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An honest look at business in Austin

#WhyAustin is a special ongoing series featuring interviews with business leaders, politicians, and even outsiders. We’re taking a meaningful look at what makes Austin great while honestly examining the challenges our business and startup culture has.

Instead of talking about how Austin graces nearly every desirable Top 10 list ever published, we’re asking some of the most relevant names in business to opine. We’re interviewing company founders, politicians, startup investors, programmers, artists, musicians, and we’ve even interviewed leaders outside of Austin for their perspective. That is how you get honest feedback, folks.

Watch more #WhyAustin videos here!

Talking with a fellow native

In the video above, we chat with Hugh Forrest, Director at South By Southwest (SXSW), an internationally famous conference, music festival, film festival, and so much more as it has grown exponentially over the years.

As we put on our tech-casual outfits to jump on the Metro Rail to get our badges here in a few minutes, we reflect on what is special about Austin, what the challenges are, and whether or not SXSW would ever relocate headquarters. And the bonus is that Forrest and I are both natives – a rare treat! Below is the full transcript of our chat.

I understand you grew up here. Have you ever moved away?

I am a townie who grew up here. I first left to go to school in the Midwest. I went to a small liberal arts school in Ohio called Kenyon. Spent four years there and came back to Austin. Lived here for about another decade then lived on various places on the west coast from Portland to Seattle to L.A., but always ended up coming back to Austin.

What was it about Austin that always drew you back?

I think Austin is just, one, an easy place to live, particularly when you’re not quite sure what you want to do. Two, the creative, cool vibe that’s in Austin. There are a lot of cities like that, but I don’t think anyone quite has it the way we do.

what is the most attractive part of doing business in Austin?

I think the most attractive thing about doing business in Austin is we have an Austin-centric way to approach these things. It’s about having fun, but also being productive. Sometimes in that order, sometimes in the inverse order.

That’s very reflective of what we do with SXSW. It’s an event that’s a ton of fun, but it’s also an event where you can get a lot of business done.

Mixing those two together, I think, has been a pretty good formula for Austin and also pretty good formula for SXSW.

How does the quality of life in Austin compare to other cities?

Traditionally, one of the big quality of life points in Austin was that cost of living [was] fairly low. That was particularly good for me when I was in my twenties and thirties when I was kind of not completely sure what I wanted to do, was switching jobs a lot, was thinking a lot, was reading a lot, doing a lot of things that didn’t pay too much money.

Certainly the cost of living has increased as we’ve seen these boom years over the last decade, but we’re still cheaper than a lot of places and still have that creativity factor which is so, so important.

Have you ever considered relocating SXSW headquarters?

We have done events in other cities. We did an event in St. Louis for a few years. We did an event in Portland, Oregon for a few years. We did an event in Las Vegas. We were kind of nominally associated with an event in Toronto.

Those are all great cities and all have lots of strong points, but doing an event like SXSW has never been as successful in those cities as it has been in Austin.

Have we thought about moving SXSW? We’ve thought about everything and in terms of infrastructure, there are certainly other places that would have more hotel rooms, more convention center space, more of the things that we kind of depend on.

But at the end of the day SXSW is so much a reflection of Austin and Austin is so much of a reflection of SXSW, the two are so much connected that I just don’t think it would ever make sense to base this thing somewhere else.

Again, SXSW, our mission is to help creative people achieve their goals. That mission very much aligns with what the city of Austin is all about where creative people work here every day on their creativity in many, many different ways. That’s one of the things that makes the city so special.

Is Austin as small business or startup friendly as polls proclaim?

I think that we’ve done a great job of branding ourselves as a hub for startups and that is a big part of the success of attracting more startups. I’d like to see more successful startups come out of Austin. More exits, more funding, all of those things.

I think that there are ways we can always improve, but the city has developed an ecosystem here that attracts people from all over the U.S. and all over the world. It is certainly one of the big drivers of economic growth, of new jobs in the city at this point. I’m pretty proud of what we’ve all done to create that kind of ecosystem.

How is SXSW helping with those startup funding challenges here?

First and foremost, a lot of investors come to Austin for SXSW. Sometimes they meet companies and startups and founders from Austin, sometimes they meet companies, startups, founders from outside of Austin; but it brings that energy into Austin. That is extremely important.

I think, as well, helping to attract more startups to the city creates, again, an ecosystem where more funders want to be here. It is a long term project here.

Certainly as much as we grow the funding piece here, we are never, ever, ever going to be like what Silicon Valley is, that is leagues above us, and we shouldn’t be like Silicon Valley.

We should leverage and exploit the things we do really well as opposed to trying to pattern ourselves off of some other place.

What are the biggest challenges when hiring talent here in Austin?

I think some of the challenges we have in terms of SXSW is that it is a fairly unique job. There’s not a whole lot of training that someone can do for this until you get in-house, on site and go through a season or two. There’s the challenge of just training and how that works.

I think that it’s also become a challenge finding qualified people as the marketplace has become more competitive for job seekers. That is a, kind of, first world problem that I think we can live with. If we’ve got more job opportunities in Austin, more employment opportunities for more qualified people, that’s a good thing.

Are Austinites frequently generous with their contacts?

I do think that there is a spirit of cooperation, a spirit of community, a spirit of camaraderie here amongst many people in the startup/tech ecosystem that is a good thing, that helps the whole ecosystem.

In Austin, I think there’s a general acknowledgement that a rising tide lifts all boats.

The more we can all improve and help each other improve, the more chances we all have of continued success far beyond today and tomorrow. In that sense, I think we are fairly sharing of our contacts, fairly willing to mentor people, fairly willing to give out a hand, but I also think that is a general characteristic of a lot of the startup community. That a lot of this community around the U.S., around the world, came out of the open source movement where people share a lot of things. There is certainly competition, but there is also a lot of cooperation.

Is Austin’s past, present, or future brightest?

I still think our future is brightest and our best days are in front of us. I have an old friend who told me this once and I repeat it often:

Austin reinvents itself every seven years.

The city changes like crazy and some of those changes we miss. We miss having Las Manitas downtown and that kind of sucks that it went away, but at the same time I really like the J.W. Marriott. I really like the restaurant there, I like the opportunities that that has created. The fact that we change, continue to change, is a good thing. What you don’t want is a city, a region, that just stays the same, because if you’re staying the same, you’re not growing and you’re falling behind.

Again, we do a really good job of pushing forward and that’s really exciting. It’s an exciting place to be.

How can Austin attract more talent and more business?

How do we attract more talent and more business? I think, again, having another generation of high profile success stories come out of Austin will help a ton. That’s happening, but maybe not yet at the level of a Michael Dell. At the level of John Mackey from Whole Foods.

But that next generation is coming and coming up quickly and I think the more that we have, the more that people can see and identify of the success stories that are here, the more that attracts interest, the more that attracts people to want to come to Austin, want to move their business to Austin, do new things, do new creative things.

Again, that’s one of the things I think works really well about SXSW. It brings new people to the city. They’ve never seen the city before. They come in the spring when the weather’s nice, they fall in love with the city, they want to move here. We can say all we want about there are too many people moving here, but again, these are first world problems that we are lucky to have.

What do you think the local or state government’s role is in Austin’s growth?

Well, I think from a local and state perspective try not to mess too much with the formula is made this place successful and that formula is strong attention to creativity, strong attention to diversity, strong attention to new ideas.

It’s one of the reasons that we’ve come out strongly against the Bathroom Bill. That really goes against everything that what we believe in in Austin and what we believe in with SXSW. We are morally opposed to it. We also think it’ll be very bad for business and that’s not good.

Again, we’re the poster child for Keeping Austin Weird is good for business and very concerned what happens when you change that formula.

Can you tell us about the evolution of the Keep Austin Weird movement?

I’m sure everyone has a very different impression about how that worked and how that went. My particular impression is that 15 years ago at this point, or 20 years ago, Keep Austin Weird was very much a rallying point of the forces that didn’t want development here, that opposed growth and particularly that was when the Save Our Springs movement was very strong.

I think it’s amazing that, again, 20 years later that idea, that concept, has very much been adopted or co-opted or however you want to phrase it by the mainstream. The Chamber of Commerce, who I’m good friends with, very much agrees that Keep Austin Weird is good for business.

I think the Chamber of Commerce now understands that the creative culture in Austin is good for business. These were things that weren’t necessarily the case two decades ago. I remember we get Richard Florida as a keynote speaker at SXSW in, I think, 2003 or 2004. He had just come out with Rise of the Creative Class.

I remember at the last minute we ended up having to pay for some his travel and I was going around trying to find people who would sponsor that. Even though Austin was the poster child of very much the model city for this creative city movement and creative class, I couldn’t get anyone to bite that they should support this weird author who had these weird theories.

Again, in 2017 I think there’s a ton more agreement that having a strong creative class, having musicians, artists, filmmakers, web developers, mobile developers, whatever you want to call it, is part of of a vibrant scene. I’ll also say that having had a great opportunity to travel a lot around the U.S. and a lot around the world, everyone wants what we have in Austin.

Every other city wants to have this creative culture. Every other city wants to have a SXSW and ACL and F1. We have created something real, unique and special here and we’re the envy of the world.

What impact does having so many colleges in town have on Austin’s business ecosystem?

I think the impact of having a lot of colleges and a huge state university here is one of the many factors that has pushed this strong creative vibe here. You’ve got a lot of young people who are doing a lot of interesting thinking and that interesting thinking has, again, pushed a lot of the interesting, unique, weird ways that Austin has evolved.

It’s certainly one of the biggest things, i.e. the University of Texas, as well as other colleges, is one of, I think, our biggest reasons for success on a number of levels. Ranging from ideas to the number of volunteers that we get from those institutions.

How do you feel about Austin being on every Best Of list ever?

I’m torn on that. I feel a sense of pride that we’re recognized by more and more people. I also know that too much hype tends to kill anything and we’re in a little bit of a over-hype phase. It’s often better to be farther down on the list than number one.

We’ve been fortunate enough to be number one on a lot of lists recently, but again, I’ll say what I’ve said a few times – these are first world problems.

These are good problems to have, that we’re on too many lists of great cities to live in. Where we really have problems is when we fall off those lists. Thankfully we haven’t fallen off yet.

What is the biggest flaw in the city’s business culture?

I think the biggest challenge we have now, 2017, is a direct result of our success. It’s become a less affordable city to live in. Cost of living has increased. In some ways, or in many ways, that threatens the creativity that made Austin so unique in the first place. When it costs more to have some kind of basic dwelling, basic rental property, you’re forcing these people farther outside of Austin and, again, you’re potentially threatening what made the city so unique in the first place.

Again, that affordability challenge is huge. I think that most of our city leaders recognize that at this point and there are lots of interesting, innovative solutions that are being worked on. I’m optimistic that those will help stem that problem.

I think it’s also interesting that those challenges with the city of Austin very much reflect some of the challenges we have at SXSW. That the event itself has moved from something very affordable to attend 10 or 15 years ago to something that is not quite as affordable to attend now.

Again, same challenges there. Are we pushing out that creative class? Those smaller developers, those students, those innovators, those people with new and different ideas that made the event cool in the first place? There are always challenges, but these are better challenges to have than some of the other ones.

Words of advice for anybody moving their business to Austin or starting a business here?

Words of advice to people coming to Austin? As with anything, try to do as much research as possible. We are fortunate to benefit from a lot of hype, but you should probably investigate and figure out what is hype and what is reality.

If you are going to move to Austin or are making that step, take some time to try to meet as many people as possible.

Again, people here are generally friendly, generally friendly to outsiders who can contribute to our ecosystem. The more people you meet, the more people you can connect to. Those small connections can lead to big, big things and make our ecosystem even strong.

Watch more #WhyAustin videos here!

A special thanks to StoryCraft who diligently crafted the above video – we’re proud to partner with a crew that consistently offers such high quality work!

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Tech News

Ultimate list of Austin women who can speak at your tech event (or podcast)

(TECH) Event organizers don’t always know where to look when hoping to improve diversity, so here are hundreds of Austin women ready to get involved!

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austin women in tech

UPDATE: During the COVID-19 outbreak most conferences are shut down, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t contact these women to speak with or for you on podcasts, or as blog guests, or in video form. They are willing to help when it is needed most, so reach out. We have also added a Defense Tech category, so check it out!!

Have you ever been to a tech event and were struck by the lack of women on panels? Not any of our events of course, but it happens, and in Austin, we don’t believe it is intentional. Yet it still happens.

Instead of complain and move on, we’re doing something about it by publishing a list of women that have raised their hands, ready to get involved!

Click to tweet: “There are no more excuses for events without women speakers, here are several hundred in Austin tech ready to help!”

We intend on updating this list from time to time, so check back for more names, or add yours if you’re interested.

This isn’t any sort of speaker agreement, just a list of people that identify as female that are willing to step in to speak on their areas of expertise. Austin is a cool town to be involved in, and we’re proud to be headquartered here!!

The categories are: Business Development and/or Sales, Creative, Defense, Development and/or Engineering, Finance and/or Investing, IT and/or Programming, Marketing and/or Media, Non-Profit and/or Academia, Operations and/or Management, Security and/or Tech Law, UX/UI Research and/or Design.

It was difficult for each person to select only one category that describes them (for example, I tend to speak on marketing, but my title is COO, so I am listed under “Operations / Management”), so click around to find a good fit for your event.

Business Development and/or Sales

Allison Ramsey
CEO & Founder, Empire Life

Amber Gunst
CEO, Austin Technology Council

Angela Frackowiak
Sales Development Manager, MobileIron

Ashelena Leveille
Program Manager, Customer Success, SolarWinds

Azucena Perez
Vice President, Mentor Program, Ceresa

Brittani McCall
Co-founder & Chief Revenue Officer, BrightReps

Christina Trapolino
Enterprise Solutions Engineer, Monetate

Christol “Dominica” McGinnis
CEO, The BridgeField Group

Cindy Goldsberry
Revenue & Relationships Partner, Investor, Author, Higher State Technology

Cindy Y. Lo, DMCP
CEO & Chief Event Strategist, Red Velvet Events

Corina Frankie
CEO & Founder, Brand Besties

Courtney Doman
Director of Sales Engineering, Khoros

Dawn Delatte
Designer & Managing Director at thoughtbot

Elisa Sepulveda
Regional Managing Director, The Riveter

Emily Roberson McCoy
Director of Circular Economy Programs, US Business Council for Sustainable Development

Grace Lanni
CEO, All About That Brand

Irene Brinker
CEO/Founder, Devali

Janet Zaretsky
BS-to-Brilliance Master, Empowered Women Enterprises, LLC

Jennifer Archambeault
Broker/Owner

Jennifer Monk Lin
Principal Product Manager, IBM Cloud

Kadi Grigg
DevSecOps Advocate, Sonatype

Kaitlyn DeBernardo
Head of Strategy, RigUp

Kana LiVolsi
CEO & Co-Founder, Dos Mundos Creative

Kristin Harrison
Inside Sales Representative: Western United States, Asia Pacific, and The Americas, System Surveyor

Laura Webb
SVP, Sales & Marketing, Tailwind

Marissa Limsiaco
President & Co-Founder, Tenavox

Miriam Arora
Sales Manager, Saba Software

Natalie Yerkovich
Founder & CEO, Hello Mailbox

Nicole Forbes
Sr Strategic Partner Manager, BigCommerce

Paige Drews
VP of Sales, Indio Technologies

Patti DeNucci
DeNucci & Co LLC / The Intentional Networker

Phoebe Nygren
Corporate Account Executive, Box

Rochelle Gonzalez
Senior Sales Executive, Shogun

Sabrina Wojtewicz
Regional Executive Director, Bunker Labs

Shaydi DeJesus
City Lead (Southwest Region), Bunker Labs

Sierra Bailey
Business Strategist, Doers Shakers Makers

Sierra Bloodgood
Partner, Guinn Partners

Sloan Foster
CMO, Kuware

Teri Kelly
Chief Revenue Officer, Valkyrie

Valerie Archer
Partner Development Director, BuildFax

Creative

Amy Weissgarber
Creative Director/Photographer

AprilJo Murphy
Writer and Editor

Ashland Viscosi
Founder, Creatives Meet Business

Emily Leach
Founder, The Freelance Conference

Gracie Arenas Strittmatter
Technical Art Director, EA/BioWare

Jan Bozarth
Chief Creative Officer + Founder, Dreameroo

Kristen Dunn
Graphic Designer + Illustrator, Kristen Dunn Media

Kirtana Banskota
Founder, Banskota Productions

Liz Feezor
Founder and Principal, Liz Feezor Creative

Lizette Resendez
Associate Creative Director, Oracle

Madhavi Rao
Chief Strategy Officer, Valkyrie Intelligence

Melanie Sexton
Learning and Experience Designer, Sonatype

Michu Benaim Steiner
Partner and creative chief, In-House Intl.

Dr. Mickra Hamilton
CEO, Apeiron Zoh Corporation

Roanna Flowers
Program Developer, Strategy & Story

Samantha Soper
Freelance Creative & UX Strategist, WP Developer, Illustrator

Sarabeth Flowers Lewis
Freelance SaaS Copywriter, Lewis Commercial Writing

Sequoyah Johnson
Artist & Teacher

Shannon Lea
Certified Coach, Strengths Strategy, Inc.

Sheana Firth
Principal, Breakaway Graphics LLC

Sheri Graner Ray
Sr. Game Designer

Vana Ash
Designer & Photographer, Vana Ash Creative

Defense Tech

Macon Field
Principal, Macon Strategies | Consultant, National Advanced Mobility Consortium

Samanth Snables
Cofounder, re:3D

Maggie Engler
Lead Data Scientist, Global Disinformation Index

Development and/or Engineering

Alyss Noland
Senior Developer Advocate, Box

Anna Chaney
Engineering Director – Machine Learning, Resideo

Anne Jude Hunt
VP and Head of Product, Medici

Annie Hsieh
Dev Lead, Square Root

Bindiya Mansharamani
Director of Engineering, Rigup

Brandy Keller
Senior Director of Product Management and Product Marketing, Community Brands

Brittany Hicks
Founder, BrightAngle

Candace Ohm
Senior Business Intelligence Developer, DOSH

Caitlin Hudon
Lead Data Scientist, OnlineMedEd

Caroline Gorman
Sr. Product Manager, Dosh

Cheryl Tulkoff
Director of Corporate Quality, National Instruments

Claire Bingham
Software Engineer (Mobile Android), HomeAway

Dana Lachman
Front End Engineer, HomeAway

Dana Vantrease
Hardware Tech Lead, Amazon Web Services

Dianni Ortegon
Product Manager, Khoros

Emily Bartha
Senior Data Scientist, The Zebra

Erin Randall
Principal Coach – Agile, Ad Meliora Coaching

Ezinne Udezue
VP of Product Management, Procore

Ginger Johnson
Principal, GSJohnson PLLC

Giselle Valenzuela Aldridge
Founder, Colossians Consulting

Happiness Garber
Senior Technology Analyst and Design Strategist, City of Austin

Jamy Squillace
Director of Product Management, uShip

Jaya Zenchenko
Principal Data Guru, ZenBusiness PBC

Karen Posada
Senior Front End Engineer, Nav Inc.

Katie McNeil
Software Engineer, Senseye

Kim My Cao
Senior Engineer, Software DevOps & Automation, Dover Fueling Solutions

Krista Goralczyk
Senior Frontend Engineer, The Zebra

Kristen Beane
Product Manager, Rooster Teeth Games

Lydia Guarino
Senior Engineer, data.world

Lynn Riley
CIO, Kilroy Blockchain

Mandy Lowry
Lead Programmer/Co-Founder Black Hive Media

Megan Oertel
Director of Analytics, SyscoLABS

Melissa Eaden
QA Manager, Unity Technologies

Melissa Von Holstein
Senior Product Manager, The Zebra

Molly Mae Potter
Director – Client Engineering Operations, Dell

Muna Hussaini
Senior Manager – DevOps Transformation, PayPal

Mya Pitzeruse
Senior Software Engineer, Indeed.com

Nancy Kinney
Infrastructure Specialist at United States Veterans Corps

Nicole Bryan
VP Product Development, Tasktop Technologies

Numa Dhamani
Machine Learning Engineer, Yonder

Olivia Hayes
Director of Product, FetchMD

Rita Hewitt
Sr. Product Manager, Cvent

Robin Dykema
UI Engineer, Taulia

Robin Reynolds
Senior Director of Product, uShip & Founder, Roots and Revival

Sanchi Srivastava
Data Scientist, Dell Technologies

Sara Inés Calderón
Sr. React Native Engineer, Tribl & musx

Sarah Colby
Reverse Engineering Tool Developer, Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative

Sarah King
Director of Product, Molecula

Siobhan Burch
Software Engineer, HomeAway

Tasha McCarter
Manager of Development, SunPower Corporation

Taylor Barnett
Senior Community Engineer, Transposit

Tess Snider
Owner/Programmer, Hidden Achievement

Tulsi Dharmarajan
SVP Product & Technology, Verb

Wendy LeFevre
Data Science Manager, RigUp

Finance and/or Investing

Claire England
Kauffman Fellow and Early-Stage Investor

Kerry Rupp
General Partner, True Wealth Ventures

Mari Ramirez
Owner/CPA

Meredith Butterfield
Principal Data Scientist, Valkyrie Intelligence

Sara T Brand
Founding General Partner, True Wealth Ventures

Shaydi DeJesus
City Lead & SoGal Austin Lead, Bunker Labs Austin

Tina Cannon
Executive Director, Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

IT and/or Programming

Angela Mendenhall
Business Systems Engineering, AVP

Danielle Cooper
Software Engineering Manager, Dematic

Emilie Yeager
Director of Product & Software Engineering, Curb

Emily Cogsdill
Senior Data Insight Analyst, HomeAway

Jessica Salinas
Content & Collaboration Manager, Cloudera

Julie Varghese
Digital Product Manager, H-E-B

Magdalena Vial
Sr. Manager, IT Strategy & Business Operations, Forcepoint

Sara Hall
Advisor, Valkyrie Intelligence

Sasha Parsons
Associate Product Manager, Indeed

Spencer Unangst
IT Business Operations, Forcepoint

Marketing and/or Media

Ada Ryland
Earlystage Startup Founder Trainer/Coach

Alexis Davis
Founder, The Content Plug

Alicia Palomares
Digital Marketing Analyst, Kadence Digital

Alix Morrow
Chief Make-It-Happenator at AlixCompany LLC

Amanda Powell
Director of Marketing, DigitalMarketer

Amy Lemen
Product Marketing Manager – Cloud, Blue Prism

Andrea Bridges-Smith
Global Product Marketing Manager, HomeAway

Angelica Erazo
Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, Oracle

Annie Thompson
President, Executive Producer, Pen + Prue Productions

Ashley Jennings
Director of Entrepreneurship, College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas

Ashley Malcom
Paid Media Manager, uShip

Becky Trevino
Vice President Product Marketing, Snow Software

Cara Caulkins
Founder and President, Cara Caulkins Communications

Catherine Jewell
Head Coach, The Career Passion Coach

Caroline Gormley
Lifecycle Marketing Strategist, Freelance

Casey Taylor
Analytics Consultant

Cathy Tilton
Founder, Digital Creative

Christa Tuttle
CEO, Launch Marketing

Christina Linnell
Social Media Community Manager, Indeed

Christina Freeman
Director of Product (Marketing Growth), The Zebra

Cristina Oliver
Senior Director of Communications, LCRA

Christy Leger Kirby
Strategy Director, Khoros

Corina Kellam
Director, Omnichannel Strategy, W2O Group

Courtney Lowell
Head of Corporate Communications and PR, Silvercar

Crystal Rivera
Senior Associate, Digital Marketing, Silicon Valley Bank

Crystal Towns
Vice President of Marketing, Feniex Industries

Dakota Lowe
Freelancer and Social Media Manager, Khoros

Dana Marruffo
Freelance PR/Principal BuzzPR

Dana Rygwelski
Director of Communications + Ecosystem, MassChallenge Texas

Dara Quackenbush
Account Executive, Business Wire

Deanna Ramirez
Owner, Marketing & Project Management Agency

Deb Gabor
CEO, Sol Marketing

Donnet Bruce
Integrated Marketing Manager, Freelance

Elisa Leichty
Owner and Digital Marketer, Heavy Fuel

Erica Lanyon
Vice President of Marketing, Zello

Erin Wike
Career Coach & Lecturer, The University of Texas

Fran Harris
CEO, Fran Harris Enterprises, LLC

Grace Lanni
All About That Brand

Haley Martis
Global Event Operations, Dell

Hope Ruiz
Marketing Specialist, SolarWinds

Hudaina Baig
Account Director, SocialWithin

Jacqueline Riedmann
Vice President, Amoura Productions

Jenn Deering Davis
VP, Global Communications, Content & Brand, Cision

Jenny Magic
Consultant, Convince & Convert

Jenny (Ryan) Ragusa
Head of Product Marketing, data.world

Jodi Bart Holzband
Owner, Classic Bart PR + Communications

Joleen Jernigan
Writer & Social Media Manager, Reach Social Media

Josefina Casati
Consultant

Julie Niehoff
Founder, Distance Learning Media

Kathleen Lucente
Founder & President, Red Fan Communications

Kat Mandelstein
Director of Marketing, PwC

Kelly Rohm
Global Data Center Integration Manager, Dell Financial Services

Kelly Treybig
Videographer

Kelsey Hayenga
Marketing Events Manager, PostUp

Kim Carpenter
Founder, World Changing Women

Kristina Smith-Puerto
Social Selling Program Manager, NetSuite

Lani Dame
Agile Marketing Coach, IBM

Laura Furr
Owner, Lollipop Social Media

Laura Russell
Director of Strategy, Adlucent

Laurie Felker Jones
Founder + CEO, JuceBox Hero

Lauren Mireles
Integrated Marketing Manager, Americas at National Instruments

Leslie Wingo
President/CEO, Sanders\Wingo

Lisa Boe
Senior Marketing Communications and Strategic Design Consultant

Lisa Friedrich
SEO Manager, uShip

Lisa O’Neill
Principal, Breakaway Public Relations

LuAnn Glowacz
Executive Ghostwriter & Chief Word Nerd, WordCove, LLC

Lydia Fiedler
Community and Website Manager

Marcy Comer
VP Marketing, Dosh

Marny Lifshen
Author/Speaker, Marny Lifshen Communications

Mary Ann Azevedo
Reporter, Crunchbase News

Mary Ann Roser
Founder & Chief, Roser Prose, LLC

Meagan Dobson
Coach, Consultant, Marketer and Evangelist, Future of Work

Megan Headley
VP of Research, TrustRadius

Melanie Wise
Principal, MW Marketing Consulting

Melina Moreno
Founder, Social Ads Made Simple

Melinda Garvey
Founder, Austin Woman magazine and On The Dot

Melissa Lopez
Sr. Global Talent Acquisition Specialist, AMD

Meredith Rose Howard
Global Social and Digital Lead, Deloitte

Michael Manning
VP of Marketing, Ebco

Michelle Loughry
Director of Marketing, Envision Creative

Michelle Stinson Ross
Marketing Operations Director, Apogee Results

Michelle Williams
Paid Media, Aceable

Molly Gardner
Content Manager, Mutual Mobile

Monica Teredesai
Product Management, ObjectSolutions, Inc.

Nammy Sirur
Cofounder, The 9to5 MisFits and MisFit Communications

Nerissa Sardi
VP of Marketing, Galileo Learning Innovation Camps for Kids

Nichele Lindstrom
Director of Digital, Whole Foods Market

Nicole Beck
PR Manager, The Zebra

Nicole Boynton
Director of Education, Texas National Title

Nicole Cook
Social Media Training, Schmooze Networking

Noreen Vincent
Marketing and Ecommerce Consultant

Pavi S Dinamani
Cofounder, The 9to5 MisFits and MisFit Communications

Piper LeMoine
Web Developer, AT&T Cybersecurity

Rachel Jamail
Site Lead, Facebook

Rachel B. Lee
Sr. Brand Manager, Gartner

Rachel Truair
Director of Global Enterprise Campaigns, Adobe

Rachelle McWright
Social Media Community Manager, Emerson

Samantha Rae Lopez
Social Media Strategist, Khoros

Sarah Boyd
Principal & Marketing Strategist, Confido Marketing

Sarah L Cook
Director of Marketing, Caringo Inc.

Sarah A. Parker
Content Marketing Manager, Cision

Sarah Wong
Social Media Coordinator, The Hollis Co.

Shayda Torabi
Co Founder of RESTART CBD

Shilpa Bakre
Communications Strategist, UT at Austin

Traci Koller Mazurek
Supervisor and Team Lead, Social Media & Digital, INK Communications Co.

Tracy Cooper
Drupal Digital Marketing, SEO, & Analytics, Volacci Marketing

Tzatzil LeMair
Account Director, Sensis

Upasna Gautam
Product Management, CNN/WarnerMedia

Valerie Whitmore
Founder & Director of Marketing, CDKitchen, Inc.

Vickie Flaugher
Founder, Content Enterprises

Wendy Covey
CEO and Co-Founder, TREW Marketing

Whitney Magnuson
Global Head of Social Media & Influencer Marketing, IBM

Yaneli Rubio
Global Product Marketing Manager, HomeAway

Non-Profit and/or Academia

Amanda Myers
Vice President of Product Management, Personify

Amenity Applewhite
Product Manager, City of Austin

Audrey Cisneros
Technical Trainer, IDEA Public Schools

Beverly Hamilton
Principal, Small But Mighty Consulting

Carol Ramsey
Computer Science Manager, UTeach

Estefanita Jaselle Valdez
Instructional Designer, Aceable

Gina Helfrich
Program Officer for Global Technology Programs, Internews

Geeta Shukla
Associate Director of Services, CoPilot powered by College Forward

Kelly Mayberry
Business Consultant, Ngage Live Chat

Leigh Petersen
Business Analyst, HomeAway

Lesley Robinson
COO, CALSO Community Inc. / INCO US

Maggie Cameron
Director of Enterprise Products, Personify

Patty Prado
Project Manager, Leadership Development & Assessment, Dell Medical School

Rachel Kubicki Collins
Chief Development Officer, Marathon Kids

Sarah Ortiz Shields
Executive Director, Austin Tech Alliance

Sylvia Butanda
Deputy Executive Director, Latinitas

Yasmin Diallo Turk
Project Director, HOPE for Senegal

Operations and/or Management

Alexandria Porter
Founder & CEO, Volumer & Underminer Studios

Alora Chistiakoff
President, Firebird Summit

Amanda Kirchem
Technical Program Manager, Cvent

Amber Bass
Vice President, Integreon

Amy Noack
Customer Success, Olono

Anna Miller
Owner & President, Higher State Technology

Anna Robinson
CEO & Founder, CERESA

Angela Melpolder
Human Resources Generalist, Cvent

Anita Tavakley
Client and Customer Success

Anna Dickerson
Director of Marketing and Operations, The Agent School

Ashley Connell
Founder, Prowess Project

Ashley Perryman
Director of Global Talent Management at Epicor Software

Barbary Brunner
Executive Vice President, Denary LLC

Beth Yehaskel
VP of Customer Success, Jungle Scout

Brooke Olson
Recruiter, Rooster Teeth

Carla Carrasco
Strategy Analyst, Indeed.com

Chelle Honiker
CEO, Athenia Creative, LLC

Chris Benevich
Program Manager, Design Thinking Austin

Christine Bolaños
Freelance Journalist

Clarissa Fuselier
Operations Manager, Bazaarvoice

Courtney Langdon
Knowledge Manager, Q2 eBanking

Cynthia Balusek
VP, Global Customer Support

Deborah Mendelson
CEO, Founder, Bouyant

Deeksha Srinath
Product Experience, CURB, Inc.

Elise Graham Kennedy
Honey & Vinegar, Founder

Fo Neale-May
Vice President, Lending Operations, Kasasa

Heather Le
Cofounder, Candidly

Jami Caruso
Director of Customer Happiness, uShip

Jennifer Haston
Founder, Haston Helping Hands

Jessica Miller-Merrell
CEO, Workology

Kaneisha Grayson
Founder & CEO, The Art of Applying

Katie Stephens
CEO & Founder, MakeCrate

Kelsi Cochran
Head of People, Everlywell

Kristin Steiner
Digital Lifecycle Services Manager, Emerson Automation Solutions

Lani Rosales
COO at The American Genius

Lauren Goldstein
Founder, Golden Key Partnership

Lav Chintapalli
CEO & Leadership Coach, Pathway Power; Founder, Women Leaders Rising

Lindsay Cooper
Senior Project Manager, Handsome

Lisa Andrade
CEO, M33

Lisa Besserman
Head of Program – Incubator, Indeed; CEO & Founder, Startup Buenos Aires

Lisa Novak
Head of talent, data.world

Mandalyn McDaniel
Data Analyst, FEMA

Marisa Goldenberg
CEO, Skyvera

Melissa Arnett
Business Intelligence Program Manager, Oracle

Melissa Moloney
Senior Manager, Accenture

Micaela Eller
Sr Agile Transformation Leader, IBM

Mirrya Huszka
Director of Program Management, Entegris

Mojdeh Gharbi
Co-Owner/VP of Marketing & Operations, Certain Affinity

Monica Cornetti
CEO Sententia Gamification

Nada Lulic
Head of Human Resources and Talent, SpyCloud

Nancy Maxfield-Wilson
Chief Resilience Officer, MyMaxPerformance LLC

Nicole Tanzillo
Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder of CERESA

Oktavia Merazga
Talent Analytics Manager, Hintt

Rebecca Clay
Enterprise Sales Engineer, data.world

Renee Trepagnier
VP Operations, Aunt Bertha

Renee Trudeau
Founder & President, Renee Trudeau

RM Harrison
Career Pivot Consultant

Rachelle Oribio
CEO & Founder at ValorUp

Raechele Greenwald
Founder + CEO, Software Sandbox

Renée Hopkins
Head of Global Workforce Planning & Analytics, Facebook

Sara Canaday
Leadership + keynote speaker, Sara Canaday & Associates

Sarah Figge
Director, Customer Success, Khoros

Sarah Roche
Digital Project Manager, Charles Schwab

Shelley Delayne
Founder, Orange Coworking

Siri Chakka
Co-founder, Reset

Sophia Dozier
Diversity and Inclusion Leader, IBM

Syd Markle
Agile Coach, IBM

Theresa Kushner
Partner, Business Data Leadership

Tracy Hennessy
Director of Delivery, Handsome

Unji Udeshi
Director of Global Customer Marketing, HomeAway

Vaishali Jadhav
Program Manager, Global Manager Development, Indeed

Valerie Figlin
Program/Project Manager, Facebook

Vickie Sokol Evans
Founder, RedCape Co.

Victoria Sherman
Partner/Head of Global Operations, The Lonely Entrepreneur

Vi Nguyen
CEO and cofounder, Homads

Zinni Jha
Business Strategy Lead, Data Optimization, Transunion

Security and/or Tech Law

Cheska Lesaca
Paralegal

Karen M Landolt
Lecturer, The University of Texas at Austin

Laura Frederick
Senior Counsel, Tesla

Laura Powell
Privacy Director, Indeed

Marissa E Palmer
IT Security Risk & Compliance Analyst, HomeAway

Mary Haskett
CEO & Co-Founder, Blink Identity

Reda Hicks
Founder, GotSpot, Inc.

Sarah Van Sicklen
Commercial Counsel

UX/UI Design and/or Research

Abbey McCoy
CEO/CXO, AbbeyXD

Addy RuthSr. Front End Web Design/Developer, Strive Logistics

Alex O’Neal
Principal UX Designer, Infor

Alyssa Hess
Lead Researcher, UX Measurement & Foundations, HomeAway

Anna Krachey
Senior Experience Designer, Handsome

Annette Neu
UX Principal, InStride

Annette Priest
President, Revel Insight

Annie Hardy
Senior Experience Design Visioneer, Cisco

April Wright
UX Designer, Blackbaud

Bethany Sonefeld
Lead Product Designer, Cloudflare

Céline Thibault
Researcher and Designer, Handsome

Denise Heebner
UX & Interaction Designer, IBM

Emily Sue Tomac
Research Manager, TrustRadius

Erin Young
Founder and Principal Architect, Slide UX

Hailey Farris
Experience Designer, HomeAway

Harib Massu
UX Content Strategist, Charles Schwab

Jane Jones
UX Research Operations Manager, The Zebra

Jenn Lindeman
UX Designer, Silvercar

Jennifer Houlihan
Freelance UX Designer & Researcher

Jess Moss
Sr. Experience Designer, projekt202

Jessica Steinbomer
Author and Researcher, Progress UX Research

Jessica Sustaita
Senior UX Research, HomeAway

Joie Chung
Design Lead, HomeAway

Kati Presley
Head of UX, Rocksauce Studios

Krystal Webber
Global Design & Strategy Leader, IBM Blockchain Services, IBM

Laura Trujillo
Content Strategist, City of Austin

Lauren Golembiewski
CEO & Co-founder, Voxable

Leslie Harris
Visual Designer, T3

Marla Erwin
UX/UI Product Design Manager, Charles Schwab

Mary Hannah Duhon
Interaction Designer, Handsome

Megan Johns
Owner, Astire Games & Professor at University of Texas

Melissa Lau
UX Design, Self Employed

Samantha Saenz
UX Content Strategist & Copywriter

Sameera Kapila
Design Director, thoughtbot

Sarah Kettles
Director of Research, The Zebra

Selina Martinez
Senior Product Owner, Quest Software

Shadeequa (Dee) Miller, Ph.D.
Independent Consultant, Dawn Specialty Consulting

Sharon Brener
Director of User Experience, data.world

Tori Breitling
Product Designer, City of Austin

Zoha Shafiq
Experience Designer, HomeAway

Methodology Notes:– We opted out of using pictures because this is not about appearances, rather skill.- This is not an awards show, these are people who filled out a simple form indicating their interest. – We asked for LinkedIn profiles rather than transient social media profiles or websites that may not remain up to date.

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Tech News

Free Zoom alternatives for the new remote work era

(TECH NEWS) Many small teams already work remotely but the COVID-19 outbreak has forced many more to do so, but how do you communicate without spending anything?

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Communicate with a small team

As more American cities go into lockdown or shelter-in-place orders, teams across the country are having to find new ways to communicate. Zoom is the most popular tool on the market right now, but for some teams it means a new expense that they are not in the position to make at this time. Contrary to what Twitter may have you believe, Zoom is far from the only video conferencing option on the market. There are options for every size team and many of them are free. You will have to sacrifice some of the snazzier features, but in a time when many are contemplating layoffs, every dollar saved helps.

Google Hangouts
In times of crisis Google has come through for its global user base. Starting last week, users will be able to access the advanced Hangouts capabilities for free. This means users will be able to hold meetings with up to 250 participants and livestream for up to 100,000 viewers. Google Hangouts also has the added bonus of being able to record meetings and save them to Google Drive. This could be an invaluable feature for team members who are need to work off-hours or evenings in order to accommodate childcare.

Discord
Discord has been a popular communications app among the gaming community for a long time. This powerful, free tool allows users to create “servers” that can be organized by topic. This is a great way to break up conversations about different projects so important points don’t get lost in a huge, never-ending chat stream. Each “sever” has the ability to do video and voice calls. Users can also pin a message to the top of a chat, similar to a pinned tweet. The video options are limited with only 9 people being able to be on a video chat/screen share at once. Still, if you have a larger company but only smaller teams need to video chat at once, this could be the one.

Facetime
Just because Facetime is the tool you use to talk to your grandmother and make silly faces at your nieces and nephews, doesn’t mean you can’t use it to communicate with your team. In fact, if everyone on your team is issued an Apple device, this may be your best option. Facetime is only for iOS and can support video calls of up to 32 people. Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one.

WhatsApp/ Facebook Messenger
Facebook owns WhatsApp and plans to integrate it with Messenger down the line. At present, they have similar enough interfaces that if you understand one, you’re set for both. This isn’t the most sophisticated option and it’s easier to set up if you are Facebook friends with the person, which might not be normal in your company culture. WhatsApp or a Facebook Messenger video call is a good alternative to Facetime if you need to have a one-on-one with a team member but one of you is not an Apple user.

Skype
While Skype does have an enterprise plan, the free option is just as good if you are trying to communicate with a small team. It supports up to 50 users on a single video call – not that you want everyone talking at once. This could be the perfect solution for small companies that need to have company-wide meetings to update employees as the current situation changes.

If your team is small and trying to keep the costs of adjusting to a remote work environment low, any of these free alternatives are a great choice. Decide what your team really needs in order to communicate effectively and get creative with the options available. There are so many chat and video tool available for free that any one, or a combination of some, could be exactly what your team needs to make it through this difficult time.

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Tech News

Zoom alternatives that might be more robust for your remote teams

(TECH NEWS) If you are one of the larger companies affected by COVID 19, here are alternatives to Zoom to consider for your remote team and client meetings.

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video conferencing

Nothing against Zoom, but there are other video conferencing tools on the market. If your team has moved to fully remote as a result of COVID-19 (and you should, if possible) then there are a few options you should consider. This might even be a great time to think about new tools you can integrate into your team’s communication strategy. If you look at it the right way, every problem is an opportunity for growth.

Join.me
Join.me is an audio and video conferencing tool with screen sharing capabilities, one-click scheduling, and white-boarding. Users are able to create a custom, branded URL to share with meeting attendees which makes it an excellent choice for companies that primarily need to host meetings with clients. Just because your teams are working from home, doesn’t mean your meetings can’t have a smooth, professional feel. Join.me has three tier options for pricing – Lite, Pro, Business. Both of the larger plans can host up to 250 participants per meeting. The key differences are in the amount of cloud storage available and integrations with other services.

GoToMeeting
GoToMeeting is a simple, straight-forward solution to your video conferencing needs. Their user-friendly interface makes it a great choice for a less tech-savvy team that needs to hit the ground running. GoToMeeting can be used in both desktop and mobile. Similar to Join.me users can create a custom meeting link to share with their team and clients. A great feature of this tool is the unlimited storage. GoToMeeting allows users to record and save their video meetings to a cloud. Users can even access automatically created transcripts of past meetings. Their largest plan can host up to 3000 participants, which is the largest capacity by far of any service.

WebEx
WebEx is a feature-rich solution for your virtual meetings that promises HD quality video that can be accessed from any device, including mobile or tablets. Their tool fosters collaboration by enabling active and collaborative work throughs, screen sharing, white-boarding, and file sharing features. WebEx also has a Video Support feature that offers users real-time technical support, something many may find themselves needing as teams scramble to integrate new tools during a challenging time. WebEx’s Premium service supports meetings of up to 200 people.

Zoho Meetings
Zoho is an open-source alternative to Zoom. It has many of the bells and whistles of other video conferencing apps but with a greater focus on security. All meetings in Zoho are encrypted using industry standard protocols. They also have added moderation features so users can steer the course of the meeting through added controls. Zoho also allows people to access meetings through dial-ins and email links which means you don’t need to force clients to sign-up or download anything. If you are connecting with multiple clients, including new ones, this might be a good bet to save time on technology onboarding. Zoho is accessible through the desktop app, web, or mobile.

This is an overwhelming time for many people as schools shut down and family members lose jobs or fall ill. As you consider how to transition your team into a remote workforce, remember to think of their needs first. What features do your employees need to get through this difficult time? Video conferencing is a great way to keep your team feeling connected at a time when we could all use some human connection – from a distance, of course.

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