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Best Places if You’re on a Budget

When you think of San Antonio, what's the first thing that pops into your head? We're going to guess the Alamo, possibly in combination with memories of the movie "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure." But this growing city has more to offer than its place in American history. San Antonio is quickly gaining a reputation for being a leader in tech, as well as an affordable city where your dollar goes the distance.

"San Antonio is recognized pretty much across the board as one of the top 10 cities in the United States where you get the most bang for your buck in terms of your paycheck," says David Heard, founder and CEO of Tech Bloc, a grassroots organization helping to grow the tech ecosystem in San Antonio. "We pride ourselves on being a part of the new economy where you can live in San Antonio and have every opportunity to work with or at a great technology company, or build one, but also live in a community where the spending power of your paycheck is maximized."

A decade ago, some IT companies in San Antonio were finding it difficult to convince top talent that the city had a tech scene. So they took action. Today San Antonio is home to Weston Urban, a group dedicated to helping develop downtown; grant issuer The 80 / 20 Foundation, which is focusing on turning the city into the next hub for entrepreneurship; and co-working space Geekdom. The city's recently established tech district actively supports the city's tech community and recruits businesses from elsewhere in the state and country.

"There's really a whole new interface over the last five years to build out a tech district in downtown San Antonio with some real progress being made to create clustering in our urban core for young tech companies," says Heard. "There's tremendous entrepreneur support programs located in that zone, great co-working spaces for technology people, and a whole host of other things that we are building out downtown to provide a great hub for starting and growing a young tech company."

"We're pretty happy with the level of talent that we were able to secure for the company," says Andrew Trickett, co-founder of Merge VR, a company that created goggles that use smartphones to deliver immersive virtual reality. "We've got a really strong team, arguably as good as any team out there, and the costs are way less than what you would have out in Silicon Valley or Silicon Beach. So we are able to get a lot done, get good talent, for having to raise less money."

"I think San Antonio is one of the emerging up-and-coming cities that has yet to be really discovered and built," says Lew Moorman, co-founder and general partner of Scaleworks, a venture equity firm investing in SaaS companies. "There's a great talent base here, there's a great quality of life. It's an authentic, interesting city that has great culture to it and it still has its best days ahead of it, it is still being built, so I think it appeals to a lot of people who want to build businesses and help build the city."

Andrew Trickett
Merge Labs, Inc.
Cofounder

How Andrew Trickett is Helping People See Reality in a New Way

Andrew Trickett is the cofounder of Merge Labs, Inc., a Texas-based startup focused on making virtual reality fun and easy for everyone. In charge of strategic planning for the technology startup, Trickett oversees fundraising, business development, customer support, and business operations. He has a strong history of operating, evaluating and advising tech startups, and working with investor groups.

Trickett cofounded Merge Labs with Franklin Lyons. Both men have backgrounds in gaming, technology, design, content development, and hardware creation. While it has more products in the work, right now Merge is primarily known for its purple Merge VR Goggles, which are compatible with iOS and Android smartphones. Users insert a phone into the goggles and enter an immersive VR experience via a variety of apps, available from Merge's website.

"Our ambitions have always been the same but our story is emerging as people are going to start and see more and more out of us," says Trickett. "We are a VR company and we are going to be playing in multiple parts of the ecosystem, which will include different pieces of hardware and also different pieces of software. The world got to know us initially by the Merge VR Goggles, but there's going to be several other pieces of hardware that people will see from us in due time. We are huge fans of VR and we think it's the next great digital computing platform that's comparable to when the world moved from mainframes to PCs and PCs to mobile, and we're excited to be a part of it."