Austin Culture: Export of the Future?

Scott Francis
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With the advent of South by South Lawn (SXSL) last week, followed by the Great Places to Work conference coming to Austin this week, the topic of Austin exporting its culture comes to mind. To my thinking, Austin has become a leading business ecosystem for exporting culture ideas to the rest of the country.  Or maybe we just live in a city that inspires “culture” in its residents.  Whichever it is, we’ll take it.

SXSL is kind of a remarkable event.  President Obama attended SXSW-interactive last year and we made an impression on him with our conference that keeps it weird in the city known for keeping it weird. A miniature version of the event was held on the south lawn of the White House: Music, Movies, and Interactive topics were all fair game.  Austinites Hugh Forrest, Mayor Adler, and startup promoter Josh Baer were all in attendance.

Today the White House announced the lineup for South By South Lawn: A White House Festival of Ideas, Art, and Action with a compelling program that includes President Obama in conversation with Leonardo DiCaprio and Dr. Katharine Hayhoe; a discussion on pushing limits with James Turrell and David Adjaye; performances by The Lumineers and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings; and appearances by The Duffer Brothers and the cast of Stranger Things.

Meanwhile, this week we’ll see the staffs of many small companies descend on Austin to learn what the special sauce of culture in Austin is. 

I’ll be participating in a series of round-tables hosted by Square Root, with the subject being how to help people navigate change in your organization.  We’ve had a lot of change at BP3 over the years, and I’ll share my perspective about how to handle and manage it.  What kinds of changes?

  • We’ve grown from just 4 at year 1 to 120 full time staff
  • I succeeded Lance Gibbs as our CEO earlier this year
  • We took on our first outside investment capital in June
  • We’ve purchased 3 companies in 2 years
  • We’re expanding rapidly in Europe

That’s just a sampling, honestly.

As I traveled in Europe this past week for BP3, I couldn’t help but notice how much our Austin culture is being exported. We have brought our brand of business process management service to the European market.  And like culture, the BP3 difference is something you have to experience to fully appreciate. 

At our launch event for opening business in Holland, I had the sense that our approach – and our culture – are really appreciated not only by our partner, IBM, but by our customers and prospective customers.  It was one of the more engaging BPM events I’ve attended.  And BPMCAMP in Austin is another example of how we export our culture.  We bring our team and our customers to Austin to learn and sharpen the saw.  It is a mini conference where talking about BPM is a good conversation starter!

In the case of BP3 however, my colleagues and I are also learning from our European colleagues.  I’ll write more about this in a separate post, but I love the sense of collaboration and strategic thinking that happens in Europe.  Building a business together rather than as customer and vendor and partner. It is an amazing thing.

I think Austin will keep exporting its culture to the tech world, at least.  Fingers crossed that great music and breakfast tacos will become a part of everyone’s aspirational culture!