Star­tups make their pitches in Ad­di­son

7 fo­cused on restau­rant, re­tail tech take part in 3-day RevTech event

The Dallas Morning News - - BUSINESS - By MELISSA REPKO Staff Writer [email protected]­las­news.com

Bay Area en­tre­pre­neur Michael Brand flew to Dal­las to visit with in­vestors, at­tend strat­egy ses­sions and pitch his com­pany this week on an Ad­di­son stage.

The ex-Ap­ple en­gi­neer joined en­trepreneurs from across the coun­try at a new three-day grad­u­ate pro­gram for star­tups hosted by RevTech, an ac­cel­er­a­tor that of­fers fund- ing, men­tors and other re­sources to promis­ing star­tups in re­tail and restau­rant tech­nol­ogy.

Brand’s com­pany, Dor, makes low-cost sen­sors that help brick-and-mor­tar restau­rants and shops track cus­tomers’ shop­ping habits, com­pare their cus­tomer head­counts to peer stores’, and mea­sure the ef­fects of ad­ver­tis­ing, lo­cal events and in­clement weather.

RevTech’s manag­ing di­rec­tor, David Matthews, cher­ryp­icked his fa­vorite star­tups from ac­cel­er­a­tors in New York, Cincin­nati, Bos­ton and other cities, invit­ing seven of them to

work­shops and net­work­ing ses­sions, capped off by a pitch day at Ad­di­son Con­fer­ence Cen­tre. The Dal­las sub­urb cov­ers only 4.4 square miles but is a hub for re­tail, with 180 restau­rants and 22 ho­tels.

“If they spend three days here and make 100 con­nec­tions, then they’ ll have a foothold and maybe come back,” Matthews aid.

Star­tups that ac­cept the in­vi­ta­tion gave RevTech $10,000 worth of stock in their com­pa­nies, Matthews said.

RevTech, for­merly called Ven­tureSpur, started in Dal­las two years ago with the goal of speed­ing up the suc­cess of restau­rant and re­tail tech­nol­ogy star­tups and cap­i­tal­iz­ing on North Texas’ nu­mer­ous well­known re­tail and restau­rant brands, such as Neiman Mar­cus, J.C. Pen­ney, 7-Eleven and Brinker In­ter­na­tional.

It also of­fers a 14-week pro­gram each year for about half a dozen star­tups that runs from sum­mer to fall. Those star­tups re­ceive $40,000 in seed fund­ing, men­tor­ship and sup­port in ex­change for 8 per­cent eq­uity. Matthews is also a ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vestor with Dal­las-based Trail­blazer Cap­i­tal.

Matthews said the grad­u­ate pro­gram com­ple­ments the 14week pro­gram.

“We’ll have the ben­e­fit of hope­fully hav­ing some rav­ing fans on the West and East coasts that help re­fer us for fu­ture pro­grams,” he said.

And, he said, some com­pa­nies might be in­spired to open a Dal­las of­fice or pi­lot their prod­uct here.

“When they see the cus­tomer list and the price of liv­ing here and the price of rental space, it’s a pretty strong ar­gu­ment,” Matthews said.

For the star­tups, Dal­las con­nec­tions paid off. Agustina Sar­tori, co-founder and CEO of San Fran­cisco-based GlamSt, got meet­ings with re­tailer Neiman Mar­cus and makeup com­pany Mary Kay to talk about its vir­tual tool that al­lows women to try on lip­stick and other makeup with a selfie and a swipe.

For­rge, which makes an app and Web plat­form that pro­vide on-de­mand staffing for hourly jobs like fast-ca­sual restau­rants, was an au­di­ence fa­vorite. It won six months of free of­fice space at Ad­di­son Tree­House, a co-work­ing space that was founded by the town of Ad­di­son and the Dal­las En­tre­pre­neur Cen­ter.

And Brand picked up new cus­tomers for Dor. On his last night in Dal­las, he ate in Trin­ity Groves and in­stalled the com­pany’s high-tech sen­sor at a restau­rant.

“I’ ll be com­ing back soon, for sure,” he said.

Growth X

Agustina Sartori pitched GlamSt, a vir­tual makeup-try­ing tool, and got meet­ings with Neiman Mar­cus and Mary Kay.

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