Startups make their pitches in Addison
7 focused on restaurant, retail tech take part in 3-day RevTech event
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.
Agustina Sartori pitched GlamSt, a virtual makeup-trying tool, and got meetings with Neiman Marcus and Mary Kay.