Companies from Austin’s startup scene and those aspiring to join the city’s technology industry had a chance to mingle at this year’s “Summer Startup Connect,” which was held on Thursday, June 23.
The Master of Science in Technology Commercialization program at the University of Texas at Austin organizes the event a few times a year, with the goal of connecting Austin startups to potential employees.
More than 300 people attended the event held at the Hangar Lounge, where they had a chance to network with six companies that are currently hiring in the Austin area. Civitas Learning, Duo Security, OwnLocal, RetailMeNot, Vyopta and Shopgate were the featured startups at Thursday’s event.
The local branch of Built In, a networking platform for professionals looking to connect with their local startup and technology scenes, co-hosted the job fair, which attendees paid $5 to attend.
Elyse Kent, director of partnerships and operations of Built In Austin, said those looking to get hired in the startup industry can benefit from meeting local companies.
“It’s an informal setting where you can come and meet the teams behind these six tech companies, and really get an understanding of their personality and culture,” Kent said.
Employer websites are mainly designed to attract sales, which limits prospective employees’ understanding of their possible role in the company. Kent said that those looking to get hired often are unsure of how their talents can contribute to the short-term goals of the teams they are hoping to join.
“You usually don’t know what [companies] are working on day-to-day, especially if they have more than one office,” Kent said. “You don’t get an idea of what they’re trying to achieve by the end of the year.”
The one-year Master of Science in Technology Commercialization program helps students find and build businesses using various technologies and innovations developed by researchers around the nation.
As part of the program, students must work together in teams to gain the experience of starting one’s own company.
Wayne Peck, director of career development of the program, said those with experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics need to learn what it takes to bring an idea to market.
“Your technical knowledge is only one part of what you need if you want to start a business, sell a product or get a job,” Peck said. “I’ve seen people with brilliant ideas that don’t know how to understand the customer.”
Peck said the program is designed to teach its students how to pitch innovations to investors, businesses and corporate executives.
Rick Leung, co-founder of Vyopta, one of the six companies featured Thursday evening, said solving problems from a purely technical perspective is not always the best approach.
“It’s not always about finding the fastest algorithm,” Leung said.
Vyopta helps other companies streamline their video conferencing process using data analytics. Leung, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from UT, said students should take the time to learn about the impact of their technology or idea.
“I didn’t know what working meant going into the job market,” Leung said. “I was fortunate enough to work with many business owners and learn what was really important to them when solving a problem.”