A San Antonio startup focused on women’s health won a pitch competition funded by Bexar County on Thursday night, taking home the grand prize of a $50,000 check.
Betty’s Co., the winning startup, is a virtual care platform for young women in Texas that seeks to expand into an online health store and mobile clinic. It aims to reach women at a stage in life when they’re not getting regular health care and uses marketing replete with millennial language like “favs” and “OMG.”
TechFuel, a pitch contest for early-stage startups funded from Bexar County’s innovation fund and organized by tech industry advocate group Tech Bloc, saw a sold out audience of roughly 300 pack into the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
Betty’s Co. and the four other finalists at the event had advanced through brackets against 58 other startups from San Antonio and across Texas. The five startups made final pitches at the event.
Dax Moreno, the organizing lead for the event on Tech Bloc’s board, said he was thrilled at the turnout.
“Not only did we bring community together,” as COVID-19 cases continue to decline, “but we were also able to celebrate startups and entrepreneurs who view San Antonio as a place they can grow and thrive.”
TechFuel coincided with the 2021 iteration of Startup Week, a two week-long event series spotlighting the local startup scene.
The founder of Betty’s Co., Jennifer Newell, said she wanted to expand in San Antonio out of its office in Geekdom and create more high-paying tech jobs for women. She said they plan to stay in the city because its demographics will allow the company to grow — and because San Antonio has been her home for the past 10 years, since her move from Nashville.
Event judge Luis Martinez, one of five judges and the director for Trinity University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said he and other judges were impressed by Newell’s “top-notch” pitch and her materials submitted in advance.
The runner-up to Betty’s Co. was Alt-Bionics, a startup from a recent University of Texas at San Antonio graduate which seeks to develop motorized prosthetic limbs at an affordable rate for amputees. Contest organizers handed Alt-Bionics founder Ryan Saavedra a check for $20,000.
The next three finalists’ order was chosen by an audience vote.
The second runner-up was EmGenisys, which aims to improve assisted reproduction in livestock with the use of artificial intelligence. The company received $10,000.
An honorable mention went to IncentiFind, which is compiling government incentives for real estate and home improvement projects. It won $7,500.
The fifth finalist, Astroport Space Technologies, Inc., seeks to convert moon dust into bricks and materials for construction on a lunar base. It won $2,500 for getting to the finals, as did the other four.
At an afterparty held outside the Tobin Center, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President Richard Perez said the night’s winners would receive membership in the chamber.
Providing the $100,000 cash prize pool was the Bexar County Innovation Fund, a $1 million cache aimed at bolstering the local tech industry.
“The County has worked closely with TechBloc since 2016 to develop the highly successful TechFuel pitch competition to help invigorate our San Antonio startup scene,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said in a prepared statement.
“We continue to be impressed by TechFuel’s impact in drawing state-wide attention to our startup community and increasing local and regional participation in our startup ecosystem,” he continued, adding that it was important to bring TechFuel back in a live format.
The co-founder of last year’s winner, Grain4Grain, a low-carb spent barley flour company, told the San Antonio Report earlier this year that the $50,000 grand prize helped the company through the height of the pandemic last year. Yoni Medhin said winning also gave his venture legitimacy among investors and paved the way for a fundraising round this year to expand its facilities in San Antonio.