Sputnik-1 changed everything. It inspired new technology and popular culture that permanently raised human aspiration and accomplishment.  Like Sputnik-1, Sputnik ATX is here to help makers improve society.  We are an Austin, TX-based accelerator that funds maker-founders. We help people reach their full potential by creating an ecosystem to attract hard-working nerds, connect them with investors, and train them for success. In Russian, Sputnik means partner, and we want to be your companion for success.

Our formula:
(Nerds + Investment + Training + Mentoring) x Community = Success


Once part of the strategic teams of McKinsey and Motorola, Sputnik ATX Managing Partner and CEO Dr. Oksana Malysheva used her skills and passions in leadership and education to shift focus to building strategies for positive social change and innovation. Malysheva is a trained PhD physicist originally from the Ukraine, and found Austin to be a location with great weather and beautiful sights, along with the structure and flexibility to host a new accelerator for local business growth. Although she has an educational background in physics (Dr. Malysheva holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in physics as well

Oksana Malysheva, CEO and Managing Partner of Sputnik ATX

Oksana Malysheva, CEO and Managing Partner of Sputnik ATX


as a B.S. and M.S. in physics from the Moscow Institute of Technology), Dr. Malysheva's professional interests are driven by her passion for leadership, mentorship, innovation and education. As a venture capitalist, her interest in elevating the trajectory of the people she associates with to reach their fullest potential is central to her mission and her vision in all of her professional endeavors. You can find Oksana on Twitter at @Oksana_ATX.


Joe Merrill is the co-founder and Partner of Sputnik ATX, and Partner in the Linden group of venture funds based in Austin, Texas. Merrill is a former U.S. diplomat and served as a political, economic and consular officer at U.S. Embassies in Bosnia, Nigeria, and South Korea as well as postings at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.. After leaving the State Department, Merrill worked in corporate treasury, finance and development at Deere and Company before entering the private equity world at a Carlyle-Apollo education fund, Apollo Global. Overall, Joe has over $3 billion of transaction experience in venture investing. Merrill has also founded and exited two start-ups, Pan Am Education and Smart FundEd. He enjoys running around Town Lake in Austin, especially with his wife. His blog can be found at www.econtrepreneur.com and you can find him on Twitter at @Austin_VC. 



Why Sputnik?


Oksana Malysheva started Linden Venture Fund in 2012 and Joe Merrill joined as CFO in 2014. Linden invested in a number of phenomenal companies across the world. When Oksana's family moved to Austin, it became obvious that Linden's next stage would be here because of its immense beauty, warm weather, and entrepreneurial climate. At the confluence of those factors, and the favorable economic conditions for investing that make Texas so special, Oksana and Joe found themselves in Austin planning a new project that later become Sputnik ATX.  

Sputnik ATX is just one part of the Austin accelerator ecosystem. There are a variety of different accelerator programs in Austin, each with a slightly different flavor and experience. Which one is right for your company will depend upon the capital requirements and mentoring your company needs.  Oksana and Joe have deep personal experience in education, fintech, agriculture, data science, and energy.  Our global advisory group spans virtually every industry, and includes c-level makers and marketers who we draw upon to help our portfolio companies.


Our program provides start-up training, mentoring, and support to successful applicants. You will also get office space in our awesome location in downtown Austin for up to 4 team members (you can cram in more if needed, but you'll get room for four). Upon completion of the three-month program, held in Austin, TX, applicants will pitch to a group of VCs, and have opportunities for follow-on funding.

If selected, you will be required to reside in Austin, TX for the duration of the program.

If selected, you will receive a $100,000 investment via our SAFE note that converts at a 30% discount on your next material raise, with a $4.5mm cap. The SAFE note negates any need to haggle over your valuation. We prefer to just get to work, and let your results speak for itself. Please look at our sample note for full terms and conditions.

Sputnik ATX is focused on companies that already have a minimum viable product and at least one customer. We are open to most industries and verticals, excluding weapons, alcohol, recreational drugs, porn/adult, real estate, multi-level marketing, franchises, and restaurants. 

Read FAQ here.