Just four years ago, Mass Relevance and Spredfast were competing head-t0-head in the inaugural Startup Games. Now, the two social media analytics companies have merged into one, and Spredfast has outgrown the Startup Games altogether.
And just as Spredfast has boomed, so have the Startup Games, which is an olympic style competition for small tech companies that includes events like ping-pong, Jenga and flip cup. Last year, the Startup Games launched Level Up, a version of the games for larger tech companies with at least 250 employees. That drew six Austin companies to the event and generated about $21,000 for a variety of charities.
This year’s Level Up, which happens Saturday at Fair Market in east Austin, will have 10 tech companies battling for bragging rights and to win the most money for their chosen charities. Organizers expect donations for local charities will more than double to about $46,000. Olympic gold medal swimmer Garrett Weber-Gale will run the Level Up torch into Fair Market, the teams, dressed in team colors, will sing the National Anthem and the games begin. This year, everyone will be looking to take out last year’s champion, BuildASign.
The competition comes as Notley Ventures, the venture capital and nonprofit firm founded by BuildASign Founder Dan Graham and his wife, Lisa, looks to expand the Startup Games into other cities. The first stop later this year is in Denver, which has a fast-growing startup scene that is spread between the Mile High City and Boulder.
“It’s that same kind of feeling where Austin was a few years ago in its growth,” Sara Levy, executive director of Notley Fund and the Startup Games, said.
Notley is also looking into launching the games in several other cities, although it hasn’t revealed where just yet. Levy said that her team’s goal is to raise $1 million for nonprofits across the nation once they’ve expanded into more markets.
Meanwhile, Notley Fund is launching its other charity event, Philanthropitch, in Atlanta in June. That event, which features nonprofits and social good startups rapidly pitching their purpose to angel investors who then provide investment and advisory services. So far, that has raised more $375,000 for nonprofits and social good startups.
Austin’s Philanthropitch event is May 2 at the Zach Theater, and organizers expect about $125,000 of giving that night.
Here’s a look at the 10 companies participating this year’s Startup Games: Level Up event and their chosen charities.
- Accruent – Habitat for Humanity
- Bigcommerce – Stupid Cancer
- BuildASign – Lung Cancer Alliance
- Drillinginfo – The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
- HomeAway – Mobile Loaves & Fishes: Community First
- Main Street Hub – Austin Pets Alive
- RetailMeNot – Boys & Girls Club of Austin
- Spiceworks – Championship Hearts Foundation
- Spredfast – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas
- The Honest Company – Ronald McDonald House CTX