Austin is eCommerce
Leave it to me to spend 14 hours in Dallas on the very day that 3 of my favorite industries crush capital…
Though, I’m glad that I did. The morning, spent with the incredible group of entrepreneurs fostering #bigDOCC (Big “D” Open Coffee Club – Dallas that is), was focused on not just what it means to be a startup in Dallas, but Texas, and the role that industry plays therein. The afternoon, with Tech WIldcatters‘ Gabriella Draney and a handful of still-stealth eCommerce ventures, solidified that the industry of commerce is in Texas.
I talk a lot about the role of industry; the culture of an ecosystem is as great a determiner of your success as an entrepreneur (or investor), as is the culture of your startup.
Drucker, who famously said, “Culture trumps strategy,” I believe, was alluding not just to the characteristics of a business, but of the economic development of a city, a state, and a country.
The idea is hard to refute; The United States is the economic powerhouse that it is because of a culture of innovation, entrepreneurs, and the “can do” attitude that makes it so distinct. While we entertain startup strategies such as being lean or agile, it’s impossible to ignore that, for example, LA has a culture of entertainment, Nashville that of music, New York, a culture of finance and fashion, and Silicon Valley, indeed, a culture of disruptive innovation. Such cultures, those industries, are what drives investment, talent, and success to those locations, as the entire ecosystem is designed to foster growth therein that very culture.
Outside of cattle, boots, and oil, are Texas’ industries readily apparent?
The eCommerce Game Goes to Austin
- Comparison Shopping innovators Tuffwerx, Bidaway, Equipboard, and HomeAway
- Deal leader Offers.com
- Coupon King RetailMeNot
- Two of the top 5, perhaps the top 3(?), eCommerce platforms: Volusion and BigCommerce (which raised $40M last year with Steve Case)
- Home of the review Bazaarvoice
- Retail pricing intelligence provider Blacklocus; who was picked up by Home Depot, making ATX the home of their innovation center
- Offline engagement platform EyeQ
- Natural language merchandiser Compare Metrics
- One of Austin’s fastest growing companies, product video producer Invodo
- Uberpong which is creating custom merchandise using Instagram and Facebook photos
- Shipping nirvana with ShipStation
- Web based shipping service Ordoro
- Community merchandise provider Amplifier
- Simple POS solutions with ZingCheckout
- NFC payment technology SimplyTapp
- Curated gifting with Loop & Tie
- e-business payment plan innovator UpgradeUSA
- And leading provider of end-to-end merchandising optimization, Revionics, just moved here!
And, while granted, I’m no Shawn Collins, founder of the Affiliate Summit, within a matter of months of his moving here (so, yes, add eCommerce’s affiliate industry to the list), I left my own history with Yahoo! Shopping, hpshopping, and eBay to call Austin home. The industry of eCommerce is in Austin, TX.
This foundation, eCommerce, which is not eTail if you will (the likes on which Dell was established – truly transacting online rather than the infrastructure, technology, and webs services to drive such commerce), but eCommerce, will drive the entirety of the consumer web to follow.
Texas and eTail
It’s as subtle, yet important, as the distinction between “social marketing” and “social media.” eCommerce is the foundation of eTail which is where Retail bleeds online; and that’s not the tip of the iceberg but what lies beneath the water when it comes to the consumer internet.
In my mind, having spent years working with Yahoo Shopping and hpshopping before launching several commerce ventures as a CMO and advisor, Austin is the home of eCommerce. The talent, technology, investment, and entrepreneurs who want to build the future of commerce online, will come to and from Austin.
Josh Baer, Austin angel investor and founder of Capital Factory, has put a stake in the ground, having supported dozens of consumer internet startups.
“More Consumer Internet investors are coming. Every week people move to Austin from Silicon Valley, New York City and other locations where there have been many Consumer Internet successes,” Baer asserts. “They will be more open to consumer businesses than our traditional B2B base. DreamIt Ventures and Techstars Austin both had a significant percentage of Consumer Internet startups in their recent batches.”
Granted, Comparison Shopping, the industry in which Tuffwerx, Equipboard, and Bidaway arguably exist, is spreadout throughout the country as though a shotgun blasted entrepreneurs at a map of the United States – and yes, the same can be said of deal sites which continue to pop up as fast as someone can put up a website. But Baer’s reference to “consumer internet,” is validated through this foundation of the consumer internet: eCommerce is here.
What’s incredible about Austin’s role in eCommerce is that the combined economic significance of the cities within 3 hours of Austin, Texas, comprises the bulk of the retail industry and as such, eTail, the next layer of the consumer internet.
I can think of few arguments to refute this… eBay, Amazon (granted)… Minneapolis with Best Buy and Target… Bentonville, Arkansas and Walmart?
Given the significance of the Texas economy and the strength of the Texas Triangle (Dallas, Houston, and Austin), as well as the corridor (San Antonio, Austin, Dallas), Texas is home to a staggering roster of direct to consumer brands:
- JC Penney
- Southwest, Continental, and American Airlines
- Mary Kay
- Men’s Warehouse
- The Container Store
- Pier 1 Imports
- Whole Foods Market
- Zale Corporation
And that’s not counting indirect consumer brands such as AT&T, Dean Foods, Kimberly-Clark and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Bordon Milk Products, Frito-Lay, Haggar Clothing, Rolex, Brach’s, and Dickies… No, by no means all of the major brands and yet their support, their innovation, on top of the eCommerce infrastructure, simply adds layers to the cake.
And the icing on the cake? Addison, Texas is home of The open source eCommerce framework Broadleaf. Move Square or Paypal to Texas and the entire commerce stack will be in the Lone Star State… wait, isn’t that what Visa is doing here?
Larrisa Faw and I, in Forbes last year, discussed the fact that as those loosely distinct, yet related, industries support one another, as major brands, retailers, and eCommerce providers, work together, industries excel. The consumer web will continue to blend into one through the foundation in eCommerce in Austin, and Texas is where the global economy will turn for commerce.
16 Responses to “Austin is eCommerce”
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Paul is hands down one of the best people to work with in the startup ecosystem in Austin, TX.
Hit the ground running and has been a great contributor to the polishing of our business. His expert knowledge of SEO, strategy and marketing will enable VChain Solutions to gain even more traction than we are currently experiencing.
Easily one of my favorite people in tech. Passionate, knowledgeable, connector and tenacious are the words that come to mind if I were to label him. Paul’s a constant hustler (in a good way) who always has time to talk about anything related to technology, marketing and all things startup related. He’s a great person to have on your team and an even better person to just simply know.
Providing Marketing and Strategy through the Clean Tech Open accelerator, Paul was readily available for a helping hand and opened his extensive network to us helping us connect with thought leaders in our industry. I would recommend Paul as a mentor and definitely use him again.
Paul provided a much more comprehensive strategy to our marketing and branding. He’s an expert in his field and knows how to deliver results. He took the time to understand our business and forge a multi-faceted approach to marketing our brand. We continue to leverage Paul’s talents and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.
Paul is a true Go-Giver! His willingness to share his expertise in Digital Marketing is priceless. I highly recommend anyone who is starting a company or who is starting to invest in marketing read his Startups articles on his website and then make sure you meet with him. I only wish I had met Paul earlier when I first started my company.
In the startup world, everything is rough waters. Paul came to us a couple years ago when he found out what we were building. He believed in our idea and wanted us to achieve our goals. In the past two years I’ve known Paul, he has always been there to mentor and guide me through the rough waters he’s seen through having once been our shoes. His advice is rock solid, practical and most importantly – executable. As an individual, he holds to his word, he’s dedicated and he’s one of the few wh…
Paul has been an advisor on numerous initiatives over the years. His knowledge and experience in all the aspects of digital marketing and media product strategy is matched with a creativity unique in the industry. Time spent “talking shop” with Paul has effectively become the foundation for my understanding of how digital marketing works and how to navigate an increasingly.
Paul has been an invaluable adviser to our start-up. His experience in the events space as well as his knowledge of today’s marketing stack has taken us a long ways from what we started with. His honest assessment of both our company and the Austin start-up scene has proven to be immensely helpful in guiding our strategy and direction.
Paul has the great ability to juggle 8 balls at once and is a jack of all trades. He is not only helpful on everything related to press, PR, marketing and social media, but has also added value by providing strategic direction/advice and even gets his hands dirty with technical development. He can be relied upon as a trusted partner and project manager.