AJC at SXSW: Going to Austin means business

Austin, Texas — South by Southwest might seem like one big party – and it is – but it’s also serious business.

South by Southwest

Volunteer Elizabeth Hunt, right, fills bags for fellow volunteers Justine Zarate, right, and Jesus Santos, center, as people arrive to pick up their badges prior to the first day of the film and interactive portion of SXSW 2016 at the Convention Center on Thursday, March 10, 2016. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The Austin festival devoted to film, music and interactive technology is often the place where movies and new technologies are introduced and where some of the top minds in each sector schmooze and strike deals.

For sure, top Atlanta brands will be all over Austin. So will a marketing campaign to try to sell young professionals on moving to Atlanta.

Reaching customers is one big reason for Aaron Luque to be in the capital of the Lone Star State.

Link: Atlanta to woo talent at SXSW

Luque, president and CEO of Envirospark, a company that designs and installs charging stations for electric vehicles in apartment complexes, offices and other commercial developments, will be meeting with clients and touring properties for potential future installations.

Envirospark’s big clients including companies such as major apartment developers Post Properties and Worthing Companies. The trip happened to line up with this year’s SXSW.

“A lot of these companies we’ve done systems for in Atlanta, they have properties in Austin and Houston,” Luque said. “The timing just worked out.”


From left, Armando Valdes, Ron Dorsey and David Monroe with Freeman Decorating push up a sign in the hallway for SXSW 2016 at the Convention Center on Thursday, March 10, 2016. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Luque said his group will participate with the ChooseATL campaign in selling Atlanta. The campaign has enlisted about 1,000 Atlanta area residents at SXSW who will act as ambassadors for the Atlanta brand.

“It wasn’t our first consideration when we decided to go out there, but we’re excited,” Luque said. “Atlanta is an incredible city with a lot of amazing growth.”

Last year, Jewel Burks and her tech startup Partpic won the big data pitch competition at SXSW Accelerator.

Her company is sort of like a Shazam for parts. It uses a smartphone’s camera to help people find replacement parts – a maddening thing to do when something breaks and you’re in a pinch.

The Nashville native grew up feeling drawn to Atlanta, but started her career at Google in California after graduating from Howard University.

She moved to Atlanta, however, to be closer to her family, taking a job with a parts distribution company. Not long after that, she convinced a close friend and Morehouse College graduate to move to Atlanta to start the mobile app company.

Burks said this year, rather than gearing up for a pitch at the accelerator, her team is going back to woo clients and find potential investors.

“It’s funny to say I’m not pitching because I’m always pitching,” she said. She’ll also pitch Atlanta as part of ChooseATL.

The win at SXSW last year helped Partpic attract $1.5 million round of investor capital last year. Capital is the mother’s milk of the start-up world.

“It’s huge. Getting that type of recognition and validation from a conference of that magnitude was great,” Burks said.

AJC in Austin

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter J. Scott Trubey will be in Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest and to follow the ChooseATL campaign. Follow him on Twitter through his handles @FitzTrubey and @ajcrealestate. He’ll also post to Snapchat at fitztrubey and ajcnews

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