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Summer of Start-up

This weekend the Sloan class of 2010 graduates. And, the class of 2011 has dispersed across the globe for the summer. The MBA job outlook seems to be improved from years past, as I have yet to talk to a single ’11 that doesn’t have a summer internship. Most interns are in Boston, NYC, or the SF bay area and their roles cover the spectrum. McKinsey is the leading employer, with many other consulting, banking and tech companies hiring Sloan interns. Then there is the entrepreneurial crew. There are several ‘11s that are starting companies, and about 10% of graduates are starting-up! As for myself, I wasn’t quite ready to dive into starting a company, but I knew that I wanted to start-up in Austin, TX when the time is right. So I decided the best way was to get on the ground in the Austin entrepreneurial scene.

4th of July in Austin - Photo ©Trey Ratcliff 

Why Austin?  Well besides Austin being Kiplinger’s Best City for the Next Decade, being one of Fast Company’s Fast Cities for 2010, challenging Silicon Valley for Forbes’ Most Innovative City in America, being the Music Capital of the World, and being the future host of the Formula One US Grand Prix, it's a great place to start a company. A forward thinking population, a strong economy, and favorable tax laws make Austin a hidden entrepreneurial hotbed. But, diving into the Austin start-up scene can be a bit overwhelming: map of Austin entrepreneurship scene. So, where to begin?

Initially, I wanted to team up with a start-up and work with them for my b-school summer, but I’m fairly particular about what company I want to work for. Given my narrow focus, I wasn’t able to find a start-up that was a perfect fit. Next I considered working for a VC, so that I could benefit from the large volume of deal flow and see many start-up business plans. From my perspective, this wasn’t going to be hands on enough with the entrepreneurs. Given that I wanted to see a variety of companies and to have the opportunity to work directly with the entrepreneurs, the natural fit was with a start-up incubator. Incubators, or accelerators, host a select group of start-ups and provide office space, services, and mentoring to the companies. The start-ups also benefit by collaborating with each other and the increased access to funding that most incubators provide. A recent Wall Street Journal article explains the expansion of business incubator programs. Also, Inc Magazine published a cool infographic on incubators around the US.

Tomorrow, I will start my first day at the Austin Technology Incubator. I arranged a flexible schedule so that I can explore other opportunities in the Austin start-up scene, and, hopefully, get started on my own start-up. I’m excited to get started. Have a great summer!