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Monday, March 12, 2018
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First Up

Brent: A strange start to the week. Austin Police today say a 17-year-old was killed a woman in her 70s was injured after the young man brought a delivered package inside a home in East Austin and it exploded. It was the second such fatal explosion from a package, which was not delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. The FBI and locals are on the case. Meanwhile, Police Chief Brian Manley urges folks in Austin to NOT open any packages that look suspicious or that you were not expecting.

The news made waves through SXSW crowds Monday when the Associated Press issued a breaking news alert. Then, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a $15K reward for information leading to an arrest.

Alright, be careful out there. Now, let’s kick a Beat…

The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Austin Startups Pitch the Future of Affordable Living 

I’m going to unofficially name today SXSW Housing Day because I got an interesting update on Austin’s Kasita tiny homes — and some hot news about a 3D printed house that was revealed today by a new Austin startup.

Let’s start with the 3D printed home. It’s a new product by ICON, a new Austin startup coming out of the Saturn Five startup studio founded by Vesta Printers co-founder Alex Le Roux and Treehouse co-founders Jason Ballard and Evan Loomis. ICON debuted the 650 sq. ft. single-level home in Austin today. They can print it out of mostly long lines of cement in under 24 hours for less than $4K using a Vulcan printer, and their plan is to start making a lot of homes in El Salvador. Their aim is to ease housing shortages. (Learn more in this Wired article.)

Meanwhile, I met with Kasita CEO Martyn Hoffmann at Palm Park on the east edge of downtown to tour the latest tiny home and all the tricked out smart home features. Hoffman, who I last wrote about in November, said Kasita has been gaining a lot of new traction with developers in New York, California and Colorado, getting commitments for hundreds of the Kasita units over the next couple years. Meanwhile, it has been selling the units in Austin mostly to folks who want one for their backyard for friends, relatives, rentals or an extension to their home.

The news means Kasita will likely be facing a decision about whether to open start contracting to have Kasitas built at an additional location — or get a new facility. Their current space in East Austin can build about 100 of the homes a year, Hoffman said. Currently, their largest orders are by someone who is planning to put multiple units in urban in-fill locations. The units, which start at under $100K, typically require a foundation and installation of sewer, water and electricity lines. And, aside from the smart home features that let you set customized lighting, music and mood themes, it’s Kasita’s ability to be moved to a new site that helps make it a somewhat versatile option for homeownership.

Hoffman said that after SXSW, Kasita is taking its sample unit on a road show to California, with plenty of stops along the way before it ends up in Detroit in a couple months.

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves today.

2 Austin Startups Win at SXSW Accelerator Awards

Ten startups, including two from Austin, won SXSW Accelerator Pitch awards Sunday evening. ICON 3D, which we wrote about above, won in the “social and culture” category for its 3D printed home. Meanwhile, GrubTubs, which helps restaurants make use of otherwise wasted food, won in the “hyper-connected communities” category. You can find all the winners here.

Adthena Opens U.S. HQ in Austin

Adthena, a London-based search intelligence platform company, is opening its U.S. headquarters in Austin. The company’s U.S. HQ will house sales, recruiting, customer success and marketing positions.

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

– Exclusive: Alexa is coming to the office (Axios)
– Sony’s wild AR hologram tech continues to get better and better(The Verge)
– VMware Shareholder Slams ‘Terrible’ Dell Technologies Talks(Bloomberg)

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

TurnKey Vacation Rentals’ $31M Series D

Austin-based TurnKey Vacation Rentals, which uses smart locks, tablets, decibel monitors and housekeeping schedulers to simplify short-term rental property management, has raised a $31M Series Dfunding round to expand its tech tools and launch in new markets. The funding was led by Adams Street Partners, which has contributed to TurnKey’s previous rounds. Altos Ventures also contributed to the round along with two unnamed institutional investors. TurnKey Vacation Rentals has raised $72M to date.

In The Community

The events and happenings to know about tonight and this week.



Keeping Austin Weird & Wired

The fun stuff

Elon Musk Crashes the Party

Elon Musk became the biggest name in tech to show up at SXSW Interactive this year when he had a surprise appearance Saturday night at a party after Ashton Kutcher‘s Perfect Pitch event and during a packed house at ACL Live on Sunday early afternoon. During his chat, he said SpaceX might be able to start sending rockets to Mars sometime next year.

Though he had a nice dad joke about Mars bars, it was this quote from the ABJ’s story that I thought was most interesting (beyond a reiteration of his concerns about the future of AI):

It won’t be an escape hatch for rich people. It won’t be that at all. It will be like Shackleton’s ad for Antarctic explorers — difficult, dangerous, a good chance you will die, excitement for those who survive.”

Meanwhile, I took a breather from the SXSW action by laying down in a hammock, like this guy pictured below, and enjoying a remote beach experience put together by Dell Technologies using VR and headphones. Nope, wasn’t the most impressive VR I’ve seen… but for sure one of the most relaxing. One of the staff guys there said a woman fell asleep there for about 15 minutes while her friends took photos of her and laughed.

Featured Jobs

Featured startup and tech jobs on Austin Inno’s new Careers Directory.

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Meet The Author

Brent Wistrom

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