Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Austin, TX

Austin Entrepreneural Ecosystem

Now more than ever, Austin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is thriving. It was recently named the eighth-best large city to start a business, coming in at number four in the “Business Environment” category.

Article by Quinn Pilkey

Austin, TX serves as the Lone Star State’s capital and was named by the U.S. News & World Report as the nation’s best place to live in 2017. Home to major music and cultural festivals like Austin City Limits and South by Southwest, Austin has declared itself the “Live Music Capital of the World”. In a 2017 ranking by WalletHub, Austin was named the eighth-best large city to start a business, coming in at number four in the “Business Environment” category.

Based on this ranking, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Austin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

A way for entrepreneurs to connect with Silicon Valley-area angel investors, VCs, and successful entrepreneurs in real time. It creates a “virtual bridge” between the Austin area and one of the nation’s entrepreneurial hotbeds.

A nonprofit organization dedicated to helping inventors and entrepreneurs overcome common issues to bring their ideas to market.

AUSOME hosts monthly meetings featuring speakers with the intent of teaching entrepreneurs how to increase their website’s traffic and sales levels through techniques like search engine optimization.

A place for women to share ideas with investors of all experience levels in a comfortable group setting.

Meetup designed for entrepreneurs to meet like-minded peers so that they may inform and inspire each other.

StartupBlink designed monthly networking meetups  for the founders of startups to meet with each other, possible investors, members of accelerators, and anybody interested in the entrepreneurial environment.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

A yearly awards show for the best and most innovative Austin-area startups. All companies, tech and non-tech, are considered for the awards.

An annual five-day stretch full of events for both locals and visitors who want to learn more about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Austin. The 2016 version had over 100 events throughout the five-day span.

The Small Business Program hosts annual events designed to help small business owners and entrepreneurs gain access to valuable information.

Periodic events set up by the Austin branch of The Indus Entrepreneurs, one of the largest global nonprofit organizations for entrepreneurs.

 

Startup Competitions:

An annual global startup competition partnered with investment firm Revolution. Austin is one of 75 cities around the globe that hosts qualifying rounds for the Global Finals.

A different style of competition, the Startup Games is a series of friendly events, ranging from dodgeball to trivia, among local startups where the winning teams earning are donated to their chosen charities.

A tournament-style competition open to student entrepreneurs around the nation. The finals are held at the South by Southwest festival in Austin.

50 interactive technology companies from 10 different categories compete to impress a live audience and a panel of judges at the annual South by Southwest festival. A winner from each category is chosen.

Co-working Space:

Capital Factory offers classes, meetups, and a co-working space. They offer month-to-month contracts to work side-by-side with other entrepreneurs and have a variety of conference rooms that can be reserved by the hour.

An East Austin office space with 14 designated desks and 35 general seating options that offers three levels of monthly memberships as well as day passes. The conference room is also available for rent.

A technology-focused co-working space, fibercove boasts reliable high-speed internet, meeting rooms equipped with HD meeting equipment and all the dongles and cables necessary for running meetings, and a full-service café that offers coffee, tea, and beer.

In addition to a number of membership plans for working spaces, atxFACTORY also offers nap pods, social spaces, a parking lot filled with a rotating group of food trucks, and even an on-site bar.

Vessel offers both a variety of contracts of different lengths and tacos around the kitchen table. There’s also a monthly rate for a permanent mailing address as well as the option to try out the working space for a day for free.

 

Maker Space:

This hackerspace offers 8,000 square feet to people working on any project that requires space, loud and messy tools, or equipment that’s too large for personal workshops. Members have 24-hour access and visitors are encouraged to attend one of the weekly Open Houses.

Available only to students and faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, Longhorn MakerStudios offers plenty of equipment as well as the training required to learn how to use it.

 

Incubators:

Though it is affiliated with the University of Texas, ATI is open to anyone, regardless of their university affiliation. Their goal is to connect young companies to talent that the companies couldn’t otherwise afford.

EGBI offers education, training, and similar services to the underserved areas in Austin with a high-tech approach and Spanish language support.

A partnership between Concordia University Texas and startup accelerator Tech Ranch, this Incubator’s goal is “not only to have an impact on Austin and Central Texas, but to have an impact on the world”.

Incubators vs. Accelerators: Which will best fit your needs?

Accelerators:

In addition to providing co-working space, Capital Factory is also one of Austin’s biggest and most active accelerators. There are two separate accelerator programs – one for general startups, and one called MobilityX for mobility services and technologies.

A 12-week pre-accelerator program focused on addressing the lack of diversity in the entrepreneurial community by growing and developing ethnically and racially diverse and female-driven tech companies.

Offers an exclusive 14-week program that includes classes, problem-solving sessions, and meetings with mentors. After each program, SKU hosts a showcase to introduce members of the program and their projects to a group of potential investors.

An award-winning accelerator group, Tech Ranch offers several different programs to meet the specific needs of a startup. Each program strives to make global connections and impact the entire world.

Offers money and a three-month program of mentorship that includes office space and connections to thousands of founders and mentor, as well as lifetime access to Techstars resources.

 

Colleges/Universities:

St. Edward’s University offers both a major and a minor in entrepreneurship as well as a campus entrepreneurship club, giving students a variety of options to look into.

The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Renewal is a major organization with a plethora of resources for startups and entrepreneurs. The University of Texas’s entrepreneurship related degrees, courses, and experience opportunities are housed here.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

Early-stage venture capital firm focused on software, e-commerce, and mobile applications.

One of the largest and most active angel investing networks in both the state of Texas and the United States.

A newer venture capital firm investing in venture-stage technology companies.

Early-stage lead investing venture capital firm located in Austin investing in Texas-based startups.

Early, expansion and growth stage venture capitalist firm with a focus on information technology and medical devices.

Early-stage venture capital firm that consider startups of all kinds from all places, but with a bias towards companies in Austin.

Invests in early-stage companies that address challenges and problems facing our society today.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Offers morning, afternoon, and breaking news editions of a newsletter focused on local and regional business events.

The Austin-focused newsletter from Startup Digest that works with local curators to deliver news from the entrepreneurial world.

Startup and tech news and events from around the state of Texas.

 

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Austin not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Chattanooga, TennesseeGreensboro, North CarolinaMemphis, TN


Rebecca Cox

Rebecca Cox is a seasoned international traveler and Digital Marketing Specialist at Intellithought. She executes social media and marketing strategies for Funding Sage, which provides valuable information, tools, and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.