It’s not just companies that are hoping to use South by Southwest (SXSW) to get their brand in front of potential customers, partners, and employees. Many emerging startup ecosystems are looking for a similar boost.
New York was a fixture in Austin on Saturday, with an entire day of events hosted under the brand Made in NY: Austin. A Saturday afternoon showcase featured more than 30 companies that will be pitching and schmoozing with investors and fellow entrepreneurs. Throughout the day, keynotes and seminars featured Warby Parker co-founder Dave Gilboa and NYC Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot among others. The evening continued with a cocktail hour and late night rooftop after party. The Techstars NY party was a hot ticket as well, with countless would be attendees turned away at the door. The predominantly social event seemed to feature as many attendees from elsewhere in the startup ecosystem as it did New Yorkers.
Los Angeles joined the mix Saturday evening with a Digital LA – Dynamite Network Party at Parkside and then on Sunday with the Silicon Beach Sunday Funday showcase held at Frank. While food and adult beverages were there for the taking at both events, Sunday’s gathering was more about showcasing the diversity of technology and media companies within the region. Hosts Digital LA and Radix Collective assembled a number of up and comers including Adly, FastPay, GonnaBe, Mobile Roadie, Scopely, and Steelhouse. But the event wasn’t just about startups, as public companies Cornerstone OnDemand and Demand Media, as well as Experian-owned PriceGrabber were in attendance.
Las Vegas was equally well represented in Austin this week, as the only city with a booth in the SXSW exhibition hall. The community is also hosting a #VegasTech Lounge happy hour this evening, which will feature keynotes from local patron saint Tony Hsieh and Switch EVP Jason Mendenhall. Tomorrow, Vegas will wrap up the week with its #VegasTech VIP party at Red 7. Among the more interesting companies featured was Lazy Husband, a tongue-and-cheek male utility app launched by 12-year-old developer Ethan Duggan.
Unlike for the other cities mentioned, this week only marks the beginning of Vegas’ 2013 SXSW calendar. Sin City will host the first ever SXSW V2V August 11-14. The stand alone event will be an extension of the existing SXSW franchise, with the stated goal of helping entrepreneurs “learn the skills, make the connections and find the inspiration to take their ideas and talents to the next level.”
Not to be left out, Silicon Prairie made its presence felt in Austin as well, with a series of panels featuring members of the middle America community and a Sunday morning cereal bar at Halcyon Coffee Bar & Lounge. While it might seem like breakfast tacos and bloody maries would be the order of the day, cereal was a welcome alternative for many recovering late night revelers.
The growth of the startup ecosystem beyond the borders of Silicon Valley has been a hot topic in recent years. While one week of the year is just a superficial indicator of the caliber of these communities, it was obvious from the representation in Austin that entrepreneurship in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and the prairie states continues to thrive. The communities managed to attract event sponsorship from American Express and and the Kauffman Foundation, not to mention countless VCs, service providers, universities and media organizations. Most importantly, the events provided a forum for members of the respective startup communities to gather together and celebrate all that they’ve accomplished.
[Image source: Lussier Photography]