10 Austin Startups You Should Meet While You’re at SXSW

SXSW Updated: Since more than 30,000 people are coming here to Austin for South by Southwest, I figured I’d offer up a list of local companies that members of the digerati should take the time to meet while they’re in town. Austin has a ton of startups, but I tried to highlight the ones doing things that Austinites do well (such as enterprise social media efforts and hardware) as well as those I think are about to break out and become bigger.
A note to those folks following the manufactured Foursquare-Gowalla smackdown: Gowalla is not listed because most people have already met with Josh Williams, Gowalla’s founder, and I wanted to save room for some unknown Austinites.

  1. Gendai Games — This is the company behind GameSalad, a platform that anyone can use to build iPhone games. Its software could become to App Store game development what Microsoft’s (s msft) Frontpage software was for creating web sites without having to know HTML. One local tech watcher says he thinks that Gendai’s platform could be Apple’s answer to Flash.
  2. Smooth-Stone — I write about this company all the time because I’m intrigued by its plan to use ARM-based chips in servers as a way to conserve energy and match the processing power to the workload required by web-scale companies.
  3. Plerts — A stealthy startup doing some form of personal alerts on the iPhone. I’m hoping the company will launch at SXSW.
  4. Whurleyvision — William Hurley, better known as Whurley, is an Austin tech celebrity, but visit his R&D firm to discuss the future of augmented reality and his rather passionate call for better AR hardware. Update: After launching at SXSW, Whurleyvision is now Chaotic Moon Studio.
  5. ATX Innovation — These are the developers behind the TabbedOut app, which connects with a bar’s payment system and allows you to track and then settle your bar tab with one click. Having waited around for more than 20 minutes for my tab on many occasions, I’m loving this. The app is free and users pay a 99-cent fee on each transaction. It’s available for iPhones, and is being tested right now in several Austin bars and restaurants.
  6. Infochimps — I love this startup because I love anything that makes access to data easier. Infochimps aggregates and then licenses data sets in formats that folks can then use to create new apps, demographic models or whatever; public data sets are free and private ones (or ones that Infochimps has scrubbed) cost money. Anyone can submit a data set.
  7. AreYouWatchingThis.com — If you’ve ever blown off a football game after the first quarter and later found out that your team rebounded in the fourth to win in an upset, you need RUWT. This 3-year-old startup has built a bot that factors in items such as games going into overtime, when talented teams are unexpectedly losing and other indications of an exciting match-up, and then sends out an alert via text or email so that true sports fans never miss out.
  8. LugIron — This company founded by ex-Cisco (s csco) guys wants to be the middleware between social media and enterprise customer relationship management or business intelligence software. The goal is to provide software that can correlate information from Twitter or Facebook to how it affects your business.
  9. Appozite — This two-man (actually one man and one woman) startup is behind @cheaptweet, which has 22,000 followers and scours Twitter for savings. If you don’t meet with them, at least follow them so you can score some savings.
  10. OtherInbox — Email isn’t going away, but it is becoming increasingly cumbersome. OtherInbox allows users to organize their email, automatically routing messages that come via Facebook or iTunes receipts into folders that you can ignore until you have space time. The endgame is to grab relevant information from your inbox and surface it easily, but we’re not there yet.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Igor Bespamnatyov