Ninja Innovation

The Chamber has drawn attention to Austin-based companies such as software and game developer Heatwave Interactive and SalesVu, a mobile point-of-sale, software-as-a-service that has 15,000 registered users worldwide and has grown 30% month-over-month. The Chamber honored Pascal Nicolas, 35, SalesVu’s owner, for his business prowess and foresight to put SalesVu’s services in the cloud and thereby reduce clients’ costs. Black Enterprise and Dell were also honored by the CCAACC at its Small Business Awards Gala this year. “Natalie has brought together companies that may have heard of one another but didn’t have a legitimate connection,” says Mykel Mitchell, president of Heatwave, which released the popular iSamJackson app. Cofield has made it possible for Mitchell to negotiate future deals with Dell and be 100s advertising agency SandersWingo.

“She definitely gets Web 2.0. She’s exactly what the chamber needed,” says Donell Creech, founder of SoulCiti, Austin’s  portal to black events and businesses, who has curated Blacks in Tech events for SXSW for the last three years.

Cofield, acknowledges that the black population in Austin is decreasing. But that shouldn’t discourage black entrepreneurs with web-based ventures who want to take advantage of Austin’s tech resources. She says: “I feel like Austin is reflective of the changing dynamic of the U.S.”

The Bankers

After meeting as interns at J.P. Morgan, co-founders Charlie Tribbett and Larry Baker, both 28, saw a way to help entrepreneurs engage local investors without breaching SEC laws. They launched Chicago-based Bolstr, a community funding marketplace that makes sure small businesses remain in compliance and lowers the legal costs businesses incur. Among Bolstr’s investors are John Rogers of Ariel Investments L.L.C. (No. 7 on the BE Asset Managers list with $4.4 billion  in assets under management).

The Jet-Setters

Founded by Andrea Adams and Teri Johnson, TravelGirls Unlimited L.L.C. is a boutique production company and award-winning travel and lifestyle brand specializing in global travel content. The 30-something jet-setters provide useful travel tips in their original Web series on Travelista TV and other sites such as AOL Huffington Post and Their HD video content has garnered more than 9 million views, and their social footprint boasts close to 3,000 Facebook likes and more than 3,000 Twitter followers. This year Travelista TV will unveil an e-commerce component and perfect its mobile presence.
–Janel Martinez

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