OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | The OwlSpark Accelerator Launches May 21
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The OwlSpark Accelerator Launches May 21

OwlSpark will kick-off virtually on Thursday, May 21, bringing together startup teams from Rice University, University of Houston and Texas A&M University. While the transition to a digital program provides some challenges, it’s also brought with it some exciting opportunities. OwlSpark can access mentors from across the country with expertise specific to this year’s cohort, like agriculture, horticulture, and influencer and content marketing. We even have a speaker joining us from China.

Throughout the summer, nine OwlSpark teams and eight RED Labs teams are immersed in an entrepreneurial environment and put through a rigorous curriculum as a part of the jointly-run summer accelerator. The Rice University and University of Houston partnership started seven years ago to enrich the startup experience, enhance mentor impact and increase opportunities for corporate engagement. The 12-week accelerator culminates in the Bayou Startup Showcase in late summer, allowing startups from both universities to pitch to investors and the broader community.

New for OwlSpark in 2020: A Pilot Program with McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

OwlSpark has launched a pilot program with the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. This new program explores the value of expanding the OwlSpark curriculum and experience to more universities. After an initial selection process through the McFerrin Center, teams applied for OwlSpark.

Three Aggie teams were invited to participate as part of the OwlSpark Class 8 cohort, gaining access to OwlSpark mentors, curriculum and other resources. The Aggie teams are working on the following solutions:

  • an affordable, portable, imaging system capable of diagnosing diabetic retinopathy for low-resourced and underserved communities
  • an agricultural platform for use in urban settings that enables horticulturists to measure and record plant growth, detect disease, and recommend corrective actions
  • an interactive content platform that uses data analytics to enable creators and viewers to more selectively choose content

The Rice University startup teams are building solutions in the following areas:

  • an imaging device that enables healthcare professionals performing endovascular procedures to accurately visualize vascular access in a patient
  • a suite of imaging and software tools that detect bleeding vessels in real-time surgery enabling surgeons to precisely locate and prevent life-threatening hemorrhages
  • a centralized pharmaceutical resource that enables women to make personalized and more informed decisions in contraceptive care
  • a screening device that predicts biological hazards in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics without the use of animal models
  • a non-invasive skincare system that profiles the molecular concentration of the skin and creates customized formulations of products
  • an exercise platform for use in analyzing, critiquing, and correcting the form of individuals and athletes performing stationary exercises

Alumni Spotlights

One of the benefits of participating in OwlSpark is the relationships built within each class, but also with successful alumni that come through the program. A quick update on two alumni from Class 6:

Bidly is a mobile application with 7,000 total users and 3,000 monthly active users, Bidly provides any sized, brick and mortar business a platform to generate thousands of impressions from local consumers by providing users access to searchable and location-based deals. The company recently:

  • Surpassed $40,000 in revenue in six months
  • Closed deals with notable corporate businesses like Fuzzy’s, Walk-Ons and Pizza Hut
  • Expanded to Rice, LSU, TCU and Baylor—with six schools onboarded in total
  • Provided some participating businesses with 500 monthly transactions

WellWorth is a SaaS valuation platform for finance professionals in the upstream oil & gas industry. By automating the mechanics of financial modeling and reducing valuation time we aim to help customers evaluate and possibly, win more M&A transactions. WellWorth is in the final stages of product development and recently

  • Won the Best Graduate Team prize at the 2019 Rice University’s Napier Rice Launch Challenge
  • Participated in MassChallenge’s inaugural Houston cohort of 25 teams in late 2019