The Southern Startup Report is a twice-monthly, curated newsletter covering the latest tech startup happenings in the American Southeast.
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We’re halfway through Black History Month, and while the tech industry is grappling with diversity challenges, there is plenty of reason for hope, particularly when it comes to Southern startups. 

BlackTech Week, which wrapped up last week in Miami, put out a list last fall of the best U.S. cities for black-owned businesses, and the majority of the cities were Southern. 

We’ve had many conversations over the past few weeks with founders and change-makers that inspire us, from Jonathan Moore of Rowdy Orbit, who is training black and Latino ex-prisoners for programming and quality assurance tech jobs, to Rodney Sampson, whose HBCU@SXSW initiative will be sending minority students to SXSW next month to connect with technology recruiters and startup entrepreneurs. Also on tap for SXSW is Pitch Black, a pitch competition targeted specifically for black female founders and co-founders. 

I was also heartened to come across a story about Aldelano Corporation, a black-owned company with manufacturing in Jackson, TN, whose Solar ColdBox harnesses solar energy to wring water out of the air and make electricity. As the water crisis in Cape Town looms, this kind of innovation is increasingly and urgently needed. 

We have a long way to go to achieve equity and equality, but the only way to keep moving is forward. 

~ Mallory Whitfield, LookFar Director of Marketing

Southern Startup News:
February 2 - February 15

Atlanta, GA - Last week, marketing analytics provider Cardlytics raised $70 million in an IPO on Nasdaq. This marks one of the largest tech IPOs for the Atlanta metro area since 2016. Shares of the Atlanta-based company closed up 3 percent in first-day trading.

Auburn, AL - A cryptocurrency-based startup led by two Auburn University students recently competed at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards national pitch competition in Dallas. Yellow Card Financial has had much success pitching over the last year, taking home $25K at eFest last spring. 

Austin, TX - A new $1 billion private equity firm called Think3 was recently launched, which aims to quickly buy up SaaS startups so that founders can go out to build again. Their plan is to pay $500k in a cash, no equity seed round (or $1m with equity) and then transition the founder and team out of the company and back into the startup ecosystem within 100 days of the deal. 

Birmingham, AL - The city’s new Bronze Valley initiative aims to diversify the local and regional technology economy. The non-profit organization officially launched on Wednesday with an invitation-only inaugural conference that brought together corporate executives, elected officials, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, policymakers and thought leaders from across the country.

Charleston, SC - The 9th cohort of The Harbor Entrepreneur Center’s business accelerator was recently announced, and it’s an all-female lineup. Of course, we’re always excited to see some tech-centric startups in that mix, including AndMe.TV, CloudShyft, and iParent Education.

Chattanooga, TN - A two-week summer camp developed in Silicon Valley that aims to get more kids interested in entrepreneurship will return to Chattanooga this year. Camp BizSmart challenges kids between 11 and 15 years old with real-world business problems, teaching them how to develop a product and make business decisions. 

Louisville, KY - A few local entrepreneurs have joined forces to help other aspiring business owners get started. Kale & Flax, along with New2Lou, are launching Wild Accelerator, a 9-week micro accelerator geared toward idea-stage and early-stage female founders. The deadline to apply is February 20. 

Jackson, MS - The non-profit MS Coding Academies recently issued a plea to the local community for donations of laptops, so that their students could take their work home and learn on the go. The first class of 18 students launched last October, aiming to graduate the students later this year. According to industry experts, there are 1,200 open coding jobs in Mississippi. 

Raleigh, NC - Fresh off the heels of a $75 million raise, PrecisionHawk recently announced they’d acquired two startups, AirVid and Droners. This acquisition will help them in their quest to build the biggest network of commercially licensed drone pilots in the U.S.

Savannah, GA - A full-service, cloud-based platform that collects and streamlines LEED documentation for construction projects took home the $5,500 prize at Geekend Pitch Circus recently. The Green Badger app went to market in 2015 and founder Tommy Linstroth is currently looking to raise a seed round of half a million to expand the service. 

What I Wish I Knew Then...
I wish I knew then… that the entrepreneurial journey doesn’t have to be miserable.

"In media, it is depicted as a journey filled with struggle, suffering, and all encompassing misery. At the start of my own entrepreneurial journey, I took this role to heart, I played it so well I grew to loathe the sound of my own company name. The realization that the quality of the journey is MY choice came later, with a renewed focus on my health & wellness, an awareness of things I could control, the conscious act of celebrating wins large and small, and establishing (at least some) boundaries to help me find my happy in this journey. Today, I couldn’t imagine life any other way, than on this exciting and unexpected road with my Mom and Co-Founder. I know today that win or lose we’ve made impact along the way and it is this that keeps me smiling day-to-day."

~ Ashlee Ammons, Franklin, TN
Co-Founder & COO of Mixtroz, a networking app that takes the guess work out of meeting people at conferences and events.

Ashlee and her Mom & Co-Founder, Kerry Schrader, will be featured on an upcoming episode of A&E’s Rooster & Butch, airing Wednesday, February 21. Watch a preview here.
Recent Rounds
Atlanta, GA - Volantio - $2.6M Series B

Austin, TX - Employee Wow - $1M Seed

Austin, TX - MineralSoft - $4M Series A

Austin, TX - RigUp - $15.8M Series B

Charleston, SC - Engage Talent - $3M

Fort Lauderdale, FL - ChronWell - $4.5M Series A

Houston, TX - Procyrion, Inc. - $16M Series C

Knoxville, TN - Property Brands - undisclosed 

San Antonio, TX - Infocyte - $5.2M Series B
Upcoming Deadlines
February 20 - Louisville, KY - Wild Accelerator, for female founders

February 22 - Birmingham, AL - Nominations for the 2018 imerge Innovation Awards

February 23 - Dallas, TX - Women’s Enterprise Training and Micro Grant Program

March 31 - Little Rock, AR - Health InnovatAR Accelerator
Upcoming Events
February 16-17 - Oxford, MS - Venture Launch Weekend

February 22-24 - Baton Rouge, LA - Activate Conference

February 23 - Baton Rouge, LA - Creatives in Tech

March 9-12 - Austin, TX - HBCU@SXSW

March 12-14 - Atlanta, GA - Teki Con

March 20-23 - New Orleans, LA - New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

March 21 - New Orleans, LA - Water Challenge 2018 Pitch Competition

March 21-23 - New Orleans, LA - JazzCon.Tech

March 22-24 - Austin, TX - VentureWell’s OPEN Conference

March 26-28 - New Orleans, LA - Vue.js Conference

March 27-28 - Atlanta, GA - AgLanta Conference

March 28-29 - Tampa, FL - Synapse Innovation Summit

April 6-7 - Jacksonville, FL - One Spark Innovation Festival

April 6-8 - Jackson, MS - Startup Weekend Jackson

April 11-13 - New Orleans, LA - The Frontier Conference

April 11 - New Orleans, LA - The Future of Aerospace: AIAA Beyond B2B Startup Showcase

April 11-12 - Birmingham, AL - Alabama Cyber Now Conference

April 25-27 - Charleston, SC - DIG SOUTH Tech Conference

April 26 - Austin, TX - Fund Conference

April 30-May 3 - New Orleans, LA - Collision Conference

May 2 - Atlanta, GA - Startup Runway Spring 2018 Showcase

May 8 - Atlanta, GA - Atlanta Startup Battle

June 13 - Charlotte, NC - Fintech South

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