A little rain didn’t stop Atlanta’s startup and business community from descending onto Midtown’s TechSquare Labs startup hub for the fourth iteration of their quarterly startup competition, Atlanta Startup Battle. The sold-out crowd witnessed as, out of six finalists previously determined by judges, early-stage cybersecurity startup OssPolice won $100,000 in investment from TechSquare Labs’ fund.
OssPolice, pitched by co-founders Ashish Bijlani and Ruian Duan, offers a cloud-based auditing service for mobile app developers that helps detect open-source software license violations and security vulnerabilities. This is important because, as free and open-source software continues to become more commonplace and available for developers building new apps, licensing or security violations can ensnare startups in legal tangles, if they aren’t careful.
“The teams continue to get better and I think that’s a sign that if you win this event, it can change the trajectory of your company,” says event MC and TechSquare Labs co-founder Allen Nance. “What I’m probably most proud of is we named this event Atlanta Startup Battle because we wanted this to be an Atlanta event. It’s not a TechSquare Labs event, it’s the entrepreneurs, the community, the volunteers, the judges and the attendees. Everyone is buying in and leaning in to help build something that didn’t exist before.”
In that spirit, the event hosts a different set of investor judges each time. This Battle, those investors included Atlanta Ventures’ David Cummings, Boldstart Ventures’ Eliot Durbin, Tech Square Ventures’ Blake Patton, Las Olas VC’s Esteban Reyes, TTV Capital’s Sean Banks and Morgan Stanley’s Alice Vilma.
The event, which began in October 2016, has grown from 200-plus applications submitted to the inaugural competition to 500 applications from 2,200 entrepreneurs in this fourth round. Nance shares that this latest competition received over 1,000 RSVPs, the most ever-received for Atlanta Startup Battle.
“We went from 500 teams down to six finalists and this is the strongest group yet,” says Labs co-founder and entrepreneur Paul Judge. “Everything from voice assistance to cybersecurity and MarTech. I kind of want to invest in all of them.”
In addition to providing early-stage startups the unique opportunity to pitch to local and outside investors for a $100K investment, the winners also gain access to resources, mentorship and a network — TechSquare Labs is Atlanta’s only Google for Entrepreneurs hub — and office space.
“We’re pretty excited to strategically use this money in our company and make a difference,” the OssPolice team shares with Hypepotamus. “Being selected as the winning team validates what we’re doing and motivates us to continue further in this direction.”
The cybersecurity startup began at Georgia Tech’s School of Computer Science as the work of five researchers, which they presented as a paper at a cybersecurity and computing conference last fall. They’re also a CREATE-X company, Georgia Tech’s student startup accelerator, and will be going through the program this summer.
The other five pitching startups were:
- AGVoice — a product for agrifood companies to capture and analyze on-site data for improved traceability using voice on the go.
- Cove.Tool — a decision-making software that helps architects, engineers, owners and contractors to optimize building options at best cost.
- Eletype — a real-time digital marketing agent designed for search and social media marketing campaigns and fix errors in real-time.
- Trusted Sale — an anti-fraud, anti-scam peer-to-peer transaction platform, for anonymous parties to verify, meet and conduct cash-less transactions with a focus on private vehicle sales.
- CPG Toolbox — a more reliable, predictable analysis in the Consumer Packaged Goods trade promotion management space that integrates with Salesforce.
Following the winner’s announcement on the rooftop, Judge surprised the crowd by mentioning that, for the first time during a Startup Battle, TechSquare Labs would be making two additional undisclosed investments to two of the other participating companies — Eletype and Cove.Tool.
“We’re going to be using the investment to take our product to market and add a sales team, which is what we’re really missing,” Sandeep Ahuja, Cove.Tool co-founder and COO, tells Hypepotamus. “We have a product, but we need a person calling every single day and getting those leads to implement it. So far, every client that we have has bought off the shelf.”
Judge also shared a quick update on Atlanta Startup Battle’s past winners while on stage. Inaugural winner Fraudscope, a startup that targets healthcare-related fraud claims, has grown to 12 employees by putting their latest $1.5 million seed round to work. They have pilots in 10 of the largest healthcare facilities in the country and in the last pilot, they stopped nearly $30 million of fraud.
Second ASB winner Cinchapi, an intelligent data platform for developers, has continued product development by building their data analytics platform to go from on-premise to the cloud and has signed on a large local non-profit as a client, with more in talks. Lastly, the third winner Oculogx, a supply chain and logistics operations startup that uses an augmented reality headset and accompanying software to find items in warehouses, has deployed pilots at two enterprises with the most recent pilot signaling annual savings in the $450,000 range.
The next iteration of Atlanta Startup Battle will happen later this summer. Stay tuned and see more news from TechSquare Labs here.