Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Austin, TX

Austin Entrepreneural Ecosystem

Now more than ever, Austin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is thriving. It is frequently ranked by several outlets as among the best cities in the country to start a business.

Austin, TX, the country’s eleventh-largest city, is the capital of the Lone Star State. While the city is perhaps best known for its music and art scene, it also serves as one of the nation’s premier hubs for entrepreneurship and innovation. In fact, the area’s high density of technology companies has earned it the nickname Silicon Hills in addition to being called the Live Music Capital of the World. Austin rates highly on a number of entrepreneurial rankings. Most recently, it came in at number one overall on Inc.com’s Surge Cities Index, which lists the 50 best U.S. cities for starting a business in 2020. WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best large cities to start a business ranked Austin fourth overall, with the top ranking in the “Business Environment” category. Finally, Austin ranked third overall on Business.org’s list of the best cities for women to start a business in 2019.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Austin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Austin Entrepreneurs & Business Leaders meetup group hosts a variety of events to support the city’s entrepreneurs. For example, they have held networking opportunities, workshops and happy hours.

AUSOME hosts monthly meetings designed to teach entrepreneurs online marketing tips to increase their website’s traffic and sales.

The Austin Startup Founder Network aims to educate and support both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs in the technology sector.

Located in the Cedar Park suburb of Austin, W.O.M.E.N. Inspired Entrepreneurs is a community of women entrepreneurs that work to help one another grow their startups.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

1 Million Cups is an organization that hosts weekly meetings to allow entrepreneurs to present their startups, with meetings in Austin held every Wednesday.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of events to celebrate and support the city’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Since 2011, Austin Startup Week has been an annual five-day celebration of entrepreneurship. Typically, over 100 events are held during each year’s event.

Austin’s Small Business Program hosts regular events for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The meetings provide attendees with information and resources to help them grow their startups.


Startup Competitions:

Organized by the Austin Young Chamber, Austin Fast Start is a startup competition held quarterly. The competition is open to Austin-based businesses less than two years old.

The DisrupTexas Undergraduate Pitch Competition is open to undergraduate students across Texas. While competitors can be from anywhere, the competition is always held in Austin.

The University of Texas at Austin hosts an annual pitch competition for students of the university, but the finals take place at South by Southwest.

The [RE]verse Pitch Competition is a unique twist on traditional startup competitions. Instead of entrepreneurs pitching their startups, business owners “pitch” waste their companies generate. Entrepreneurs then generate business plans designed to re-purpose the waste in a sustainable way.

Student Startup Madness is a tournament-style competition for college students from around the nation. Similarly to PitchTexas, the finals are held every year at South by Southwest.

50 interactive technology companies from 10 categories compete in front of live audience and a panel of judges at South by Southwest. Because there are 10 categories, 10 total winners are selected.


Co-working Space:

In addition to business acceleration services, Capital Factory provides traditional hot seat co-working space as well as dedicated desks and offices.

Located in East Austin, Createscape offers a variety of membership plans and a number of amenities to its members. Most importantly, those amenities include high-speed internet as well as onsite food and grocery.

Duo Works is a co-working space that places an emphasis on working with small business owners, entrepreneurs and remote corporate employees.

Fibercove is a technology-focused co-working space that promises high-speed, reliable Internet connection as well as a full-service cafe/bar.

MELD Coworking aims to be the friendliest co-working space in Austin. They do so by creating an environment that can be equal parts productive and personal.

Located at the Center for Social Innovation, Relay Coworking provides desk and office space to entrepreneurs and organizations making a positive social change. In addition, the company offers conference rooms for rent.

Snacks, coffee on tap and tacos are among the amenities available at Vessel Coworking. The company also offers the opportunity to try the space for free for a day.



The ATX Hackerspace offers 8,000 square feet of work space to its members. The shop also provides tools and equipment to those working in the space.

MakeATX is a design and fabrication workshop as well as a custom laser cutting service. The group also  hosts classes about varying design topics.

Texas Inventionworks is a makerspace open to students and faculty of the University of Texas’ Cockrell School of Engineering.



ATI is an incubation program affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin open to university students and faculty, but also to others in the community.

EGBI provides training and coaching to entrepreneurs facing difficulty growing their businesses. The program focuses on Austin but includes other cities in Central Texas.

IncubatorCTX is a partnership between Concordia University and Tech Ranch, a startup accelerator. While it is affiliated with a university, the incubator is open to helping all startups grow and succeed.

Incubators vs. Accelerators: Which will best fit your needs?



Capital Factory’s accelerator program includes six free months in their co-working space, but also offers mentorship, networking and funding support.

DivInc is an accelerator that aims to create a more diverse technology ecosystem. To do so, they run a 12-week accelerator program for underrepresented entrepreneurs, including people of color and women.

Forty Acres Founders is a pre-accelerator program run by the University of Texas, but is only open to undergraduate students in the entrepreneurship program.

Consumer product startups can join the SKU accelerator, which runs for 12 weeks and connects entrepreneurs to industry leaders and helps them grow their companies.

An award-winning accelerator group, Tech Ranch runs a variety of entrepreneur development programs. Because of their wide scope, the programs are designed to meet the specific needs of startups at any stage.

Techstars is a company that runs accelerator programs in cities around the world with different focuses, but the three-month program in Austin is open to startups of all types.



Concordia University offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship to its students in addition to an incubator program for the community as a whole.

Students at St. Edward’s University can major or minor in entrepreneurship. Additionally, the university offers several support resources for entrepreneurs outside of the classroom.

The University of Texas’ Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship is one of the highest-ranked entrepreneurship programs in the country because of its wide variety of support resources for student entrepreneurs.


Angel Groups/VCs:

ATX Venture Partners invests throughout the entire South-Central United States, but places a focus on early-stage software and technology startups.

The Central Texas Angel Network is one of the most active angel networks in the entire country. The angels invest in high-growth startups from around the United States, but they focus on Texas and Austin.

The Digitech Venture Capital Fund aims to invest in early-stage and seed-stage technology startups. Specifically, the company focuses on the software, healthcare, data analytics and cyber security industries.

The goal of LiveOak Venture Partners is to invest in promising technology companies based in Texas. While the company normally invests early, it is open to invest in some later-stage companies.

Since 2007, S3 Ventures has invested in the business technology, consumer digital experiences and healthcare technology sectors. Additionally, any returns on investments are put into a foundation that focuses on social causes.

Silverton Partners invests in early-stage startups with potential for high growth. The company invests in startups in any sector or location, but has a bias towards companies in Austin.

The goal of the Southwest Angel Network is to invest in early-stage companies that work towards positive social change. For example, SAN would invest in companies working with clean energy or addressing social inequalities.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Austin American-Statesman is the city’s daily newspaper. The paper offers a wide variety of newsletters, including one focusing on the technology scene in the area.

The Austin Business Journal covers important business news in the city and surrounding areas. The newsletters focus on specific business events taking place in the area.

Silicon Hills News covers technology news from the “Silicon Hills” region of Austin and San Antonio, and offers a newsletter with the biggest headlines.

Startup Digest is a company that works with local curators to create city-specific entrepreneurship newsletters. One of those cities is Austin, which offers Startup Digest newsletters on a weekly basis.

The Texas-Squared Newsletter is a weekly roundup of startup news, events and opinions from around the state of Texas.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Austin not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Chattanooga, TennesseeGreensboro, North CarolinaMemphis, TN

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.