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SXSW ’14: St. Louis Startup Owners Share What They Took Away

Michael Calhoun
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(Michael Calhoun/KMOX)

(Michael Calhoun/KMOX)

calhoun2 Michael Calhoun
A native St. Louisan, Michael Calhoun grew up listening to the Voice...
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AUSTIN, Tx. (KMOX) – With a dream and a prototype, they boarded a bus with plans to meet just the right people in Austin, Texas to turn their idea into a company. So, how’d it go?

KMOX’s Michael Calhoun is on a bus headed home from South By Southwest, talking with local start-up owners about their experience at the tech fest.

‘South By’  can be the chance to meet your idol, whether it’s the director of a successful business incubator in the U.K. or the star of Shark Tank. Just ask Michael Werner.

“I look over and there’s this face that I recognize, and I realized it was Mark Cuban,” he says. “I told him I loved his work, his style, and the way he does things.”

Cuban offered advice on where to get the perfect coffee in the morning, and Werner did have coffee with the U.K. accelerator director, who offered advice for Werner’s Tech Artista coworking center he’s opening in St. Louis.

Michael Werner of Tech Artista (left) and Ryan Brennell of Glatitood (right). (Photo by Michael Calhoun, KMOX)

Michael Werner of Tech Artista (left) and Ryan Brennell of Glatitood (right). (Photo by Michael Calhoun, KMOX)

From the start, Alex Cruz meticulously planned out where he’d be and who he wanted to meet. His company, PenPath, is a tool that helps writers track how influential they are.

So, first, he sought to meet people in the analytics business, going to speeches and dashing to the front with his laptop in hand.

“And secondly, investors who might invest in me and help my company grow, which I also did,” he says. “And lastly, writers themselves. I got to show them the product and they are absolutely going crazy for it, which makes me very excited and confirms our assumptions that this is a product that’s needed.

He says the trip to South by Southwest put him about six months ahead of schedule, with a bunch of important contacts.

Dennis King, president of St. Louis-based Working Security, Inc., benefited from a slew of seminars on privacy policies and procedures, as well as Q&As with Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

“It’s important to all of us,” he says. “As individuals, we’re consumers of privacy, yet privacy is not something we can actually produce ourselves. It’s provided for us by organizations, nonprofits, business organizations, government. So we’re now in this incredibly relevant discussion about where our personal data goes.”

As a startup owner himself, King says he learned how to raise money and how to run his business.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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