What if Austin had a Startup District? the story thus far

I’ve been trying to write different things to explain what this startup district idea is… Sooo im gonna tell the story of how this came about and let you decide what to make of it.

Startup Disrict is just an idea that started in a conversation between Dane Hurtubise and myself several weeks ago. We were basically saying how much we love austin and talking about startups / entrepreneurs here. The topic came to the fact we didn’t think all the startups really knew each other. From there Dane said it would be awesome if Austin just had a startup district. …I don’t know about you, but when I heard that idea I was like “holy shit. you’re right on…” As pure concept I’m sure you can agree its a really cool idea. Basically it’s: have a bunch of startups and entrepreneurs in one place… Just calling it a district sounds cool – I mean, we have the Warehouse District. What’s that good for? I don’t know but calling it a District makes it an attraction.

After talking to Dane about this forever, I went home and told cesar about it via chat and he immediately pinged the domain name. By some off chance or act of god, the domain was available and he grabbed it faster than you can say wiimote.

That week I talked about it with the other guys at Conjunctured and we quickly saw that this idea really fell in line with what we want for Conjunctured. And that is, a place where entrepreneurs / one-two man startups / indepentends can work together – you know, coworking. The other side to conjunctured is having a brand and bringing in work as that brand – the reason to do this is to provide well paying hourly work to people who are working on their own startup or project but still need to be making some cash (like JobStrap). The idea there is that Conj would handle client serivces, and makes sure there is work avaliable (need to blog more on this).

So yeah, we felt like getting Conjunctured Coworking set up was 1.0 of the startup district idea – ultimately all Startup District really means is bringing people closer together in the hopes that everyone involved (including those looking to get involved) will benefit. Whether it’s Conjunctured or not, it seems like there would need to be some sort of central hub or commons at the center of all this – a place for people to start.

Soon after this we all met Thomas Marriott from GameWager. He had just moved their company from Houston to Austin and was looking for something exactly like this. At Startup Drinks (btw there is one this Sun. 4/24) I told Thomas about the idea of having a Startup District flag and all the startups involved also flying flags into the streets… Thomas being a competitive gamer and an all around boisterous kinda guy loved the idea. He came up with some pretty fun plans to incorporate the flags concept, assuming all this works out.

A couple days later I was riding my bike home from Whole Foods and Mayor Will Wynn was walking home also… so I had a walk and talk conversation with him about the idea. Basically he said talk to Lee Leffingwell or someone with the Emereging Technology Fund and to the east side neighborhood planning committee.

The next step was putting something up on the domain. I found out about the DEMOcocktail party dayof. So before Colin Anawaty and I rolled out to the party, I put up a barebones black text site and fed in a startupdistrict twitter feed. Im glad I had something up because there ended up being a ton of people great people who were willing to listen to me talk about this Startup District idea im all jazzed up about. People I talked to there were Chris Shipley (thanks Carla), Co-Founder of Guidewire Group, the people who put on DEMO (she tweeted about it), John Hime (thanks Christine)(he said he really likes the idea), Andrew Busey (it was really brief, but I told him :), Gerald Zhou formerly of Austin Ventures now at Rackspace (should be talking more with Gerald soonish), Daniel Hope of TrackSuitCEO (he blogged about it here), Jonas Lamis of Scivestor, Aruni of BabbleSoft, Josh Dillworth of Porter Novelii (he blogged about it), and some others.

After the party Colin, who just moved back to town from LA and is the Creative Director for GaimTheory, said he would help out creating a real site for startupdistrict.com and built a sweet little one on drupal.

Colin had the good idea that all the people who really want this to happen should start meeting twice a month. So without much planning we sent an email to all the guys mentioned thus far. Cesart, Dane, Thomas, Dave, and I all ended up making it – Colin hosted, and even provided beer and cheese and fruit trays. The meetup was awesome and I hope Dane feels like a king every time someone says “Startup District,” because he’s the one who said it in the first place. w00t!

…and that’s all I got so far. I need to write another post that talks more about the website and talking to different audiences. .. off to wordpress fest..

18 thoughts on “What if Austin had a Startup District? the story thus far”

  1. What we setup in Bryan, TX is a private coworking/incubator for folks like ourselves. We didn’t look for funding; we didn’t try to recruit backers; we certainly didn’t spend a crap-ton of money to renovate. We simply took it upon ourselves to make the idea happen.

    In August of 2007, The Creative Space was born. 5 guys and some ikea desks later we were setup and running. We’re now up to 13 people and several other incubators started popping up down the hall, and around the corner from us.

    What I’ve found is that good ideas spread, and like moths to light… we’ve attracted others. Organically grown and unplanned.

  2. What we setup in Bryan, TX is a private coworking/incubator for folks like ourselves. We didn't look for funding; we didn't try to recruit backers; we certainly didn't spend a crap-ton of money to renovate. We simply took it upon ourselves to make the idea happen.

    In August of 2007, The Creative Space was born. 5 guys and some ikea desks later we were setup and running. We're now up to 13 people and several other incubators started popping up down the hall, and around the corner from us.

    What I've found is that good ideas spread, and like moths to light… we've attracted others. Organically grown and unplanned.

  3. Great project. It's even better if other states would follow and make one in their own respective communities to organize and promote the possibility of opening new and better channels for like minded people to take part in, without the need for them to relocate.

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