“Information technology” is ATI’s broadest category and the core of what we do. Companies in our IT program are based on many different technologies and serve many different vertical markets. Recently, ATI’s IT program has worked successfully with companies in silicon metrology, chip architecture, server architecture, chip design and build tools, enterprise software, robot control systems, social network platforms, “enterprise 2.0” tools, gaming environment platforms, and “big data”/semantic web tools and platforms, to name just some examples.
Kyle Cox leads the IT program. A former principal is a seed venture firm, Kyle is now helping to drive Austin’s efforts to establish several targeted communities in Austin, specifically around semantic web, digital entertainment technology, and health IT. Kyle is also probably one of the people in Austin who is most hooked into the Austin tech scene.
Because of the breadth of companies in the IT program, Kyle surrounds each IT company with a “virtual board” of executives and entrepreneurs with knowledge and experience relevant to the company’s technology and market. People who have worked with our IT portfolio companies in this capacity include Paul Beverley (President, Gemalto,) Manoj Saxena (IBM, VP-Global Business Services,) and Richard Schwartz (Macheen, CEO.)
The best illustrations of the our success working with companies in our IT program come from the alumni CEOs themselves:
Harlan Beverly (Founder, CEO, Mad Scientist) and the Bigfoot team create a network interface chip that reduced lag and latency in gaming. Bigfoot became a darling of extreme gamers and was funded by tier 1 VCs including North Bridge Partners.
ATI not only helped us refine our pitch, but also introduced us to our eventual $4M Series A investors. My first company, Bigfoot Networks, started with just one office in 2004, and as we grew, ATI helped us with the growth challenges of our company... expanding to an entire hallway and then wing of one floor. It's not just great free coffee, great free Internet, and great free friendly support, it's also the team of professionals such as Isaac Barchas and Bart Bohn, who can really provide invaluable fund-raising advice, introductions, and expertise maneuvering the challenges of startup life. I'm now on my second company with the ATI, and I can't imagine not incubating my start-up here...
CEO Barry Evans, an Intel veteran, founded a Calxeda to create an ultra-low power chip architecture. ATI helped Barry bring in his initial seed funding (from ETF and an ATI advisor), and with that Barry built a company that secured $48 million investment from a strong syndicate of VCs and corporate funders in August 2010 and has been named to the MIT Technology Review’s 2011 list of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies.
Calxeda received support from ATI in numerous ways – strategic advice, pitch development, go-to-market analyses, connections to advisors and mentors, access to industry and investor events, and most critically, establishing the path to funding. Partnering with ATI was crucial to Calxeda establishing the foundation we needed from the very start to be set up to take this company to market over the long haul, and to secure significant funding. ATI was invaluable in guiding us through the process to secure our critical $1 million seed funding from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF), which truly provided the runway and confidence to begin implementing our bold vision.
Daniel Nelson and Robert Reeves brought their start-up, based on a unique Java development tool, to ATI after winning UT-Austin’s business plan competition. In less than two years, they had brought in an experienced industry veteran, Larry Warnock, to run the company; secured necessary growth capital; had product in the market; and sold to BMC Software in 2009 for an 8x return to investors. Here’s what Larry has to say about ATI:
[ATI] was one of the critical success factors for [Daniel and Robert] in the early days. It let them focus on market validation and building the technology vs. the overhead of starting a business. The ATI environment is conducive to early stage ideas and start ups. There is an energy about it. Too often, an early stage team can feel lost and alone off in some garage. At ATI there are always people present to mentor, ask questions, brainstorm and to share experiences. This is more helpful than many realize. After I joined the company as CEO, we continued to grow, graduated from ATI and then built a great business. We were eventually acquired by BMC Software and the product lives on under their brand. It was a great ride and it all started at the ATI. We are friends of the program for life.
Within the Web 2.0 or social media infrastructure and tools category, this social dashboard technology earned a rare series A investment of $1 million plus from Austin Ventures in mid 2010.
Ken Cho, co-founder, Spredfast
ATI is an invaluable community of peer entrepreneurs and advisors. Early in our company's history, we faced a decision to continue down one path or pivot and head down another. The advice and guidance we received from Isaac Barchas and Bart Bohn helped to crystallize our decision. The ATI provided both the contacts and the networks needed to test our message. It is safe to say it was the right decision.
Webify was the second enterprise software company that serial entrepreneur Manoj Saxena (now VP-Global Business Services at IBM) brought to ATI, after building and selling Exterprise. Webify focused on the service oriented architecture (SOA) space, and by mid-2006 had caught the eye of IBM who acquired Webify.
ATI has been a vital part of my entrepreneurial success -- not once but twice. Over the past decade, I had the opportunity of starting both my companies at ATI: Exterprise which was acquired by Commerce One in 2001 and Webify which was acquired by IBM in 2006. Being a part of ATI provided my team with access to valuable support, counsel, and connections at a critical stage where we grew from a handful of people with PowerPoints to hundreds of people with innovative and compelling products. ATI is a tremendous resource for the Austin entrepreneurial community. I am grateful for their support and look forward to working with ATI leadership on fostering innovative programs such as the IBM-ATI internship.