AUSTIN, Texas — Local business owners who had both official and unofficial events planned for South By Southwest have banded together to support each other after the event was canceled.
Small businesses and startups joined forces to create a website called "Rally Austin."
“I have been worried for the past week and my heart just totally sunk," said Kristen Carson, the founder of Inn Cahoots, which is an Airbnb-styled hotel and event space in Austin. “We’ve started a coalition of small businesses and we’re trying to work together to figure out how to make this economic impact much more minimalized.”
She said before SXSW got canceled, she had a full buyout, meaning all of her rooms were full. But now she doesn't have even 5% of what she would have had.
To find a solution, more than 20 local business owners, corporate executives and influencers met Friday, Saturday and Sunday. According to a press release, the website will leverage data and technology compiled by a local company, Logictry, which was built over the weekend following the official announcement by SXSW.
“The number one question we wanted to answer was, 'What can we do right now to support the hundreds of small business owners in Austin who rely on SXSW, or are personally invested in helping our ATX community thrive,'” asked co-organizer and president of MediaTech Ventures John Zozzaro.
"It's incredible," said Carson. "Immediately when South By canceled, we had like 30 people in a war room trying to figure out what we can do to help the community here because it has a massive economic impact for everyone. I've never seen people come together. Everyone's donating their time, their space, their products."
On the website, companies can list their resources and the venues that have been impacted or share some of the events still taking place. They can also share their products. The goal is to drum up business during this difficult time.
According to a press release, there will be an event on March 16 inviting business owners of Austin for a gathering of the business and tech community. That event starts at 6 p.m. at Inn Cahoots.
“… for business owners to talk about ways that we can support each other over the next – not only during this time of South By but also over the next couple of months,” Carson added.
Inn Cahoots was initially going to host a SXSW event called "Funded House."
"It’s an experience dedicated to venture capitalists," said John Zozzaro, president of Media Tech Ventures, who was going to host the event. "Nobody wanted to hear that, right? There's a lot that goes into South By. There's a lot of people that are going to be affected negatively from this, but it also presents an extraordinary opportunity for those of us that are local."
Carson said they've been working with a few other larger corporations that are helping them figure out how to support smaller businesses.
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