Special thanks to Iris Gonzalez with Startups San Antonio for contributing to our blog with this article.
Pinch Boil House, a downtown restaurant, won the Geekdom Community Fund $25,000 award Friday. The popular fast-casual restaurant, co-founded by Andrew Ho and Sean Wen, opened to local diners in 2017.
Typically held every quarter at well-attended Geekdom events, the founders gave their Community Fund pitches instead via Zoom video call. This quarter’s finalists included:
- Allosense, an asset-tracking company that differentiates itself from competitors with “always connected” sensors that provide easy access to data
- Buzu Trading Cards, a line of trading cards with an emphasis on education and creative expression
- Sports Sonar, with its SafeWave fast and silent alarm system that can notify emergency responders without Wi-Fi or an internet connection
- Pinch Boil House, a casual Southeast Asian-Cajun restaurant in downtown San Antonio
- White Cloud Drones, a media production company that uses drone technology to tell local stories through aerial videography and photography
In its early years, Geekdom provided $25,000 grants to co-working community member startups like ParLevel Systems via its Geekdom Fund. In 2018, Geekdom announced the launch of the Geekdom Community Fund, a quarterly competition for $25,000 seed-stage funding. To apply, the entrepreneur must be a member of Geekdom for at least 90 days.
“It was one of the toughest pitch competitions we’ve seen,” said Geekdom CEO Charles Woodin. “Every single company is struggling given the pandemic, so this was not an easy decision.”
The judges, Woodin said, decided upon the winner based upon the community impact the business has.
“We all agreed that Pinch is an anchor for our downtown tech community,” Woodin said. “It’s a gathering place where meaningful connections are made, not just where food is served.”
Wen plans to use the $25,000 to improve upon the restaurant’s efficiency to keep up with demand.
“We didn’t have the resources to set up Pinch with expensive equipment, so we worked hard with what we had to meet demand before COVID-19,” Wen said. “We’ll use the funding to restructure our operations for more capacity and give our customers their food with the same consistent quality, only faster.”
The restaurant had earlier this year announced it was going to open in Austin at Plaza Saltillo this year, but paused its plans. Wen said they are still focused on opening in Austin, but will now refine operations at San Antonio flagship location so it can operate under pandemic conditions before scaling that model to Austin.
“We were in the middle of writing our operations manual and looking at our ideal equipment list when we realized we’d need resources to do this better,” Wen said. “That’s what motivated us to apply for the Community Fund.”
Viewers voted remotely for the Geekdom Community Favorite and chose Allosense as the recipient of a $100 Amazon gift card. Wen offered Geekdom a $100 gift card to Pinch Boil House to award Allosense instead.
“I’m stoked at how supportive our community has been for Pinch,” Wen said. “It’s what keeps us going, even as many restaurants are struggling.”