On the final day of Dallas Startup Week, eight early-stage companies took the stage to pitch their ideas for a chance at fresh funding.
After completing an accelerator program hosted by Capital One—for which each company received $2,000 in grant funding—the group of startups from across the U.S. made their pitches Thursday to a panel of judges for a collective $30,000 in prize funding.
Companies were judged in multiple categories in areas like the problem they’re addressing, the expertise of the team, differentiation, product, and presentation on a scale of one to five.
McKinney auto enthusiast app takes the top prize
Taking home the top prize of $15,000 was Autix, a McKinney-based app for automotive enthusiasts. With plans to launch its MVP later this year, Autix allows users to track and share modifications made to their vehicles, documenting the total value of the asset when a user goes to sell. Founded in 2018, Autix won the CodeLaunch DFW pitch competition last November. The company said it’s seeking to raise $1.75 million for hiring and marketing, with plans to eventually expand its platform to include boats and other types of vehicles.
“People are looking for a way to document the assets and the modification that they’ve done to their car, with the goal of getting value out of it at the end of its lifecycle,” Autix CEO Jake Hamann said at the event. “The solution is Autix. We’re providing a platform for automotive enthusiasts to track their modifications, but most importantly, to generate what we’re calling an X estimate. Think of it as a Zillow estimate for modified vehicles. And we’re amplifying that enthusiast ecosystem along the way.”
Fintech startup takes home second
Winning the No. 2 prize of $10,000 was Higher Rewards, a California-based maker of self-branded credit cards. Formed in 2018, Higher Rewards works with nonprofits and religious organizations to create cards that can be used by donors to give back 2% of their spending to the organization, while in turn receiving tax credits. Bootstrapped with $800,000 from the company’s leadership, Higher Rewards is currently raising a $1.5 million funding round at a $10 million valuation.
“When I take a step back and look at society, I think who is it out there that has the biggest impact? Nonprofits, faith-based organizations,” said Jarret Wright, founder of Higher Rewards, at the event. “If for no other reason, they have this baked-in infrastructure that’s really geared towards community involvement. The problem is, these organizations have no easy, affordable, or really scalable way to raise funds.”
Financial literacy startup wins Crowd Favorite prize
While the judges had the final say for the first and second prizes, the audience chose the winner of the $5,000 Crowd Favorite prize. That went to Atlanta-based Simple Money Academy. Already working with around 60 colleges and universities, the on-demand financial literacy curriculum for students uses gifts and short videos to engage users on topics like entrepreneurship, personal finance, credit, and stock market investing.
The other startups who pitched
- Leasly Financial (New York): A fintech startup connecting lenders and dealers to consumers to help them lease a vehicle online
- Janta Power (Dallas): A clean-energy tech company focused on developing 3D solar power cells
- Hoboloco (Plano): Developer of a foot-operated controller that can be used in applications from virtual reality to gaming and tele-operations
- Angstrom Piezoelectric Company (Dallas): A company developing a new electronic braking system for vehicles
- Ostrich (New York): A financial habit building app aimed at college students that uses social accountability to help users develop better financial skills
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