Geekdom Launches Incubator Program for Startups Focused on Social Impact

By Iris Gonzalez
Incubator teams talk to attendees at the Geekdom launch. Photo credit: Startups San Antonio.

Aspiring entrepreneurs spoke excitedly to attendees at the Geekdom inaugural launch for its incubator cohort Tuesday evening. The three teams are participating in an inaugural 12-month-long incubator program designed to help launch civically-focused tech startups.

The three teams are:

  • Polis, which is developing a Bluetooth network-based navigation solution for the San Antonio River Walk,
  • solovaGo, which is creating an app that uses crime data to help users evaluate the safety of neighborhoods, and,
  • Pawtify, which is working with San Antonio’s animal care services department to increase the number of pet adoptions.

The incubator is run in partnership with the city of San Antonio’s Office of Innovation and Information Technology Services Department. Geekdom’s pre-accelerator program manager, Joyce Deuley, manages the incubator’s programming.

The San Antonio City Council awarded in November a $250,000 grant for the pilot two-year incubator program. Three startup teams in both Year 1 and 2 will each receive $10,000 and have access to up to $40,000 in funds from a $250,000 Economic Development Incentive Fund grant from the city. Companies participating in this incubator must remain based in San Antonio for at least two years after completing the program.

“Geekdom designed this part-time 12-month program for entrepreneurs who are working at their day jobs,” Deuley said. “The program includes over 100 hours of professional and business development workshops as well as a strong mentor network and collaborative partnerships with city departments.”

Polis team members Matt Munroe and Colby Doyal met while attending Trinity University. They’ve since added Boston College graduate Andre Gomes to round out the founding team. Munson had first pitched his idea at Trinity’s Stumberg Competition in 2018, but he did not win. The concept has since evolved into a navigational app to help people looking for businesses on the River Walk.

“This program is perfect for us since we want to help the city by giving them actionable data on tourist and residential traffic,” Munson said. “That can help the city accurately track the development of downtown tourism and residential impacts.”

Pawtify’s founders Emma DeJong and Laura Prochaska met as students in Codeup’s 2018 coding bootcamp.

“We wanted to use our newfound coding skills in a meaningful way,” Prochaska said. “Emma spent four years volunteering at the Humane Society, so we were excited at the opportunity to make a difference by helping them increase adoptions.”

Wayne Siddall, Jennifer Walker, and Emily Rodriguez also met at Codeup while learning to code. The solovaGo app idea was their Capstone project to graduate the Codeup bootcamp.

“We wanted to leverage the use of real-time data to give you the confidence to navigate your neighborhood,” Rodriguez said. “Your anxieties are valid, so we want to give you tools that can raise the alarm or let contacts know you’ve arrived safely.”

City of San Antonio chief information officer Craig Hopkins told the audience Tuesday that “technologists love technology, but they don’t think about how to solve the problem.”

This program, he added, was designed to help “innovators who are driven to fix a problem that impacts the community.”

Featured image is of the Geekdom incubator teams networking with attendees at the program’s launch Tuesday. Photo credit: Startups San Antonio.

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