Startups Seek Big Boost from SXSW Accelerator Competition
Thirty-two startups – such as travel search engine Hipmunk, social gaming developer Portalarium and mobile video-calling service Tango – will compete for pride and prominence March 14 and 15 during South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas.
The third annual SXSW Accelerator, whose major sponsor is Microsoft BizSpark, will crown winners in four categories: news-related technologies, social media, entertainment technologies and innovative web technologies. This year, more than 400 companies vied for the chance to present at the SXSW Accelerator.
“The SXSW Accelerator program continues to attract a record number of submissions, and we’re very proud of the caliber of this year’s finalists,” said Chris Valentine, coordinator of the program.
On the first day of the SXSW Accelerator, the 32 companies will “battle for your taste-making, trend-setting attention,” according to SXSW. Judges will pick one winner in each category; a live audience at the Hilton Austin Downtown will watch the companies’ presentations.
Three companies from each of the four categories will face a fresh panel of judges March 15, the second day of the competition. That evening, the four grand-prize winners will be announced.
Among the big-name judges March 14 and 15 will be Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief of Mashable; Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook; Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist; blogger Robert Scoble; Tom Conrad, chief technology officer at Pandora; Mark Hindsbo, a vice president at Microsoft; and Helene Armitage, a software executive at IBM.
More than 40 percent of companies that participated in the Accelerator competitions in 2009 and 2010 later received funding.
Here are some of the companies chosen for the 2011 edition of the SXSW Accelerator:
• Kabbage, whose technology analyzes online merchants and tailors funding options to meet their needs. Rob Frohwein, CEO of Kabbage, said: “We hope the recognition garnered through our participation at SXSW will accelerate our growth and thereby enable us to fund more online merchants. The health of these merchants is critical to the recovery of our economy.”Continued on the next page