By Lori Hawkins
New Orleans entrepreneur Christine Alexis is looking for funding for her online jewelry startup, and she says Austin might be the right place to find it.
Next week, Alexis will get a first-hand look at Austin’s startup community when she arrives in town for the fifth annual Austin Startup Week, which runs Monday through Friday.
“I want to explore the possibilities in Austin, because I know it’s a great place for startups,” said Alexis, who founded cultureshockstore.com in 2013. “In New Orleans, most investors are looking at tech industry deals, but Austin has a thriving startup fashion scene, and I think it could be a great fit.”
The week features dozens of events, including morning coffees, a startup career fair, office hours with veteran entrepreneurs, panels, happy hours and a “startup crawl” where more than 70 companies will open their doors, serve food and drinks and give tours.
Most events are free and open to everyone. Organizers hope to draw developers, marketers, college students, recent graduates and anyone interested in learning more about Austin’s tech landscape.
“It’s kind of a discovery platform to find out what’s going on in the tech scene, both for people who are here locally as well as people who are visiting Austin,” said Jacqueline Hughes, who teamed up with Capital Factory founder Joshua Baer to organize this year’s event. “We’ve heard from people around the country saying it’s the perfect time for me to consider moving to Austin or bringing my startup to Austin.'”
More than 6,000 people are expected to attend Startup Week, which is scheduled between Austin City Limits music festival weekends so out-of-towners can stay a few days after the first ACL weekend or arrive early for the second weekend and attend both events.
This year, Startup Week is attracting a global audience, with 20 participants from Australia and individuals coming from countries including France and England.
Christian Seme of the Australian Trade Commission said his group is bringing one of its biggest trade missions, compromised of government officials, local business chamber members and 12 tech businesses based in the capital city of Canberra.
“Canberra has witnessed the transformation of Austin into a hub for entrepreneurship and innovative startup businesses, and as a young and growing city ourselves, we can learn a lot from the transformation of Austin’s economy,” Seme said, adding that the delegation will look to build new networks, explore partnerships between Canberra business and the U.S. market and look for investment opportunities.
To bring in more visitors, Capital Factory took applications from out-of-town tech workers and university students and gave away 15 round-trip plane tickets, which were paid for by sponsors.
Alexis was among those who won a free visit. She said she plans to spend the week attending events, networking and checking out incubator programs.
“It will be great to meet other entrepreneurs and get their feedback on what it’s like to build a business in Austin,” Alexis said.
This year’s Startup Week is organized by individuals from more than 25 companies and groups including incubator Capital Factory, Hired and Techstars. To encourage people to spend the day taking in activities, Capital Factory will offer free co-working space all week.
Things get started on Monday with a recruiting fair featuring more than 45 local companies at the Mohawk downtown from 3:30 to 6 p.m. The job fair will be followed by a Battle of the Bands competition, also at the Mohawk, sponsored by the Austin Technology Council.
The week wraps up with the Startup Crawl from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, where guests are encouraged to have a free beverage, drop off a resume and see the office space of startups including uShip, Civitas Learning and Square Root. An iPhone and Android app can be downloaded to get a map of companies participating.
For a full list of what’s happening, and to register, go to atxstartupweek.com.