AUSTIN (KXAN) - In a tiny Downtown Austin office, it's a dream come true for California native Tim Rothwell and his business partner Brett Berman.
He launched UMeTime just 10 weeks ago and sees the growth Austin has to offer. Plus, there's an added boost from Venturephile, an online network of resources for entrepreneurs on a range of topics such as anything from marketing and creative ideas all the way to investors and legal advisors.
"It would be a disservice to startups or entrepreneurs if they felt they could tackle on the world on their own," said Venturephile founder and University of Texas graduate student Enrique Macias.
The idea grew out of the McCombs School of Business as part of a massive class project of sorts, leading to Venturephile's launched a few months ago. UMeTime is one of the many startups Venturephile caters its resources to.
"Like how Harvard was to Facebook, Austin is to UMeTime," said Rothwell. "This is our home. This is where we're growing the business. And this is our sandbox. This is where we're going to be testing out new technologies with the businesses and, you know, with the students on campus."
UMeTime is a hyperlocal marketing and advertising platform that connects customers with daily deals at nearby businesses.
"It's an advertising platform that's geobased, that they're in complete control o, that's unlike anything else in the market," said Rothwell. "And now, we're experiencing local businesses that are reaching out to us and on another hand, it's a mobile app with real-time deal notifications."
Testing the technology out on the absorbing, young minds at UT has proven fruitful. And it's not just the students who have latched onto UMeTime's concept.
"The merchant is in complete control. This is a hands-on advertising solution that they're in control of," said Rothwell. "They're using it in ways that we didn't see coming. It's working, the technology's working."
Just 10 weeks in, Rothwell and Berman now have 125 businesses that are actively using the technology downtown and on UT's campus -- up from just 50 businesses when they started. In addition, UMeTime has seen 5,000 downloads of its app, and all through what Rothwell calls "organic marketing efforts."
The growth is welcome in a world that both Rothwell and Macias said is segmented, though booming.
"There's a lot of different groups here in Austin, and I sometimes feel like they operate on their own," said Rothwell. "Venturphile's goal is to bring that all together and make it one community."
It's bridging a very important gap in the uncharted world of budding businesses in tech-friendly Austin.
"You have a lot of economic impact in the community and beyond, and I think that it stimulates that once you connect both of those worlds together and expose them to the community that is needing this kind of activity," said Macias.
"We can help you, and you can help us," said Rothwell. "And that's the awesome thing about this city, is people are trying to help each other and take their companies to the next level."
Just like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can like, follow, tag and post on Venturephile, so it comes pretty natural for those already on popular social networks.
Also, the RISE conference -- a Relationship & Information Series for Entrepreneurs -- is in town this week. It's free for entrepreneurs looking to network in person with other creative minds.
In-Depth: Venturephile's inception
Ultimately as part of his graduate work at the University of Texas, Technology Commercialization student Enrique Macias launched Venturephile at a networking event a few months ago.
Macias said he saw the need for Venturephile but first needed to validate it within the market, so there were 100 interviews conducted with startups and entrepreneurs -- met with positive feedback.
Venturephile has a growing use base, and Macias said its very qualified to help in user creation online. Coupled with familiar social components, Macias said there is a great focus on connecting entrepreneurs with other entrepreneurs.
"It allows entrepreneurs to collaborate online. That is very intuitive to them," said Macias. "They can tag, like, follow, comment -- actually have conversations about venture creation, like-minded individuals."
Macias said it's very easy to overlook all the entrepreneurial activity already happening in Austin.
"You have a lot of co-working spaces and incubators and accelerators in town, but no one knows what's really happening. And I think that it's really important to highlight these startups," he said.
And with startups facing limited financial stockpiles, Macias said Venturephile is the perfect place to visit for those who don't have the resources to realize what they're trying to do.
"They're able to find the individuals or research or guidance on how to do that a little better with limited resources they might have at the moment," he said.
That further bridges the gap between academic
venture creation and entrepreneurial activity that's happening in the community.
In-Depth: UMeTime's inception
UMeTime had a dual launch 10 weeks ago, both in Austin and Santa Monica, Calif. -- though its headquarters is officially in Austin. The team is divided equally among both places.
Texas transplants Tim Rothwell and Brett Berman celebrated the company's founding during the massive, tech-friendly South by Southwest Festival.
"I think we figured out this was the market when we realized that the merchants out here are extremely tech-savvy," said Rothwell. "They literally can pick up a technology and instantly know how to use it and use our platform in ways that we couldn't have even imagined, and that was a really cool moment."
UMeTime focuses exclusively on hyperlocal demographics.
"We've created the hyperlocal marketing platform that connects them with new customers that are near their business right now," said Rothwell. "So it's an advertising platform that's geobased that they're in complete control of."
It's a mobile app with real-time deal notifications, with one very important key, according to Rothwell.
"Someone right around the corner whose looking to spend money at your business," he said. "With us, you're only going to get what you want, when you want it, delivered to your phone based upon your location."
The deals are tailored for the time of day, so you'll find breakfast-geared deals, for example, during the morning hours. And they're deals that keep coming due to the growing demand and popularity.
"Plus, when we were doing our promotions at UT, our mobile app started to spread on campus -- 5,000 downloads primarily through organic efforts," said Rothwell.
UMeTime's growth is something that Rothwell said helps out other businesses as well, further reinvigorating and fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in Austin.
"We're not hurting the local business because they're in control of those advertisements that are going out there," he said.
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