SaaS, Cyber Startups Land on 2019 List of Fastest Growing Companies in San Antonio

By Iris Gonzalez

The first ever Growjo Industry Awards debuted its indexed list of fastest-growing companies in Texas broken down to show the ranked companies and number of jobs available in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Growjo uses an algorithm to track growth metrics such as hiring trends, funding and financial data, web traffic, and other signs of traction for companies under 1000 employees.

The 100 fastest growing companies in San Antonio collectively have 1,317 job openings.  Local startup Brokerage Engine landed at the top of the new list of rapidly growing companies in San Antonio, with other software as a service (SaaS) and cybersecurity startups, as well as established companies in other industries completing the group.

Brokerage Engine offers a SaaS platform for real estate brokerage firms. The startup launched in April 2018 with four co-founders, two from the brokerage world, two from the tech world. Brokerage Engine’s chief financial officer Brianne Alston had been at Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty working closely with its broker-owner J Kuper who heads Brokerage Engine as its chief executive officer (CEO) when they sought advice on how to launch a software platform for brokers. Dirk Elmendorf, co-founder of Rackspace Hosting and his brother Brett became investors in and co-founders of Brokerage Engine. Dirk is Brokerage’s chief technology officer while Brett is the chief experience officer.

Read more: Broker Expertise and Rackspace Experience Behind Brokerage Engine Startup

The Brokerage Engine co-founders from left: Dirk Elemendorf, Biranne Alston, J Kuper, Brett Elemendorf. Courtesy photo.
The Brokerage Engine co-founders from left: Dirk Elmendorf, Brianne Alston, J Kuper, Brett Elmendorf. Courtesy photo.

The company has grown from the first four co-founders to 31 employees in its first year. Brokerage focuses on midmarket sized real estate companies that have a greater need for a software platform to support brokerage operations. The company plans on putting together a funding round sometime in the next six months, according to Dirk Elmendorf.

“In a city with low unemployment, we’ve been able to attract great talent to our company where we challenge an industry that is nationwide,” Elmendorf said.

Scaleworks Driver for Top-Ranked Fast-Growing Companies

Scaleworks, a venture equity firm that acquires and moves startups poised for growth to San Antonio, has companies in three of the top 10 spots. Earth Class Mail, Chargify, and Filestack occupy third, fifth, and seventh positions respectively on the list.

All three companies have been or are actively hiring. “We’ve been fortunate to have found talented and highly motivated professionals to see Earth Class Mail into its next chapter of growth, right here in San Antonio,” CEO Jess Garza said.

Chargify team working in their space inside Scaleworks in downtown San Antonio. Photo credit: Startups San Antonio
Chargify team working in their space inside Scaleworks in downtown San Antonio. Photo credit: Startups San Antonio

Chargify has more than doubled its workforce over the past year, according to CEO Tom Rotem. The company is “investing in training our talent and helping them build skills,” Rotem said.

Lew Moorman and Ed Bryne founded the venture equity firm in 2016. Of its portfolio of companies, the most recent to exit was Mailgun in April. Scaleworks also sold another company, Assembla, in November 2018.

“One of the things that drew me to the Scaleworks model is the possibility to get good jobs to San Antonio fast,” Moorman said. “And because we are growth focused and invest, the jobs will grow. It is nice to see the model being validated.”

The approach of buying and scaling companies in San Antonio has boosted the local economy and increased the number of available tech jobs.

“What Lew is doing at Scaleworks is ‘cheating time’ by bringing in companies that are poised for growth,” said Geekdom Fund’s managing director Mike Troy. “When you can go out and buy companies and move them here it’s a big multiplier for job growth.”

Cybersecurity Also Major Source of Job Growth in San Antonio

The appearance of cybersecurity companies Delta Risk (fourth on the list), Def-Logix (eighth), and IPSecure (21st) is no surprise to Amanda Keammerer, director of CyberSecurity San Antonio at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. San Antonio was recently named a top 10 global hub for cyber and the “growth of local cyber companies played a key role in that recognition,” she said.

“These companies not only compete at the highest levels, provide excellent customer service, and disrupt the status quo — they also mentor young leaders, contribute resources toward increasing the local cyber workforce, and actively participate in critical public-private partnerships like CyberSecurity San Antonio,” Keammerer said.

Richard Valdez, CTO at IPSecure emphasized how his company and others like it are well positioned in a growing cyber service industry. The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) estimates there are about 12 federal cybersecurity operations centers in San Antonio providing about 60,000 jobs in science and technology and 80,000 jobs in the Department of Defense.

“We have been growing to support the demand for specialized expertise when we subcontract for larger defense contractors,” Valdez said. “We also volunteer with local colleges, Cyber Patriot teams, Cyber Texas, and more because we’re invested in developing our local workforce.”

Skill Development Tied to Job Growth
SA Works, a nonprofit that works to match education initiatives to workforce talent gaps, released its twice-yearly jobs report last week. The latest results focused on SAEDF’s targeted information technology (IT), advanced manufacturing, and health care sectors. The report concluded job growth is on the rise but more programs that train workers for the highest skills in demand will be essential to the continued growth of local companies.

SAEDF won 20 new projects for San Antonio in 2018, which are expected to add 4,460 new jobs that are mostly higher salaried positions in targeted industries. In the first months of 2019, SAEDF projects have committed to add over 1,600 new jobs.

While many startups raise money outside of San Antonio, the emergence of the Geekdom Fund, Scaleworks, and venture fund Active Capital, along with the rapidly maturing Alamo Angels investor network is also helping to fuel the growth of San Antonio startups, Troy said.

The surge in jobs requiring specialized skills may indicate a need for more workforce training, but it also signals opportunity, according to one fast-growth company co-founder.

“The recruitment has gotten better here because there are so many job opportunities in San Antonio,” Elmendorf said. “People are looking for the right fit—it’s a great time to take a risk with a fast-growing company.”

Featured image is a screenshot from the list of fastest growing companies in San Antonio for 2019.

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