Austin Co-Founders Meetup Connects Startups with Key Resources

By L.A. LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News

Graeme Cloughley, founder of Rawtrax.co, shows off the company’s app

After walking into a club during SXSW in Austin a year ago and listening to a great band, Graeme Cloughley got inspired to create his music/tech startup.
Cloughley, who worked for National Instruments, and a friend who was also an engineer, heard the Shanghai band, Duck Fight Goose. Cloughley wanted to immediately capture and download track number three in the set. He mentioned that to his friend and his friend said “so go make it happen.”
“Ok, I’m going to do this,” Cloughley said. As a result, he founded Rawtrax.co, which allows bands to capture and immediately sell live performance songs and other merchandise to fans.
Cloughley attended the Austin Co-Founders Meetup Monday night at HomeAway’s headquarters in downtown Austin. He wasn’t one of the 12 startups pitching his company that night, but he was there to learn from other entrepreneurs.
About 90 people signed up to attend the monthly Austin Co-Founders Meetup, which Ricardo Sanchez started in December of 2010. The meetup is fashioned after a similar group in Silicon Valley. Its focus is to give early-stage entrepreneurs a platform to pitch their companies. They each had four minutes and no more than four slides to present. Some of them are looking for co-founders, others want employees with specific skills and some want to raise money. The startups pitching included Spout Software, Taskbox, VoxGift.com, RollyPolly.com and PitchDeals.com.
Cloughley had attended the San Francisco Music Summit earlier in the year. What he likes about the Austin startup scene is the ability to talk to people, he said. In Austin, everyone wants to help each other out, he said.

Ricardo Sanchez, creator of Austin Co-Founders Meetup

That’s one of the reasons Sanchez created the event.
“Quite a few companies found cofounders, developers, designers and other key employees to take them to that next level at the meetup,” Sanchez said.
He charges $10 a ticket and provides beer, food and hosts the event. It sells out nearly every time. He plans to start curating all the pitches and content from the event at a new site: ATXCoFounders. A group from San Antonio including Michael Girdley, entrepreneur and investor, Cole Wollak, entrepreneur and Geekdom community manager and Richard Ortega, one of Grapevine’s founders, made the trip to the event.
“I think I’ve been to every single one of these from the beginning,” said Sherry Lowry, a serial entrepreneur. “A big part of the experience is the camaraderie and community building.”
Sanchez has a full time job at HomeAway and he’s got a few startups on the side, Lowry said.
“It’s been a labor of love for him,” she said. “Every single one attracts a big crowd. The caliber of those attending has always been high quality.”
Drew Arnold, founder of Local Methods, which runs KeepAustinLocal.com, an e-commerce site, and CheckOutAustin.com, a local ad network, pitched his company at the event.
“We’re looking for designers,” Arnold said. “We met quite a few people here. This has been a good experience.”

Greg Russell marketing his new site, FindCarlos at Austin Co-Founders Meetup

Greg Russell, a former community reporter in Cedar Park, had the best marketing gimmick in the room. He carried a life-sized plastic baby decked out in sunglasses. He didn’t pitch, but he attracted a lot of attention. The baby markets a new website, FindCarlos.
“It’s a game to learn about the city,” Russell said.
For each contest, the site supports a specific cause, Russell said.
“The baby is a social experiment,” he said. “It’s a way to get people’s attention to learn about the site.”
Bruce Gardner founded Spout Software, which he calls Garageband for the Cloud. He delivered a four-minute pitch at the event to find Javascript and HTML 5 programmers. He’s bootstrapped the venture to date and has 10 employees. It’s a subscription-based site that allows musicians to collaborate online from anywhere. Last week, he pitched before the Central Texas Angel Network in hopes of landing some seed-stage funding.
“When I go to these things in Austin, they are consistently great,” Gardner said. “There are just so many resources for startups in this city. And the music and technology startups in Austin make total sense.”

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