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2021 Guide To Austin Startup Scene: Tech Events, Hubs, and Startups

Jan 14, 202112 min read

Patrycja Mach

IT Marketing Expert at Ideamotive. Focused on Growth Marketing, Data Analytics and Marketing Automation.

Austin is one of the places where stereotypes fall apart. In the main city of Texas, cowboy hats can be found only in souvenir shops, and residents don't carry weapons but laptops.

 

In recent years, Texas capital has been called almost the new Silicon Valley. Of course, such a flattering definition is greatly exaggerated, but there is some truth here. Moreover, unlike the environs of San Francisco and Mountain View, life in Austin is noticeably cheaper. And first of all these concerns, of course, real estate. You can still buy a house in a decent area here for $ 300,000 or less. In Silicon Valley, you know, only dog houses are sold at this price.

 

Relatively cheap housing with high salaries and no state income tax - it is because of this that thousands of Americans from all over the country move to Austin every year, including from quite a prosperous California and New York.

 

There is always a lot of work in this city. And work that is paid well. Silicon Hills, as Austin is also called, is home to dozens of IT companies, 15 startup incubators, and at least 85 pharmaceutical and biotech corporations. Several years ago, the headquarters of the North American division of the Japanese concern Toyota moved here from Torrance, California. All this suggests that qualified specialists should take a closer look at Austin first.

What makes the Austin startup scene unique?

Texas is known to be one of the most challenging states in America. For 10 years, it was a separate, completely independent state with a republican form of government and its own Congress. But if "the state of the lonely star" - as the Americans call Texas - still associates only with rude cowboys, harsh rangers, and lifeless landscapes where only cacti grow, then this information is outdated. 

 

Today, thanks to its capital, cozy Austin, Texas is one of the largest high-tech centers, the abode of the US startups, a citadel of underground culture, and the best platform for Banksy beginners: there are dozens, if not hundreds of unique murals - street paintings.

 

Of course, Austin itself is so different from the rest of Texas that the city is even called "Austin People's Republic." The first meeting with it is like an acquaintance with a stern cowboy, in whom a gentle hipster suddenly woke up, who loves poetry, music, street art, and programming. 

 

 

Austin is a veritable island of liberalism in a conservative state. Here even Catholic parishes sometimes allow themselves to hang out a rainbow flag at the entrance.

 

Austin has been repeatedly recognized as one of the best cities to live in America. Everything works for this: quite a harmonious infrastructure, optimal size (population about a million), moderate prices for housing and food, and most importantly, unlimited opportunities for young businesses and the number of potential employers (the offices of the largest companies are located here: Dell, IBM, Intel, AMD, Apple, Google, etc.).

 

 

Austin is perceived as one of the best cities to live in the US

 

Guides aimed at convincing tourists that Austin is the city of the future arrange a tour of the Capital Factory business incubator, which is considered the center of the city's new entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

 

For small membership fees, novice businessmen are introduced to their first mentors and business angels, who help them reach large investors. A modern office with comfortable workspaces and all communications, a powerful technological base (there is even a room where you can try out your developments in the field of virtual reality), with free snacks and even bicycles that you can take for a ride, is conducive to revolutionary breakthroughs. But it was not always so.

 

Until the 1980s, the Texas economy was based on mining, primarily oil. But after a serious financial crisis, the authorities decided to invest in non-resource businesses. Having created favorable conditions thirty years ago for attracting technology companies, software consultants, developers of microelectronics and semiconductors to the region, today the authorities are reaping the fruits of investment. 

 

Today, Austin is a real technopolis, the foundation of which is the University of Texas, one of the 40 best universities in the world and the top 20 American universities. It is renowned for its engineers and developers and produces competitive professionals every year.

 

According to US News, the university’s annual budget is approximately $2 billion, of which up to $ 500 million is spent on research and education. The university is famous not only for its technicians but also has high hopes for students studying in such specialties as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and "green" energy. 

 

With 52,000 students now studying at the University of Texas, Austin is one of the youngest cities in the United States. They say that the average age of the city's residents is about 31 years.

Austin’s University of Texas powers the local market with amazing tech talent annually

 

On a press-conference during Go Viral U.S. Reporting Tour 2017, Mayor Steve Adler honestly spoke not only about the advantages but also about the problems of the city: “Housing is becoming more expensive, there are problems with public transport.” And then he did share the news with journalists: “The other day my daughter (Sarah Adler) sold her startup, which is a great achievement in itself. For women, according to the official, it is not easy in this business. So far, the ideal candidate here is a young white male.”

 

“Her company employs 20 women programmers. I asked her: where did you find so many women?” the mayor says in surprise. “I just didn’t find smart men in this area,” she replied.

 

It is curious that in a city where entirely a creative class lives, even, it seems, the homeless are creatively gifted. In any case, they approach begging with creativity. One poor fellow had a sign: "My fiancee didn't believe in the new startup."

Best Austin Startup & Tech conferences and events

SXSW South by Southwest 2021

Date: 16.03.2021 - 20.03.2021

Organizer: SXSW Conference & Festivals

Exhibition Center: Online event

Link: https://www.sxsw.com/

 

SXSW South by Southwest is an exhibition and conference for music, independent film, and interactive technologies.

 

The exhibition was founded in 1987, and since then, year after year, SXSW South by Southwest has opened the door to new creative information. New media presentations, musical performances, and film screenings.

 

SXSW South by Southwest has become one of the largest and most anticipated Austin tech events of the year. The exhibition is a hotbed of discovery and interactivity. The event offers invaluable business opportunities. 

 

The Austin tech conferences are attended by directors, students, distributors, producers, actors and actresses, advertising agents, software developers, teachers, consultants, interface designers, and many others.

 

The exhibition is divided into the following thematic sections:

  • Event / meeting
  • Indie Label
  • Radio
  • Electronics
  • Artist / performer
  • Management
  • Advertising
  • Advertising Agents
  • Music publishing

 

SXSW South by Southwest provides a forum for those looking to learn new things. The exhibition will host The Film Conference - bringing together world-class lecturers, creative minds, and outstanding leaders to discuss emerging film trends.

 

SXSW Interactive focuses on new technologies, which has given the festival a reputation as a breeding ground for new ideas and innovative technologies. The festival includes an exhibition, reports, group meetings, as well as a startup accelerator. SXSW Interactive has been arguably the largest festival of its kind since 2007, according to co-founder Louis Black.

 

Want to learn how to live through SXSW and get the most out of it? Check out our SXSW guide.

 

 

SXSW has already earned the status of a legend. It is truly THE EVENT to take part in!

 

Austin Startup Week

Date: 3.10.2021 - 7.10.2021

Organizer: Jacqueline Hughes and Joshua Baer and powered by the Capital Factory team

Exhibition Center: Online event

Link: http://atxstartupweek.com/

 

Since 2011, Austin has hosted the five-day Austin Startup Week, a five-day exhibition and conference that attracts thousands of visitors not only from the United States but also from all over the world. This event is a kind of open-door day, where you can get a direct view of the startup market and personally meet with representatives of accelerator companies.

 

Austin Startup Week is a celebration and showcase of everything entrepreneurial in Texas’ capital. Each year, they bring entrepreneurs, local leaders, and friends together to connect, collaborate, and grow through educational tracks, mentor office hours, startup showcases, and networking mixers.

 

The 10th annual Austin Startup Week was hosted online from October 5-8, 2020, with a week of engaging sessions, workshops, special events, and amazing speakers, all on a virtual stage.

Startup community

Coworking

Coworking is the new norm. Freelancers, entrepreneurs, and even telecommuters are increasingly choosing to work in collaborative spaces that are redefining the traditional "office" space. This trend is rapidly spreading across the United States, and if you've been looking for coworking spaces in Austin, we've done the hard work for you.

 

Below you will find some creatively designed coworking spaces in the region of Austin startup scene we have chosen for you. This will undoubtedly significantly increase your productivity. So why wait? Head straight to the coworking space near you and get to work!

1. Capital Factory

Capital Factory is located in the heart of downtown Austin, making it one of the top destinations for freelancers and professionals looking to stay close to some of the city's most important locations. Not to mention the many hotels, cafes, and restaurants in this part of town.

 

Guests often praise the well-equipped common area and kitchen. The Capital Factory is much more than your traditional coworking space - it is also a technology incubator that brings together a strong entrepreneurial community and hosts several events throughout the year.

 

There is even a gym on-site. You will also find a VR / AR lab! All conference rooms are equipped with audio-visual equipment to facilitate video conferencing.

 

The founders of this space claim that the lion part of the hottest Austin startups put down roots here.

 


Capital Factory is one of the most important points on the Austin startup scene map

2. Createscape Coworking

Createscape Coworking is located on Tillery Street. As the name suggests, this is an innovative coworking space that is especially aimed at creatives. You will be happy to be a photographer, thanks in part to a wonderful photo studio in East Austin. You can also book one of the conference rooms online. Parking is free, and your furry buddy can walk inside.

 

The coworking space also offers coffee (locally roasted), tea, and snacks to keep you productive. You can also visit happy hours.

 

Createscape can also please you with a virtual mailbox if you need one. A physical address is provided to you for a fee. Email notifications and mail scanning tools are also available.

3. Galvanize 

This is another incredible coworking space that should definitely be on your list. It is located right in the Austin tech hub, where major tech giants, including Google and IBM, are expanding into the region.

 

Galvanize hosts educational workshops, which are great for expanding your skills when you have spare time. If you have a small business, you can reserve space for your team to work together in a productive environment.

 

You can enjoy complimentary snacks and coffee and access conference rooms and meeting facilities if you need them.

 

 

Galvanize is one of those places you just want to come back to

4. Tech Ranch

Tech Ranch is your place if you want to partner with other entrepreneurs and founders. It is known to have provoked a lot of cooperation and has excellent connections with regions from Australia to Japan.

 

You can choose between shared office space and private space for your team. Located in the northern part of the capital, this location offers many facilities for teams of all sizes.

 

There are also special programs from time to time, including free Fridays for new guests to check the offers.

5. Fibercove

If you are one of those who prefer the warmth of natural light indoors, Fibercove may be the best choice for you. The company "oversees" what it calls a personalized "office experience."

 

Located in South Austin, Fibercove serves several online communities and maintains a directory that you can browse if you're looking for particular resources. Visitors will find a variety of seating options, from open offices to private spaces.

 

You can get a day pass or membership to a dedicated office with high-speed internet access and a separate office desk for your use.

6. Orange Coworking

Another South Austin place, Orange Coworking, is a beautiful and positive place worth exploring. There are meeting and conference facilities. Remember to get your daily dose of inspiration from inspiring lectures. Oh, and don't forget the free parking!

 

We also liked that there is a personal assistant here if you need one. You can also take advantage of lightning-fast Wi-Fi (thanks to the Gigabit Internet infrastructure) and postal service.

 

Orange membership plans allow you to have dedicated space with free access to your mailbox. You can also secure the keys to your workplace and come and go as you wish.

7. WeWork

WeWork is one of the best coworking spots located in University Park (near the UT campus), downtown Austin on Congress Avenue, and North Austin's newest neighborhood in the Domaine. Also great if you want to connect to the global WeWork network with offices around the world. You can book your event space or get your own table with access to world-class amenities.

 

WeWork offices have printers, scanners, copiers, and other business-class infrastructure on every floor. Do you need to call? Stop by one of the private phone booths to turn off the noise.

 

One of the main benefits of choosing WeWork is the ability to customize workspaces. If necessary, you can customize the space to match your own business brand.

8. Soma Vida

Every coworking space we've picked for you on this list has a unique identity. For Soma Vida in East Austin, this should be a focus on wellness. There are yoga studios and conference rooms that can be rented when you need them.

 

You can also organize your event by booking one of the many event venues according to your needs. Prefer a wellness center instead? You can also order this.

 

Soma Vida also hosts great lectures and workshops to help you continually improve your skills and keep up with the latest trends.

 

 

Looking for a coworking place with a more alternative vibe? Soma Vida is a place for you

9. Atmosphere Coworking

If you are looking for a boutique coworking space tailored to your specific needs, Atmosphere Coworking in East Austin may be for you.

 

This place supports scalable teams, so you can keep adding new members to your organization and all work together in a productive and creative office.

 

The Atmosphere is more than just a coworking space. In fact, the company claims to offer what it calls a unique “work experience” to its clients through a multitude of distinctive offerings.

10. Patchwork

Looking to ditch your traditional workplace and work by the pool instead? Located on Mueller Boulevard, East Austin's Patchwork lets you do that and many more. There are actually two pools, a garden with hammocks, an amazing kitchen, and a large courtyard, among other amenities. At Patchwork, work is never boring!

 

The benefits include multiple meeting rooms. You can even go hiking along the nearby trails. There are also lockers and a telephone booth. There are even a cinema room and a billiard table.

 

Looking for some fresh air? Excellent food vans and shopping areas are just around the corner from the hotel.

Meetups + "after-hours"

Imagine what you could do with the right people by your side. Check out meetup groups in the Austin area and give one a try. People use meetups to get acquainted with new people, learn new things, find support, step out of their comfort zone, and pursue their passions.

 

Feel that "after-hours" better suit your needs? Have a look at the best ones in Texas' capital here.

Important players of Austin Startup Scene

Silicon Hills is the tech epicenter of Texas, with 5,500 startups and tech companies calling the Austin metropolitan area home. Silicon Hills, extremely convenient for doing business and one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, is competing with Silicon Valley.

 

Silicon Hills companies worked hard and raised $950 million in collective funding in 2017, with BorrowersFirst alone raising $ 100 million. To give you an overview of the space, we've broken down areas with a high concentration of tech companies and startups. Get to know them!

 

 

Silicon Hills - Austin’s answer to Silicon Valley

Downtown

Downtown Austin, bordered by the Colorado River to the south and the University of Texas campus to the north, is the city's business hub.

 

In addition, downtown Austin is known for its local establishments on Sixth Street, numerous cultural institutions, and the Texas government building. Here's a quick snapshot (by no means an exhaustive list) of some of the tech companies that have opened their stores in the heart of Silicon Hills.

East Austin

East Austin, situated across I-35 from downtown, is a mixture of old and new. An area with working-class roots and character, the area is also experiencing an influx of residents, new establishments, and companies. This diversity makes East Austin an eclectic part of the city's history and future.

Southwest Austin

With population growth and rising prices, businesses and residents flocked to other parts of the city, especially southwest Austin. With lower prices and more space for companies, it is Silicon Hills' new growing innovation hub.

North MoPac and The Domain

North MoPac and The Domain are retail and business hubs along the Mopac Expressway (Loop 1). North Austin is home to some big companies like Amazon and IBM. Here are some other big players in space.

SoCo

SoCo is an area located south of Lady Bird Lake and the Colorado River, named after the highway on which it is located, South Congress. The area is well known for its art and music, many shops and restaurants, and its famous food van congregations. In addition to the eclectic establishments dotted around the neighborhood, it also includes tech companies and startups. The following companies are a few that have taken root in SoCo.

Funding and support for startups

Austin startup scene has several large American accelerator companies such as Techstars and Capital Factory:

Techstars 

Techstars was founded in 2006 (the Austin office opened in 2013) and, during this time, has established itself as one of the world's best incubators. Of course, a high reputation implies a very strict selection - the company approves less than 1% of all applications - and nevertheless, over the 10 years of its existence, Techstars has promoted more than 800 projects with a total budget of more than $ 2.3 trillion. In exchange for 6% of the shares, startups qualified, receive up to $ 120,000 in investment funds, and are included in a three-month initial support program.

Capital Factory

Capital Factory is a native Texas company and one of the most famous Austin accelerators owning one of the most advanced and popular coworking spaces in downtown Austin. The company's share in the promoted startup is 2%, and the project gets a connection with the Capital Factory partners, and if two or more partners are interested in it (investing more than 25 thousand dollars), then investments will follow from Capital Factory itself.

Summary

Against the backdrop of the growing popularity of the capital of Texas for aspiring entrepreneurs, it is worth dwelling in detail on the pros and cons of the Austin startup scene.

Pros

  • A rapidly developing economy. As the practice of recent years has shown, the Texas economy is even more than resistant to fluctuations in oil prices, which was previously one of the state's main sources of income.
  • Active support of startups by large accelerators. In Austin, such "monsters" of the market as, for example, Techstars are actively working.
  • An abundance of skilled labor. The state has many universities, a large number of educational institutions and centers of excellence, which provide a constant influx of various specialists into the business.
  • Tax area. State, provincial, and city income taxes are not levied at all, and sole proprietors and partnerships are exempt from taxes on gross profits.
  • Relatively low (by United States standards) cost of living.
  • Highly developed infrastructure. The state has 380 airports (of which 26 are commercial), 16 seaports, and one of the longest road and rail networks in the United States.
  • Lack of a language barrier. Everyone around speaks English.

Cons

  • Climate. Despite mild winters, the high humidity and summer heat in Texas can be unbearable. Terrible summer droughts are not uncommon here.
  • One of the highest property taxes in the United States.

So if you are still wondering whether Austin is a great place for your project - contact Ideamotive consultants. We can provide you with insights about:

  • Austin venture capitals
  • pitfalls of funding 
  • nuances of creating a startup
  • Austin private equity
  • Austin taxes and legal 

and connect you with top tech talent to design, develop, and deploy your digital product.

Patrycja Mach

Patrycja is a B2B Marketing Expert with experience in growing IT businesses since 2014. She creates and implements 360-degree marketing strategy. In her career, she focuses on lead generation based on marketing automation, collecting data, AB experiments and complex customer journeys. Business, self-development and psychology enthusiast.

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