One of the advantages of being in school is the diverse experiences I get exposed to everyday. Take Thursday, October 27, for example.
In the morning, we went to the Austin Startup Trek. It was a chance to go visit HomeAway and Bazaarvoice.We got to school early and bright and then took the bus to Homeaway. The office was amazing!. It was decorated with many mini home models decorated in many different ways as well a snow globe collection from across the world. We got to tour the office and the most impressive part was the roof patio. We also got to talk with Carl Shepherd who told us the story of Homeaway’s growth as well as answered our questions.
The next stop was Bazaarvoice. It is one of the faster growing Austin startups that works with user generated content and analyzes it to provide customer insights. We got a quick tour and conversed with the recruiting team there. We were also fortunate enough to get one-on-one time with Mark Piening, the VP of Business Development.
After the company visits, we returned to the AT&T Conference Center for the Texas Venture Labs (TVL) Expo. This was a showcase for the Office of Technology Commercialization and the TVL deals. The entrepreneurs discussed what they were working on and how the TVL members helped them solve the problems that they faced. TVL was one of the reason I came to McCombs and I am excited to be a part of the TVL class for Spring 2012. It will be a great experience to understand startups and address their issues. The expo was a showcase for the entrepreneurs as much as it was for the TVL. The hard work and the bright minds put together created some great startups like Ordoro, Zilker Motors, Vocal Media etc.
The same evening we got a chance to hear Gary Kelly, CEO and Chairman, Southwest Airlines. The event was hosted by Dean Thomas Gilligan. One of the things that really stuck by me was how Mr. Kelly acknowledged that the company is not run by the C-suites, but by the people on the ground. He also mentioned how important employees were for Southwest and how the company is driven by its emloyee-centric culture. There was a Q-and-A session which followed the conversation between Dean Gilligan and Mr. Kelly.
Thursday was a great day – we not only got to visit two startups making waves, we also got to attend the TVL expo and had a chance to listen to Gary Kelly. It is days like these that remind me why I came to school. Not only was there a lot to learn, we also got a long weekend. So we put it to good use and went and played paintball on Sunday. A week well spenT I say. On Thursday, we visit Google. Stay tuned for an update on that!