San Antonio Startup Week—a five-day series of entrepreneurial and tech panels, mixers and workshops—is expected to draw 2,000 people to the city's burgeoning tech corridor of Houston Street beginning Monday.
The volunteer-driven event will provide attendees with more than 75 free informative sessions developed by representatives from Tech Bloc, Scaleworks and the San Antonio Business Calendar, as San Antonio’s tech community continues to grow its education-to-job ecosystem.
Startup Week itself has grown from its initial 270 attendees in 2016 to 800 in 2017 to the 2,000 expected next week.
“We couldn’t be more excited over how the community has showed up,” said Alexandra Frey, executive director at the 80/20 Foundation, one of the co-sponsors along with Geekdom and Trinity University. “There’s going to be something for everybody—from the student interested in entrepreneurship and somebody who has an idea, to investors or somebody who wants the free taco we’ll be giving out every morning.”
The week kicks off with Rackspace Co-Founder Graham Weston, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy and Geekdom Chairman Lorenzo Gomez, who will discuss the impact of Weston’s recent $15 million gift to UTSA's downtown campus, and why residents can expect to see an influx of students and an era of tech growth in the coming decade. Weston’s gift will help build UTSA’s School of Data Science at 506 Dolorosa, just south of City Hall.
The impetus for this momentum can be attributed to the birth of startup incubator Geekdom, co-founded by Weston and Nick Longo, and which celebrates its seventh year on Thursday.
“When students come to work or intern at Geekdom, they bring this energy that isn’t usually here,” she said. “We’re looking forward to having those students as a resource that can grow (with) the San Antonio tech scene.”
Attendees can easily access sessions held at various locations along Houston Street. This year’s sessions includes information for military members and veterans interested in entrepreneurship ("USAA Presents Breakfast of Champions: Military Transition and Veteranpreneurs," Oct. 24), a look into the future ("State of the SA Tech Economy," Oct. 26) and advise on the state of San Antonio’s tech economy and advice on finding venture capital financing ("Venture Financing - Demystifying Convertible Notes/SAFEs," Oct. 25).
Guest speaker Amy Nelson, CEO of Venture for America, and Andy White of San Diego Startup Week, are just a few of the notable visitors expected to be in attendance.
Growing interest in the local tech community means more opportunities for collaborations, development and new jobs that didn’t exist just five years ago, one sponsor said.
“In the last five years, we’ve seen folks take a risk and choose San Antonio as a place to develop and grow,” said Carmen Aramanda, programs manager at the Entrepreneurship Center for Sciences & Innovation at Trinity University. “This [has become] a place for talent and opportunity, and we’re proud to be part of it.”
Through the center, Trinity students have been connected with fellowships and placement opportunities at local startups, where they can interact with the city’s tech leaders.
Those opportunities have led to a huge shift in the conversations and opportunities surrounding women in the tech industry. Events like “Momtrepreneur: Let's Talk About Motherhood & Entrepreneurship” and “Diversity Needs: Girls in STEM & Why it's so Important to You Legal Pitfalls to Avoid” will highlight women founders and members of the industry, at every point in their career journey.
“It’s extremely exciting,” Aramanda said. “I want our female students to know that they’re more than welcome here-- people are scooting over and we are making sure there’s room for them at the table.”
Visit sanantonio.startupweek.co to register for event sessions and reserve your free spot.
A similar event happening in a few weeks is San Antonio Entrepreneurship Week, produced by Launch SA, which highlights diverse entrepreneurs and businesses. The event includes six days of workshops, meet-ups and other opportunities to engage with the community.
The event, which also launched in 2016, will be held Nov. 12-17 and aims to showcase a broad scope of entrepreneurship and industry, rather than focus solely on tech.
“The magic difference is were broader and holistically not focused on downtown (San Antonio),” said Ryan Salts, Launch SA’s director of programming. “This is an opportunity for those who are not (located) downtown to connect with entrepreneurship resources, opportunities and information.”
Event organizers expect 1,000 registrants this year.