It’s That Time…

That time when everything starts happening all at once. School starts and then every festival or event I really care about happens over the next two months. Here is a list of startup/entrepreneur events you should be excited for.

The next two months are some of the best in Albuquerque, if only there was more time to do everything.

Tech.Co Albuquerque Demo Night

Last Thursday was a full day of checking out local companies and startups. It started with Innovate New Mexico, put on by Albuquerque Business First. They had a ‘World Fair’ type competition of local startups and gave out several awards at the end.

I wasn’t able to attend Innovate New Mexico, but in the evening there was the Tech.Co demo day at El Rey. I was able to attend this fun event and check out local companies presenting their products. Most of the companies have been around at various events, but it was great to get updates on what they were doing and see their software. This event was a little different that others I had been to. In the past the events are usually pitches, but at this event many of the companies got up and gave live demonstrations.

Some of the companies presenting:

The keynote of the night was Andy Lim (of Lavu) showing off his new company Addmi.

Andy Lim Addmi Demo
Andy Lim Addmi Demo

I always enjoy supporting and learning about our local entreprenuers. If you are sorry you missed it don’t worry. Mark down August 22nd on your calendar. That will be the next event, Startup of the Year Pitch. Follow them on twitter @techcoabq to stay up to date!

Startup Roundup – Accelerators and Pitches

Here are a list of startups from the last couple of months for everyone to check out and follow!

ABQid expanded to Santa Fe and in February started their first group of companies through the program. The six startups in SFid are:

The IGNITE Community Accelerator also started up a new class in February. The 13 companies are:

  • Fresco New Mexico – Food truck.
  • Lobo Cell Phone Solutions – Cell phone repair.
  • Medical Debt Resolutions, LLC – Consulting for medical debt.
  • MyTap Inc. – Beer recommendation engine.
  • Shop for NM Kids – Marketing and fundraising to help New Mexico kids.
  • The CBD Botique – Products with cannabidiol extract.
  • Trail Quail – App for hiking and biking trails.
  • Another Mother Kombucha – Kombucha tea.
  • Cool Nerves Technology – Cooling shirts for medical conditions.
  • Essence de Café – Coffee extract provider.
  • JobPlacer – Connecting freelancers and businesses.
  • Quetzal Co-op – Food truck.
  • Stellate Studio – Tesselation art app.

The 2nd Ski Lift Pitch took place at the beginning of this month, here are the winners:

  1. UbiQD – Quantum dot manufacturer.
  2. Dig & Serve – Underground, pop-up dinning experiences with local food.
  3. BounceChat – Distance based messaging.

A bunch of Albuquerque startups went to SXSW again this year. The Sunport blog and Startup Spot with Sonja have some pre SXSW info on attending. While there Cultivating Coders, @CultivatingCoders, won the Tech.Co Startup of the Year award.

Check out all these local startup, follow them on social media and try out their products!

In other accelerator news, ABQid is accepting applications for their summer cohort until April 22nd and the first Haute CELERATOR program started March 1st, but continues to accept applications.

Teen Startup Weekend

Albuquerque has had several startup weekends over the last couple of year. A startup weekend gives groups of people 72 hours to propose ideas, create teams, refine their idea with prototypes and market research, and then do a 5 minute judge pitch for a chance to win prizes.

Teen Startup Weekend is the same idea, but targeted towards teenagers (13 – 18) and with reduced hours. Albuquerque hosted the first Teen Startup Weekend ever three years ago, thanks to the passion of a young woman Taylor Chavez.

Check out this video from last year for more information about it.

This year Teen Startup Weekend was at the Epicenter downtown and had 44 attendees that formed 8 teams, here were the ideas:

  • iLive – Interfacing vital monitors with a Fit Bit and software services to monitor the health of our elderly populations.
  • Creative App – A platform for connecting creatives of different types so they can collaborate and publish their work.
  • ebie – A open hardware bike mod to generate electricity while riding.
  • The Perfect Pair – A food website dedicated to finding great food pairings.
  • Magic Melody – A user generated content platform for teaching and learning how to play an instrument.
  • SugarTec – Dissolvable K-Cups to eliminate waste.
  • SnoRock – Ski/Snowboarding boots built out of a brand new high-tech gel.
  • EDGEtheater – Using modern technology to bring back drive in theaters to rural communities.

These young men and women were amazing. They stood in front of about hundred people and pitch their creative ideas. They were drilled by the judges for 3 minutes. The judges didn’t hold back, the timing was ruthless, and the crowd was awesome and supportive. These kids just had some really great ideas, I am so proud of them.

Ebie presenting at Teen Startup Weekend
ebie presenting at Teen Startup Weekend

From all the great ideas, they culled the list to these four winners:

  1. ebie
  2. Magic Melody
  3. EDGEtheater
  4. SnoRock

I was truly amazed at what these teenagers were able to put together and the ideas they had.  I am really excited to see if they can take any of these further. The winning teams got time with different judges/coaches to help them with their company (among other prizes).

A lot of the startup events and entrepreneurial activities feels rushed, quick, important. We are going to build something now! And that is a lot of fun of it. This event want no different in that aspect, but the long game is empowering our youth. We can send them into the world knowing that they can be their own boss, start their own companies, and turn their ideas into products. I hope this and similar events continue and I picture great things eventually coming out of these events.

Global Entrepreneurship Week in Review

This last week was Global Entrepreneurship Week in Albuquerque and, like last year, there was a huge number of events to participate in.

Some of the big news from the week:

  • The launch of SINC, Social Impact through the Nonprofit Community, (@SINC_NM), Albuquerque’s first incubator for non-profits.
  • Expansion of ABQid (@goABQid) into Santa Fe with the SFid.
  • Village Capital: This is Albuquerque – YouTube Video promoting Albuquerque. I had no idea we are credited with the creation of the Sopapilla’s in North America! Really we are done here, not sure why we are trying to invent more things we can never top that…
  • 2015 State of the City Address – Transcript, lots of talking points and great information here.

There were a bunch of competitions throughout the week, here are all the winners I could dig up:

InnovateHER (11/13/15)

The SBA and Microsoft offer a prize competition for products and and services that impact and empower the lives of women and families.

  1. As Girls Grow ($2000)
  2. Teeniors ($1000)
  3. Etkie ($500)

STC.UNM Elevator Pitch Competition (11/13/15)

UNM Students pitch their technology and business ideas in 90 seconds to a live audience. There were five winners each getting $2500.

  1. Gregory Allen and Danielle Fox – Trade Square
  2. Jacob Collison – evaporation technology
  3. Rebekah Hartenberger – Personal Attack Warning System
  4. Zeke Chavez – Crowd Tank
  5. Alexandra Luna – FoodEze

Startup Weekend Albuquerque (11/13/15 – 11/15/15)

54 hour event to form a team, share an idea, and create a pitch for a new company.

  1. Fix Medical Debt
  2. Dovetail Workshop
  3. edAbility Farm

Albuquerque Mayor’s Prize (11/17/15)

A prize for groups helping to support the creation and growth of new companies in the city. $200,000 worth of prizes.

  1. Global Ties ABQ
  2. WESST
  3. Technology Ventures Corporation

Scrappy Startup Challenge (11/17/15)

A 3 minute pitch contest in Santa Fe. Winners can get badges to SWSX, legal consulting, marketing consulting, free rent at Fat Pipe and mentoring.

  1. Pressure Analysis Company
  2. Buckle Down Systems
  3. Wyrdos

Village Capital Water 2015 (11/18/15)

A Washington DC based business accelerator that did a 4 month program here in Albuquerque to help bring ideas and products to market to solve water issues. Two $50K prizes were awarded.

  1. Emrgy (Georgia)
  2. Aquees (Maryland)

I probably missed some, but an exciting week. Check out Eric Renz-Whitmore’s recorded periscope interviews from GEW ABQ.


Another Demo Day…

…another date with my lovely wife. Wednesday, was Creative Startups demo day for their 2015 accelerator class. It was held at the Factory on 5th, an appropriate place for creative company demos and my wife’s home away from home at the Albuquerque Aerialist Collective.

As an aside my wife started a blog about returning to aerial acrobatics after pregnancy, check it out.

Albuquerque Business First has a nice write up of the introduction by Roxanne Blair and Gary Oppedahl.

The most impressive part was likely the report on the first Creative Startups class:

There were nine companies who gave quick 2 minute pitches about their company and they all had demos setup just past the free beer by Santa Fe Brewing!

The nine companies:

  • 12 FPS – A marketing company around more subtle advertising. I love the inspiration for their company name and logo.
  • Beyond Buckskin – A company selling curated fashion and jewelry designed by Native Americans.
  • FAR Botanicals – Natural body care products promoting truth in advertising.
  • Inmerssion – Virtual worlds and artificial intelligent art displays and games.
  • Mezel Mods – A Rio Rancho company making custom pinball accessories for the $100 million and growing pinball industry.
  • The Art of Revolution – Creating more engaging and meaningful campaigns for non-profit advertising.
  • The Right Margin – A unique web app designed for writers, by writers to make the book creation process better.
  • Ver Con Las Manos – Creating beautiful 3D works of art from famous pictures to help provide art for the visual impaired.
  • Walls Of Benin – African inspired PJs and clothing that provides benefits back to the African continent.

Eric Renz-Whitmore did several Periscope interviews with the companies you can view here:

Inmerssion – The Right Margin  FAR Botanicals


A Week of Tech and Startup Pitches

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to take my lovely wife on our first date since the birth of our son. We went to the Tech Cocktail pitch contest by This was the first of two pitch events as part of the Umbrella Week/Tech Fiesta ABQ. There were 11 local startups who were setup around Stereo Bar talking about their company. They then each had 1 minute to pitch their business.

The pitches came from SunPortSociabile, Punctuality, Peptineo, sheSpire, innoBright, Pi-Fi, Wyrdos, ExploreMedia, SWSD Global, and Time Trader’s Club.

You can watch all the pitches at Newscastic. It was a great event and a lot of fun to be able to actually talk with the people pitching before hand and meet them personally. The winner for the best pitch was SunPort and the reader’s choice winner (which I believe was an online poll before the event) went to Punctuality. They both get to go to Las Vegas and compete for big prizes in a startup competition at the Celebrate 2015 conference. The competition is October 5th so keep an eye out for the winner then.

On Thursday there was the sold out Pitch Fiesta 4.0 at the Standard Diner. I was unable to attend (it sold out quick), but many of the same companies presented. EquiSeq placed 1st, Punctuality got 2nd, Buckle Down Systems got 3rd and U-Trade won both the Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice award. Other presenters were: Tour De Rue by Games of Heart, Quizus by Hermes Development, Wyrdos, Time Trader’s Club, sheSpire, Custom Cult Snowboards, and Aquaponic Solutions.

ABQid Demo Day

Last Friday was the ABQid Demo Day and it was a packed house at the Epicenter. I rarely get to see these type of activities, but my wife let me use some of my paternity leave to check it out.

The energy and excitement of these events blows me away every time. The presenters, sponsors and audience create an atmosphere that makes it real easy to believe a lot of great things are happening and going to be happening in Albuquerque.

This event allowed the 10 companies from the second ABQid accelerator class to pitch their company in 6 minutes. They all did a great job on their pitches and I feel lucky to have gotten to watch this.

The Pitches

Equiseq (Paul Szauter) – I can’t remember where I first heard about Paul Szauter, but I have been interested in his technology since he first introduced it as ElectroSeq with the goal of $100 full DNA sequencing. I love biotech and DNA research, so I was particularly interested in his company. As much as I want to see $100 DNA sequencing, I think he made a great pivot into Equiseq to put his technology into a completely new field with horse breeding.

He did a great pitch to start off the demo day and if I had remembered to vote, I would have voted his the best. It may be my bias towards biotech, but I think he has the most potential of making a big impact with his company.

Equiseq, @Equisec1

Bounce Chat (Gordon Schaeffer) – Like biotech I am also a big fan of location based apps and augmented reality apps. Bounce Chat is a location based app where you can send out a message only to people who are within a set physical distance from you. I love the potential for this and one can easily picture it being a staple marketing item for events, conferences, parties, etc. My only problem with it is I can’t play with it. Like the similar startup Glif, it is IOS only so I can’t review it or promote it until it is on Android, but if you have an iPhone you can check out the app. They won the community vote.

BounceChat, @BounceChat

Close Threads, Trisha Terhar – Close Threads brings the boutique clothing market online. The goal is to allow small shop, custom atmosphere and allow them to compete online. You can sign up for early access at their website.

Close Threads, @CloseThreads

As Girls Grow, Akamee Baca – As Girls Grow is creating a subscription product that combines STEM lessons, with physical toys that demonstrate the lesson, and online stories and community to support it. It seems like a great model to get girls interested in engineering or for home schooling parents to teach STEM concepts. This is getting to be a crowded field with more and more subscription based STEM ideas, I recently subscribed to Hacker Boxes for myself and kids. Maybe the focus on girls will be their niche.

It seems a bit over the top though. The stories and characters and digital component to it seems like a lot of work without a lot of value added unless it truly works as a hook to get girls interested and staying with the product.

As Girls Grow, @AsGirlsGrow

Explore Media, Elan Coehlo – Their pitch was primarily about ARVRUS a 3D video player website that can be branded by companies. It seems that this was and idea they made or refined at the accelerator and what they are looking for as the massive growth part. From the pitch (and their website) they are doing a lot of virtual reality stuff without a specific focus (until now?). I was left with more questions about the company than excitement for the company based on the pitch and unfortunately I wasn’t able to stick around to talk to them or see their VR headsets. There is a VR Cafe event as part of Tech Fiesta this year. It is September 14, at Stereo Bar and looks like a fun event.

Explore Media, @ExploreMedia360, ARVRUS

iTherapyDocs, Lisa Brow – They are looking to provide software to for companies billing to Medicaid that ensure the proper documentation and paperwork are submitted so companies get properly paid and not accused for fraud. Seems like a hard problem navigating the laws and requirements. It was a great pitch, even if it isn’t exactly an exciting problem to solve.

iTherapyDocs, @iTherapyDocs

OAC Gallery, Sarah Biondi – A simple concept: buy art online. There is a lot of potential with deals with interior decorators and designers. I wonder if production companies and home stagers would find it useful also. If they can get a reputation with the type of companies that need high quality, matching artwork quickly, then they could build strong reputation. It is already up and running, check it out.

OAC Gallery, @OACGallery

Pressure Analysis Company, Michelle Urban – This is an exciting company, basically they have a cap worn on the head to detect impact, record it, and produce analytics on athletes. I haven’t heard of them before, but they have quickly become one of my favorite startups and one I hope to watch. It is easy to picture a world in 5 or 10 years where football, from the NFL to high school, require independent monitoring of player head impacts. You could also picture a world where a college athlete could provide all their analytics for every impact they had to NFL scouts and those that don’t were considered riskier draft picks. There are lots of scenarios where there is a need for tens of thousands of cranium impact monitors and the accompanied data storage and analysis.

The thing I love the most how much of a product of UNM this is. The tech was created and licensed by UNM to a UNM alumni creating the company and testing being done with the UNM Lobos and Duke City Gladiators. This is just a great example of all the pieces, so far, coming together to build a company with a lot of potential.

Pressure Analysis Company, @ePACtech

sheSPIRE, Renay Moya – I was not terribly excited about this startup. It seemed like personal mentorship wasn’t something that could scale to be a large profitable company. However, Renay gave the most passionate and personal presentation of all the pitches. She did an amazing job and I can now see the growth potential where sheSPIRE is a combination of eHarmony + LinkedIn for connecting those in need of a mentor with a personalized mentorship. Explained that way it is easy to see how it can position itself for rapid growth.

sheSPIRE, @sheSpire

Teeniors, Trish Lopez – Teeniors was the second most personal speech and a great example of how this company creation process in Albuquerque can work. I mentioned earlier this year that Teeniors won the Startup Women’s Weekend. From there they kept the idea alive and were accepted into the ABQid program and now they have come out with it with a company that has clients and is growing. Teeniors connects teenage mentors with seniors that need personal help with technology or computers. I am not sure how this scales as a company, there does not seem to have any potential for high growth. That said, I think Teeniors could be one of the most important companies for changing Albuquerque for the better. It is certainly the one I want to see succeed the most.

Trish told the stories of the seniors and teenagers who had been paired together and it is amazing to picture how life changing and how meaningful to the teenagers and to the seniors something a company like this can be. It feels such an amazing emotional niche. Teens who want to be respected, helpful, useful, appreciated and valued. Seniors, who need help with technology and a personal connection or time with people. I am really excited to see if they can connect teens and seniors on a much larger scale.

Teeniors, @Teeniors

So far I haven’t found any videos of Demo Day, but there were lots of people filming so I am hoping to start to appear soon.

The next chance to watch pitches in Albuquerque is at Pitch Fiesta 4.0 on September 17th,

Startup Profile: SunPort

I have been keeping notes on many of the startups in Albuquerque so that I can eventually write up nice articles about them. I thought with SunPort launching their Kickstarter now would be a great time to try to write one up. There is still time to participate in their Kickstarter.


Previously Plug.Solar

Twitter: @SunPort
YouTube: PlugSolar
CEO/Founder: Paul Droege

SunPort is a unique solar company focusing on the demand side of solar instead of the supply side using phone apps and their flagship product the SunPort.

Most solar initiatives have focused on generating solar. Installing solar panels is expensive and time consuming. Many people who might want to support green energy and solar usage can’t afford solar panels, might rent and not put them up, might travel and move too often, or might like the idea of solar, but not enough to go through much effort to get it (probably the category I fall in).

SunPort buys the credits generated by solar panels, bundles them as SunJoules, and the allows the user to keep track of their power usage and offset it with the SunJoules. They have cell phone apps that let you do it with your Android or IOS device right now. Their main product is the SunPort. It is being kickstarted now and is a plug you can take anyways to always keep track of use SunJoules for.

Awards and Major Events

SunPort was in the 2014, inaugural class for ABQ ID.

They placed 3rd in the 2014 Tech Fiesta Pitch Contest, watch the pitch.

They went to CES in early 2015 and pitched to get on Shark Tank and were in the final running. I am assuming they didn’t make the cut because I haven’t heard anything, on the other hand they might not be able to talk about it if they did make it on the show.

They then went to SXSW and won the Fallon StarterKit Pitch Contest in March.

With the help of that win, they have launched their Kickstarter.

The Good and the Bad

I think SunPort is doing solar right. In an free market world without mandates and subsidies the way solar would compete is by people voluntarily paying more for it. We don’t live in that world, but it will still have the same effect. Their products give consumers an easy, fairly inexpensive way of showing their support, advertising them support, and actually affecting the market in a small way.

Even more than their product I love them as an Albuquerque company. There is probably only one startup that I would be more confident in staying in Albuquerque. They participate in events, support the community, and have expressed their dedication to staying here. Money, buyouts, investors, etc, can all change that, but based on the things I read I think staying in Albuquerque is a top priority for them.

Finally, their blog is one of my favorites. A primarily reason why I started this blog was that I would hear about events in the city (pitch contests, tech meetings, hack-a-thons), but never hear about the results or what happened. I decided that other people would be interested, so when I go to events I should write about them. The SunPort blog is one of the few I found that also does this. They write about the events they have gone to and participated in.

On the negative side, the SunJoules are incorporeal and so it needs to be really clear where they are coming from. A common complaint is that it feels like snake oil. I can take your PNM bill and then sell you solar credits as a green indulgence, but that isn’t actually doing anything except putting money in my pocket and clearing your conscious.

They have done a good job on explaining the mechanism, but I think they need find some way of being more transparent to the user so they can see when enough SunJoules get retired is backed by a solar credit.

Two things that add to the over all snake oilyness of it:

One, they aren’t clear on the revenue. I think if they describe how they plan to make money it is easy to believe they are selling a real product. I see they plan on licensing the technology later, but it isn’t 100% clear from what is public how they plan to create a profit, are they taking a cut of the SunJoules?  Are they passing them along at cost and hoping to make enough through licensing or profit on SunPort sales?

The second is the over the top marketing. I think people are programmed to see lots of expensive marketing as trying to distract the consumer. Lots of money on marketing and something that isn’t 100% clear or simple to explain and I think it turns people off as potentially scammy. A lot of people I have shown it to get turned off by the video immediately I think because of the over the top marketing at the expense of technical explanation. They have one of the highest production value Kickstarter projects I have ever seen, probably a result of the Fallon Pitch Contest win, but I don’t know if that is a good thing.


SunPort is one of my favorite Albuquerque Startups (top 3 for sure). I have loved the community involvements by the company and employees and think they have a good product that has a lot of room to grow. I view them as having the potential to be the first big success story for all the investment in the Albuquerque startup community and a company that will be inspiring and helping other startups in the area.


Video interviews: The Morning Brew, Computer World @ Techcrunch Distrupt

Paul Droege has several interesting audio interviews on their blog.

One of the better articles I have read about the SunPort.

If you have anything to add or correct, let me know in the comments.

Also I want to do more of these for more companies so if you have any suggestions or feedback for the format, content, etc. let me know.

ABQ Solar Startup Launching Product

I have been following Plug.Solar since they won the ABQ Scrappy Startup competition and then won a pitch contest in SXSW. One of the reasons I have been following them is I believe (or hope) they will be the first success story to come out of the cities focus on startups and all the hard work and capital that has gone into building the innovation central. Hopefully, the first of many.

They have now launched their SunPort product on Kickstarter and are halfway through the campaign and 1/3rd of the way from being funded. If you haven’t checked it out go do so and considering supporting them. This is the chance for them to take the next leap for their company.

They have been rebranding a lot so it can be hard to find some of the information on their site, but I think the ATM example on this page is the best explanation. Hopefully the link won’t go bad. They also have an app for your phone (ios, android) which will use SunJoules to offset charging your phone.

In the feature picture I am charging my phone with a solar panel while using their app and offsetting it with SunJoules. I guess if we continue the ATM analogy that is like going to an ATM and then lighting all the cash on fire?

Check out the SunPort and their app, leave reviews, and support a local startup with a great idea trying to make it!