SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Linda Ufland Romo, director of entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialization at the UT-Rio Grande Valley Center for Entrepreneurship and Commercialization, will speak at San Antonio Startup Week.
SA Startup Week is a seven-day celebration of entrepreneurship, October 16-22, in downtown San Antonio.
Ufland Romo is part of a panel titled The South Texas Partnership alongside Phillip Hernandez of Mission Mentor Consulting and Charles Woodin, CEO of Geekdom.
Their panel discussion will take place from 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17 at the Geekdom Event Center.
San Antonio Startup Week is hosted by Geekdom, in partnership with the 80|20 Foundation and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Trinity University. Creative direction for SA Startup Week is led by local agency Symbol Hush, the marketing arm of The Down Market, a cultural media platform.
San Antonio Startup Week takes place Monday, October 16 through Saturday, October 21 at various locations throughout downtown San Antonio. There are approximately 75 events to choose from and the event is free to the public.
“San Antonio Startup Week is a six-day blend of educational panels, hands-on workshops, city-building events and hyper-local activations for entrepreneurs and startups,” says a press release from the event.
“The entire week will be filled with diverse content/resources for entrepreneurs, techies, anyone with an idea and interest in turning their side hustle into a business.”
Charles Woodin, CEO of Geekdom, said the theme of San Antonio Startup Week is “Ignite Innovation: Celebrating Entrepreneurs and Startups in San Antonio.” He said the program offers four programming streams: Ideate, Cultivate, Shape and Grow.
“Geekdom looks forward to welcoming entrepreneurs from all sectors of San Antonio, Central and South Texas to SA Startup Week. If you have started a business, are curious about entrepreneurship or simply want to be in a creative and inspiring environment, SA Startup Week is for you,” said Woodin.
Woodin said nearly $300,000 was up for grabs in pitching competitions.
“San Antonio Startup Week welcomes everyone, whether you’ve already launched your business or are just beginning to explore the world of entrepreneurship. This is a unique opportunity to gain insight from industry experts and connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion or are simply intrigued by our thriving startup ecosystem,” Woodin explained.
The free weeklong conference kicks off Monday morning with a panel including San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, former HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, president and CEO of Greater : SATX. Moderated by Beto Altamirano, CEO of Irys. The panel, titled “San Antonio Forward: Bridging the Past, Building the Future,” will take place at Frost Tower, 111 W. Houston St., 24th floor.
THE Rio Grande Guardian International News Service interviewed Geekdom’s Woodin ahead of the conference.
When asked what Geekdom was, Woodin responded, “Geekdom is a collaborative startup community with the intention of creating the next 500 startups, 75% of which live in San Antonio. We want to build San Antonio one startup at a time. And we do that through our programs in our community, to help founders find the resources they need or provide them with the resources they need to continue to grow. But basically, taking someone who just has an idea and giving them the path so that they can make that idea a reality, create a business that has stable revenue or is ready to be funded.
When asked about the program, Woodin said:
“So the program that we call San Antonio Startup Week and the general intent of it is really to bring resources around entrepreneurship and startups to the South Texas community. We’re really trying to connect people to these while also highlighting some of the success stories, collaborations and events happening around startups in the South Texas area.
When asked about the goals of the conference, Woodin responded:
“Goals are rare. So I would start by saying: bring resources to entrepreneurs where they are. That’s a big part of it. So you have to make sure that there are topics that are of interest to entrepreneurs and startups and founders, whether it’s legal, marketing, or how to present all kinds of different things about it.
“So resources are the priority. Number two showcases and celebrates startups as a whole. It is therefore about celebrating and highlighting startups through pitch competitions, awards and funding that will go to these startups. On top of that, allowing these founders and other startups to share their stories so others can hear about them.
“So it’s kind of the two-pronged approach that we have this year. The focus is on triggering innovation. It really makes people want to create something new. And the second is to build towards the future. And so we’re really focused on what the future will look like, how can we all participate in building the future we want to see.
A reporter told Woodin that when people think of San Antonio’s economic profile, the healthcare industry, tourism and military bases come to mind. If Geekdom succeeds, it was suggested to Woodin, the city could also be seen as having a strong entrepreneurial spirit with a large small business footprint.
“You hit the nail on the head,” Woodin responded. “But one of the things I’ll add to that is something that a lot of people underestimate when they think about San Antonio. A lot of people don’t realize we’re the second-largest breeding ground for professionals of cybersecurity in the United States.
“For us, and the way we invest in this area, when we developed a partnership for our very first accelerator here, we chose to do it in the cybersecurity space because of the large presence and talent pool that exist here. And we have some great, successful cybersecurity startups that started here for a decade or two, and then we sold. So there’s a very strong talent pipeline and future for this industry here in San Antonio. We’re really trying to put it on the map, while also just creating pathways for any small business or startup to continue to thrive here.
Woodin explained how and why UTRGV’s Ufland Romo will be involved.
“We have been working very closely with the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation and the UTRGV team based at the eBridge Center in Brownsville for the last year or two. And we are very happy to involve them in ensuring that these resources are known and accessible to those in the Rio Grande Valley.
When asked about Geekdom’s ties to the RGV, Woodin said:
“So we were connected to Nathan and Linda, I want to say about two years ago and started collaborating with them as they were auditioning for the e-Bridge installation. All of our thinking around collaboration was focused on how the resources that we have here, how can we help Brownsville and eBridge have those types of resources as they build their new facility. So basically, bringing some of that programming there was a conversation that we had. And myself and my former CEO, Philip, have been a really good conduit for a lot of these products and one of the first ones we did with Brownsville at eBridge was host what we call our StartUp Bootcamp. We organized this there, I want to say it was the end of March or April of this year. It was a huge success. I’ll check the numbers and make sure we get them to you, but I’m 99% sure it was about 17 different ideas and companies that were pitched over the course of that weekend.
“From our point of view, it turned out to be a real success in bringing this programming there. We’re hoping to continue to replicate that and host more programs like this in partnership with eBridge, but also figure out how we can integrate some of the later stage programs as well, whether it’s our incubator, our pre -accelerator or even ideas like our community fund and figuring out how we can equip eBridge with some of the learning we’ve gained over the last 12 years of running this organization.
Editor’s note: The “Nathan” Charles Woodin refers to in his interview is Nathan Burkhart, director of small business development at the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation.
Founded in 2011, Geekdom is a collaborative startup community building one startup at a time in San Antonio. The center of San Antonio’s startup ecosystem, Geekdom provides its members with resources and opportunities that enable entrepreneurs to imagine, cultivate, shape and transform ideas into viable businesses ready to take themselves to the next level. Geekdom is located on four floors of the Rand Building, 110 East Houston St., in the heart of downtown San Antonio. For more information, visit www.geekdom.com.