Texas Venture Expo provides platform for Central Texas business startups

Miles Hutson

Sara Rodell said when she moved to New York, she had a lot of friends do a lot of favors for her, and she wanted to pay them back.

“I had all these people doing kind things for me, and I didn’t have time to do what I wanted — buy them a cup of coffee or a beer,” Rodell said.

Faced with this problem, Rodell said she realized there should be an application to solve it. After she and Jeffrey Schwartz met through a mutual friend in Austin, they started NOOM, Next One’s On Me. The mobile application allows people to buy generic food and treat vouchers that can be redeemed by their friends at locations around Austin.

The NOOM co-founders were one of 15 Investor-Ready companies that presented Thursday at the Texas Venture Expo. The expo, hosted by Texas Venture Labs, intended to connect University and Central Texas entrepreneurial talent with investors and other entrepreneurs.

Rodell and Schwartz hope to use investment money to expand their company.

Amey Puranik, a chemical engineering graduate student who works with Texas Venture Labs, said the organization helps entrepreneurial students from across disciplines cooperate and create viable companies with startups from Austin and the rest of Central Texas.

“On a daily basis, we’re in touch with the entrepreneurs,” Puranik said. “We’re part of the team.”

The expo featured industry-specific companies as well. Among them was AdBm Technologies, a company that seeks to use its UT-developed technology for quieting marine operations to make it cheaper and easier to cooperate with regulators.

CEO Mark Wochner said it is expensive to quiet undersea construction with current technology. He said the technology is too ineffective to allow more than a narrow window for drilling before stricter regulations protecting marine migrations kick in.

Daniel Appel, an MBA student and director of AdBm Business Development, said the company took form in the University class From Idea to Intellectual Property. There, students pitched their ideas and later met to discuss them.

Appel said Texas Venture Labs provided expertise for penetrating the specialized marine oil market that otherwise would have been more difficult to obtain. He also said the Venture Expo provided an opportunity to raise funds that would otherwise take much more groundwork to raise.

“This is in front of 30 investors all at once,” Appel said.

Robert J. Adams, director of Texas Venture Labs, said he was proud of his program for providing this opportunity to students.

“We have 15 great companies,” Adams said. “This is sort of the coming out party for all of them.”

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Venture Expo provides platform for investors, Central Texas startups