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Making dreams come true, right here in Central Texas.

In 2023, Austin FC and Q2 Holdings Inc. brought back the annual Austin FC Dream Starter Competition, which is presented by Q2 in collaboration with DivInc, an Austin-based nonprofit.

The third installment of this business initiative invited Austin entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups to apply and compete for $100,000 in “Dream Starter” funds to accelerate their entrepreneurial venture.

From the initial applicant group, five (5) finalists were selected to participate in a Pitch Contest on Monday, May 22, at Q2 Stadium. Each finalist’s presentation was evaluated by a diverse group of representatives from Austin FC, Q2 Holdings Inc., and other executives from the Austin entrepreneurial community. The Austin FC Dream Starter Competition winner was announced to the public on Tuesday, May 23 and will be honored with a check presentation during halftime at the Austin FC vs. Real Salt Lake match on Saturday, June 3.

In 2023, Vanessa and Bryan Newton, Founders and Owners of SocialNote, were selected as the third annual winners of the Austin FC Dream Starter Competition, presented by Q2.

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For a complete list of terms and conditions about the Austin FC Dream Starter Competition, click here.

2023 Dream Starter Winner

On May 23, SocialNote was announced as the winner of the 2023 Austin FC Dream Starter Competition presented by Q2 Holdings Inc., in collaboration with DivInc. SocialNote will receive $100,000 in funding to accelerate its business and mission as part of the Austin FC Dream Starter business initiative, which supports Austin entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.

“After reviewing several innovative pitches, we’re delighted to announce SocialNote as this year’s Dream Starter winner,” said Austin FC President Andy Loughnane. “Austin has an amazing and diverse entrepreneurial community, and we’re grateful to Q2 and DivInc for their help in bringing this initiative to life for a third consecutive year.”

SocialNote is a one-of-a-kind web application designed for school-based social workers to manage interactions with students and families. Documentation of interactions with students and families is critical but often the last task to be completed because there are so many other needs to tend to. SocialNote aims to provide a platform that removes the stress, dread and burnout of case management so the job feels sustainable, and the professional field of school-based mental health retains high-quality providers.

“It is an honor to be selected as the 2023 Dream Starter Competition winner,” said SocialNote Co-founder Vanessa Newton. “We look forward to using the funds to grow and expand the reach of our business and mission of providing K-12 schools with the tools needed to support their social workers and counselors, which has a direct impact on the mental health and wellness of our students and children.”

“We are excited to recognize SocialNote as the winner of the 2023 Austin FC Dream Starter Competition,” said Q2 CEO Matt Flake. “At Q2, our mission is centered on building strong and diverse communities, and we are honored to help SocialNote empower social workers as they support and strengthen students and families in Austin.”

In addition to SocialNote, the 2023 Dream Starter finalists included Daybird, which produces skincare products that seek to redefine traditional beauty standards; Jale, an app that creates new opportunities between companies and blue-collar Latino workers; Player2Player, which creates opportunities for high-school and college-age athletes to coach young players; and Mammoth Creameries, which produces ice cream and frozen custard for people with diabetes or on sugar-conscious diets.

SocialNote, along with the other finalists, participated in a pitch contest on May 22 at Q2 Stadium, where a diverse group of representatives from Austin FC, Q2 Holdings Inc., and the Austin entrepreneurial community evaluated each finalist’s presentation and ultimately selected the winner. SocialNote will be honored with a check presentation during halftime at the Austin FC vs. Real Salt Lake match on Saturday, June 3.

Click here to learn more about the Austin FC Dream Starter Competition.

2023 Dream Starter Pitch Contest Host

Tierra Neubaum

Tierra Neubaum is an award-winning journalist and the lifestyle reporter for Good Day Austin on FOX 7 Austin. She highlights the fun people, places and events that make Austin and the surrounding areas unique. She finds, plans and produces her feature stories and visits a new location every weekday morning. Tierra loves shining a positive light on the community.

She is also the Track TV reporter for races at Circuit of the Americas. Tierra is a graduate of The University of Texas, where she received a degree in journalism. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants and being active and outdoors with her husband, family and friends.

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2023 Dream Starter Pitch Contest Judges

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Agatha Precourt

As founding partner of AMP Ventures, Agatha Precourt is pursuing direct investing opportunities in early and expansion stage companies, mostly in the branded consumer and consumer tech space. While her passion can be found at the intersection of blossoming brands and rising female entrepreneurs, she also invests opportunistically. Some of her current portfolio companies include Sarah Flint, Spektral, Argent, UrbanSitter, and Phylagen.

With 15+ years of operating experience in the consumer and start-up worlds, spanning numerous functional areas and life stages of companies, Agatha works collaboratively with founders to support their company's growth. She has walked in a founder's shoes, recently pursuing her own angel-funded start-up. Prior to that, she was part of the leadership team at Stella & Dot, where she drove marketing strategy through the company's high-growth stage, from $20 million to $200 million in revenue. Previous to Stella & Dot, she worked with a variety of start-up and established companies in the consumer and consumer tech space. She began her career as an M&A analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Agatha earned her BA in economics and MBA from Stanford and is currently serving on the Undergraduate Cabinet and the board of advisors for the Precourt Institute for Energy, as well as the Precourt Foundation, where she is focused on driving change within education and the environment. She lives in Austin, Texas, With her husband and three children. She enjoys skiing, hiking, travel, food, and wine.

Alyssa Rolfe

Alyssa is a marketing executive with 10+ years of experience in demand gen marketing & advertising. She currently leads a demand strategy team at IBM responsible for building integrated campaigns for the hybrid cloud & infrastructure portfolio. Outside of work, Alyssa stays involved with the community through philanthropy. She served on the Young Women's Alliance board of directors for three years in various functions and currently sits on Dress for Success Austin's "Circle of Impact" executive team with a goal of engaging professional women in Austin to give their time, talent or treasure back to DFSA.

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Juan Thurman

Juan Thurman is the co-founder and GP of the SWAN Impact Fund and a Director of the SWAN Impact Network, a social impact angel network. He also has a passion for supporDng underrepresented entrepreneurs in impact and tradiDonal startups.

Juan has made 19 angel investments since 2016, including 9 with underrepresented founders. His porKolio includes, Proptech, B2B/SaaS, Edtech, Healthtech and Cleantech companies.

In addiDon to his work with SWAN, Juan is a Board Member at DivInc, Aiqueous and VemiDoc, a mentor at Techstars, G51 and other organizaDons, and a Venture Partner at NextGen Venture Partners. Before joining SWAN, Juan held sales leadership and technical roles at Twilio, IBM, and other tech companies.

Juan earned his MBA from The Red McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas and BSME from Rice University. He loves fishing and coaching his kids in sports.

Kim Rutledge

For more than 20 years, Kim has cultivated a broad range of professional experience. At Q2, she serves as executive vice president of people, where she leads the human resources and corporate services organizations with a focus on enabling growth, development, and experiences for Q2’s mission-driven teams.

Kim’s human resources experience spans an array of industries, geographies, and company sizes, with an emphasis on creating, building, and restructuring organizations through intense business change and growth. Prior to being named executive vice president, people, Kim served as Q2’s senior vice president of human resources. Before joining Q2, Kim served as vice president, talent at SunPower, a global provider of residential and commercial solar energy solutions where she also held leadership roles in a variety of human resources functions, notably in culture transformation, talent management, talent acquisition, and business partnership. Kim has also held leadership roles in human resources and talent acquisition at companies including Dell, The Home Depot, and AutoTrader.com.

Kim holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Tech University and lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

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Monica Muñoz Andry

Monica Muñoz Andry serves as President and Chief Executive Officer for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC) and is responsible for providing strategic direction, vision, and management for the programs and personnel of the Chamber. Monica is an accomplished and goal-driven professional with over 21 years of experience in leading operations within private and nonprofit organizations, encompassing business development and financial health program management.

In her long tenure at University Federal Credit Union, she managed a broad range of operations and people resources, including the call center, business development, and most recently, representing and leading UFCU in the effort to create, sustain, and grow financial solutions with the intention to measurably improve member’s lives. In both her professional and community work, Monica has specialized in developing and implementing focused programs and advocacy; backed by outstanding commitment and leadership skills in supporting diverse community initiatives and heading multiple projects that supported the growth and development of various communities.

Monica received a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s in Business Administration from Concordia University Texas. In her spare time, Monica and her husband, Robert, are avid Salsa dancers and instructors. Although her mommy duties for her 10-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter have temporarily retired her dancing shoes, she looks forward to dancing around the challenges of family work life.

Shuronda Robinson

Shuronda is a fourth-generation entrepreneur whose family operates an African American weekly newspaper in Houston. It is there that she gained a passion for communications and the power of the story. Since founding Adisa Communications in 1995, the firm has garnered a reputation for creative professionalism by providing a full spectrum of communications and community relations services. Meaning “one who makes himself clear,” Adisa Communications offers its clients in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio and internationally using an array of creative and intuitive communication solutions.

In January of 2023, Shuronda took the helm of Austin Woman as their first African American CEO. She leads a team of journalists,  designers and sales account executives who focus on building the ecosystem for women’s empowerment.

For nearly three decades, Shuronda has helped policymakers improve decision-making processes and implement successful multimillion-dollar social services, transportation, planning, infrastructure, and public affairs programs throughout Texas.

For Austin ISD, Shuronda has led community engagement strategies to be more inclusive. Her work with the district spans 25 years.

Her private sector clients also rely on her level-headed approach to public relations and include Frost Bank, Lenovo, and Wal-Mart. She enjoys taking on the more interesting and complex projects – often saying, “Call me after you’ve made all of the easy decisions!” She remains active in her community through many groups - from the Boys & Girls Clubs to the Zachary Scott Theater — and along with a college buddy, started Austin’s City-Wide MLK Celebrations, which has grown crowds of more than 20,000 annually. She served on the Austin Foundation for Architecture for eight years and is a member of the PBS Austin Board of Directors. 

Community activism and an interest in politics came early for this public relations professional. She is the daughter of a union organizer and walked her first picket line in the 2nd grade. She attended the Equal Rights Amendment March in Washington, DC, as a child, and that’s where she came to understand the power of people working collectively towards a shared vision. In college, Shuronda served on the national board of the Children’s Defense Fund Black Community Crusade for Children where she instituted a program to train black college students to organize summer educational enrichment programs around the summer food programs. Called Summer Freedom Schools currently, this program serves more than 15,000 poor kids in 29 states annually. 

In a volunteer capacity, Shuronda leads the Black Leaders Collective. She works constantly with leaders from the Black community to empower them and help them build thriving organizations.

After serving as a field representative and communications director for the Service Employees International Union working for Cecile Richards, Shuronda actively participated in statewide and local politics. She served as a statewide field representative for Governor Ann Richards and as campaign manager for Sheryl Cole at the 2011 Austin City Council election. She volunteered to help coalesce black elected officials in Travis County to address issues of education, employment, and public safety in the early 2000s. She chaired the 2014 and 2016 Austin Trailblazers event presented by the Black Austin Democrats Political Action Committee, raising more than $100 thousand and engaging more than 600 Black women. She is a former board member of the Black Austin Democrats and served as the Vice-Chair of Programs for the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats. While serving at the Coalition, she created statewide programs to engage members and raise money for the organization.

She is currently working with corporate and community leaders to solve the local homelessness crisis. As the Vice President of Finding Home ATX, she leads the collaborative efforts between community and service providers and supports communications. In 2022, they raised $480 million to help scale the response to the homelessness crisis.

She believes her role is to create more beauty and peace on the planet, and she brings that perspective to every endeavor. 

Awards and Recognitions

Key to the City 2023 presented by Mayor Steve Adler

NAACP-Austin Chapter, Dewitty Overton Award Recipient, 2022

Honorary Member, Women In Transportation Seminar, 2022

Finalist, Woman of the Year, Austin Woman’s Magazine, 2020

Texas Coalition of Black Democrats President’s Award, 2018

Small Business of the Year, Greater Black Austin Chamber of Commerce, 2015

Emerging Leader Award from the Black Austin Democrats, 2014

Rosa Parks Diversity Award, Women In Transportation Seminar, Heart of Texas Chapter, 2013

Outstanding Volunteer, YMCA of Austin, 2002

Shuronda lives in Austin, Texas, and is the proud mother of three young men, two of whom serve in the US Navy and Army

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Past Winners