It’s an exciting time to be in Austin, Texas. From new developments, relatively low costs of living, and plenty of top talent around, there is a lot to be optimistic about—oh, and did we mention the amazing weather?
The city was recently ranked No.1 in the CNBC Metro 20: America’s Best Places to Start a Business. In addition, the American City Business Journal recognized Austin’s healthy ecosystem as a great place for entrepreneurs in its Small Business Vitality Rankings.
Despite the rapid pace of change over the past few years, it’s the sense of community in Austin’s DNA that sets it apart from other up-and-coming cities. “Keep Austin Weird” is not only a motto adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote independent businesses, but also a maxim which speaks to the pride locals take in supporting the entrepreneurs who make Austin so unique.
Having said that, what does the landscape look like for women entrepreneurs? Whether you are a current or aspiring business owner, we pulled together a snapshot of resources for our Austin-based women to leverage. From non-profit organizations dedicated to women in tech to casual lunch-and-learns, there are increasing opportunities for aspiring business owners in this bustling hub.
City Government & Nonprofit Resources
BiGAUSTIN is a go-to resource for entrepreneurial education, business counseling, and flexible financing. As a leading small business development resource, the organization is available to help local businesses through the entire process—from ideation to execution. Home to the Women’s Business Center, the organization provides the necessary tools to help women entrepreneurs grow their business, including (but not limited to) services such as one-on-one counseling and networking opportunities. To take advantage of these sessions, book an appointment from 8:30AM-5:30PM Monday-Friday at 512-928-8010 or email [email protected].
- Women Chamber of Commerce
Founded in the late 1980s, The Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas was built by a group of “farsighted women who envisioned a business organization focused on economic empowerment for women.” After searching for models across the nation, the founders decided to break ground on their own. As a result, the Chamber has fostered a community of leaders over the past two decades dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs. An annual membership grants access to Chamber events, networking, and professional development opportunities.
Network & Membership Organizations
- Women @ Austin
Created in Fall of 2013 by some of Austin’s most experienced businesswomen and entrepreneurs, Women @ Austin has grown into a hub for women to access mentors, role models, and networks critical for business success. This organization is driven by its mission of advancing female business owners through coaching, networking, and access to capital. Join to attend Peer Rountables, sessions focused on a specific topic of interest or skill (previous examples include “How to create compelling messages that generate demand” and “Investor Pitch Bootcamp: How to build a great pitch”).
- Young Women’s Alliance (YWA)
Contrary to what its name may suggest, there is no age bracket for membership in the Young Women’s Alliance. With a special focus on young professionals, the alliance has empowered members for over 20 years to through educational programs, community involvement opportunities, and events. What sets YWA apart is that all members are encouraged to volunteer, “emphasizing our belief that strong leaders are created not only through success in their careers, but by giving back to the community that helped them thrive.” One such organization is a non-profit partner, Girls Empowerment Network.
- Austin Women in Technology (AWT)
From Fireside Chats and Speed Mentoring, to Woman2Woman Brown Bag lunches, Austin Women in Technology is a space cultivated for women interested in technology to connect and grow as leaders. At a local level, AWT brings women in Austin together to “work side-by-side” with one another.
- Million Women Mentors (MWM)
Million Women Mentors highlights the importance of mentorship among women in STEM fields. Through partnering with organizations like 4H, Girl Scouts, TechBridge, and Lean In, MWM is committed to pairing one-million mentors with one-million women. According to their website, around 170,000 professionals have taken the mentorship pledge. For our women in Austin, apply to be a mentor today!
- Texas Women in Business
With their three pillars of “education, social meet-ups, and philanthropy,” Texas Women in Business provides members with resources and opportunities to achieve their professional and personal goals. From luncheons to charity events, this network focuses on bringing women together. Check out their various events which are open to members and guests alike.
Accelerators and Incubators
- Mission Capital (Mission Accelerator)
Deemed as the “go-to” resource for non-profits in Austin, Mission Capital supports local entrepreneurs through professional development workshops and membership programs. Their mission? To “multiply the impact of mission-driven people and organizations” in order to solve complex community problems. Mission Accelerator is their accelerator program designed to fast-track the growth of nonprofits in the community. Accelerator participants have the opportunity to “engage in group classes and receive one-on-one guidance from nonprofit consultants and some of Austin’s most successful business leaders and social entrepreneurs.” Upon completion, participants will leave with a business growth plan in hand and a solid case to pursue further funding.
- Capital Factory
Known as “Austin’s entrepreneurial center of gravity,” Capital Factory is part incubator/ accelerator, part co-working space, and part educational resource. With a focus on helping startups become profitable with less than $1 million in funding, some notable local stars include Pingboard, Instacart and HomeAway. You’ll need to apply for membership through an AngelList profile— or simply stop by Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at 4PM, no appointment needed.
Known as one of the top startup accelerators in the country, Austin is one of eight lucky cities where Techstars operates. In exchange for seven to ten percent equity, Austin-based members can enjoy networking opportunities, mentoring, and ~$100,000 in seed funding. Unsure of Techstars’ track record? According to Build In Austin’s article “Finding your match: 6 Austin incubators and accelerators to stimulate your startup” 88 percent of Techstars’ startups are still active or have been acquired, and its 2014 summer class in Austin received an average of $1.9M in funding. Not bad if you ask us.
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Meetups, Events & Conferences
- Global Women Entrepreneur Network (GWEN), Austin chapter
Calling all globally-minded women! The Global Women Entrepreneur Network is a Meetup group for women interested in international issues, business, and more. Meeting once a month over lunch at local restaurants, it’s a fun way to meet other entrepreneurs in the area (and try a new international cuisine!).
- The Texas Conference for Women
Held on November 2 of this year, The Texas Conference for Women “provides connection, motivation, networking, inspiration and skill building”. The agenda features roundtables as well as a variety of breakout sessions, and previous speakers have included successful women from a variety of fields, including a former member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Abby Wambach and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.
- South By Southwest (SXSW)
While the 2017 South by Southwest Conference might be over, mark your calendars: March 9-18 is when SXSW will be returning in 2018. Dedicated to helping creative people achieve their goals, SXSW features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking opportunities. 2017 sessions geared towards women entrepreneurs include: “A League of Their Own: Success as a Female Entrepreneur” and “Hear Her Voice: The New Age of Female Entrepreneur“.
- Feminist Hack ATX
These women are taking to social media to address gender inequality within the STEM space. Don’t belong to a certain niche within the Austin startup space? No worries. Feminist Hack ATX is open to “anyone who’s interested in feminism or supporting women in the Austin tech and startup scene.
If you’re a lady Python enthusiasts—at any experience level—PyLadiesATX is for you. The group offers everything from study sessions to monthly hacknights. Hone your programming skills surrounded by “Pythonistas” of all different backgrounds—whether you’re a full-time developer or hobbyist, you’re invited.
- Ladies That UX (LTUX-ATX)
Ladies That UX is geared towards women in usability and user interface design. LTUX-ATX host Meetups the second Wednesday of every month, and use the gatherings to increase collaborations and develop women leaders within the Austin UX community.
- ChickTech Austin
ChickTech concentrates on “retaining women in the technology workforce and increasing the number of women and girls pursuing technology-based careers”. The Austin chapter offers opportunities for women to volunteer at a variety of hands-on technology-centric events.
- Women Who Code Austin
- Girl Develop It
Financing and Legal
- Bond Street
Whether you are opening a new store, scaling up, or investing in new technology, Bond Street’s term loans (of up to $1 million) are a great resource for small businesses who have at least two years under their belt.
- True Wealth VC
If you’re in the field of consumer health, technologies or sustainable products, True Wealth Ventures could be the solution to your funding needs. The firm invests in women-led companies that are based in Texas, and focuses on “large, high-growth, acquisitive markets, where women are the primary customer”.
- Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas
The Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas is a must-have contact for women entrepreneurs in search of a lawyer or legal support. Whether you’re looking for small filings or inquiring about legal logistics, referral counselors will point you in the right direction or refer you directly to a lawyer that will suit your needs.
- Austin CPA Finder
Similarly to the Lawyer Referral Service, the Austin CPA Finder is your best friend when it comes to all things accounting-related. Refine your search by services and location or contact their offices for a CPA 101 crash course to get you started.
Publications & Media
- Austin Woman
Austin Woman is the leading voice in women-centric content in the area. With a target demographic of professional women, each issue dives into how women can further drive success in their personal and professional lives. Their aim to “give women a voice in the conversation of living a good and more fulfilling life in Austin, Texas” could not be more relevant for our women entrepreneurs.
- Built in Austin
Head to Built In Austin for all things related to Austin’s robust startup scene. In particular, check out their Women in Austin Tech section for highlights on how “women are leaving their mark on the Austin tech scene.”