Interact ATX wants to attract the best and brightest young startup minds to join them at South by Southwest Interactive next year.
The group, started by Maran Nelson, a senior majoring in psychology and advertising at the University of Texas, seeks to bring about 100 young entrepreneurs from all over the country to Austin this spring.
“Essentially the premise is we’re getting sponsorships to make SXSW accessible to the brightest young minds in startups today,” Nelson said.
Interact ATX just launched its website seeking applications and has already received dozens just by word of mouth advertising, Nelson said. One of the applicants includes a fellow in Peter Thiel’s 20 under 20 fellowship program. Thiel, a co-founder of Paypal, launched the program in 2011 to give some of the brightest kids under 20 a $100,000 grant and the opportunity to work on a project instead of going to college.
Nelson wants to do the same for young entrepreneurs who want to go to SXSW but cannot afford to do so on their own. She has also set up special meetings and networking opportunities for the group while they are here. And she is arranging for free housing (a couch or spare bed in someone’s home) for them during their stay.
Nelson expects to receive 500 or more applications. She’s working with 30 schools around the country and reaching out to the people on their campuses involved in entrepreneurial activities. But she’s not restricting the applicants to just college students. She wants anyone who is under 30 and has a great idea to apply.
Nelson has always had an entrepreneurial inclination. She worked with CampusCred, a Y Combinator Startup which shut down recently.
“SXSW has a ton to offer to startups,” Nelson said. “I’m really excited about being able to give people a leg up and provide them with resources they don’t have.”