Geekdom Pre-Accelerator Program Graduates 7 Startups

By Iris Gonzalez
Geekdom 2023 pre-accelerator cohort participants Pacapit and ColdCalr each won SAFE notes, photo credit Geekdom

Geekdom, a downtown San Antonio co-working community, hosts a variety of programs designed to help founders build successful startups. Seven teams demonstrated their progress Monday night after participating in Geekdom’s 2023 Pre-Accelerator program.

Since 2018, Geekdom has run the annual six-week program to help local startups prepare for accelerator applications or early-stage investment. As founders practice their pitches, area tech leaders and investors mentor the teams in weekly workshops. The teams learned to refine their business model, focus their marketing, and polish their pitch decks. 

This year’s pre-accelerator teams include:

  • Based, founded by Juan Farias, is an immersive content platform that makes content meaningful and monetization easy.
  • ColdCalr, founded by Ray Cantu, is an artificial intelligence-powered software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that trains salespeople on their performance when making cold calls.
  • Craved, founded by Kush Chopra, is a company that makes healthy food exciting.
  • Culture Travels, founded by Leroy Adams, bridges the gap between travelers and destinations through its digital and print magazine, podcast, and video content.
  • PacAPit, founded by John Chadwell, is a patent-pending, collapsible fire pit that stows away for portability.
  • Code Flight, founded by Laura Ruiz-Roehrs, looks to curate affordable learning paths, hands-on projects, and personalized guidance for a seamless learn-to-code journey.
  • TapNotion, founded by Ryan Carter, is a training software platform for food service employees to learn menu knowledge via an engaging memorization game.

As the first day of San Antonio Startup Week ended at the Frost Tower, the seven teams pitched their business concepts during the pre-accelerator Demo Day event.

“What I love about the pre-accelerator is that not only are the founders learning how to pitch their businesses to investors, they’re learning how to tell a compelling story that will make people want to be a part of their journey,” said Geekdom pre-accelerator lead Jon Ryan Garcia.

After pitching their companies, two of the seven founders received a SAFE note investment from Geekdom.

John Chadwell won a $25,000 SAFE note, which he will use to scale his firepit company’s inventory. He first conceived the idea in June 2020 while camping on the river and patented the collapsible firepit design in 2021.

“The funding will help me optimize the e-commerce experience to scale sales globally,” Chadwell said. “I’m proud to be in building Pacapit as a San Antonio-based business in my hometown.”

Ray Cantu won a $20,000 SAFE note for his AI training platform for sales teams. “We’ve built a platform that can handle any industry, language, or scenario,” Cantu said. “The funding will help us enhance our technology, refine our user interface for a more dynamic and engaging experience, and bolster our marketing initiatives to expand ColdCALR’s reach even further.”

Some participants developed their entrepreneurial ideas after participating in other Geekdom programs. “We’re creating a developmental pipeline for early-stage startups with our programming,” said Geekdom CEO Charles Woodin. “We strive to make our programs accessible to everyone in the community interested in entrepreneurship.”

Kush Chopra started working on his healthy ice cream concept during the September 2022 Startup BootCamp Weekend at Geekdom. After completing the 2023 Geekdom pre-accelerator program and Launch SA’s Break Fast and Launch accelerator for food-focused businesses, Chopra has arranged for Royal Blue Grocery to carry their fruit-based ice cream. After receiving $25,000 in Geekdom’s Community funding, the first-time entrepreneur now sells ice cream at the Pearl Farmers Market every weekend as he develops his e-commerce platform and looks for connections to large retailers like HEB and Whole Foods.

Ryan Carter worked on his idea for Tap Notion during a Geekdom Startup Bootcamp Weekend earlier this year before joining the pre-accelerator cohort. He is now preparing to raise seed funding for his gamified training program for restaurant owners to train employees on menu offerings. 

“The pre-accelerator program here at Geekdom gives companies and early-stage startups a chance to learn first-hand how to cultivate their ideas successfully,” Woodin said. “Now that they’ve formed connections to our mentors, these founders can continue to develop their businesses and grow as entrepreneurs.”

The featured image is from Geekdom’s 2023 Pre-Accelerator program Demo Day. Geekdom 2023 pre-accelerator cohort participants Pacapit and ColdCalr won SAFE note funding. Photo credit: Geekdom.

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