Austin Startup Week Social Impact Day: Morning Recap


Thank you to everyone who attended the Austin Startup Week Social Impact Track this past Tuesday at Meet At Relay. A part of the eighth annual Austin Startup Week, the Social Impact Day was a fantastic mix of networking, panels, talks, learning opportunities, and fun!

Cohosted by The Center for Social Innovation and Techstars Impact, social entrepreneurs, community leaders, and innovators gathered together for a full day of sessions focused on how Austinities are driving impact in everything from more informed voting and civic engagement, to building a purposeful brand, to creating more diverse, homegrown tech talent in Austin.

Check out some of the takeaways from the morning session of Austin Startup Week Social Impact Day!

Branding with Purpose

When done well, branding can help solve cultural and societal problems. Austin Startup Week’s Social Impact Track kicked off a dialogue between Austin's socially minded entrepreneurs, brand experts, and startups who are building brands that give back. “Your mission is the thing that you’re here to do that only you can do, so bring that to your business” -Justin Foster of Root + River.

Diversity in Tech


Economic segregation leads to opportunity engagement, and the need in Austin is to shift the intent to bridge the gap into actual action that results in greater impact.  We learned that in order to begin to solve these issues and bridge these gaps, we have to stop saying that there are no candidates in the pipeline, and instead:

  • Nurture empathy.  Economic segregation leads to opportunity segregation

  • Find leaders who are willing to make innovative, bold moves.

  • Lean into discomfort and be willing to challenge your own internal biases or redefine your threshold for “normal.”

Impact Investing in Austin

Measuring and pitching your impact to an investor is one of today’s biggest challenges. We sat down with Oksana Malysheva from Sputnik ATX, Juan Thurman from the Southwest Angel Network, and Trevor Boehm from Techstars Impact to hear firsthand what they look for when evaluating the ROI for impact-based businesses.

What we learned was:

  1. The importance of an operational dashboard that reports on your business as well as your impact metrics.

  2. Curiosity, passion, vision and grit - along with a personal connection to the issue - make the best social entrepreneurs.

  3. Be so good they can't ignore you. In other words, share the assumptions you started with and what you’ve learned along the way. Your pitch should feature your team’s strengths and validate the problem you’re uniquely positioned to solve.

To see some of their favorite companies in this space, check out Teacher Talent from Sputnik ATX and Zipline from Techstars Impact.

Thanks to Techstars Impact Accelerator and The Center for Social Innovation for co-hosting this year’s first Social Impact Track at Austin Startup Week! Special thanks to Cisco for sponsoring Lyft rides for attendees throughout the day, Meet At Relay for hosting the Impact Track venu, and to Huston-Tillotson for hosting the Relay Coworking popup for panelists and participants to work in between sessions.


Learn more about the Relay Coworking social impact community. Sign up now and receive $50 off dedicated desks and $25 off general memberships for the first 3 months.


Book Meet At Relay for $1,000 for all evening gatherings in October. Includes a 10-hour rental period plus post-event cleaning and on-site venue manager.

Briana Loeb