Founder Institute Austin Graduates Six Startups

The Founder Institute opened in Austin a little over a year ago and has already graduated three classes and helped dozens of entrepreneurs.

Martin Martinez, managing director, joined with fellow directors Elisa Sepulveda and Paul O’Brien to launch Founder Institute Austin.

They thought Austin needed more founders and they wanted to provide them with a jumpstart on their entrepreneurial journey. The program, which lasts four months and provides information on how to start and scale a company, takes place at Galvanize, which is a sponsor.

Founder Institute is a global organization with the mission of teaching entrepreneurs how to succeed. At the event, Martinez recognized the mentors and guest speakers that helped the entrepreneurs throughout the process.

On Thursday night, six founders graduated from the program’s third cohort during a special event at the Native Hostel. Martinez also announced Founder Institute is branching out statewide and is accepting applications now for its Houston program which will kick off this Spring.

Martinez, Sepulveda and O’Brien with the Founder Institute Austin then awarded graduation certificates to each of its founders. The following is a brief description of each venture:


Prowess Project – founded by Ashley Connell. The startup is an online marketplace of fractional employees. It finds educated and skilled employees and certifies them in project facilitation. It works with moms with MBAs who have left the workforce to raise a family. It then matches them to companies looking for help.

ISAJI Technologies – co-founded by Baba Nureni Yusuf. The Houston-based startup addresses the problem of out of stock items for retailers. It has created ItemSensor as a retail inventory tracking technology to help reduce out of stock items.

A Mana Project – founded by Gina Morales. The project is looking to bring Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, known as STEM, resources to young children of the world. It is currently in product development. Morales is the founder of Austin STEM Academy, a STEM pre-school.

Bearable -founded by Harini Bhamidiapati. The startup provides a gamified app for chronically ill patients to improve their fitness and lifestyle. They plan to collaborate with doctors, hospitals on the app. She has two pilots in the works focused on lupus and chronic pain.

Innerwork – founded by Jonathan Aird. The startup created a fitness app for mental health. It helps people establish healthy daily habits that will bring happiness.


Check – founded by Michael Odiare. The Dallas-based startup is modernizing traffic stops. One of the leading causes of death for law enforcement is during a traffic stop. It’s also the cause of many deaths of unarmed motorists. He came up with the app after he was pulled over for having a missing front license plate and found himself staring down the barrel of a gun. He did 40 ride alongs with police officers to understand the problems of traffic stops. His app for law enforcement and motorists can initiate better communication during a traffic stop.