Entrepreneurship is a vital component of economic development. An innovative and educated workforce combined with the right resources and guidance can turn great ideas into big business. As a student at the University of Texas and intern at AngelouEconomics I am lucky to live in Austin, Texas, a city full of entrepreneurial spirit!
The city just wrapped up its 27th year of hosting South-by- Southwest (SXSW), an entrepreneurial powerhouse of ingenuity and innovation at its best. SXSW provides both seasoned and aspiring entrepreneurs a platform to discover up-and-coming talent in music, film, tech, and education from all over the world. During this year’s festivities, the conference held several events for entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and media to schmooze, learn, and engage in all things start-up. Events included: startup-related panels, meet ups, lounges, pitch events, and mentoring/coaching sessions.
While I was not lucky enough to land an official SXSW badge, just exploring downtown Austin during SXSW exposed me to some of the next big ideas in interactive technology and music. During Interactive, I brushed shoulders with serial entrepreneur and CEO of .CO Internet. .CO is a global domain that offers start-ups as well as major companies like Google a unique online home. Later in the week I checked out the latest DELL products at the Fader Fort. It was hard for me to believe that the sleek tablets had evolved from the bulky computers that Michael Dell began building on my college campus three decades before. After listening to so much live music, I was excited to try out locally-based Open Labs newest product, while StageLight software allowed musically challenged folks, like yours truly, an opportunity to create dynamic music. I even got to partner with the companies Sailthru and Automattic who are using innovation as a force for development.
The past few weeks have given me a whole new appreciation for entrepreneurs. It was inspiring to see the entrepreneurial community not only rally together, but also celebrate and learn from their successes and failures. Even as an outsider, I got caught up in the excitement and energy of entrepreneurism, which has taught me to no longer dismiss the seemingly crazy ideas that occasionally pop into my head.
Through my various SXSW engagements this year, the experience proved that you will never truly know what or where the next big idea will be. Seasoned SXSW attendees will tell you that those that were not even invited to parties this year could be leading the pack the next.
Who knows, maybe I will be lucky enough to be one of them!
Elizabeth is a senior International Relations and Business student at The University of Texas. A born and bred Austinite, she loves live music, being outdoors, and traveling. Upon graduation, she would like to pursue a career in the field of economic development.