Austin, Texas, is one of the nation's hottest hubs for startups. As home to the renowned SXSW Interactive Festival, Austin has everything entrepreneurs need to make their visions come to life, including plenty of investors with deep pockets, numerous top-ranked startup accelerators and a bustling community of peers. Here are some of the fastest growing Austin-based startups in 2016.
Skills Fund LLC
Skills Fund, a higher education lending startup, has a manifesto designed to grab the attention of anyone struggling with student loan debt. The company believes that student loans should benefit both students and lenders. The startup provides funding to students and IT programs that teach job skills, including coding boot camps. Education businesses and students share the risk in Skills Fund-brokered loans. The company received $11.5 million in seed funding in October 2015.
The traditional rental car industry is stuck in a rut and desperately needs innovation. This is what co-founders Todd Belveal and Bill Diffenderffer believed when they decided to launch Silvercar. This travel-sector startup aims to change the industry by providing customers with no-hassle, paperless policies — customers complete all rental agreements via Silvercar’s app — transparency in fees and top-notch customer service. Silvercar accomplishes its mission by renting one vehicle model in one color — the silver Audi 4A. Investors love this idea, which helped the startup raise $50 million in funding as of August 2016.
IT startup Datical has amassed an enthusiastic customer base and approximately $15 million in financing since its founding in 2012. The startup’s most profitable product is Datical DB, a business version of Liquibase, an open source tool created by Nathan Voxland in 2006 used to manage database changes during application updates. The customizable database solution helps programmers update systems seamlessly while still incorporating a company’s unique regulatory requirements and policies.
Humanify’s leadership includes experienced Fortune-500 heavyweights and tech geeks skilled at deploying IT solutions. The startup’s product, of the same name, provides flexible digital engagement software that allows businesses to personalize — or humanize — interactions with individual consumers quickly and intelligently, the aim of which is to boost a business’ bottom line. Humanify's biggest selling points are that it is easy to integrate into systems that businesses are already using and that it can be adapted to accommodate a company’s growth. This startup’s funding is undisclosed.
Verb brings together businesses, foundations and social entrepreneurs around the world, using a competition and prize model on a proprietary platform, to bring about social change. The startup’s innovative approach to changing the world is catching on; Verb closed a $2.3-million funding round in 2015, one of the largest ever for an Austin-based, social change startup. The company’s leading investors include the Tingari-Silverton Foundation and Graham Family Foundation.
Traditional delivery services can get packages to their destinations fast, but few offer services as fast as Dropoff does. This startup specializes in same-day delivery and has been delivering packages to businesses and individual customers in Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas successfully since 2014. Dropoff services are now available in Los Angeles, California, and the South Florida area, including Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Dropoff has raised more than $8 million from investors such as Silverton Partners, Austin Ventures and Mucker Capital.
Known as Favor for short, this company has turned couch potatoes into shoppers by delivering anything — within reason — to the customer’s doorstep. This fast-growing, Austin-based startup that delivers everything from food to consumer goods, passed the one million deliveries milestone in November 2015. Favor was available in six states and one Canadian province as of August 2016. The startup raised over $15 million in less than four years.