Tech Accelerator Aims to Entice Latin American Startups to Invest in San Antonio

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Leadership members from the seven startups hailing from Latin American Companies.

Courtesy / VelocityTX

CEOs of seven Latin American startups are participating in the VelocityTX accelerator.

Seven tech companies from three Latin American countries are seeking a shot in the arm from a new three-month accelerator program in San Antonio.

The companies offer everything from a fantasy sports platform to vibrational guidance for the visually impaired, and they hail from Brazil, Chile, and Costa Rica. The program started Oct. 1 and will conclude Dec. 18.

The goal for VelocityTX, a local nonprofit that developed the accelerator program, is to get the companies to consider setting up a branch office in San Antonio or help them raise their first round of funding, said David Fonseca, vice president of global development.

“What we do best [is] help entrepreneurs create value for our community by creating jobs and wealth,” Fonseca said. “We currently have seven companies from three different countries that are going to be working together for the greater economic development of San Antonio.”

Formed in 2017 as a Texas Research and Technology Foundation (TRTF) subsidiary, VelocityTX began whittling down a list of more than 300 companies in the three Latin American countries to participate in the Global Accelerator Program, which aims to speed up their growth in the U.S. market.

The businesses will receive coaching from area entrepreneurs, and VelocityTX will help them craft a plan for scaling and expanding into the U.S. Participating companies will also have access to networking and funding vehicles, such as the Alamo Angels investor network.

The program is housed in a temporary space on Grayson Street as work continues on TRTF’s new facility in the former Merchants Ice space on San Antonio’s East Side.

The Merchants Ice and Cold Stage Building on East Houston Street.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The Merchants Ice and Cold Stage Building on East Houston Street.

The seven companies come from three accelerator programs in each respective country: Neurognos, which develops new screenings for Alzheimer’s disease, is from Austral Incuba in Chile; Quantik, TicoFut, and WOW Emotions are part of the Parque Tec incubator in Costa Rica; and MAGTAB, DOCPAD, and Smart Vibe participate in the OBr.Global program in Brazil.

Brazil is one of the most racially diverse countries in the world, said Robert Janssen, CEO of OBr.Global.

“To encounter the same diversity here in San Antonio has been very overwhelming and is key for us to be successful,” Janssen said. “Communities working very strongly with diversity are the ones that are going to succeed going forward. This is where the world is going. We are all becoming one big society, one big, global village. San Antonio is already a mirror of that, and for us, it was just like coming home.”

One of the companies in Janssen’s accelerator, Smart Vibe, is developing a wristband that receives vibrations based on a GPS navigation route to help guide the visually impaired. The Manaus, Brazil-based startup was founded in 2013 by Moises Bastos and Ana Carolina Lima after Lima, an engineer, wrote her doctoral thesis on vibrational communication. But the technology is also applicable for tourists looking to stay away from dangerous areas or to provide more information to motorists.

“It’s translating whatever you’re going to be doing and that motion into a vibration communication so that people who are not able to see or read at that particular time, or are visually impaired, can act upon that information,” Janssen said.

Launched in June, TicoFut aims to create more interest in fantasy sports in Costa Rica to help area retailers gain more business. Its online platform will promote deals at small to medium-sized businesses in the country for people participating in fantasy sports tournaments, CEO Nick Hayward said.

“It’s going to be something that’s going to catch on very quickly,” Hayward said, adding there are 2.6 million soccer fans in Costa Rica. “The experience we’re going to take back to our country [will] feed to the other people and get the ball rolling. I think it’s an amazing opportunity and a great program.”

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