People Behind Tech Wildcatters Startups Share Business Stories

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STARTUP FOUNDERS SHARE WHAT SPURRED THEIR IDEAS


Editor’s Note: This post will be updated with information as it becomes available. 

Startups that will present Thursday during Tech Wildcatters Throw Down: Spring Pitch Day at the House of Blues in Dallas, took a moment this week to answer some questions about how their businesses began.

The presenting startups include: Cyphr Inc., Dycap Media Solutions, FastVisa, La Gioia, Mobifalcon, PRYZM, Selery Fulfillment, Skill Silo, StuntShare Inc., Tech EdVentures, and WunderHome.



Dawson Barksdale

Dawson Barksdale

Dawson Barksdale, co-founder and CEO of Cyphr, Inc.

What led you to start your business?
Well, the simple answer was we saw a problem. But, the longer answer is that with the growth in mobile, we pay more attention to our smartphones than we do our own friends and family sometimes. And businesses know this.

Large businesses have the budgets and marketing departments to interrupt users on the mobile devices, but local businesses don’t have an efficient, effective mobile marketing platform that can drive sales and actually build customer and brand loyalty. So, we built Cyphr to standardize mobile marketing for local businesses.

Local business owners work hard to promote and grow their business, they deserve an option to be mobile and have their voice be heard. And for the users of Cyphr, there’s no more searching through pages of deals, just unlock the businesses you like and they send out Secrets (timed deals) periodically. Save the Secret and redeem it in store before it expires, pretty simple. And nothing to pay for either. How cool!

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
We intend to disrupt the daily deals industry (don’t worry, we told them we were coming a year ago…). Daily deals businesses build loyalty to the deal. They created deal hunters, deal vultures, and devalued the brands of local worldwide in the process. Cyphr builds loyalty to the business, to the brand. Loyalty that lasts. Loyalty that is profitable for the business and for the users.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
We are launching in Dallas and Denver in June. Check us out in the App Store, search for “Get Cyphr” and look for the blue and white key. We have fallen in love with Dallas and cannot wait to grow our business here. The local culture is growing and we want to be a part of that.

Local businesses are what makes this country of ours so great, not politics. And we intend to give local businesses the voice they deserve to make America better than any president ever could. #LONGLIVELOCAL!

 

Armand Sepulveda

Armand Sepulveda


Armand Sepulveda, CEO of Dycap Media Solutions, Inc.

What led you to start your business?
I’m a freelance cameraman for ESPN and I notice that there is a huge demand for video content in all industries. However, currently the bottleneck for filming even more content, is the cameramen ourselves.

At Dycap, we automate cameras for live event filming, using the software version of a professional cameraman to remove the need for a manual and costly human cameraman.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
We do not require subjects being filmed with our software to wear a tracking beacon. We use artificial intelligence, mostly facial recognition, to understand who our subject being filmed is. Similar tech uses tracking beacons or is simply motion detection.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
Dycap is actively looking for distribution channels. Our current target end users are universities/colleges, enterprise businesses, broadcast entities, and houses of worship. Dycap will also be closing it’s seed round in early Fall.

 

FastVisa

Paul Kang


Paul Kang, co-founder and CEO of FastVisa

What led you to start your business?
My co-founder and I have been through the immigration and visa process ourselves.

When my wife and I got married, my wife, who is from South Korea, needed the fiancé visa and a green card (permanent resident card) to live in the United States. My initial plan was to hire an immigration attorney to handle the application process; however, the immigration attorney quoted us more than $10,000 to do the paper work! So, instead of hiring an immigration attorney, I decided to tackle my wife’s immigration application process by myself. Even with my legal background, it took me about a month to prepare required documents and complete the filing process. Also, my co-founder spent $15,000 just for the legal fees when he obtained his E visa, an investment visa.

While sharing our experiences, we recognized the need for change in the immigration service market. This led us to start FastVisa, to make U.S. immigration and visa processes easier, faster, and more affordable.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
FastVisa’s depth and breadth of offerings differentiate us from others in the immigration preparation services industry. FastVisa not only offers products and solutions for individual immigration needs (e.g., green cards, naturalization, etc.), but also for businesses and corporations (e.g., work visas such as H-1B). Moreover, we provide flexible legal options to fit customers’ immigration budget.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
The immigration market is huge and getting bigger every year.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, more than 6.6 million people were naturalized as U.S. citizens during the last decade. Last year alone, that figure was 729,995. There were over 12 million immigration and non-immigration visas issued in 2015.

Because of the political issue, immigration is one of the hottest topics in the U.S. right now, and there is a growing need for high quality immigration preparation services in this market.

FastVisa looks forward to being in the forefront of changing the landscape of the immigration/visa preparation experience.

 

La Goia

William Lechuga


William Lechuga, CEO of La Gioia

What led you to start your business?
When I travel, I choose to stay at boutique hotels, they are fun and amusing. Over the years, I realized how much effort these hotels put into music, lighting, food, toiletries, even pillows, but not uniforms. I started to research about it and I soon realized how large the opportunity actually was and got really excited. I am glad Tech Wildcatters was able to see that. Every company in this program is so unique, they got that right, diversity.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
I bring innovation to an otherwise boring industry. The hospitality world is going boutique and uniforms have yet to respond to that change, La Gioia does. We look at suitcases today and it is obvious to us that they have wheels, but they didn’t always have.

Today, uniforms are boring and mass produced, but that is not what a uniform is supposed to be, a uniform should tell your brand’s story, send a message, a mobile billboard your employees will be wearing for hours, ideally to and from work every day. If it means nothing, then why bother? We are changing that.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
Born in Spain, I have been coming to Texas for 16 years straight to visit my best friend. I always thought I would come here one day and start my own business and here I am, today I am living that dream and I couldn’t be happier.

 

Eb Eshun

Eb Eshun


Eb Eshun, President and CEO of Mobifalcon Inc

What led you to start your business?
I travel a lot for business to Asia and there were many situations where I needed something, but had no clue where to find it, meanwhile I don’t speak the language. So, on my way back to the U.S. on one of my trips, I asked myself if there is an app that I can use during my next trip that allows me to browse local stores on my phone to look for what I need. It needed to have real inventory that I can browse and GPS directions in Chinese that I can give to any cab driver to drive me over to get what I need and back to my hotel. I did not find an app quite like this.

Google maps will tell you things around you, but what is missing is what the store sells for the user to browse real inventory. So, I decided to start the Global Mobile Mall that does exactly what I needed. This problem happens daily to everyone, when we need something local, we keep driving around looking for it. Now, this can be done on a mobile device or on the web for those who prefer using the web.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
There are apps that will tell you what is around you, but what they don’t have is what the business sells. There is no way now to browse local store inventories on a mobile device unless the store has a mobile app. Apps are very expensive, so for the small business there is no ROI for them to have their own mobile app — only the big retailers have their own mobile app, leaving the small business out of the mobile marketplace.

Even if all stores can afford mobile apps, the consumer will have to download too many apps to browse all stores, which is not practical. Our solution, the Global Mobile Mall, brings all local shopping in one place with real inventory for users to browse. We add e–commerce, so the consumer can buy for pickup if the business enables buy buttons. Come Black Friday, this will reduce the need for long lines, users can buy and pick up at their convenience and take advantage of deals without the long lines. [It also] allows small businesses to participate in Black Friday deals, not just the Walmarts of the world.

We create Mobile Store Fronts for businesses who join the platform with information that the business fills out in a template system. We add a cloud database with inventory management functions that allows the business to upload their inventory or synchronize their Mobile Store Front to their inventory management platform. Our platform is already connected to Quickbooks online, so any business using Quickbooks online for inventory can be up and running in a few minutes.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
We also built in a complete social media platform which is the world’s first real omni-channel shopping social media platform. Businesses can push their products from their Mobile Store Front to the social media platform and share on other social media platforms. Users can share their shopping experiences, connect with their favorite businesses, friends, create shopping lists, and set price alerts. Businesses can market to their favorite customers who are most likely to buy from them. We provide intelligent analytics with the unique data we have, making our platform very unique.

Looking into the future, we have tested a complete RFID end-to-end solution for inventory and asset tracking and will be offering this solution in the near future to anyone who wants to upgrade from barcode to RFID. This will also be the world’s first plug-and–play RFID end-to-end solution.

We are starting a pilot program on June 1 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Businesses can signup to join the pilot at mobifalcon.com or through the app. It’s free for three months.



Pryzm

Chaz Marshall


Chaz Marshall of Pryzm

What led you to start your business?
The idea for Pryzm was born out of the cofounders’ love for photography, optics, and concerts/festivals. Having your phones out at shows has been a huge topic of discussion among people in the music industry. Some people hate it, and think they should be put away. We think it’s the most valuable marketing tool you can have, and a big reason the festival market is doing so well right now is because of how often current fans share content/how much content they’re sharing per post. Creative lenses that help make each post more creative, made sense as the next logical step.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
A lot of our competitors have the same options of different lenses (fisheye, zoom, macro, etc.) while our lenses change the way light travels through your phone’s camera, and comes up with pictures that are a lot more unique/individualized.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
I am a freelance photographer in the electronic dance music industry who has worked for artists such as Big Gigantic, Autograf, Le Youth, and, more recently, for the grammy nominated artist ZHU.

 

Justin White

Justin White


Justin White, co-founder of Selery Fulfillment

What led you to start your business?
We started our business by accident. My co-founder and I were selling our own products ourselves and we had a customer approach us to see if we could store his products and ship his orders to customers for him because he had outgrown his garage.

We put up a few ads on Craigslist to see if other businesses/people needed it and it turns out they did. They began to refer their friends and we slowly started to grow and become a stand alone business.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
We help small businesses build their brand by packaging and shipping their orders in a personalized way.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
If you’re a small business and really want to build your brand and have your orders shipped out same-day to your customers we’re for you.

 

Josh Aharonoff

Josh Aharonoff


Josh Aharonoff, CEO of Skill Silo

What led you to start your business?
I’m a huge learning enthusiast, and I made a goal a couple years ago to learn Spanish. After meeting with someone via videoconferencing, I was amazed at my level of progress, and decided to leave my job as a CPA and share this new way of learning with the world.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
We allow you to connect instantly with a live professional, at any time, and from anywhere in the world. This allows you to customize your learning, ask questions and receive instant feedback, and have a ton of fun while learning a subject.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
Our goal is to expand our services from just languages to any subject in the world, whether that be computer programming, photography, or even something like how to do a backflip. You want to learn something? One day we will be able to provide you with a live tutor for an affordable price, via the click of a button.

 

Daniel Pena

Daniel Pena


Daniel Pena, CEO and co-founder of Stuntshare

What led you to start your business?
I’ve been traveling and having adventure experiences all my life. In most of my trips, it was really difficult to find local suppliers that we’re able to give me a different experience, a local taste, and personal attention, not to mention an affordable price. When I finally found the perfect supplier, they told me they don’t get their customers by internet because there wasn’t a easy way to do it, that’s when it clicked to me.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
We find suppliers that are really difficult to find for our competitors, they focus mostly on big adventure companies and not local business because it is harder to get to know the best local businesses. With the help of technology we are taking a sharing economy model to the adventure travel industry to get local businesses that have more unique experiences, better service, safety, and affordable prices.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
One of our main advantages as a team is the experience we have in adventure activities, we’ve been mountain guides, pro athletes, and more, also with a good technology background.

 

Allen Selis

Allen Selis


Allen Selis, founder of Tech EdVentures

What led you to start the business?
Four years ago, I was the headmaster of a private school near Palo Alto and, yes, we did actually have one kid with parents at both Google and Apple. What did we do for her? We built a robot that painted in water-color. Then we started programming microchips in C++ with middle schoolers. I was hooked.

When I moved to Dallas, I saw how little most schools across the country were doing to teach coding and engineering and I saw an amazing opportunity. That’s how Tech EdVentures was started.

What differentiates your business?
The problem with teaching robotics and coding is that knowing the technical side is not enough. Most of our competitors are solid technically, but amateurs at teaching. As the founder of Tech EdVentures I bring a Ph.D. in curriculum and two decades of supervising teachers. That translates into a more effective curriculum than our competitors. It’s our secret sauce. We know how to bring this subject to life for kids better than anyone in our field.

The other differentiator is that we’re much more ambitious. We teach electronics to Kindergarteners and robotics to first graders. Programming that’s not usually taught until high school? We do that in fourth grade. We simply set a higher bar than anyone else imagines — and kids rise to the challenge.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?
Coding and robotics are the new reading and writing. If your child doesn’t have any background in programming or engineering, they will be left behind in a very competitive marketplace. Our most loyal parents see where the global economy is heading and will do whatever it takes to give the most valuable skills to their kids. We’re here to make that happen.

One last point — our failure to teach technical skills to young kids, or to teach them badly, shuts a lot of talented kids out of the market. When people ask why we have fewer girls in the sciences or why Silicon Valley has so little diversity in its top companies, you can trace the shortage back to education. If we want equal access to technology careers, it’s got to start with superb teaching and mentoring. We want to change the face of technology by bringing everyone on to the field.

 

Dustin Dunham

Dustin Dunham


Dustin Dunham, co-founder of WunderHome

What led you to start your business?
After flipping a few investment properties, I realized just how much agent commissions ate into my net profit. In the past, agents controlled all the information from pricing and inventory to marketing channels. Those days are over. Co-Founder Archer Hobson has a real estate technology background and we are carving out a niche real estate transaction platform in a large, but fragmented and heavily regulated market.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?
We’re the only completely commission-free brokerage around. Our competitors pretty much all pay commission out of the seller’s gross profit to the buyer’s agent at closing — we don’t. We’re focused on creating liquidity in flipper/builder/investor portfolios by reducing transaction costs and connecting them to qualified buyers.

What led you to start your business?
We met on a street corner in Oak Cliff where Archer was asking people survey questions for an application he was building.

I have a prodigious ability to rip ’80s guitar solos and Archer thinks rollerblades are still cool.


READ MORE
Initial Batch From Tech Wildcatters’ ‘Gauntlet’
To Make Pitches Thursday

The Tech Wildcatters Throw Down pitch event at House of Blues will feature 11 startups. To learn more about the event on May 26, 2016, visit techwildcatters.com.

PHOTO GALLERY

Startups prepped for the Tech Wildcatters Throw Down at a pre-pitch event at the Tech Wildcatters HQ.


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