SmartAustin Co-Founder helps Smart Cities (and other) Startups Find Success at SXSW

The mission of SmartAustin is to establish Austin as the center for Smart Cities startups, investors and thought leaders. Some of that work takes place through pilots, events, and competitions that we actively manage and/or partner with, as an organization. At other times, we engage in this work as individuals in the community.

Co-Founder Jonathan Ha, for instance, dedicates a fair amount of volunteer time as a local "Startup Mentor" at the Capital Factory, and is really making an impact in the broader Austin ecosystem. He typically meets with at least 4 different startups every month and mentors them on areas such as their corporate pitch, product marketing, business model and go-to-market strategy. 

In addition to his role as a mentor at the Capital Factory, Jonathan has served as a pitch coach at the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event for several years.  As a pitch coach, he works with 3-4 of the event finalists to help them refine their pitch and tell their story.  For the second straight year, Jonathan was the pitch coach for multiple category winners at the event.  Not all of these startups are ‘smart cities’ focused, but several are, and each presents a compelling story. More broadly, Jonathan’s informal mentorship relationships have led to some of our most exciting SmartAustin partnerships.


Recent SXSW Accelerator Winners Coached by Jonathan:


ICON 3D -- Austin, TX -- “Social and Culture” Category ()2018

ICON is a construction-technology company currently working toward building the first up-to-code 3D printed home in the United States (using concrete as substrate).



GrubTubs -- Austin, TX -- “Hyperconnected Communities” Category (2018)

GrubTubs (also a winner of our partnered [Re]Verse Pitch Competition,run by Austin Resource Recovery] solves for the overabundance of food waste coming from restaurants by creating a nutrient-rich animal feed that is affordable for local family farms.



SPLT -- Austin/Detroit -- Transportation Category (2017)

SPLT is a transportation platform changing the way people commute worldwide through enterprise carpooling in a closed network and in partnership with Lyft, providing non-emergency medical transportation.



Lampix -- San Francisco -- AR/VR Category (2017)

Lampix is a software, hardware and cloud platform that makes augmented reality without glasses by transforming surfaces into smart surfaces.


thimble-logo.png -- Buffalo, NY -- “Innovative World Category” (2017)

Thimble teaches beginners a basic understanding of building electronics through a monthly kit with carefully curated and easy to follow instructions.


Additional Mentorship Success Stories:

  • Another successful mentee was 2016 SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event finalist Prynt, which recently announced partnerships with Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Urban Outfitters. The company secured a total of 9.5 million in funding. "SXSW is becoming more and more popular, and the Accelerator Pitch Event is the right place for early stage startups to get visibility," said Prynt CEO and co-founder Clément Perrot. "We really enjoyed participating, meeting awesome friendly fellow startupers, and receiving a lot of feedback from the jury and the audience. Considering we are mixing Augmented Reality and Instant Photography, I appreciated facing a trendy crowd."

  • Jonathan also coached Smarter Sorting, who won the Smart Cities Startup Challenge last summer and is progressing nicely in Austin.

  • And finally, our first contact with Aerial Applications, now planning a municipal drone pilot here in Austin, began as a mentorship relationship with Jonathan at the Capital Factory.


Sometimes, promoting the ‘Smart Cities’ startup ecosystem means supporting the broader Austin startup ecosystem. We’re glad to have that amazing opportunity, as Austinites, and proud to have contributed something to the success of these great firms.