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Austin Startup Week is a series of events like no other. Aimed at jump-starting Austin’s entrepreneurial spirit, Austin Startup Week features dozens of panel discussions, job fairs, networking events, educational opportunities, and lots of time to learn about new companies, products, and services coming online in the local scene.

That’s a LOT to take in over the course of a single week, which we discovered rather quickly. Still, quite a few things stuck out this year and we’d be remiss if these perks weren’t shared with the world. So with no further ado, here’s the 10 things we loved the most about Austin Startup Week 2015.

10.) Free coworking at Capital Factory

During Austin Startup Week, Capital Factory — one of this city’s centers of gravity for entrepreneurs — opens its doors to anyone who wants to come by and hang out. You don’t need to do anything specific. It’s “free coworking,” which means you can come in with a computer, sit down, log on to their wifi, and get to work. They normally charge $150 a month to access their coworking space just three days a week, so this is a great deal. Add the numerous founders, investors, and business mentors available to those who walk through Capital Factory’s doors and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for startup soup.

9.) Free professional headshots for entrepreneurs

Another great inducement to check out the action during Austin Startup Week are the free professional headshots. Capital Factory partnered with Kandid.ly — sort of like an Uber for photographers — to provide high-quality pics to this year’s attendees. That’s a good thing too, because many entrepreneurs don’t realize the importance of putting your best foot forward even on personal accounts. They even have a “fun booth,” which is entirely too amusing. So, put the selfie stick down. Capital Factory and Kandid.ly have your back, Austin!

8.) Two words: Geek bands

The Austin Startup Crawl isn’t just about business. And while there’s some serious talent on display, it’s not all tech or marketing related. Enter the Austin Technology Council and their most epic geek bands for the ATC Battle of the Tech Bands, a highly anticipated annual throwdown between musically gifted Austin startup employee bands. The battle is a lot of fun and a great way to kick off the week on a high note (no pun intended). Above, check out the clip of Bazaarvoice‘s band FEEDBACK performing in last year’s battle.

7.) The new job opportunities are EVERYWHERE

Photo: Flickr user Tax Credits, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Tax Credits, creative commons licensed.

You don’t have to be a founder, executive, or investor to appreciate Austin Startup Week. Just mixing with this scene will boost your chances of satisfying employment tenfold. Opportunities are around every corner and behind every handshake. Nowhere is that more clear than the Austin Startup Week’s job fair, hosted by Built In Austin, one of this city’s other centers of gravity for entrepreneurs and startup workers.

6.) Educational opportunities abound

<I>Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/derek_b/3046770021/in/photolist-5DeuzB-8JkcMH-5CCQse-4cqfT-6nCmik-rphyCW-i6cpkf-5huQJc-6S4XJJ-9grzfE-56eXRT-bTQwfx-7VhPft-cDeCGs-bEVLmG-7Er6af-azGM3y-6Vmcpf-7LXgpi-7kZ57d-5uCCw4-4vz7rG-ediLaQ-KGgU8-5JE9tz-iXRZgo-5UnDmk-bP1BNF-8qQBZ9-bTQwf4-sQzvg-hcEYDX-9SScHJ-9v3xhu-bEVLmS-wRSNhj-do8Bez-5Ttgxf-do8JVU-nzxidV-snRpm3-sq7yhn-7Co7Fm-xsZh8-oqtM3G-gVnZQ2-hnZzLf-v2Ze9e-do8JT3-6CrL7s" target="_blank">Flickr user Derek Bridges</a>, creative commons licensed.</I>

Photo: Flickr user Derek Bridges, creative commons licensed.

Don’t just tell yourself that your dream company doesn’t exist. If you can’t find it, create it! The numerous panel discussions during Austin Startup Week are a great place to begin your journey. From investing to selling to coding, and even dealing with failure, there are founders and mentors who have been where you want to go and they’re ready to help. These people are all normally accessible through incubators like Capital Factory or Techstars, but Startup Week is when they are open to the public and dispensing valuable advice to anyone who has the courage to ask — free of charge!

5.) Invaluable global perspectives

<i>Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/azrainman/1003163361/" target="_blank">Flickr user Mark Rain</a>, creative commons licensed.</I>

Photo: Flickr user Mark Rain, creative commons licensed.

This year, Austin Startup Week wasn’t just about Austin. For the first time in the event’s 5-year history, over 20 foreign groups participated in 2015. Capital Factory also buys tickets for 15 students and tech workers from around the world and flies them into town for their events. Even the Australian Trade Commission showed up this year, government workers and numerous tech companies in tow. If you or your company have aspirations beyond Austin’s city limits, these are the people you need to know.

4.) All the crazy, innovative ideas on display

Need to know the latest in bizdev best practices? Looking to brush up on your coding skills? Or maybe you just need some outside-the-box thinking to refresh your imagination? Austin Startup Week is where you need to be. This year, more than 45 local companies stepped up, including Indeed.com, Austin.com’s host WP Engine, and storage-finder Sparefoot, to name just a few. One of them — Big Commerce — even brought a robot out to play, and that’s just the start.

3.) Knowing that failure isn’t the end

<I>Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/86530412@N02/8226451812/in/photolist-dwWHw5-9qExkL-9jtcWA-xfFMSS-fJFVeE-nS675K-6S8jo9-6bKGE9-aoWxVG-FDWDs-7axGNN-9jqbQZ-4tCE16-igoPpc-yDZq6-s76tuX-9mQt6W-fJFUWS-fJpnTV-fJpnNK-2Tz4Z9-9jtgc9-9iMybX-9jqaUa-9Aoswy-9mMkVB-fJFV8o-8j1HQ7-yDZrq-yDZoo-ogZXX-L7Dj6-obkSfD-cBdvPJ-7vR5pH-5YLwJ8-4tCELz-9jq8gk-9mwWR3-9vs5dY-56xtz1-rsTCML-rdB2PC-rbDz9v-rbDz38-4DhmZz-sq3E7r-snMkyb-aRv9fK-e7UAuF" target="_blank">Flickr user Chris Potter</a>, creative commons licensed.</I>

Photo: Flickr user Chris Potter, creative commons licensed.

To say that Fuckup Night is one of the highlights of Austin Startup Week would be an understatement. Part of a global movement to publicly share business failure stories, this event gives everyone a chance to let their hair down and commiserate instead of trying to keep up appearances. Instead of boasting about your accomplishments, this is a chance to boast about how much you learned from failure — while learning from the failure of others, too. What NOT to do can be the most valuable thing to learn all week.

2.) The Startup Crawl

 


One of the last events during Austin Startup Week, the crawl, involves dozens of companies opening their doors to attendees for drinks, music, networking, and whatever. If a full week of education and opportunity wasn’t enough for you, these startups are even accepting job applications during the crawl. So not only can you find a great job — you might even get drunk with your new coworkers before the offer is made. Good times all around! There’s a reason why they follow this event up with a “hangover” breakfast.

1.) Watching people quit their day jobs

<I>Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/24051087@N08/2281414800/" target="_blank">Flickr user Rocketace</a>, creative commons licensed.</I>

Photo: Flickr user Rocketace, creative commons licensed.

The image above is a very dramatic representation of quitting, but this is what Austin Startup Week is all about. Our city is ranked one of the best places in the world to start a career or launch a business, particularly for younger people, and Austin Startup Week is the top-tier showcase for those who’ve made the leap. Gaining your independence from a long-held, dreary day job is a moment most will never forget. But transitioning into a rewarding, ever-changing, leadership role in your own company is much more than a moment: It’s a new life entirely.

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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