Nurturing Austin’s Tech Startups Is A Community Affair

By Rachel Lerman
The Seattle Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Austin’s startup scene is flourishing on the strength of its community and the city’s history of creativity.

The Seattle Times

Willy Ogorzaly had been in Austin, Texas, for only a month before he knew it was the right place to reinvigorate his legal technology startup. The company had been “running on fumes” in Boulder, Colo., and desperately needed an injection of funding and advice.

Now, four months later, his company JustLegal has brought on investors, hired seven people and collected several mentors with the specific technical expertise the startup needed.

“Moving to Austin saved our company,” Ogorzaly said.

Ogorzaly’s experience is typical in the tech-friendly city of Austin, where the strongest part of the growing technology industry may be the intertwined network of young entrepreneurs.

Austin’s startup scene has kept pace with Seattle’s in terms of investor dollars pouring in. But the industry has grown without anything comparable to two of Seattle’s strongest assets, Microsoft and Amazon, instead flourishing on the strength of its community and the city’s history of creativity.

The impact of technology on this city of nearly 1 million people has become palpable. Austin’s heralded annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, which starts March 10, has long been known primarily for its film and music showings, cementing the Texas city as a beacon of the arts community. But now, the festival’s technology track, known as “Interactive”, has surpassed the others after it began growing rapidly in the last decade.

More than 37,600 people participated in Interactive sessions last year, compared with more than 30,000 for music and nearly 20,000 for film.

“In a sense, that growth mimics or mirrors the role of technology in our society,” said Hugh Forrest, the director of SXSW’s Interactive festival. “The growth of Interactive also, in a sense, parallels the startup scene in Austin.”

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