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Baytan Labs: a mobile app studio that runs on Austin pride

A company looking to build from its vibrant local community, Austin-based technology startup Baytan Labs is hard at work creating new and interesting apps, the first of which is helping people venture out into the world more safely.

Location tracking app Guardian Trace effectively acts as an alert timer. Any time a user has begun an activity alone, such as walking the dog or heading to their car late at night, they can set a window that corresponds with how long they expect that activity should take. Once the window is up, if the user hasn’t checked back in, an alert message is sent to friends letting them know their last location and how long it’s been since they checked in. According to Baytan Labs founder Estella Baytan, the app allows increasingly mobile and adventurous users to continue to do the things they love with an added level of safety.

We sat down with Baytan to talk more about her Austin-based tech company and the changes she’d like to see in the startup community today.

What is the backstory behind Baytan Labs?

Baytan Labs is a company that I started about 2 years ago, back in June of 2011. It’s a web and app development company. We’re based in Austin, Texas and we utilize developers that are local; that’s one of the things that we’re very proud of, that we keep everything within the Austin area to help to promote jobs.

The first application that we actually developed is called Guardian Trace, which is a personal mobile security application that can be downloaded on the iOS platform. It’s basically what we call your “countdown to safety.”

In my experiences in life I found that there was a need for an application, especially since we’re so mobile today and more adventurous, and with that there’s some risk that we have to accept. What I wanted to do is to create an application that enables people to really live their lives freely, to be able to enjoy the things that they like to do, and do it without the fear of not knowing where they are if there happens to be a problem.

I’ve found a lot of times people will change their activities or their travel based on where they feel most comfortable and this application enables people to just go ahead and do what they want and live more freely and adventurously. That was the first application that was created.

When did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I think it’s been something that’s been with me since I was a child. I’ve always enjoyed business -- I have a Master’s in business administration. Especially living in Austin, the environment really enables one to kind of be present where the activity is always occurring; it’s always around you.

I moved to Austin about four years ago with a job. I actually worked in the medical device area as well. It’s always been something that I’ve been interested in but living in Austin basically helped to be a catalyst for that.

What are some changes you’d like to see in the entrepreneurial community today?

I think the changes that I’d like to see, specifically in Austin, is really more support from some investors. I think we’re moving in the right direction, but what I’m finding is oftentimes people will look to go outside of Austin when they’re more aggressively trying to achieve a bigger goal.

They’ll go back to California, to Silicon Valley, to be able to access that talent or those resources. I think that, in Austin, more activities around entrepreneurs to help support our efforts would be beneficial so that we can continue to grow together as a community.

What do you like to do for fun?

Some of the things I like to do for fun are travel -- travel is a big part of what I love to do in life -- and eat. I love to try new restaurants and Austin is a great place for that as well. Those are two things that I really like to do for fun: try a new restaurant or a new location and really just spend time outdoors.

Anything that’s related to the outdoors, whether it’s kayaking or sculling. I just ran a LiveStrong half marathon this past Sunday. Anything that can get me outdoors is something that I think is fun.

In regards to relaxation, I actually just started playing the piano and that’s something that definitely helps me to relax. Yoga is another thing that I really enjoy. It helps me to become more centered and focused as a person on what the most important things are to me in life and it also keeps me healthy in both mind and body.

If you sold your company for $1 billion today, what’s the first thing you’d do with the money?

I think I would buy myself a large gelato. It’s really that simple. There’s nothing that I desire to purchase materially, it’s just to continue to enjoy life to the fullest.

What advice would you give to any beginning entrepreneurs out there?

For one I think you just need to believe in your product or your service and continue to be persistent and to be creative. I think that as an entrepreneur today you have to really think outside of the box in order to really differentiate yourself. Those are the things that I would recommend.

What does 2013 have in store for Baytan Labs?

I have an enterprise platform that was launched recently and what I’ll be doing is working with organizations to really be able to capitalize on the applications within that space. With the Guardian Trace application, consumer-to-consumer, I have now the ability to work within different organizations to be able to deliver the benefits of Guardian Trace. There’s going to be a big focus and push towards the enterprise platform.

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