Business start up competition produces local winner

Published 6:43 am Tuesday, February 19, 2019

AMES, Iowa — Skyworks from the Austin Startup Factory took first place and the $1,000 prize at the Iowa State University Startup Factory Network bi-annual Investor Pitch-Off held Jan. 17 in Ames, Iowa.

The event included honoring graduating and transitioning cohorts and celebrating program successes.

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the winner of the Investor Pitch-Off that had been held earlier in the day. Skyworks from the Austin Startup Factory took first place and the $1,000 prize. Austin Startup Factory is a 12-month program combining classroom, coaching, and mentoring to participating companies. The program is designed to make a startup company investor-ready.

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Skyworks, based in Rochester, was founded by Sam Barsness, AJ Hawkins, and Ahmed Makkawy. They have created a commercial real estate app that addresses significant problems facing brokers and their clients. Skyworks is an end-to-end, web-based transaction management system using artificial intelligence to automatically collect deal-specific data and progress sales/leases toward a point of closing while decreasing cost, work, and risk for both brokers and clients.

“The Austin Startup Factory program has been, hands-down, the best investment we’ve ever made in our business. Our mentors have been imperative to our company’s development, and they continue to diligently advise us as we navigate our current round of funding,” said Barsness, CEO and co-founder of Skyworks. “For a team that is serious about solving real problems and building a highly scalable business, this program is an excellent first step.”

Skyworks has been part of the second Austin Startup Factory cohort held at the Austin co-working space, LAUNCH.

Recruitment for a third cohort is underway and is set to begin in early March. For additional information on the Austin Startup Factory contact Judy K. Lundy, 507-309-9039 or