CodeLaunch DFW took over Frisco’s Comerica Center last night for a combination “tech tradeshow, startup conference, and raucous networking event”—and McKinney-based Autix Automotive was the night’s big winner.
In the days leading up to the seed accelerator event, six startup finalists worked with local volunteer seed sponsor “dev shops” to hone their products for final presentations last night.
Frisco’s mayor: Entrepreneurism “is part of our DNA”
Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney welcomed the audience at Comerica Center, noting that “entrepreneurism here in our city is part of our DNA, part of our culture.” He thanked CodeLaunch for holding the event in Frisco, where CodeLaunch DFW has taken place since 2013.
“We treat our entire city as an innovation hub, and we’re starting to get attention across the country,” Cheney said. “We have over 250 startups here in Frisco—and we’re just getting started. We’re going to be the first large city in the country to start with drone deliveries—it’s actually starting here in the next couple of weeks, where you can order a coffee from Starbucks and have it drone-delivered to your house in seven minutes.”
The mayor said Frisco is also working with partners like the University of North Texas “to prepare for the creative economy, and really build our own companies—one of which may be awarded here tonight and, with your services, to become the next great company.”
CodeLaunch’s “conscious capitalism” mission
CodeLaunch President and Founder Jason W. Taylor spoke next about his accelerator’s “conscious capitalism” mission.
“In the entire stratosphere of accelerators and incubators in the world, I know of none besides CodeLaunch that take no equity and charge nothing to startups to apply and benefit from the program,” he said to a round of applause.
And the winner is… Autix Automotive
By night’s end, the audience had heard presentations from the six startups and voted for the winner: Autix Automotive. (The five other startups are profiled at the end of this story.)
Jake Hamann, CEO of Autix, worked with a seed sponsor team from Frisco strategic technology advisors Leverture in the run-up to CodeLaunch. “Leverture has been a great development partner for us,” Hamann said before the event.
Autix Automotive is an an online app platform for automotive enthusiasts, enabling them to create, share, and explore custom vehicle profiles. On the stage at CodeLaunch, Hamann said he got the idea for Autix out of frustration with the experience of modifying his Jeep. He found it hard to find resources and ways to share tips and insights. Even online Jeep clubs weren’t enough of a help.
Hamann soon realized “the problem wasn’t just with the Jeep enthusiast market,” it was shared by auto enthusiasts in general.
“32 million households a year modify their vehicles,” Hamann said onstage at CodeLaunch. “SEMA—the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association—estimated in 2019 that it’s a $45.8 billion industry.”
And yet, people often modify their rides without a good place to share their automotive obsessions.
“Automotive hobbyists and enthusiasts lack the means by which to build, share, and view profiles of customized vehicles,” Hamann said.
Attracting all these people to one destination could pay big dividends, he pointed out.
“Nine out of 10 automotive enthusiasts are likely to recommend their vehicle to somebody else—and enthusiasts are four times more valuable to marketers than the average consumer.”
The solution he offers is Autix. It breaks auto-obsessions down into six categories: classics; exotics; off-road; sports cars; “tuners”; and trucks/SUVs.
Hamann says there are lots of ways Autix can make money.
“Automobile dealerships are a prime target that we’re working on already right now,” he said. “Advertising and promotions through the platform through paid ads” are another monetization source.
Ultimately, he plans to make Autix a platform for buying and selling vehicles as well.
Hamann says Autix is now working on a partnership with a previous CodeLaunch DFW winner, ParkUpFront, which calls itself “the social network and event management platform for the car community.”
Aiming to secure $1.5 million in funding
Autix’s founder said that he’s looking to secure an additional $1.5 million in funding for the platform he’s bringing out of CodeLaunch DFW. The funding will be used for his team, marketing, product development, and execution of his social media strategy.
The other startups pitching at CodeLaunch DFW 2021 included:
Phix Health, a Dallas-based medical technology startup that’s developing a leading-edge platform it says will offer “an unprecedented level of connectivity,” primarily between participants and their providers.
With existing tech and proprietary AI, Phix plans to enable communication of health and wellness data through a centralized hub. Reporting and analysis of this data by providers can improve clinical benefits and reduce overall healthcare costs for all parties involved, the startup says. Mark Schultz is the CEO; he worked with a seed sponsor team from Improving in the days before the event.
SWME (pronounced “Swim”), a Dallas-based SaaS platform that stands for Suites Workflow Made Easier. A seed sponsor team from Round Pegs Marketplace worked with SWME’s founder and CEO Totteanna Shanklin in the run-up to the event.
The SWME tech solution streamlines backend operations and automating tasks for beauty salon suite renters. “We are a beauty business,” Shanklin said last night. “We plan to go after the big boys, the big players, the enterprises with a minimum of 60 suite runners.”
Vulcan Grills, San Diego-based makers of wood-pellet grill/smoker hybrids featuring “Fire and Forget” technology. Onboard electronics ensure that the grill “stays at temperature for hours, taking the guesswork out of your grilling routine.” Also, it’s cordless with no loud generator to disturb your backyard vibe.
Vulcan’s line of 100% natural wood pellets is made from only the finest, food-grade hardwoods, “sustainably harvested and selected for flavor.” The flavors include pecan, cherry, mesquite, apple, and hickory—”one simple ingredient to deliver one powerful flavored smoke.” Fred Leavitt is the startup’s owner and founder; he worked with a seed sponsor team from Dialexa to prepare for the event.
Ducie Club, a Lynden, Washington-based buyer’s club offering discounts on gas and restaurant meals, exclusive reseller info and “hidden deals,” supplies, merchandise, and shopping rewards. Its co-founder and CEO is Ron Williams. Jetje Williams is co-founder and director. A seed sponsor team from Code Authority worked with Ducie Club in the run-up to the event.
The startup says it provides “transparency to make the global supply chain proactive by keeping brand new excess and obsolete products out of landfills. And talk about data aggregation—”We have first hand knowledge that’s compiled from 10+ years, 17 countries, 750K+ miles driven, and 10K+ store visits across all sizes and scales,” Ducie Club says on its website.
Chat Plays, “the next step in chat gaming” for live streaming platforms, from founder and full-time college student Matias Barcelo of Rockwall, was the event’s Student Founder Finalist. Barcelo made his way to the finals as the best of the Student Founder category after an 8-week CodeLaunch curation process. He worked with the Allata seed sponsor team to gear up for last night’s event.
“A lot of times when you are a startup, especially at this stage, it’s really difficult,” Barcelo said in a CodeLaunch blog post. “Especially when you’re a student and don’t have a job yet. So, events like CodeLaunch are perfect for people like me.”
Next up for Spring 2022: CodeLunch Houston
CodeLaunch held its first event outside of Dallas last August with CodeLaunch Atlanta. The accelerator’s next event outside Dallas will be CodeLaunch Houston, slated for March 30, 2022, at the Bayou Music Center in downtown Houston.
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