nurturing a startup

Aunt Bertha just graduated from the Austin Technology Incubator. But Aunt Bertha isn’t somebody’s 84-year-old relative. She’s actually a startup.

Aunt Bertha—whose website helps people find food, health, housing and employment programs—was featured at a Jan. 29 event recognizing 25 startups that have graduated from the tech incubator over the past two years. The incubator, part of the IC² Institute at the University of Texas, is marking its 25th anniversary this year.

“ATI brings the power of the University of Texas at Austin and 25 years of relationships in the Central Texas community to help the best startups in Austin get the funding they need to grow and succeed,” Isaac Barchas, director of ATI, told The SpareFoot Blog.

Barchas noted that in just the past five years, ATI graduates have raised more than $350 million from investors.

Here at SpareFoot, we’ve got a soft spot in our technology-loving hearts for business incubators like ATI. After all, we graduated from Austin’s Capital Factory incubator in 2009.

Aunt Bertha

“Aunt Bertha,” the face of the Austin startup by the same name.

25 Years of Success
But as much as we love Capital Factory, the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) undisputedly reigns as the granddaddy of business incubators in Austin. Need proof? Just read these impressive statistics:

  • About 150 companies have graduated from ATI since 1989.
  • More than 40 of ATI’s alumni either have been acquired or have gone public.
  • 55 ATI graduates remain in operation today.
  • In the past 10 years, ATI alumni have created more than 5,500 jobs and have generated a nearly $1 billion economic impact in the Austin area.
  • Startups in ATI’s Class of 2014 have collected more than $60 million from investors.

electrical outlet

ATI helped Yan Engines get plugged into the Austin business community.

‘Plug-and-Play Network’
One of the startups participating in the ATI ceremony was Yan Engines, whose vehicle engine retrofit boosts torque by 200 percent and fuel economy by 80 percent.

Lu Yan, CEO of Yan Engines, said his company moved to Austin two years ago after developing its technology overseas.

“We literally didn’t know anyone in town, and three months later, we joined ATI,” Yan said. “ATI has been instrumental in connecting us to just about everyone we do business with here—suppliers, UT researchers, our law firm, our accountant. We feel like we got a plug-and-play network from ATI.”

Looking ahead, Yan said his company will continue developing its technology for the U.S. military and will start working on a product for business customers.

Start Me Up
Here’s a closer look at just six of the other startups spotlighted at the ATI ceremony:


What it does: Offers a system that enables emergency notifications for schools, government agencies and businesses.
CEO: Kishan Siram


Technology from BeHome247 lets you remotely control lighting at your home.


What it does: Provides a system that remotely monitors and controls features like thermostats and locks at your home.
CEO: Michael Walther


What it does: Sells an app that lets you order a restaurant meal—or practically anything else—and have it delivered.
CEO: Ben Doherty

What it does: Produces technology that enables musicians to record live performances and sell the recordings to fans.
CEO: Matt Peterson


A crew applies a Terra Pave International product to a Texas highway.

Terra Pave International

What it does: Makes an environmentally friendly asphalt substitute for roads.
CEO: Frank Gordon


What it does: Provides technology that prevents online fraud and identity theft by pinpointing the location of your smartphone.
CEO: Josh Alexander

Keep an Eye on ATI
Now that you know a little more about ATI, you should pay attention to the incubator and its graduates—that is, if you care about Austin’s startup community or you’re interested in working at an Austin startup.

“Far too many people don’t even know about ATI, let alone love it, or at least respect and appreciate all the organization does, and has done for so long. And sometimes, that’s been frustrating,” Austin PR guru Laura Beck wrote on ATI’s blog. “Sometimes it’s hard to be the offensive line of the football team that doggedly defends and supports the running backs and quarterback who get credit for all the big plays and points.”

We’re confident that ATI and its startups have many more big plays in their playbook.