Courtesy / Kara Gomez
San Antonio Startup Week – five days of programming aimed at experts, beginners and even passersby of the local information technology industry – kicks off on Monday, Feb. 8 with a growing calendar of events through next Friday.
"It's really a celebration of entrepreneurs to get some energy behind awareness of the local technology industry," said Vanessa Paige, 80/20 Foundation operations manager. The Foundation, an entrepreneurial fund started by Rackspace Chairman and co-founder Graham Weston, is working with Trinity University's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to host the weeklong celebration at various venues across the city.
Events include mixers, seminars, panel discussions, business tours, and more. One can dive deep into the industry with panel discussions like "Millennial Voices of the San Antonio Tech Scene," "Startup Funding and a Bunch of Other Stuff You Should Know," or "Learning from Mistakes, Pivots, and Failures." Looking for something more casual? Check out the Entrepreneurial Mom Mixer and panel discussion at Alamo Heights' new co-working space, Perch, or Geekdom's Fermented Friday.
Participating co-working spaces are also offering free day passes and discounted memberships. Café Commerce, The Workery, Codeup, and the opening-soon San Antonio Entrepreneur Center have collaborated on event planning and hosting.
Five years ago, before Geekdom and before any tech industry initiatives were backed by the City or County, a Startup Week in San Antonio would have been unlikely, or fallen far under the radar. With new startups moving in and out of co-working spaces like Geekdom, programming bootcamps like Codeup producing successful graduates, and industry advocates with Tech Bloc lobbying for a city that attracts and retains talent critical for the industry to grow, the local tech scene is approaching what some would call a "critical mass."
"We see the momentum that organizations like Tech Bloc are building," said Luis Martinez, director of Trinity's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. "We want to clearly showcase some of the great things that are happening in San Antonio."
Martinez also sees the five-day celebration as another opportunity to demonstrate the highly collaborative nature of the local tech community and to introduce it to newcomers.
The Startup Week brand was founded in Boulder, Colo. by UP Global in 2007 and has grown to more than 20 cities in the U.S. In summer 2015, the mentorship-driven startup accelerator Techstars, also founded in Boulder, acquired UP Global and its line of Startup programs including Startup Week, Startup Weekend, Startup Next and Startup Digest. It's no coincidence that Startup Week is centered around Techstars Cloud Demo Day on Thursday, Feb. 11 at the The Aztec Theatre.
"The timing is ripe for (startups in) San Antonio," Paige said. "Startup Week tracks have been set up to highlight industries that are signatures of the ecosystem," including Cybersecurity, Women in Tech, Mexican Entrepreneurs, Funding your Venture, and Wellness to name a few.
More events will be added to the interactive calendar as the week approaches, she said, as event organizers continue to finalize details this week.
*Top image: Subu Rama and team Bitfusion scores a point during the 2015 Startup Olympics. Photo by Kara Gomez.