Meet the 25 Startups Competing at SXSW Startup Night 2018

Everything is bigger in Texas. And while that cliché has been said about everything in the Lone Star state for years, it rings particularly true for the hottest startups showcasing their big innovations at SXSW Startup Night 2018 presented by the Kauffman Foundation and TechCo.

It is here that 25 of the most diverse startups from around the world will showcase their latest technology and compete for prizes and a chance to be fast tracked as one of the Startup of the Year semifinalists at Innovate Celebrate 2018. What you’ll also find is that of the 25 companies, our founders represent an inclusive group with 40 percent female, 52 percent minority and 12 percent veteran founders from 14 states and 5 countries.

SXSW Startup Night 2018 is one of the “must attend” events at SXSW and it’s a celebration of inclusion, entrepreneurial ecosystems and startups. The event is open to tech enthusiasts who want to join an event filled with some of the top leaders, investors and mentors from tech industry to network, find mentors and build their companies.

AdWallet (Albuquerque, NM)

What if you could earn money to watch ads instead of avoiding them? That’s the concept behind AdWallet. Advertisers upload their 30 second ads and each time a user watches the ad, they receive $.50. If the user shares the add on social media, they earn an extra $.25. After earning $10, the user can cash out, turn it in for a gift card or donate it to a charity. Users receive a text message when the next one is ready for viewing and will have to answer a short question about the ad to prove they “paid attention” to the ad to earn cash.

Aperiomics (Ashburn, VA)

Providing the ability to quickly unveil what microorganism could be impacting the health of a person, animal or environment is part of Aperiomics mission. This biotech company developed Xplore-PATHO as a service to test samples for the presence of pathogens – everything from bacteria and DNA virus to parasites and fungus – in a single test.

Their approach to pathogen detection is a combination of “deep metagenomics sequencing and proprietary bioinformatics analysis that can identify 35,000+ microorganisms in one test.” This startup aims to impact multiple industries with its technology including: clinical, agriculture, environment, industry, and veterinary.

Beast Mobile (Kirkland, WA)

Beast Mode is taking on a new meaning in the startup world. In collaboration with Marshawn Lynch, the cofounders are planning on making cell phone service free. How will Beast Mobile cut down the cost of your ever-increasing cell phone bill? Targeted mobile advertising.

After choosing one of their affordable monthly service fee plans, users simply interact with their advertisers. Users can earn credits by watching videos, taking advantage of promotional offers, and more, and apply the credits towards the bill.

Canecto (Copenhaugen, Hovedenstad, Denmark)

These days it seems like a professional is needed to interpret a business’ web analytics. That’s why Canecto developed a cutting-edge, AI framework designed to be a web analytics assistant and help provide owners relevant insights around their customer base and learn how visitors interact with their content.

Culpability (Atlanta, GA)

Bringing transparency to the forefront and holding people accountable for their actions is the main focus behind Culpability. They are bridging the communication gap between citizens, law enforcement, corporations and all branches of government with their mobile app.

This socially responsible app will help empower the community to capture real-time text, voice, video and images of incidents that involve law enforcement and individuals in non-emergency situations. Once uploaded, the company safeguards the data in their secure cloud. The company also educates people about their rights on capture data when interacting with law enforcement.

virtual reality gaming

DatavizVR  (Austin, TX)

Think of looking at a dot graph of your business sales in virtual reality. DatavizVR is the world’s first big data analytics and visualization virtual and augmented reality platform. They are taking data scientists’ and analysts’ understanding of their information to the next dimension. Users can upload spreadsheets or csv data, then create, collaborate and analyze insights all in mixed reality.

InSpirAVE (Pittsburgh, PA & New York City, NY)

Saving money is hard enough, especially for important purchases or events. InSpirAVE is helping people “save for what matters,” and reduce impulsive spending. According to the company, “30 percent of purchases are regretted and half of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.”

The unique part of this company is their Internet-of-Savings® platform that helps users multiply savings for big ticket items and create a shared experience. After placing items from merchants or retailers on your wish list, you can ask your friends and family for advice and offer a gift giving opportunity. The program will continue to work through the goal until the item is delivered to your door.

LexiconAI (San Francisco, CA)

Saving professionals time on paperwork is what LexiconAI aims to do. Their first product LexiconMD helped healthcare professionals dictate their notes into e-medical records hands- and eyes- free. Lexicon AI is their new product, an intelligent, voice-based platform for lawyers, healthcare providers, and other professionals. Their speech recognition software has a high level of accuracy, as though a human was transcribing the information.

Love Intently (Austin, TX)

Dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble can help people find love, but Love Intently is helping couples build their relationship and stay in love. Their platform helps couples improve their communication and interactions through their “LoveTips,” and will help support planning and executing activities such as ordering flowers and writing love notes.

The Mentor Method (Washington, D.C.)

With 37 percent of minority professionals leaving positions because of a lack of inclusion, The Mentor Method is looking to improve that number and help companies reduce turnover, and retain and engage talent. Their enterprise web-app curates mentor matches with diverse talent within the company to breed an inclusive workplace culture and engage their top performers. Their tool helps structure and track the impact of the mentorship program.

Milo Life (Miami, FL)

Early detection of health problems can be key to overcoming ailments and life-threatening diseases, and reduce healthcare costs. Milo Life is making it more convenient for people to complete lab tests at home. They have developed doctor-grade blood, saliva and urine tests approved by the FDA for over-the-counter purchase.

The company has over 80 types of tests within wellness, diagnostics or drug testing, and their system generates results within minutes to the mobile app.

Oria Ring by Enhancia (Grenoble, France)

Wearables aren’t just for fitness and gaming. Enhancia, known for their innovative music equipment, developed the Oria Ring, a connected ring that helps musicians add in musical effects on a keyboard through their natural hand movements. The company’s goal is to enhance the way artists compose their music and interact with instruments.

The wearable has nine integrated sensors, a real-time gesture recognition algorithm and a motion library that syncs with the keyboard.

Polyswarm (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Fighting global cyber threats and getting rewarded is the concept behind Polyswarm. This startup is the first decentralized cyber threat intelligence community and marketplace where security experts can compete and solve global security threats and win rewards for solving these real “cyber bounties.”

These threats are detected in real-time by micro anti-malware engines fine-tuned by security experts.

Project Ray (Hartford, CT)

While smartphones do have accessibility options for those with visual impairment, Project Ray is hyper-focused on digital inclusion with their solution. Their product, RAY, is the first adhesive tag that turns one’s smartphone into a tactile device and can be used eye-free.

Through the RAY VISION app, the user can manage communication, digital services and social networking, through simple gestures, haptic feedback, adhesive tags, voice recognition, and more. The app also offers remote assistance, a physical help button and tag identifier.

Qoins (Atlanta, GA)

Paying off debt takes discipline. Qoins is making it easier than ever to pay off those credit cards and student loans through your everyday purchases. Qoins will analyze a user’s spending habits, round up the spare change from transactions, apply it to a Qoins account then automatically send that money to pay down debt once a month.

The company said on average, users can pay off an extra $600 per year on debt through their service. Price: $1.99 per month.


Quirktastic Media (Durham, NC)

Tapping into a niche community is part of Quirktastic Media’s competitive advantage. They are a tech and media company that create products, content and connections for “geeks, nerds, alternatives, free spirits and intellectuals of color.” Their four products include an e-commerce shop, social app, content and a multi-genre convention (QuickCon coming in Summer 2019).

Seek (Lehi, UT)

Getting your company found on app stores is hard enough – especially if you are a new AR startup. Seek developed a centralized augmented reality community where AR creators can publish and share their latest innovation, and users can find the hottest new AR platform.

Sesame by CANDY HOUSE (Palo Alto)

Don’t worry about losing your keys – Sesame is a smart lock that allows you to unlock your door with your phone. There is no replacement of the current lock or handyman needed for installation, the design simply covers the deadbolt knob on the inside of the door, and can be reused with different locks.

Their patented design also has the optional Wi-Fi access point so it’s always attached to your network and helps manage battery life of the lock. Through the app, it only takes one touch or a knock on the phone to open/close the lock, and users can choose who has access and receive notifications when the lock is opened/closed.

Sleepbox (Boston, MA)

Not every millennial who travels wants a full-size hotel room. Sleepbox is a micro-hotel solution that is a blend between traditional hotel and Airbnb/hostel accommodations. This modular, stand-alone hotel room is a private, soundproof, box with a bed that can be booked right through one’s smartphone.

The room is 45 sq.ft. with an extra size bed, mood lighting, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, music, and more. The company is strategically placing Sleepboxes in premium locations such as city centers, even airports.  

Spinbackup (San Francisco, CA)

Cyber security is a hot topic for small businesses. And for those that run on Google, having an extra layer of protection against ransomware or hacks could save businesses. Spinbackup is a Google Cloud Partner and provide Cloud-to-Cloud backup and cyber security solutions for SaaS data.

The company offers backup and disaster recovery of Google files. In case of human error or hacking, your personal/business information will be safe.

Stefanka (Montreal, Quebec)

Online clothes shopping is on the rise, but with it comes the risk that the outfit will not fit. Stefanka is taking the frustration and size uncertainty out of the shopping experience and helping shoppers find the products and sizes most suited for their body shape through their leading technology.

For retailers, this will mean selling more product, fewer returns and happier customers. When users input their body measurements either manually or via 3D scanning at retail shops, their algorithm will match the items to the person’s body type.

TeacherTalent  (Austin, TX)

Think CareerBuilder for teachers and schools. TeacherTalent is a platform that streamlines the job search for teachers and schools by gathering data on schools, teachers and students from over 10,000 sources and match everyone’s needs and skills.

For active job seekers, the platform will introduce school districts that will be a strong fit. The company also provides support for their school clients during the teacher recruitment, hiring, development and retention phases.

TOMMI Game by Softcare Studios (Rome, Lazio, Italy)

The thought of a child going through cancer treatment is more than a parent should bare. For the child, their emotional wellness needs to be considered during this challenging time.

Softcare Studios is focused on reducing anxiety and pain in children going through cancer treatments by using gaming and VR to boost their emotional stability while providing valuable data to healthcare professionals. In collaboration with doctors, psychologists, caregivers and patients, their TOMMI Game helps provide real-time data about the child’s psycho-emotional state while providing a fun and distracting activity for the patient during treatment. (Miami, Florida)

Traveling internationally can be a pain for many reasons. One of the main headaches includes making sure you have all the government travel visas required to enter the country. is helping bring the travel visa process into the 21st century and what used to take weeks to process can now be done in minutes.

Once a user selects a travel visa, the platform govWorks will complete their Traveler Profile and walk them through the application to completion. The company’s founder is very familiar with this space as he sold his startup,, five years ago.  

WythMe (Arlington, VA)

When you are looking for a new place to go to dinner, plan a team outing or set up a catered event, scrolling through a bunch of places and figuring out costs can be a time suck. WythMe is changing the way people find businesses with discounts and within their budget for entertainment.

Their reverse auction platform lets the user set the budget and needs for an event and the food and beverage market will bid for your business. Users simply enter their plans and let the offers come to them.

If you’ll be in Austin on Saturday, March 10th, RSVP now to join us and these 25 startups at SXSW Startup Night 2018 at the American Cities House located at Maggie Mae’s on 6th St.

Check out all of the American Cities House SXSW Activities.

Thank you to all of our SXSW partners: The Kauffman Foundation, Pledge 1%, Startup Arlington, Launch KC,  American Airlines, The Case Foundation, StartCo, digitalundivided, BlackTech Week, Pipeline Angels, Global Entrepreneurship Network, ESTABLISHED, and iFundWomen.

Read more about our Startup Nights and SXSW 2018 on TechCo.

Follow all the action on Twitter by following @startupofyear, #StartupNightSXSW and #StartupofYear

Did you find this article helpful? Click on one of the following buttons
We're so happy you liked! Get more delivered to your inbox just like it.

We're sorry this article didn't help you today – we welcome feedback, so if there's any way you feel we could improve our content, please email us at

Written by:
Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.
Explore More See all news
Back to top
close Building a Website? We've tested and rated Wix as the best website builder you can choose – try it yourself for free Try Wix today