Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce: Benchmark Visit – Austin, TX 2017

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A group of over 100 business leaders from  Tampa embarked on a trip to Austin, TX with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. This annual benchmark visit is one of the highlights of the year. This year’s edition was the 19th benchmark trip.

The objective of the trip is to engage with local officials and business leaders to exchange experience and ideas across a wide area of interests. A secondary benefit is, that you spend 3 days in buses, airplanes and events with your fellow trip colleagues in close quarters. I made many new friends in this trip I will cherries for years to come.

The events span from a great reception at the 3ten ACL club with an amazing live band to breakfast with the major of Austin, a visit to Austin City Hall (the group shot was taken on the step of city hall), lunch at the angel investor incubator Capital Factory to dinner in small groups in the live music capital of the world. Closed out with lunch at Coopers BBQ where we listen to the young entrepreneurs of Austin, the angel investor network and Rob Balon, who put a very entertaining finish to the trip.

The icing on the cake was a mid air concert on our Southwest flight to Tampa by Grammy winning and hall of fame songwriter Tim Nichols who wrote over two dozen country music hits for Tim McGraw and Jo Dee Messina.

What is the take away? Austin is a true tech hub with companies like Google, Facebook, Dell, Twitter and many more. Plus Whole Foods was funded in Austin. They have the same traffic issues Tampa has, maybe even worst, if that is possible. Their inner city is one giant construction site, booming and vibrant. However, Austin will soon face a similar fate many other vibrant inner cities are facing. The cost of living is reaching astronomical levels and driving out the music and art scene, which gave Austin the nickname of Live music capital of the world. The future of these small venues is yet to be seen.

One takeaway is that Austin as a much more active angle investor network and foundation. It is a whole lot easier for startups to raise seed money in Austin than in Tampa.

Bottom-line, I learned a lot, made many new friends and spent 3 days in an amazing city.