Preaching the Texas Startup Manifesto at SXSW

Joshua Baer, founder of Capital Factory is bullish on Texas.

He wrote the Texas Startup Manifesto last year and has worked diligently since then to bring Texas’ major cities together: Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas.

The goal is to create a statewide strong and supportive ecosystem for startup companies and entrepreneurs looking to create the next Whole Foods or Dell Technologies.

On Friday, Baer took his presentation to the stage at South by Southwest and presented a slideshow and talk on why Texas is the nation’s second-largest economy, behind California, and it’s growing stronger every year.

Texas also shows no signs of slowing down, Baer said.

Baer moved to Austin in 1999 and worked at Trilogy Software. He has founded several startups and is an active angel investor and founder of Capital Factory, which is a technology accelerator, incubator and coworking space.

Capital Factory in Austin is the “center of gravity for entrepreneurs,” Baer said. It brings together entrepreneurs, startups, capital, mentors and other resources. Capital Factory has more than 150 mentors that donate their expertise to helping others through regular office hours.

Every day, there are a dozen different mentors doing office hours at Capital Factory to help people, Baer said.

The Kauffman Foundation consistently ranks Texas number one or number two for startup activity along with California, Baer said.

Austin, the 11th largest city in the country, gets the most attention in Texas as a hub for technology startups, Baer said. It’s also one of the fastest growing cities in the country, he said. The assets here make it a great startup community like the University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School, SXSW, Vista Equity Partners, and it’s home to big offices for Google, Microsoft, Dell, Facebook, Apple and others. It is also home to Dell Technologies and Whole Foods.

Texas has four of the largest cities in the country and four of the top startup hubs, according to a recent Kauffman Foundation study. The state has 50 Fortune 500 companies and lots of room to expand and grow, Baer said.

“Dell really helped establish the tech community here,” Baer said. It was started by Michael Dell in a dorm room at UT more than 30 years ago and has made a huge impact on Austin and the world, he said.

Other great Austin success stories include HomeAway, which sold to Expedia for $4.5 billion and Indeed.com, which sold to Recruit, a Japanese-based company for a rumored $1 billion. And most recently, WP Engine, founded in 2011, recently raised $250 million from Silver Lake Ventures to take the company to the next level, Baer said.

Overall, Texas’ economy shows no signs of slowing down, Baer said. In fact, Austin and Dallas are both on the list of the top 20 finalists being considered for Amazon’s HQ2, Baer said.

Texas is getting more transportation operations to travel among the major cities by car, bus or plane. And there’s a high-speed rail going in between Dallas and Houston, Baer said. Texas is one of the top places for the first hyperloop to go.

“It’s going to get easier and easier to get around Texas,” he said.

The biggest complaint in Austin and every other place that isn’t Silicon Valley is the need for more investor dollars, Baer said.

“Funding is the trailing indicator, not the leading indicator,” Baer said.

“People are the leading indicator,” he said.

A lot of people are moving here and that’s why there are so many startups here, Baer said.

“The companies have to go where the talent is,” he said.

A huge opportunity is to the unlock the money that is in Texas, Baer said.

Capital Factory has been taking monthly busloads of Austin entrepreneurs to Dallas, Houston and San Antonio to make connections between those communities, he said. Capital Factory has also partnered with each of those cities to give a $100,000 startup grant to an entrepreneur in each of those communities.

“It’s about connecting people together,” Baer said. Capital Factory does that online, through Union, a platform for entrepreneurs, and in person through the bus trips and other events.

Baer also showed Dell’s “Beginnings” ad during his talk, which shows the power of startups and their ability to change the world.

Dell Beginnings from Young & Rubicam Group on Vimeo.

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