One of the first things I noticed walking into Umbel’s downtown headquarters is that this startup definitely favors La Croix over Topo Chico and other sparkling waters.
Colorful boxes of the fizzy water surround the desk in the front lobby. And, further back in the office kitchen, there are shelves and a fridge packed with a rainbow of La Croix flavors.
Another thing that struck me is that the hulking cement building Umbel is housed in, which used to be Austin’s primary power plant, still has a few vestiges of its industrial past, including a thick steel overhead crane that now only has to support a disco ball. But, despite so much open space, the building’s acoustics usually feel more like modern library than 1950s era power plant.
But the most interesting parts of Umbel’s office aren’t quite as obvious.
For example, in one corner there’s a foosball table. Not exactly a shocker for a startup… until you look closer and see the players are actually 3D-printed replicas of employees. Umbel engineers built it from scratch and integrated lights that flash when the ball hits certain spots. If foose isn’t your jam, there’s an acoustic guitar, video game machine, cold brew coffee and a couple kegs on tap nearby.
The Umbel team also built a “money bell,” which you’ll see in the photo slideshow below. It’s integrated with Salesforce and lights up and rings when a sale of a certain size closes — it also blasts “Are you ready to rumble?,” the famous wrestling hype phrase.
Umbel is a sports and entertainment data and engagement business, helping professional sports teams and big time entertainment brands find new insights about their fan bases and find ways to interact with new consumers. It lists Austin City Limits Live, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Florida Panthers among its customers. The company, founded in 2010, has raised around $32 million, including a $20 million Series B in 2015. It has about 60 employees.
Umbel moved into the Seaholm Power Plant building, where Athenahealth is the primary tenant, in 2015. Umbel’s work space is also home to EverlyWell, Liveoak Technologies, Pathway and others. Umbel has 20,000 square feet of the building.
“We have a unique bunch of characters in the building,” Kellie O’Neal, Umbel’s head of people operations, told me as we toured the space with VP of Marketing Natasha Morgan and Office Administrator Meredith Cranch.
For example, the startups in Seaholm Power Plant have a few shared Slack channels, including one for gaming and another, called “Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot” for bourbon and whiskey drinkers.
Umbel offers employees parking in an adjacent garage, which is right next to the new central library, a Trader Joe’s and a few other restaurants and shops are nearby. But employees can also bike to work and get their parking money returned to them as part of a company wellness program.
Umbel’s space also includes a series of huge “viking” tables made of long and heavy slabs of wood and steel. That’s next to a stage and presentation area that several companies and community organizations use — which is also where Umbel has its Friday morning breakfast tacos and company updates meeting.
Umbel, which was founded by Higinio “H.O.” Maycotte but is now run by CEO Lisa Pearson, also has an Umbelitas group. Pearson created the group to support fellow women in tech. They have presentations from other women in tech in Austin and share their own stories and tips on tech issues.
Since the presentation area is equipped with an AV set up, Umbel also trains willing employees on operating the system for presentations. They also use the setup for karaoke.
As you may notice, I visited just before Christmas and the office is decorate with a bit of holiday spirit. Now, let’s get to the photos.