Mobile and the Austin Chamber

mobileTech Tuesday, by Steve Guengerich

Tech start-ups, at least in my experience, have a notoriously conflicted relationship with traditional business networking groups, like our city’s Chamber of Commerce.

The conflict comes because, on the surface, what each needs from the other is hard to come by. The Chamber needs financial support (membership fees, etc.) and volunteer time – both of which start-ups can ill afford.

Conversely, the tech start-up needs targeted access to early adopter customers and very specific, often highly skilled and experienced, people – neither of which is really the Chamber’s core business per se’.

However, the nurturing of a local/regional ecosystem that accommodates the needs of both can be highly mutually beneficial. And in that regard, I have to hand it to the Greater Austin Chamber’s Technology Partnership as it works to foster such an ecosystem.

Led by Susan Davenport, the Technology Partnership is a virtual organization started a bit over a year ago by the Chamber to develop a strong vision and strategy for our technology sector.

A central understanding by the Technology Partnership is that the Austin tech economy has shifted away from a manufacturing core towards that of a technology innovation sector.

In the Technology Partnership’s words “the implications for this shift affect every aspect of the known factors contributing to high-tech business location decisions, including but not limited to the following:

  • Access to Capital
  • Support for Entrepreneurial Development
  • Quality of Place
  • Established Technology Infrastructure
  • Educated and Talented Workforce
  • Presence and Accessibility of Research Institutions
  • State and Local Commitment/Supportive Policies”

To ensure that the Chamber’s efforts are appropriately directed to address these factors, the Technology Partnership has formed several special interest groups (or SIGs) for areas like Life Sciences, Gaming and Mobile, among others.

Since early this year, a number of founding execs from various mobile companies in Austin have met together, with Chamber reps, to talk about our position on the priority of these factors, as well as our companies’ individual needs. To their credit, the Chamber hasn’t placed a “must be a paying member of the Chamber to participate” roadblock to the mobile start-ups that have attended these meetings.

The dialog and networking has been great. At the very least, it has provided a constructive forum where, in my view, smaller companies that have struggled for attention from the traditional business establishment are able to share more about their hopes for their companies and our city. And, in that way, it’s an effort that has already generated a nice ROI.

If you’d like to know more about the Mobile SIG or the other Technology Partnership components, Aisha Javed has been a contact for meetings and information.

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  1. Excellent post Steve.

    Following Steve’s posting, Iwanted to invite anyone who reads this from within the mobile technology community to please contact me or Aisha about getting involved. We have a great foundation of early members for the mobile SIG an welcome other executives and founders from around Austin to come see what we are doing in partnership with the Austin Chamber team to further establish Austin as an international leader in mobile technology innovation.


    Rick Orr
    Austin Chamber of Commerce Mobile SIG Chair

    CEO & Co-Founder

  2. Thanks Rick, you’ve been a rock since the beginning, providing steady leadership as the volunteer chair for the SIG, which is very hard to do as founder and head advocate of TabbedOut.

    Also, for anyone looking for a single view of the mobile ecosystem in Austin, please take a look at the We consolidated work done by MobileMonday Austin, the Chamber’s Wireless/Mobile directory, and editorial team.

  3. Great post…