From March 8th to March 17th the New York tech community convened in Austin, Texas to celebrate South by Southwest. SXSW is a set of film, technology and music festivals which first started in the mid 80’s. Most recently, SXSW interactive has become a testing ground for New York start-ups eager to interact with influential early adopters. Tech entrepreneurs use the forum to network, recruit and pitch investors from across the country. In 2009, Foursquare used SXSW as its platform to launch from and two years before that Twitter gained a lot of buzz at the event and eventually became the media mainstay it is today.
Scott Carleton used SXSW to pitch his new start up, Artsicle, as the “Netflix of fine art”. Carleton, a former nuclear engineer, had the idea of Artsicle when his girlfriend wasn’t able to buy a painting from a SoHo gallery due to multiple restrictions. Artsicle allows subscribers to rent work from the site’s portfolio for $50 a month. If they like a certain piece of art than they can keep it for the purchase price or swap it out next month.
Another New York company that made moves in Austin included SecondMarket which is a financial services company that handled $10 Billion in transactions last year. SecondMarket’s executives used the event to show off the new private-stock sales platform, which connects deep-pocketed buyers with equity holders. Austin has seen its fair share of consumer web companies from New York launch there. Imup 4 (a planning tool for group outings), Dealery (daily-deals aggregator), and Pixable (Facebook photo sharing) have all used SXSW as its launching pad.
I love Austin. I went to Houston for a wedding a couple years ago and made a point of making a detour to Texas’ capital. It is a very unique city and recently has become a breeding ground for startups due to its low cost of living. My friend actually launched a start up there called Mytennislessons.com, check it out!