SXSW 2013: 5 Things That Give Austin Its Unique Vibe

March 8, 2013


Today marks day 1 of #SXSW and to kick things off, we held a FreshBooks customer meet-up in the heart of downtown Austin last night. With the drinks and appetizers flowing, we got to chit-chatting and naturally found ourselves immersed in deep conversations about things that give Austin its unique vibe.

sxsw 2013 austin

In no particular order, here are the top 5 things that truly make Austin…well, Austin – all based on sound bites from true-blue Austonites and our own experiences so far:

1. There’s a rockstar performing in every bar, everyday

Don’t believe it?  Just take a stroll down 6th street. It’s a musical gauntlet of sorts, ranging from the soulful jazz melodies of Ray Charles to the hard-hitting licks and tunes of blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughn. In fact, it’s difficult to find a bar without live music (hence, the “Live Music Capitol of the World” moniker). Speak to anyone from Austin and they’ll tell you the same – this place breathes good music.

2. Southern hospitality

Whether you’re in an elevator with strangers or sitting in the back seat of a cab, be ready for some old-fashioned friendly conversation along with a side of hearty laughter. This art of conversation flowed naturally during our customer event.

3. Breakfast tacos

Ranging anywhere from $2 to $10, breakfast tacos typically consist of flour tortillas filled with scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon and other breakfast-type foods. Ask an Austinite and they’ll proudly tell you no other American city boasts the quality, richness and authenticity of their breakfast tacos.

4. Innovation

Perhaps in part due to the start-up culture brought on by SXSW, the fact remains that little old Austin, Texas is slowly morphing into the Silicon Valley of the south.  In addition to companies like Dell – which was founded in Austin – Apple, Samsung and Microsoft have all set up shop in the Live Music Capital of the World, employing more than 2000 people each as reported by VentureBeat. But it’s not just the big guys making the move down south – smaller start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business owners are also migrating to Austin. The reason as cited by our customers: there is no corporate or personal income tax and costs of living are generally lower than other parts of America.

5. The city motto: “Keep Austin Weird”

From the inner stylings of local coffee shops to the progressive political and social culture, Austinites are perfectly content deviating away from the norm. Heck, you can even enjoy a restaurant-style movie theatre dubbed the “Alamo Drafthouse Cinema”, where the servers feed you all kinds of alcoholic beverages as you munch on your favorite “Signature Movie Dish” – all while the movie is playing.  From what we heard, the “Lord of the Rings Trilogy Feast” is all the rage:

Needless to say, we’re certain there’s plenty more to talk about, but we are only on day 2 after all and hope to uncover much more over the next few days.  If you’ve experienced Austin and have some info to share or feel like recommending a cool spot we should check out, be sure to let us know in the comments below.

P.S: A big thank you to all our customers who made it out last night.  We had an absolute blast and hope you did too.

P.P.S: If you’re at SXSW and see a couple of guys wearing FreshBooks sweaters, don’t be shy – we’re always up for a chat.


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FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.