Austin Startup Scene and the Trilogy Effect

Scott Francis
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This is such a cool resource about Austin startups that I had to share.  Openview Partners has published a quick guide to the Austin startup scene.  And it is just a great way to get a quick grasp of what’s going on, though no such guide can cover it all.

First, they cover a little history, and to my surprise pretty much hit it spot on (kudos!):

When hardware powerhouses IBM, Dell Computers, and AMD chose to set up shop in Austin in the late 1980s, the moves ignited the Texas capital’s aspirations of growing into a tech hub. It wasn’t until 30 years later, however, that Austin would begin to truly gain international attention as one of the hottest startup scenes east of Silicon Valley.

What was the tipping point?

While IBM, Dell, and AMD gave the city the kick-start it needed, Austin-based entrepreneur and investor Sam Decker says the founding of little-known Trilogy Software actually made the biggest impact on Austin’s emergence as one of the hottest startup software hubs in the world.

“There were some big companies in Austin, but the city really wasn’t known as a software startup scene in the 90s,” explains Decker, a former executive for Dell and the founding CMO of Austin-based SaaS business BazaarVoice. “When Trilogy came to Austin, it infused the city with a lot of top shelf talent.”

That talent ultimately paved the way for startups like HomeAway and BazaarVoice, which both set up shop in Austin 2005 and achieved successful IPOs in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

A big factor in drawing the original big companies down to Austin was MCC – and UT.  But as the article states, Trilogy was really symbolic of the tipping point – if not the tipping point itself.  Those who didn’t work at Trilogy in that era would rightly point out more successful companies and many other successful startups – Tivoli, Dazel, National Instruments, etc.  But Trilogy was the company that went to college campuses all over the country to recruit new talent to Austin – and that scale of recruitment was unique to Trilogy within Austin at the time. Trilogy helped put Austin on the software map.  Many people worked at Trilogy and then disgorged to parts all over the country (and other countries) – taking their positive impressions of Austin with them.  It feels like a great positive echo chamber.

(if you want to learn more about the Trilogy Effect on Austin, check out our SXSW session on building the killer network in 2015!)

Next up is a map of startups.  It’s huge. And reasonably accurate.  Most importantly, they have BP3 on the map! (Although arrow needs to be updated for our current location). There’s also a mind map, courtesy of Bijoy Goswami.

Next up is 5 building blocks for Austin growth:

  1. Access to top talent
  2. Availability of capital (Believe it or not, this is much improved over the last 10 years)
  3. Willing mentors and advisors (too many people to give credit to here, but Josh Baer is one standout because he has recruited additional people to mentor as well)
  4. Affordable work spaces
  5. Supportive state and local government.  Look, you won’t notice that it is supportive. I would describe it more as a minimum of interference from state and local governments, and then if you’re big enough or in particular industries, you may find them actually helpful as well.

At any rate, check out the article, they go on to list key people to meet in Austin – I would add a ton of names to this list, but they have a good start.  Really nice to see Austin captured this way.  A good addition would be Sheldon Interactive’s Fast 50 infographic as well – because not all the fast growing businesses are high tech!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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