austinstartups

While we’d like to delude ourselves into thinking that we’re the hottest startup around, it’s simply not true. Being in Austin means that we’re surrounded by troves of talented and genuinely awesome startups with unique histories, cultures and products. If this were high school, every startup here would be the valedictorian (or Zac Efron). Here’s Part I of our favorite Austin startups (other than ourselves).

Silvercar

What It Is
Initially introduced at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Silvercar since has expanded to Austin, much to the glee of anyone who ever has wanted to drive an Audi. The startup, launched in 2012, targets frequent business travellers by making the car rental process as easy and convenient as possible. Cars can be reserved on Silvercar’s app (currently only available on Android and iOS) or online.

If you’re notoriously bad at making decisions that hover in the non-important-but-personality-revealing region (like where to go for dinner), then you’ll appreciate that Silvercar takes the hassle away for you–all of its cars are silver Audi A4s. This, according to CEO Luke Schneider, eliminates the last-minute horror of finding out that you’ll be pulling up to meet a client in a purple PT Cruiser.

Why We Love It
Our marketing genius Rachel Greenfield just happened to be planning a roadtrip with her boyfriend when Silvercar was mentioned in the SpareFoot office:

“Renting a car can be a pretty annoying process, and it often ends up costing more than you expect with insurance and other fees. I’m trying Silvercar because the service is straightforward and simple, seems to minimize hassles, and you get a freaking Audi.”

It’s simple. It’s convenient. It’s a freaking Audi.

MapMyFitness

What It Is
It’s only appropriate that Austin, one of the healthiest cities in the U.S., is home to a company that powers the Internet’s largest social network of fitness and health enthusiasts. Founded in 2007 by Robin Thurston, MapMyFitness has raised $18.5 million thus far. The startup is responsible for making our hearts beat a little better. Its app lets you map routes and log workouts, as well as keep track of what you’re eating. It’s perfect for anyone with an active lifestyle, or just someone who wants to track how many miles the commute to work is.

Clocking in at 13 million users, the MapMyFitness family (which includes MapMyRun and MapMyRide) just added a bunch of new features to the MVP side of its app. For $30 a year, fitness buffs can get advanced fitness-tracking tools like custom splits, training plans and power analytics, in addition to no more pesky ads.

Why We Love It
We can’t pretend there isn’t a little bit of favoritism for MapMyFitness out of all the fitness and health apps out there, since it’s a neighboring Austin startup and SpareFeet have been using MapMyRide in our companywide Bike to Work contest for Bike Month. Plus, I personally love the encouraging emails they send after my workout, like “Hey, Jenny, nice workout today!” Thanks, MapMyFitness–I’m glad at least one of us thinks so!



OtherInbox

What It Is
OtherInbox promises to get rid of your inbox clutter, from those annoying newsletters that you never signed up for to the semi-important bill reminders you otherwise would forget. Most mail services allow you to set up filters for your mail, but the time that takes almost makes you not want to do it at all and just put up with the onslaught of random email instead.

Founded by our good friend and mentor Josh Baer, OtherInbox works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail and AOL to filter emails into intuitive subcategories for you by scanning your entire inbox and creating a dedicated set of folders that apply to each message. To give you an idea, OIB’s scan of my own personal inbox created Entertainment, Finance, Help, Home, News, Real Estate, Social Networks, Shopping and Travel. Pretty accurate, if I do say so myself.

Why We Love It
As a tech company, we rely on our inboxes more than the average person. This also means we spend more time in our inboxes than the average person–which, if you’re trying to get actual work done, really just sucks. No one wants to spend an hour sifting through email for organizing, deleting and spam-foldering, even if sending things to spam is oddly satisfying. OIB does all of the dirty work for us with perceptive accuracy, and for that we love it. (Although to be honest, I will miss getting emails like “Photos of me on a desolate beach” and “I am feeling wicked right at this moment, how about you, stallion?”)

Nuve

What It Is
According to Nuve CEO Antonio Arocha, companies saw $30 billion in cargo losses in 2010, a number that rose by 15 percent in 2011. That’s where Nuve comes in: Its technology prevents any funny business–like someone siphoning chemicals out of a moving train and replacing them with water (cough, Walter White). Sensors detect, record and notify companies of any disturbances to the cargo, allowing 24/7 monitoring through a cloud-based platform.

Nuve presented this year at South By Southwest Interactive’s “5 Austin Startups That Can Get Profitable on <1M,” and has been accepted into both the Capital Factory and Austin Technology Incubator programs. Welcome to Austin, ya’ll!

Why We Love It
Aside from having a positive and potentially huge effect on cargo transportation, Nuve lets companies protect their assets–something that we can definitely get behind.

“Nuve is building some amazing technology that will disrupt the transportation industry,” SpareFoot co-founder Chuck Gordon said.

My Tennis Lessons

What It Is
Do you love tennis? Do you wish you were better at it? Do you want to develop a scream as disarming as Maria Sharapova’s?

My Tennis Lessons has you covered, but in the coolest way possible–it’s an online marketplace where tennis enthusiasts can find and schedule lessons with qualified instructors at local courts.

Much in the way that SpareFoot helps you look for self-storage units in your area, My Tennis Lessons lets you connect with tennis experts who can help you strengthen that backhand or just get a killer kick serve. Tennis instructors also can sign up to teach tennis on days convenient for them, and enjoy the billing, marketing and customer service that the site provides. Everyone wins!

Why We Love It
Tennis is one of those sports that seems inaccessible to those who’ve never played it before, so it’s great that My Tennis Lessons makes it as easy and inviting as possible for a tennis newbie or longtime fan. Everyone wants to be a Serena Williams or a Roger Federer, right?


WP Engine

What It Is
WP Engine ensures that you’ll never have to worry about your WordPress-hosted site again by offering full support, super-fast page load times, and the ability to scale with your blog if it gets an insane amounts of traffic. Services include a one-click backup-and-restore option at no extra charge, as well as a knowledgeable team of WordPress experts to answer your questions.

Since it launched in July 2010, WP Engine has grown into one of the most reliable and celebrated hosted WP platforms today, with more than 30,000 websites under its exceptional support wing (and nurturing, too, we might add).

Why We Love It
We’d be lying if we said that WP Engine didn’t save our behinds more than once in our blog’s lifetime. It’s in those heart-stopping moments when you transfer databases to a new hosting provider and lose every single blog image that you find yourself truly grateful for WP Engine.

Images courtesy of CapitalFactory.com, Wired.com, MapMyFitness.com, OtherInbox.com, IBMSmartcamp.com, MyTennisLessons.com and WPEngine.com

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  • http://www.facebook.com/raderj89 Jared Lee

    Great article – love hearing about these other startups. Definitely going to check out OtherInbox!

    • Jenny Zhang

      Thanks, Jared! OtherInbox will change your life.