The Culture of Business
Another great story in the Atlantic Cities!
On one recent weekday morning at Geekdom, two young men were playing ping-pong. People were sprawled around the space, at desks and on couches, and those who weren’t plugged into laptops were wandering out of each other’s offices. South Asian and South American accents mingled with Texas twang. Startups are often formed here simply thanks to “serendipity,” Longo says. If the right people bump into each other, a new business can get moving that day.
Take ParLevel Systems, a startup founded after a group of five guys got to thinking about the vending machine in Geekdom’s break room. How, they wondered, does the vending machine company know when this machine runs out of an item? The group designed a computer program that can track when a vending machine sells a bag of Fritos, when the machine needs restocking, and machine sales at different locations. The startup was accepted into TechStars, the elite seed-funding program, and the founders will soon make their pitch to investors.
Another startup born at Geekdom is TrueAbility, which has developed a program to test the skills of I.T. professionals in real time and on a live server. The program gives companies more useful and transparent information about potential hires than credentials on a résumé. Former Rackspace employees, TrueAbility’s founders have already received seed money from Weston and one of his fellow Rackspace co-founders, and they’ll have another opportunity to connect with investors when they present at South by Southwest next week.
“One thing that every community needs is an organizing force for entrepreneurship,” says Weston. Rackspace has been to San Antonio what Dell is to Austin: one company with the clout to both attract talent and invest in economic development. Fostering innovation is part of Rackspace’s culture–the company offers free-open-source software to allow developers to build their own cloud-computing infrastructure. The personal philanthrophy of Rackspace’s founders doesn’t hurt, either.