There’s a new city on the block that’s fast positioning itself as Silicon Valley 2.0. Austin, Texas, is the tech community’s latest destination of choice. Over the last decade, it has become home to a lively community of both large companies and fledgling start-ups arriving in their droves from California, New York, and further afield.
Austin’s lack of a personal income tax, teamed with relatively low housing costs, high salaries and a thriving creative environment are sealing the deal for hundreds of savvy entrepreneurs, who are flocking to the city to hatch their next ideas.
Today, more than 250 entrepreneurs representing 100 startups are headquartered near downtown Austin, and that number is only set to grow. The Austin Technology Council states that one third of the city’s jobs are tech-related, and predicts that 11,754 new tech jobs will be added to the mix over the next five years. Established blue chips – including Apple, Microsoft, Flextronics and Samsung – have offices there, collectively employing more than 2,000 people in the city – so it’s no wonder that Forbes magazine recently ranked Austin as the top city for technology job creation.
Other major players making roots in the city include Google and Facebook, while homegrown company Dell remains the region’s largest employer, counting 120,000 employees last year.
Tech companies to watch
Main Street Hub
A marketing platform that combines social media, customer reviews, mobile and email marketing to help grow SMEs. 720 Brazos St #1100, Austin, TX 78701
Partnering with 600+ customers in 84 countries, it delivers more than 1bn brand connections, powering social marketing. 200 W Cesar Chavez Ste 600 Austin TX 78704
Partners with higher education leaders to bring together new technology, design thinking and data to help 1m more students each year learn well. 100 Congress, Austin, TX 78701
As well as playing host to technology’s business giants, Austin is also home to a burgeoning ecosystem of forward-thinking startups spanning across numerous industry sectors, from DIY marketings(OutboundEngine) to social commerce (Bazaarvoice) and gaming (GameSalad). It continues to draw in the crowds not only because of its buzzing community of SMEs, which gives tech entrepreneurs an easy way of networking to find collaborators and connections, but also thanks to the city’s unique personality, which offers visitors a wealth of cultural experiences to discover.
Business or pleasure?
There was a time when a business traveller couldn’t marry business with pleasure without getting into trouble with their boss, but thankfully those days are long gone. According to a report by Bridge Street Global Hospitality, 46% of business travellers add personal days to every or most trips. A visit to Austin offers business travellers the perfect combination of business and pleasure, where a day of attending tech conferences can be rewarded with a dose of culture, followed by some downtime in the city’s teeming bars.
Austin boasts an eclectic array of cultural fixtures: many will associate the city with South by Southwest festival, which welcomed 84,385 visitors last year thanks to its dynamic lineup of new music, film and interactive conferences. Indeed, the city boasts a rich musical legacy: there’s Stevie Ray Vaughan, influential blues musician, who is honoured by a bronze statue overlooking Lady Bird Lake, while all over the city, live music venues brim with bands touting their craft. Stubb’s BBQ – located in the entertainment district of Red River Street – has hosted everyone from Beck to Lily Allen, all while serving up Austin’s signature barbecue cuisine.
Have your fill
Austin’s booming food scene reflects the city’s naturally entrepreneurial spirit; it’s a hotbed for food and drink pioneers. While you can’t go wrong with a good-old fashioned Texan barbecue (the locals’ firm favourite is Franklin’s), the city’s large student population has given rise to more affordable options, like the colourful street-food trucks that dot across the neighbourhoods, serving up everything from breakfast tacos to donut burgers. If you’re on the hunt for a delicacy of the unique variety, head over to the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in downtown, where you can chow down on rattlesnake sausage. If you’re brave enough, that is…
BA On Business programme
Whether you’re part of a skeleton startup, thriving SME or estabished corporate company, as a member of British Airways’ On Business programme, you and your team will have access to exclusive member-only rewards and discounts, so you can make the most of your business travel budget. Last year, BA saved its members £34million through reward flights. Which means they’ll be plenty more money to spend on important things like this year’s office Christmas party. Sign up at ba.com/onbusiness
If you’re interested in soaking up some Texan history and culture, the city's galleries and museums await. Spend a morning at Yard Dog Art, a gallery space and store in the heart of the eclectic SoCo neighbourhood that sells kitsch prints designed by the likes of former keyboardist Ian McLagan; or wander over to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum to hear wild stories of cowboys, Indians, ranchers and oil barons that make up a large part of Austin’s history.
For the born adventurers among you, get your muscles working with a day of kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding on Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, then as dusk falls, catch a boat to Austin’s Congress Bridge, which is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America – about 1.5 million Mexican free tail bats migrate there in springtime. As the sun sets, the bats start their evening flight to hunt for food, leaving you with a stunning spectacle as the sky fills with them.
It’s a unique sight from a city that’s full of them. It’s time to extend that business trip…
British Airways is the only airline to fly direct to Austin, Texas, every day from London Heathrow. For more info, visit ba.com
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