple messaging apps.

After developing a universal messaging network for themselves, they decided that m.io would be useful for anyone who uses messaging apps and switched their company’s product.

“It’s kind of stressful to get so many messages through so many channels,” CEO Tom Hadfield said.

M.io allows users in one app to talk to users in another app.

Hadfield said the company chose Austin for its headquarters because “it’s the place to be.” The company works with Capital Factory in downtown Austin.

“It’s easy to recruit top talent in Austin,” he said. “We’re all in it together … that’s something we haven’t found anywhere else.”

M.io launched publicly this week, right before SXSW. Hadfield said he is excited to have tens of thousands of potential customers all in one place.


After two days of pitches on March 10 and 11, judges will select a winner from each category and honor them at the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event Awards Ceremony on Sunday, March 11, at 7 p.m.

SXSW attendees also have the opportunity to meet all 50 companies at SXSW Accelerator Demo Day on Monday, March 12.

Follow Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage of SXSW at communityimpact.com/topics/sxsw.

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Tara Pohlmeyer
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