Now that South By has officially descended its cold hard talons into the city of Austin like a giant bird of prey (A hawk that gives away free stuff!) there has been a flood of information guiding newcomers and attendees alike about which venues will be most popular, which bars are going to serve the best beverages, and which restaurants will satisfy your hunger pangs… but I have yet to read anything about one of Austin’s best and most notorious forms of glorious nourishment…THE FOOD TRUCK.

The level of deliciousness that these food trucks churn out is almost unbelievable, and the variety would be unimaginable had I not eaten at these meals-on-wheels myself. These magnificent machines will be out in full force for SXSW, catering to the masses just looking for a good time. So, if you happen to see any of these whilst you are out frolicking, make sure you take the time to stop and enjoy some of the best food to ever come out of some dudes van. For more information on truck hours and locations, be sure to visit their website!

East Side King: Asian Fusion

Probably the most popular food truck in Austin, known for their Asian fusion delicacies and Poor Qui Buns.

East Side kinds

Image from Yelp


east side kings

Image from Yelp










Lucky’s Puccias: Sandwiches, Italian 

Who doesn’t love sandwiches? Get their signature style puccia and grab a beer while you’re at it.


Image from Yelp


Image from Yelp











Peached Tortilla: Asian Fusion

Also very popular, the Peached tortilla provides a different kind of Asian fusion. Grab the BBQ Brisket Taco.

peached tortilla

Image from Yelp



Image from Yelp









The Best Wurst: German, hot dogs

Curry Ketch-up. Sauerkraut. Brats. Jalepenos. Those words should be enough to entice.

best wurst

Image from Yelp


Image from Yelp

Image from Yelp








Kebabalicious: Turkish

KEBABS AND PITAS. Wrapped together like a juicy Mediterranean fantasy.


Image from Yelp



Image from Yelp










Svantes stuffed burgers – Burgers

Burgers stuffed with ingredients and topped with a fried egg. If you see this on the street, make a run for it.


Image from Yelp


Image from Yelp










Gourdough’s: Desserts, Donuts

Didn’t think you were gunna see DONUTS ON THE LIST, now did ya! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.


Image from Yelp


Image from Yelp




9:00 AM Arrive at Office with Andrew; we carpool. Slowly ascend two flights of stairs with crippling fear. Have yet to figure out why humans build vertically.

9:05 AM Conduct a quick sweep of the office floor for any minor hazards or food left behind. Remember to pay extra special attention to the desk where Carlos sits, as he leaves the most behind.

9:07 AM SUCCESS. Sustenance found. Also I think I ate a rock.

9:12 AM All my co-workers begin to arrive. Greet everyone who walks in the door by running and jumping on them. Sometimes I lick their hands, sometimes it’s just a quick sniff…depends on what mood I’m in.

photo 2

9:30 AM Morning meeting commences. This is where everyone sits together and takes turns petting me, more than likely talking about how luxurious and shiny my beautiful coat of fur is.

09:36 AM I want to lay on the couch but no one is making room. Must employ tactic #1, gaze into their eyes pleadingly until one of them scoots over.

09:38 AM Everyone is ignoring me. WTF. Time to start licking for attention.

09:40 AM Finally grab the attention of Peter, who allows me to hop up next to him. I wiggle in and prepare to hunker down. Peter is so gullible, always gives me what I want.

09:42 AM OK, please stop petting me, I’m trying to take a short nap. Don’t make me fart.

10:03 AM Meeting ends. Now everyone wants to pet me!

10:07 AM Now they’re using their hands on my head to make funny faces. Today it’s V for Vendetta?


11:18 AM Hear bags rustling from the kitchen, like someone is opening food. MUST INVESTIGATE.

11:19 AM Ugh. Veggie Chips. Oh well…

11:21 AM Actually, wait. These Veggie Chips are actually good. And crunchy. Reminds me of rabbit ribs.

11:46 AM Lay down, but this time under that chair over there.


12:45-1:45 Beg/attack everyone as they leave/arrive from lunch.

1:48 PM Make a lap around the office, just to get a little exercise in. Weave in and out of the office chairs and under the desks like I’m in training for the Westminster Dog Invitational, my invitation should be arriving any day now…

2:36 PM Lay down on the floor next to Jon and Bee.

2:59 PM Bee tries to pick me up and hold me like a baby. I try to escape but her arms are slowly encompassing me like a fleshy straight jacket. Start plotting my revenge for this humiliating act.

photo 5

3:24 PM I’m going to go lay by the front door this time, see if any strangers dare enter my domain!

3:45 PM Yes, someone is walking up I can hear them! Almost up the steps, almost at the door, who is it who is it…. Oh. It’s Andrew.

4:26 PM Time for my afternoon walk. Andrew and I go outside for a nice stroll of the office parking lot. Popped a squat on the grass. Such a great day at the office.

4:53 PM OH great the stairs again.

4:56 PM Nap Time!

6:21 PM Seems like everyone’s starting to head out. Andrew finishes up on work, hooks me up on the leash and call it a day!


Picking and choosing which events to attend at this year’s SXSW will probably be more difficult than choosing a healthcare plan from the affordable healthcare .gov website. I’ve tried my best to narrow it down to the following events that span the interactive, music, and film spectrum. Some of these are free with RSVP, some of them require a badge, some of them require you to do a little digging…. but ALL of them look awesome. For more information visit, and you can RSVP for some of these events at


Umbel+Vox Media Party

When: Fri, March 7, 8pm – Sat, March 8, 12am

Where: ACL Live, West Willie Nelson Boulevard,

Description: ACL Live at The Moody Theatre transforms into an unforgettable party featuring live music by Local Natives, preceded and followed by a dance party hosted by Austin’s own DJ Chicken George. Don’t miss out on what will be one of the most memorable parties at SXSW 2014.



Star Power: Innovative Ways to Engage Millennials

When: Fri, March 7, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Where: Austin Convention Center Room 6AB Austin Convention Center

Description: Engaging millennials now takes more than just traditional outreach methods. Innovative approaches such as leveraging celebrity voices and platforms, new technologies and culturally relevant messaging is critical for impacting the social behavior of the fastest growing demographic. Join actor and activist Rosario Dawson, co-founder of Voto Latino, and moderator Alex Wagner, host of MSNBC’s “NOW with Alex Wagner,” for a conversation about how to effectively mobilize Latino millennials to create social change in their communities.



How Twitter Humorists Landed Sweet Real World Gigs
#sxsw #Tweet2Fame

When: Friday, March 7 5:00PM – 6:00PM

Where:Austin Convention CenterRoom 12AB

Description: The hilarious tweets written by funny people Megan Amram @meganamram, Jenny Johnson @JennyJohnsonHi5 and Josh Hara @yoyoha have not only attracted hundreds of thousands of followers, they’ve also landed these social media savants legit employment in television, publishing and marketing. In this session, Mashable Editorial Director Matt Silverman will lead a fun (and funny) discussion on how these three social media celebrities were able to showcase their talents through Twitter, create impressive followings that make “real” celebs jealous, earn the praise of major media outlets like Time, The Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone, and ultimately land dream jobs that embrace their 140-character humor and charm.


Interview with Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA

When: Friday, March 7 5:00PM-6:00PM

Where:Long Center Dell Hall 701 W Riverside Dr

Description: Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA, will sit down in a fireside chat to talk about his background in game development, what he’s learned about developing immersive game experiences and how he will use that to inform his vision for EA now that he’s taken the reins of the company.
This SXSW Gaming Session at the Long Center is FREE and open to the public. However SXSW Interactive, Film, Gold and Platinum badges gain priority seating.



One on One with Mark Cuban

When: Sat, March 8, 5pm – 6pm

Where: Austin Convention Center Exhibit Hall 5 Austin Convention Center

Description: Internet pioneer, billionaire, angel investor, NBA team owner assesses the current state of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in a no BS session with Silicon Valley veteran Guy Kawasaki. The fun and in-depth conversation between Cuban and Kawasaki is the perfect way to end your first full day of SXSW Interactive 2014.



uShip Nerds Rock Party

Featuring: Aloe Blacc and Auto Body

When: Sat, March 8, 7pm – Sun, March 9, 12am

Where: uShip Inc, Brazos Street, Austin, TX, United States


Transcendence + The Verge + Eater: Opening Night Cocktail Party Designed by Paul Qui

When: Fri, March 7, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Where: ACL Live, West Willie Nelson Boulevard, Austin, TX, United States

Description: Join Warner Bros. Pictures/Alcon Entertainment’s Transcendence, The Verge and Eater for a VIP cocktail experience designed exclusively by James Beard Award-winning Austin chef, Paul Qui. Enjoy super foods and specialty cocktails while experiencing emerging technologies in the Transcendence Future Tech Expo.


Game of Thrones Exhibition


When: March 7-March 11 2:00PM

Where: Austin Music Hall

Description: SXSWesteros is coming! Game of Thrones®: The Exhibition, presented by HBO GO®, will be stopping at the Austin Music Hall from March 7-11. Free of charge, the fully immersive exhibition will transport fans into the medieval world of the show via a collection of nearly 100 original artifacts from seasons 1, 2 and 3, plus select pieces from the fourth season premiering April 6 at 9PM on HBO.

Among the items that will be on display are costumes, props, armor and weapons made by artisans whose extraordinary craftsmanship has lent authenticity to the show since its inception. The exhibition will also offer fans an all-new, immersive virtual reality experience that will place them within the world of Westeros, an opportunity to declare their favorite moments from the first three seasons on HBO GO, and a chance to sit on the coveted Iron Throne.


“Brain Blast”

Featuring: SNOOP DOGG and St. Lucia

When: Sun March 9, 8pm

Where: Stubbs



photo by James Martin/CNET


The Spotify House

When: March 10th-March 14th, 11am – 7pm daily

Where: The Spotify House, 901 East 6th St

Description: Open to Spotify users 21 and over, limited capacity: first come, first served.




RedBull Sound Select

When: March 12th-March15th, 8pm daily

Where: The Belmont

Description: Four days of music and festivities, 21 and over

Jimmy Kimmel LIVE from Austin

When: March 10-14th, 4:30pm

Where: Long Center for Performing Arts

Description: Jimmy Kimmel Live will broadcast five original shows from The Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts. Jimmy will welcome celebrity guests, showcase musical performances and shoot comedy segments around Texas and at SXSW.

Kimmel, on traveling the show to Texas, said, “Austin is one of my favorite cities and there is no place more fun than SXSW. I can’t wait for March 10th. I’ll be the guy covered in BBQ sauce.”

This title of this post could just as easily be read “Blasphemous Wench Seeks to Corrupt the Church” – because that is entirely the attitude surrounding all things burger. Each person has assembled their own altar to the most supreme burger in all the land, and anyone who seeks to tear down this foundation…well that my friends, is how the Crusades started.

Crusades burger

The idea of a perfect burger is so ingrained in the very fabric of the American lifestyle, I’m surprised it wasn’t written into the Preamble of the Constitution, “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union burger…” but that of course would have had to be written in much later, considering the invention of the hamburger isn’t credited until around 1900 or so.

Its spontaneous outburst into the hearts and stomachs of the American people is dripping in juicy controversy. A quick search for “hamburger inventor” yields numerous results and claims of so-and-so’s great-great grandfather being the first to serve the hamburger at the annual 4th of July picnic. Even those White Castle dudes claim to have had a hand in its origin; however, the debate has been put to rest (much like Old Yeller). The Library of Congress has officially decreed that Louis Lassen of Louis’ Lunch, a small operation out of Connecticut, created and sold the first hamburger in the U.S. in 1900. And we know what that means, Louis Lassen must have slept with a member of Congress (and to the victor go the spoils).

So how, you ask, did I prepare for this burger journey? I polled friends and family, scoured the internet, posted in online forums, got a burger tattoo, and began learning karate at my local dojo. I compiled a list of 20 places around town and did some market research to see what the general consensus was. Turns out, people are really vocal with their opinions on the internet. One user boldly declared that anyone who didn’t like the burgers at Casino El Camino could, and I quote, “ go f@ck themselves.” What criteria was I going to use that could possibly satisfy the erratic masses? Would it be based solely on taste, should I include presentation, do I judge the freshness of the fries as well – for what is a burger without a side of fries?

Then the realization sunk in: I am actually going to have to eat 20 burgers. This isn’t just going to be a savvy article; this could be the beginning to a documentary entitled “Super Size BEE” (get it? Get it? Cuz it’s my name, You know – cause of that movie where the guy…nevermind)

So what makes a great burger? Well it depends on who is doing the eating (me), what mood you’re in (typically pissed off), the weather (erratic)… things like that. Upon closer inspection of my final list of burger joints I discovered that there were just too many to narrow it down to one, or even a top ten!

Then it hit me. [light bulb]

Burger goodness should not be judged in a linear pathway from best to worst; it should be decided by the moments in which they really shine! So after many hours of deliberation, a lot of road rage from driving all around town, and about a good 5 pounds, I present to you…

Bee’s Master Burger List of Burgers for Every Mood

Best Old Fashioned Burger: Hut’s 807 W.6th Street

Hut's Hamburgers (Photo by:

Photo by Matthew Fuller, for Hut’s

Hut’s is an Austin burger staple. It originally started as Sammie’s Drive-In in August of 1939, the same year that Hitler invaded Poland and kicked off World War 2 (which we won by the way). This burger is about as American as you can get! Their beef is purchased locally from South Austin, and each tasty morsel is grilled to perfection. I ordered The All American Buddy Holly burger, which I devoured with all the aggressiveness of the 101st storming the beaches at Normandy. It’s got all the good classic flavors, just like G.Washington would have wanted.

Best Burger ANYTIME: 24 Diner 600 N. Lamar

24 Diner Bacon Avocado

Photo by Vanessa Escobeda Barba, for 24 Diner

My first experience with 24 Diner happened several months ago; 2:30 AM, stumbling, and hungry…you know the drill. Where do you go at 2:30 in the morning when you’re hungry? Well, the answer is actually home, but when that won’t do there’s 24 Diner. The burger elicited a reaction that I can only communicate through a group of bards singing tales of it through generations. Well, wanting to make sure that just wasn’t the crazy juice talking, I went back and tried it again. Same reaction, but this time I really savored the effort. Each patty is made from natural brisket ground daily, not your typical chuck. Each burger is served on a locally made pain au lait bun, which translates into “Jesus made this.” Not one hundred percent about that translation though, you might want to look it up.

Best Burger When You’re Hungover: Dirty Martin’s 2808 Guadalupe Street


Photo courtesy of Dirty Martin’s,

Located next to the bustling University of Texas campus, this place has seen the framework of the city grow and expand around it. Originally established as a car hop, the nick name “Dirty” came from the stores original dirt floor. But there ain’t nothing dirty about Dirty Martin’s – except for maybe some of the patrons. I personally had been out on a weekend bender and just needed some good old comfort food- and I was not disappointed. There’s a reason Austinites like to add the pre-fix “dirty” as a term of endearment (Dirty 6th, for example), for it is a word that has come to be synonymous with “real“, and Dirty Martin’s is real good.

Most Surprising: Counter Café 626 N. Lamar

Photo courtesy of Counter Cafe,

Photo courtesy of Counter Cafe,

Counter Café has had the shining honor of being featured on the Food Network program, Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives. Normally, it is known as a breakfast spot, that the one where all the cool kids go…which is why I had to practically assault my way through the door to get in. Once I finally blended in with the crowd (HEY you guys see that show at Stubb’s last night?!?!?!) I sat down and ordered the Counter Burger. I didn’t have any expectations, really, but the burger from Counter Café is surprisingly good… easy like Sunday morning good. They use organic bibb lettuce, fresh produce, all nicely nestled on a savory wheat bun. You can also get it on white, you know… if you’re into that.

Best Burger while watching football: The Tavern 922 W. 12th Street

Photo Courtesy of Yelp

Photo Courtesy of Yelp

I came here one Sunday to watch some good ol’ fashion American football with my friends. Apparently this is the spot where misplaced Chicagoan’s come when they want to get together and cry – I mean, cheer on DA BEARS. This particular Sunday was a very good game for Cutler and the Bears, so the place was packed. The beer selection on tap at the Tavern is notoriously good, so I ordered something tasty and in season, and put my name in for the Classic Tavern Burger. Served on a toasted kolache bun (yes, you read that right) this delicious meal could almost make a Bears fan forget that, well, they are Bears fans… ALMOST.

Best use of Ingredients: Your Mom’s Burger Bar 5001 Airport Blvd.


Photo courtesy of Your Mom’s,

I promise I will not make one “Yo Mama” joke about this restaurant. I had heard great things about this place so I went to check it out with a few co-workers of mine. Their biggest attraction is that the burgers are made with fresh, local produce and meat, and the patties are actually stuffed with ingredients. In some areas of the U.S. this is called a “Juicy Lucy”. I ordered the Buffalo Bill (it puts the lotion on its skin), their most popular menu item. It’s an Austin take on a buffalo burger, with bleu cheese, homemade buffalo sauce, jalapenos, bacon, and a sautéed green chili. I was floored! I must give an honorable mention to the fries, which were equally as delicious. Really, just all around fantastic. You know what else is fantastic? YO MAMA (I lied).

Best Burger in a Hurry: Mighty Fine Burger 10515 N. Mo-Pac Expressway


Photo courtesy of

Now, I want to make a distinction. There is a huge difference between “fast food” and receiving your food in a quick and efficient manner. Namely, the freshness of ingredients and whether or not you’re under the influence. Mighty Fine Burger tosses around the words simple, fresh, and genuine to remind the consumer that they aren’t some fancy-schmancy joint, but rather, a throwback to the good days. The days when people didn’t have to lock their doors, or spend an arm and a leg on gas, or have to wear pants! For a break from the extravagant hustle and bustle of life, sometimes all you need is something mighty fine. Also while you’re there, order a milkshake, and tell em Ol’ Rusty Bee sent you.

Best FEEL GOOD AFTER Burger: Wholly Cow 310 S.Lamar or 619 Congress Ave.


Photo from

You know like, when you eat a burger and you’re SO hungry you just wolf it down…and then 10 minutes later you feel like Jabba the Hut and you just want to freeze your roommate in carbonite? Yeah, I think we all know that feeling. Luckily, there is a solution to ending that sluggish miasma: Wholly Cow. Their beef hails from up over yonder in Fredericksburg, and is all grass fed. I ordered mine with a portabello mushroom “bun” because let’s get real; I think I’m starting to notice the extra pounds. It’s a little messy, and I probably looked like Jabba the Hut while eating it, but after wiping away the juiciness from off my chin and walking out of there… I gotta tell you I was feeling more like Luke Skywalker. (Jedi Handwave) This definitely is the burger you are looking for.

Best Burger Selection: HopDoddy 1400 S. Congress Ave. or 2438 A West Anderson


Photo by Matt Lankes for HopDoddy

Say you’re in the mood for a burger, but you want something different. You can’t put a name to it, or even the right ingredients, but there exists a yearning desire deep within you to eat a juicy delicious beef patty between two scrumptious buns. Hazily you look in the distance and see a glowing neon sign with the word “SHELL” – no not that one keep looking – ah yes, there it is: “HopDoddy.” Suddenly, like a modern day Constantine, everything just makes sense: A burger place to satisfy the void that consistently fills your life. Greek burger, Tuna Burger, Buffalo Burger, Black Bean Patty, Mushrooms.. THE LIST GOES ON. Simply put, if Obama had started HopDoddy, we’d all give him a third term.

Best Burger to Take Your Friends From Out of Town: Casino El Camino 517 East 6th St.

Photo courtesy of Casino El Camino,

Photo courtesy of Casino El Camino,

There’s no denying it any longer; Austin is the greatest city on earth. It has a rich history and funky vibrations, as glorious as the rolling hills it was founded on. So it is no wonder then, that we are constantly being bombarded by visitors wanting to get in on the action. SOMEHOW, you always become the unofficial tour guide of Austin for friends who just want to see what makes this place so “weird.” Here’s a tip: Take them to Casino El Camino. As it proudly boasts on its entrance sign, it is home to world famous burgers, and an even more famous location. It is a one stop shop for delicious food, great drinks, and that flawless Austin attitude. (Don’t tell them Rusty Bee sent you, that means something else here…)

Hello Austin, it’s that time of year again. Soon the ice and the sleet will melt away, and Spring will give way to a fantastic tradition: South by Southwest.

This year, SXSW will be held from March 7-16th, and for those of you unfamiliar with the exact parameters of the event – allow me to explain. SXSW is not just a music scene, there are three parts to this affair. Music, Film, And Interactive – there are also trade shows.  Each part brings something new and interesting, allowing small businesses, big business, and everything in between to showcase who they are and proliferate the spread of creativity and technology.

Photo Courtesy of The Austin Statesman

Photo Courtesy of The Austin Statesman

Access to SXSW is dependent on what it is you are looking to gain. There are specific badges for certain events, and an all encompassing badge for everything. If you are going just for the music, you don’t necessarily need a badge at all, but be prepared to wait in line. If you are going to view the film and interactive exhibitions, you can just purchase the Gold Badge. The film shows don’t require a badge, but interactive does.  A platinum badge (access to everything) will cost you roughly $1595, Gold $1395, Music $750, Film $625, Interactive $1195. Click here to buy a badge.

Here is a break down of each individual attraction:

  • FILM:  From the SXSW website: “A SXSW Film Badge is an affordable way for industry professionals and fans alike to gain priority access to screenings, full access to the Film Conference (including Convergence panels with Interactive), the SXSW Trade Show, and great opportunities for networking at lively parties and social events. Without a Film, Gold or Platinum Badge, you may also purchase single admission tickets at the door before individual screenings, space permitting.” Opening night films announced: Chef, Veronica Mars, and Cosmos. Venues:
    1. Paramount Theater, Congress & 7th. This is our largest venue.
    2. Stateside Theater, Congress & 8th.
    3. Ritz 1 & 2, 6th & Trinity. Around the corner from the Convention Center, the Ritz is beloved for its full bar and tasty menu.
    4. Violet Crown Cinema, 2nd & Guadalupe.
    5. Topfer Theater at ZACH, Toomey Rd off S. Lamar.
    6. Rollins Theater at The Long Center, W Riverside Dr off S. 1st
    7. Vimeo Theater in Exhibit Hall 2 at the Austin Convention Center, E Cesar Chavez & Red River.


  • INTERACTIVE: Must buy a badge to attend this event (either Interactive Badge, Gold, or Platinum) The 21st annual SXSW Interactive Festival is held from Friday, March 7 through Tuesday, March 11. From the SXSW website, “An incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity, the 2014 event features five days of compelling presentations and panels from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis of the future, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview the technology of tomorrow today. “


  • MUSIC: Most young people seem to be more interested in the music aspect of SXSW.  Hundreds of well-known and popular musicians and artists flock to the city to showcase their talents.  You can purchase a Music badge, which will grant you access to any show and any venue, or you can hit up the list of RSVP’s to attend for free.  With the RSVP, there is no guarantee you will get in, and most of the time requires you to wait in a long line.  The list of show case artists can be viewed here with most of the artists and venues being released later in February. So be on the look out by subscribing to the newsletter. There is also a comedy portion to SXSW, in which you can see your favorite comedians
Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of

  • Trade Shows:  From the SXSW website “A four day business exhibition spanning all three conferences (Interactive, Film and Music). Admission to the SXSW Trade Show is open to all SXSW badge holders and all SXSW Showcasing artist wristbands. 65,000 people attended the Trade Show in 2013. Leaders in the music, film, and interactive industries all converge in one location, providing a one-of-a-kind opportunity. International participation is unparalleled with 66 countries represented at SXSW 2013.Who exhibits at the SXSW Trade Show? Start-ups, established brands, and everything in between. Labels, distributors, merchandise companies, studios, film/music/technology universities, talent and marketing agencies, festivals, related non-profits, associations, commissions. Software and hardware manufacturers, social media solutions, infrastructure and hosting providers, SEO and marketing services.”


List of Places to RSVP to:

Who to follow on twitter:

  • @southbyfreenoms
  • @Sxshhh
  • @sxfreenoms
  • @SXSW

For More twitter accounts


Helpful websites/tips: for all your general questions will list free/unofficial shows that are happening RENT A BIKE schedule of events by DAY  to buy a Shuttle pass to get around

Should you choose to go to a music venue to see about your RSVP, best advice is to get there EARLY as possible.


Where to Stay, How much it Will Cost:

Unfortunately, there’s no real good answer for this. Most hotels in the downtown area will try to price gauge as the event gets closer and closer.  If you choose to buy a badge, it is easier to register through the SXSW website for a hotel room.  And of course, there’s always craigslist, airbnb, and couchsurfer.


The New Year brings an assortment of possibilities for you and your company, and perhaps even new opportunities for hiring people to your team.  This is typically a multi-tier process that requires lots of effort to hire the best and most qualified candidates.  Posting job descriptions, sifting through resumes, holding interviews – these are tasks which should not be taken lightly, and often times the process can be tricky.  However, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you are getting the right candidates into your door, and ultimately the best for the job.

Job Description 

This should be constructed less as a “description” and more as an advertisement.  What opportunities will working for your company provide? It should read less like a “this is what you will be doing” and more like “this is what you GET to do!” Really sell your company, provide information about who you are and what your mantra is.  This will ensure excitement among the potential employees and encourage them to apply.  The more people that apply, the more talent you have to choose from.

Also, include a list of character traits you are looking for.  Experience is a good indicator of knowledge, but it doesn’t always mean that person will be the best fit for your team.  What is it that your company does, and what will they be doing in that specific role? Are you a team of strict and by the books professionals? Or are you a team of laid back desig9638034_sners? Try branching out from your typical phrases like “hard-working” or “analytical.”  Really get to the core of the job and your business, for example “we like to work hard to play hard” or “process oriented”.

Beyond the Resume  

What makes a good resume? Well, mostly it depends on who is looking at it.  Now that you’ve identified the job and what traits you are looking for, somehow you need to decipher which applicants fit this model based on their resume.  There are very basic things that separate candidates just by looking solely at their resume, typically education and experience.  Narrowing down a strong pool of prospects from these criteria should be the very first step.  The next few are a little more interpretive and variant.  For some roles, including mid to upper level positions, hiring based on experience may be the most practical.  For others, hiring based on experience may seem like the most efficient way, but does not guarantee you are getting the best person for the job.  Look beyond the resume at other credentials they have to offer such as a portfolio, writing samples, or even references.

And of course much of the interview process allows you to look beyond the resume as well.  Skype or phone interviews are often the first initial point of contact; these should also serve as an additional filter before the actual in person interview. A lot of companies have also begun to adhere to challenging prescreening techniques, such as having potential candidates take online personality tests or field-related quizzes.  All of this information is useful for finalizing the best possible team member.


So they have managed to make it this far, you liked what you saw and maybe what you heard, and now you invite them down for the interview process.  In many larger companies, interviews are conducted in rounds or stages, with the potential candidates coming in as many as two or three times.  This elongated interview stage can be eliminated by following the above steps.  These interviews should be with applicants you are seriously considering for the job.

Asking the right questions is of course the crux of every great interview.  There are lists of basic interview questions that can be found in any corner of the internet or among interview materials, however, I find it difficult to grasp how you could expect to receive dynamic answers from basic questions.  We are trying to find the perfect candidate, aren’t we? Some hiring managers have informed me of the “rapid fire” technique in which they ask a serious of questions in quick succession to see how creative or interesting the replies are.  The company that I work for is very process oriented, so one of the interview questions was, “Explain how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to someone who has never made one before.”

Probe into their work experience by asking pertinent questions, how they handled certain kinds of situations, and what they expect to gain by working for your company.  This will give you an insight into their overall personality, how well they work under pressure, and a glimpse of their knowledge base.

And lastly, maintaining an open line of communication toward prospective candidates after the interview is key.  After all, you have asked them to jump through many hoops, giving them an estimated timetable of when they should hear back from you is very little to ask.

It’s dark, late at night.  You are lying in your bed, fretting over the details for the company holiday party, when an eerie voice comes drifting through your hallway.  Suddenly a translucent figure appears at the end of your bed!  It’s the Ghost of Holiday Parties Past, and he is here to remind you of that one party you tried to block out – where no one danced, all conversations consisted of meaningless small talk, and your white elephant gift exchange turned into an all-out brawl for the new iPad.

But fear not, for the Ghost of Holiday Parties Yet to Come is here to help.

The secret to a good holiday party is in the details.

Sure, we would all love to attend an extravaganza only a one J. Gatsby could throw, but money doesn’t grow on trees (yet).  Choosing a great venue is important, but not one that is going to break the bank! Find a location that offers potential, maybe in an up-and-coming area, or one with a great view.

The next important factor is entertainment.  You can’t expect people to entertain themselves, and the LAST thing you want is that one co-worker using this as an opportunity to try out his stand-up routine (you aren’t funny Steve). 16604185_sThere are several options you can employ here.  Hiring a DJ to provide the tunes and a dance floor for people to bust out their moves is always entertaining. There’s always the karaoke route, which some might say is a little cliché, but always provides the laughs.  Try looking in your local area for small time magicians who can perform for a large group or take turns walking around the venue to different tables. And one that’s always a hit – hire a local artist to draw caricatures for everyone. It’s a fun memento for the guests to take away.  A quick google search turned up lots of results for local magicians and artists.

Of course we can’t forget that it is the holiday season, so gift giving is a must.  Raffling off a few items like gift cards or pre-made baskets are simple, yet fun.  Who doesn’t like to win free stuff?

And finally, the ambience – it’s important.  Create an atmosphere that people feel comfortable enough to mingle, and to open up.  While it is important to note that an office holiday party is still a work function, it doesn’t need to feel like work. Getting some decorations and those candles with fake bulbs (fire and parties don’t mix) can really go a long way when setting the mood.  Name cards are sometimes useful so that introducing yourself doesn’t become awkward, and you can never forget your boss’ wife’s name (it’s Donna for the last time!).

So cease your anxiety, and relax.  Creating an awesome holiday party is much easier than you thought! Oh, wait… that ghost is still lingering at the end of your bed? Yeah, not sure what that’s about… you’re on your own for this one.

Here’s some small business news you might have missed. Lots of interesting stuff going on in central Texas!

Austin is home to Square Cow Movers, who recently were recognized as the 9th fastest growing small business in the central Texas region. Owner Wade Lombard was gracious when he was notified about the rank. “We congratulate everyone who made the list this year, it’s quite an achievement.” Find  out who else made the list.

Xeris Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical development company  started a Phase 2 clinical study of its liquid, injectable treatment for severe hypoglycemia, which is often a condition associated with diabetes. The Texas Diabetes Institute is working with the company. “We are very excited to be collaborating with Xeris on the soluble glucagon clinical trial here at the Texas Diabetes Institute in San Antonio,” said Dr. Ralph DeFronzo. “A product combining a stable glucagon with a patient-friendly, auto-injector pen is a major advance in the treatment of severe hypoglycemic events.”

You may be seeing more delicious chocolate around Austin if Delysia Chocolatier’s public funding-raising campaign is successful. The local candy maker is raising funds to build a production facility and education center. The effort to attract investors is being run on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website.

Telecom technology maker Freescale Semiconductor earned a contract to provide a signal processing product that is essential for a 4G wireless communication platform. The company was selected by ZTE Corporation, a global provider of telecom equipment. “This project continues the successful track record that ZTE and Freescale have established in collaborating to create world-class wireless infrastructure solutions,” said Tareq Bustami, vice president of product management for Freescale’s Digital Networking business.

Finally, we found out that earlier this month the Small Business Administration announced that its government-backed lending activity increased 32% in the north Texas region. The agency backed over $813 million in loans in the district, which is home to 915,000 small businesses. A recovering economy was a factor in the rise.

This week’s small business news review found a few notable stories around the Austin, TX area.

The Austin Advertising Federation held its annual Big Wigs award show using the musical comedy “Hairspray” as the theme for the night. The event, held at the Rattle Inn, featured categories such as Best Talent Agent, Best Video Producer, and Most Likely to be my Boss in 10 Years.

A new business shipping service was released by Austin-based uShip, Inc. The company provides a bidding platform for those who need to ship goods. With over 30% of the company’s business generated from commercial users, CEO Matt Chasen decided to focus on business customers by offering a commercial-only portal.

‘Big data’ companies met with energy industry leaders on Thursday to discuss the role of data in operations. Attendees learned ways in which energy providers can use data to identify areas of waste and opportunities to deliver energy more efficiently. The event featured Todd Kimbriel, Director of the eGovernment Division for the State of Texas and Dr. John Boisseau of UT at Austin among others.

Austin’s Yeti Coolers was profiled in Bloomberg Businessweek’s Lifestyle section of the publisher’s website. The 2006 startup has earned more than $100 million already this year and its sturdy products have been used by everyone from fishermen to doctors.

Finally, a local telecom company received $700K in seed financing from a syndicate of investors. Two-year-old Rail Yard received the financing so it could expand operations and boost marketing for its flagship Telecom Concierge SaaS platform.