AUSTIN — For a week each spring, the heart of Internet culture relocates to Austin, Texas. And this year, one lucky Web startup will get some help making the move to the tech hotbed a permanent one.
At this year's South by Southwest Interactive Festival, considered a sort of mashup of the Super Bowl and spring break for the tech elite, Austin startup accelerator Capital Factory is launching a contest to "move your company to Austin."
Ten startups will be chosen to compete for the chance to relocate their business to the Texas capital. The winning company will receive a package of prizes worth around $100,000 donated by Austin area businesses.
They include $15,000 for housing, $25,000 of venture capital investment, $24,000 worth of server hosting and $6,000 in moving expenses, a year's worth of free storage and even six months' worth of groceries.
Capital Factory will provide free work space for six months.
The contest is the brainchild of Josh Baer, managing director of Capital Factory. He's been nicknamed the "Austinpreneur" for his efforts to to nurture Austin startups and attract new ones.
"The idea came from thinking about how to make the most of all the awesome entrepreneurs coming to Austin for South by Southwest and to capitalize on the large influx of people to Austin and Texas," he said.
The South by Southwest Festival, which begins March 8, keeps getting bigger and Austin has benefited from its success. Previous festivals have served as a launching pad for companies like Twitter and Foursquare, and tech giants from around the world have taken notice. Over the past few years companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook have all opened offices in Austin.
The five days of the interactive festival, which coincides with movie week and comes a week before the festival's trademark music showcase, attracts many of the biggest names and brightest minds in startups. This year over 25,000 people from all over the world are traveling to Austin for networking, demoing products, and to find out what's next in tech.
Silicon Valley may have a larger tech scene, but with a low cost of living, a business friendly tax code, and South by Southwest, Austin has become a serious player, advocates like Baer say.
For Shawn Bose, Vice President of Global Business for uShip, the reason for Austin's rise is easy to define.
"More than anything, Austin's an excellent launching pad for tech entrepreneurs because it's a great place to live," he said.
Bose, whose company is providing the moving funds, says the contest is a way for tech companies to "pay it forward" to others just starting out.
"We were once bootstrapped ourselves, so our goal is just to offer some resources and advice to other companies that want to make it happen in Austin," he said.
The deadline for entry is February 24, and the contest will be held at the Startup Village at SXSW on March 8.
Companies can enter by going to the Capital Factory website.