Why Dallas Startups Are Ditching SXSW

South by Southwest, one of the most eagerly awaited tech events of the year, kicks off in nearby Austin this weekend, but unlike the previous year’s event, startups from the Dallas/Fort Worth area are going to be more noticeable for their absence this time around.

Last year was a very different story, writes Melissa Repko in the Dallas Morning News. In 2015’s SXSW, Dallas and Fort Worth-based startups came out in such force that the “Dallas Drops the Mic” party was one of the biggest successes of the entire event, with dozens of well known local entrepreneurs showing their faces to mix and socialize with some of the biggest names in tech.

But this time around there’s no big Dallas party planned, and only a handful of startups from the Dallas/Fort Worth area will be showcasing their offerings, the Dallas Morning News revealed.

Repko speculates that the conspicuous absence of the Dallas tech community at SXSW 2016 isn’t because the festival has lost its allure. On the contrary, this year’s SXSW is poised to be one of the noisiest ever, with a record number of startups hoping to follow in the footsteps of Twitter and use the event as a springboard to success. Indeed, the festival has gotten so big that even President Barack Obama himself is scheduled to make an appearance.

There will be a few Dallas representatives at SXSW, most notably corporations like Neiman Marcus and AT&T, both of which are sponsoring events. Dallas-based connected car startup Vinli is also set to attend, with its CEO Mark Haidar scheduled to speak on a panel about the future of the auto industry and host an event for developers of connected car apps. But these are the exceptions, and many Dallas startups that attended last year, such as the airline startup Rise, are skipping out on this year’s event.

So why are Dallas startups snubbing SXSW? According to Repko, one of the problems is that the event has gotten so big, crowded and corporate that it’s no longer economically viable:

“[Entrepreneurs, attorneys and accelerators] say it’s harder to find affordable rental space and lodging, not to mention afford a festival badge that’s just shy of $1,300 for the Interactive events,” Repko writes.

There’s also the fact that with so many attendees, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to “cut through the noise” and get noticed, Repko reported.

This might explain why some Dallas firms are giving SXSW a miss this year, but we also think it has a lot to do with how much the Dallas startup scene itself has grown over the past 12 months. It’s fair to say that Dallas is no longer living in the shadow of Austin’s startup scene, but is instead blossoming into a fully fledged entrepreneurial hotspot in its own right.

There’s more than enough going on right here at home to keep local startups busy, what with major events like Dallas Startup Week just around the corner, and hundreds of other get-togethers planned for this month and the rest of the year. Dallas’ startup scene is positively booming, we are building things, using our time to connect and explore new ideas, and so it’s no surprise that we don’t feel the need to attend crowded events like SXSW to get ourselves noticed.

Blog post by: Mike Wheatley

Photo Credit: Kris Krug via Compfight cc

Original post at Dallas News.

Staff Writer
mark@ro.gerwil.co