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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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First Things First

Brent: Just got back from a fun podcast chat with Steve Ward, owner and skipper of Sail on Lake Travis. It was at the new (and free to the public) podcast studio in Galvanize downtown. And it’s part of a series of dozens of interviews Ward and other podcasters are doing with Austinites for MediaTech Ventures, which is currently in the midst of MediaTech Week.

Alright, let’s turn on the ON AIR sign and kick a Beat…


The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

TrueCar Co-Founder Takes Rollick Out of Stealth 

Bernie Brenner has had a massive career in building technologies to disrupt the auto industry. His last startup, TrueCar, IPOed in 2014. And his executive roles with CarFax and his founding of 1-800-CAR-SEARCH preceded that.

Now Brenner (pictured right) is on to his next big thing. His new startup, Rollick Outdoor, came out of stealth mode today by announced a $5.6M seed round. The round was led by Austin’s Silverton Partners. Pitching in on the round were Menlo Park, Calif.-based Autotech Ventures, Santa Monica, Calif.-based Troy Capital Partners, Capital Factory and data.world founder Brett Hurt.

The company plans to channel the new cash into hiring new talent and rolling out nationwide at the start of next year.

While Austin isn’t exactly the center of the universe for auto tech, it does have several startups operating in the space. Austin Electric Vehicles, for example, makes electric cars for short distances. The Zebra helps people find and compare auto insurance. And Square Root makes software to help auto dealer franchises track inventory, sales and other key metrics. Meanwhile, Silvercar built a business in renting Audi A4s and got acquired by Audi. And Smart Stripe is an emerging startup in Austin doing constant data connection built into the road stripes and on structures along city roads. Yan Engines is building more efficient pistons. Drako Motors provides software and hardware to help high-performance cars be faster and more efficient. And let’s not forget Austin was the second city to have Google‘s self-driving cars tested even before that was spun off into Waymo.

That’s a pretty robust list of Austin companies helping us get on down the road.


Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves today.

Amazon Key Arrives in Austin

Austinites can now buy a $250 kit that will let Amazon delivery drivers get temporary access to inside their homes for package drop offs. Amazon Key has been met with a fair bit of skepticism. Who wants to let strangers in their house after all? Well, I think it’d be fair to say many of us have become comfortable with that by renting our properties out via HomeAway, Airbnb and the like — not to mention letting other service workers drop by while we’re at work from time-to-time. Learn more in our post.

Apple Store on the Move

Say hello to a new Apple Store — and, probably, goodbye to an older one. Apple plans to open a new shop near the Archer Hotel and Nordstrom in the Domain on Nov. 11. The ABJ reported that it’s unclear what will happen to the existing store in the Domain, but other publications suggest it will close. And that’d make sense, given the new location is just a short walk away. Apple Insider reported the new story will be more than 10K sq. ft. and will cost about $7.5M to build out.

Drillinginfo Acquires Oklahoma Company

Drillinginfo, which makes software and data analytics for the oil industry, has acquired Oklahoma City-based Oil-Law Records, which provides record keeping and updates for the production of oil and gas. This is Drillinginfo’s fifth acquisition. The company has previously acquired DataGenic, GlobalView Software, Transform Software and Service and County Scans. The company has raised about $200M, mostly through large private equity firms.

Lyft Encourages Rounding Up to Help Austin Musicians

Lyft picked the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, better known as HAAM, to be its local partner in a round up and donate campaign. Lyft riders will see the round up option in the app and can select to round up to the nearest dollar and give that rounded up amount to HAAM, which helps provide healthcare for Austin musicians — something that has become increasingly important as Austin housing prices continue to climb rapidly. It’s a multiyear deal, and Lyft also announced it would offer free rides to low-income working musicians who need a ride during health insurance open enrollment, which lasts through Dec. 15. Lyft is also offering those artists free rides to any healthcare appointments they have throughout the year.

ATX Factory Changes Name Following Capital Factory Lawsuit

The co-working space formerly known as ATX Factory has become Journey Coworking, the ABJ reported. The announcement by owner Vijay Mehra came a few days ago on Nov. 2. The new name appears to be part of the way ATX Factory settled a lawsuit filed by Capital Factory. The federal lawsuit alleged atx Factory’s name was confusingly similar to Capital Factory’s and was diluting Capital Factory’s brand.


In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Sen. Al Franken torched Amazon, Facebook and Google for using their algorithms to maintain their massive footprints (Recode)
WeWork’s grand plan to disrupt schools assumes kids want to be startup founders (Quartz)
Andela Helps Austin Startups Diversify and Land New Talent (Inno)


In The Community

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

Coming Up


Keeping Austin Weird & Wired

The fun stuff

Blue Apron for Your Dog

My dog, Vino, is one of the world’s hungriest beings. I’m pretty sure that’s scientific fact. So maybe I ought to up his game a bit. I got a news release this morning about a dog food company that delivers a variety of dishes for your dog and delivers it to your house.

What’s more is Grocery Pup customizes orders based on your pooch’s weight. And the food sounds pretty much fit for a human — Bitchin’ Beef Stew with ground beef, veggies and potatoes or Turkey Pawella, anyone?

Admittedly, customized gourmet dog food delivered to your door sounds ripe for a few first world jokes. But, hey, after years of eating the same old little brown pebbles*, maybe it’s time for me to hook my big buddy up with the good stuff.

*OK, he’s had a helluva lot more than just dog food. Vino has taken down pizzas, boxes of Girl Scout cookies, entire loafs of bread and plenty of Sunday morning fried eggs.

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Meet The Author

Brent Wistrom
bwistrom@americaninno.com

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