Austin City Startups

With their roots in Haight-Ashbury, Hollywood, or NYC’s star-studded residents, what is more than evident is that innovative cities are the result of creative communities that draw appeal to the region while reminding entrepreneurs and investors that they too can take the same risks that creatives and artists take by putting themselves out there. No more has that been more evidently established than in the recent startup and tech boom of Austin, TX.

Major bookend events start and wrap the cultural appeal of Central Texas, with SXSW in the spring and the year winding down with Austin City Limits in October. October, not coincidentally, has long been Austin’s hottest month for entrepreneurs, not because it’s as hot as the Austin summer but because October usually hosts Austin Startup Week (now pushed to November), numerous demo days, incubator cohort launches (we’re taking applications!), and more – this season finds itself popular well beyond Austin, with San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas, celebrating the cooler weather and potential in innovation and venture capital.

As if to further submit proof in evidence, 2022 will see Austin mature from Startup Week, with the launch of Austin Venture Fest, thanks to the incredible work and community of the Austin Venture Association.

Austin City Limits 2022

Before I explain Austin Venture Fest, let me clarify my cultural correlation.

Austin City Limits (ACLMusic Festival is an annual music festival held in Austin’s Zilker Park on two consecutive three-day weekends. Inspired by the KLRU/PBS music series of the same name, the festival is produced by Austin-based company C3 Presents, which also produces Chicago’s Lollapalooza (if you’re curious why Chicago’s startup ecosystem is starting to boom). The festival was inspired by the show with which you might not be as familiar, Austin City Limits, which first aired in 1975; the pilot was shot on October 17, 1974, and starred Willie Nelson. A bootstrapped look and feel in what’s thought to be a deliberate lack of production slickness, but with attention to audio quality, pleased the known-to-be-shy red headed stranger. Lead Marketer Ken Waggoner, and ACL creator Bill Arhos pitched the pilot to PBS to be part of its 1975 pledge drive. The show’s success as a fundraiser for PBS was enough for Arhos to get ACL green-lighted – ACL is why you KNOW Austin and how the city became widely known in the United States as the “Live Music Capital of the World.”  The show has gone on to incredible acclaim as the only television show to receive the National Medal of Arts, which it was awarded in 2003, and the rare Peabody Award in 2011 “for its more than three decades of presenting and preserving eclectic American musical genres.”

October witnesses the Austin City Limits Music Festival

This year, its star-studded lineup includes headliners ParamoreLil Nas XP!nkRed Hot Chili Peppers, The ChicksSZAKacey Musgraves and Flume. Scheduled to take place over October 7-9 and October 14-16 at Austin’s Zilker Park, this year bands will play across 9 stages with headliners joined by DiploZHUNathaniel Rateliff and the Night SweatsBilly StringsWallowsJazmine SullivanTobe Nwigwe, The War on DrugsSpoonConan GrayGooseOliver TreeLil DurkJames Blake and Phoenix.

Austin Venture Fest

With early strategic and financial supporters, we’ve co-produced a first event series of its kind— but don’t forget to check out the local *tiny music festival – Austin Venture Fest rolls right into each weekend

CS Freeland; Co-founder and Executive Director of Austin Venture Association

I LOVE the vision underlying Venture Fest because it resonates so much with our mission to develop startup ecosystems throughout the world, venture development, by recognizing the critical role of a diverse community of people, perspectives, and organizations, all supporting the risks taken by entrepreneurs and creatives, “Austin investors. We don’t just fund startups, we help power the startup ecosystem. We don’t just focus on returns, we’re major contributors. We don’t just benefit from our city, we build the region.”

Two weeks focused on venture growth.

Kicking off October 4th and running events through October 14th, Austin Venture Fest blends Austin’s incredible culture with the impactful community of collaborative venture investors, programs, and entrepreneurs.

Venture pitches, DJ battles, workshops, coffee meetups, wine tastings, investor nights, dinner parties, private events, poker, workouts, podcasts, happy hours, venture crawl… and one big, Texas-sized brunch. Plus, the little music festival to end both weekends.

A couple of the notably media-oriented events during Austin Venture Fest, reinforce the critical role of MediaTech in developing a startup ecosystem: creating awareness, informing audiences, and drawing attention. In much the same way that the entertainment side of a city draws appeal and encourages risk tolerance, media in your startup ecosystem is critical to anything working well.

1. Venture Pod Day

THURS, 11 – 4pm
See your favorite Austin podcasters live and in-person for some tweet-worthy interviews with Austin startup investors.

2. DJ Ventures

FRI, Oct 14, 7-10pm
From pitch decks to DJ decks, see who in Austin’s investor and startup scene can spin up some serious vibes. This is the place to be when the beat drops.

As of this moment, 30 organizations working together to make October in Austin even more meaningful; MediaTech Ventures of course busy with our own feet on the ground and getting together to develop this ecosystem to be even greater than it already is.

Involved besides myself and CS Freeland, get to know Alex Aitchison, Cherie Werner, Cory McKane, Framroz Bankwalla, JD Weinstein, Julianna Giraldo, Marisa Vickers, my good friend in Founder Institute, Martin Martinez, Matt Saitta, Michael Marra, Pat Moody, Seena Vajed, Tanner Cerand, Umar Brimah, and Zach Feinberg, reach out and connect – these are your super connectors and community builders volunteering to turn Austin’s startup community into a Venture Fest.

Austin Venture Fest is not a formal conference, it’s ideas from the startup community and from organizers who want to try out, to test, a different type of meetup or event. It’s not a buttoned-up conference, it’s a series of activities with a focus on the impact and potential of Austin’s venture community.

– CS Freeland

Austin City really has no limits. Creatives drive culture and culture drives innovation and entrepreneurship – Austin City Startups -> Austin City Ventures.

Want to get involved or help? If you have a venue, event to plan, if you already have an event in October (let’s add it!), or would sponsor to make even more of Austin Venture Fest, feel free to join MediaTech Ventures here and message me, or share interest with the Venture Fest team here.

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Meet the “Digital Godfather of The Music Industry” himself, Mr. Ted Cohen.

Ted has always found himself in the right place at the right time, and this rings true throughout his career to date. Some of his first live music experiences was the Rollingstones and Beatles first shows in America, at the age of 14. He was so enamored by the entertainment industry, in high school he managed his friend Eric Carmen who wrote “All by Myself”.

37 Min read

Comments on Austin City Startups

  • Austin M. Pittman

    Hey Paul O’Brien this sounds great. We’d love to be a host venue! I’ll reach out directly.

  • CS Freeland

    Incredible work and community of Austin Venture Fest co-organizers — but yes, Austin Venture Association events are being promoted!!

  • Mike Handy

    Explain Bentonville Ar.. unquestionably the most innovative and important advancements of our generation were built from that throw away town. Amazon would not and could not exist without them and inflation would’ve been an issue of consequence non-stop since 1990.

    • Paul O’Brien

      San Bernardino gave rise to McDonalds, Stockholm gave rise to Spotify, while Kellogg emerged from Battle Creek, MI

      Think about the cities not literally as this but as an analog: one hit wonders

      An artist that has one incredible album or song and never again has great hits…

      Outliers are misleading distractions that cause people to think such things are readily possible anywhere. And it’s true that they’re possible anywhere, but the question at hand was that of making an ecosystem: what causes place to be more than home to an exception? “Readily”

      Even use Austin music as an example of my point. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson – Austin music has a couple of great hits. And though it claims to be the live music capitol of the world, the reality is Austin is not a music industry City. Coincidentally I ran into some musicians today from LA who had very thing to say: they’re in Austin because they’re getting paid to do a gig, they’re going back to LA and spend a lot of time in Nashville because that’s where they produce music.

      Without the ecosystem a city can’t (won’t) repeatedly produce great outcomes.

      An entrepreneurial city requires experienced mentors, investors, industry, and programs. Exceptions don’take the rule.

      • Mike Handy

        Paul O’Brien I’d give McDonalds to Chicago and Kellogg to Detroit. Bentonville is a kind of collection of vendors that revolutionized the supply chain anchored on Walmart. But I get your point.

        • Mark Simchock

          Paul O’Brien re: Outliers are misleading distractions that cause people to think such things are readily possible anywhere. And it’s true that they’re possible anywhere, but the question at hand was that of making an ecosystem: what causes place to be more than home to an exception? ”

          So true. Kudos. Put another way, “Accidents happen. Don’t place bets – so to speak – based on accidents. You’ll lose more and more often than you’ll win. On the other hand, it takes a village is still true.

          • Mike Handy

            Mark Simchock I just think less than sexy innovation happens elsewhere. The trash truck as we know it was an innovation of a farmer. The combine was born of the plains of Kansas.. The way we smelt iron ore came out no where PA. Fact is a smaller town can only build 1 larger size company and then they have a human resource problem. Also a college needs to be close enough generally to feed the labor market. We see this with Oil and Geothermal in College Station. Almost all the innovation for that is centered around Texas A&M and the Colorado school of mines.
            I guess my point is, “cool cities” drive a certain type of innovation, and boring sleepy college towns drive another. They are less flashy, less sexy, and still important.

          • Paul O’Brien

            Mike Handy, MBA, CSM, CSPO although, I didn’t say “cool” city, I said culture. Which supports your observation. Culture can be small town plains and it can be depressing and disadvantaged Detroit.

            Those cultures may not draw people to want to be there but it’s still the culture that drives the likely innovation. Neglecting it is how/why cities struggle with effective development of entrepreneurs – that, a place can’t just become a “tech” city because it wants to be so: by say, incentivizing a “tech” company to be there. The culture of the place will draw what wants to be there.

  • Mary Blake

    I would love some information on how to get involved

  • Carol J. Dickerson

    I was gonna say… now THATS how to throw a venture fest

  • Adrian Niculescu

    Nice, I was in Austin at Consensus!

  • Eric Daniel Horn

    Have you ever connected with Aasim Hasan over at Moneta Ventures? Might be another great contact in the Austin venture space.