Learning, fundraising and Web development companies receive top honors at Rice Alliance's 10th annual IT and Web Venture Forum

HOUSTON – (Dec. 10, 2012) - Companies specializing in learning, fundraising and Web development were named among the "10 Most Promising IT and Web Companies" at the 10th annual IT and Web Venture Forum hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University in Houston Dec. 6.

The winners were chosen from 43 information technology and Web startup ventures and judged on their five-minute business plan presentations. A group of investors and business leaders from around the country served as judges. 

The winners were:

(Austin, Texas), which provides strong authentication solutions with robust security features that are easy for companies to deploy and makes life easier for their users.

(Houston), a platform to organize and find meal fundraisers at local restaurants.

(Plano, Texas), which makes a multicolor LED bulb that users control and program wirelessly through a mobile app.

(Houston), the only website directory of people who teach online and local lessons where anyone can learn for free.

(Houston), which develops Web and mobile apps that power the “Internet-of-things.”

(Dallas), which enables a local merchant to post what they want to sell, when they want to sell it and then instantly share it to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, email and SMS, all from the convenience of a single device.

(Austin, Texas), a mobile app that is like the Kayak of ground transportation; it aggregates all of a user's ride options in one simple interface.

(Austin, Texas), which turns an inbox into a task list.

The Metal Exchange
(Austin, Texas), a global source for industrial metals where people can buy, sell and connect in an online marketplace.

TISA Software
(Houston), a software engineering company focused on the oil and gas industry and social development.

In addition to these winners, NASA NASA Johnson Space Center Strategic Opportunities & Partnership Development (SOPD) Office presented NASA’s Most Promising Crossover I.T. Technology award. Steven Gonzalez, Deputy, Strategic Opportunities & Partnership Development Office presented the award to Meshify and accepted by Meshify’s co-founder, Dane Witbeck. 

“Every year the quality of companies improves," said Rice Alliance Managing Director Brad Burke, who announced the winners at the event. "This year we had a diversity of companies, including several addressing niche social media markets, software that aggregates numerous sites and mobile apps. As a group, the companies this year are further along. Most have developed prototypes, sold to customers, demonstrated results and raised previous funding, which makes them more appealing to current investors, who have commented on the improved quality of the companies."

Past startup company presenters at Rice Alliance venture forums have raised more than $2.1 billion, and this year’s crop of winners is expected to achieve similar results, Burke added. 

The event is the largest venture capital conference in the Southwest; among the 400 attendees were venture capitalists and other investors, entrepreneurs, industry representatives, business leaders and service providers.  

Assisting in presenting the awards was Karen Love from PKF Texas.   

Other sponsors of this year’s IT and Web Forum included Austin Ventures, Insperity, Mercury Fund, PKF Texas, Sevin Rosen Funds, SURGE Accelerator, ChaiOne, Comerica, the Greater Houston Partnership, BusinessMakers Radio Show, Houston Business Journal, and Houston Technology Center.

About The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) is Rice University’s globally-recognized initiative devoted to the support of technology commercialization, entrepreneurship education, and the launch of technology companies. Since inception, more than 1,400 early-stage companies have benefited from participating at the 140+ programs hosted by the Rice Alliance and raised more than $2.5 billion in funding.

Recent recognition:
- 2012: #4 Best U.S. Graduate Entrepreneurship Program - Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine
- 2012 and 2011: #14 Best U.S. Graduate Entrepreneurship Program – US News & World Report
- 2012: #7 Best College for Aspiring Entrepreneurs - Huffington Post and Unigo.com
- 2011, 2010, 2009: "Top 10" Best U.S. Graduate Entrepreneurship Program – Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine
- 2011 NASDAQ OMX Center of Entrepreneurial Excellence Award – Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC)
- 2011 National Model MBA Entrepreneurship Program – U.S. Association for Small Business & Entrepreneurship (USASBE)
- 2011, 2009 Marketer of the Year - American Marketing Association – Houston Chapter
- 2009 Outstanding Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership - GCEC
- 2009 Outstanding Technology Entrepreneurship Program – USASBE
- 2009 Houston’s Greatest Economic Development Ally – Greater Houston Partnership

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