Steve Blank, a professor of entrepreneurship and former serial entrepreneur, drew a crowd at this year's South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas. Among the startup set here, he was among the highest-profile conference speakers, known for his breakthrough ideas about the process of starting new businesses. His insight: Startups should be approached as not small versions of large companies, but as separate and distinct entities with a predictable path to success.

"There's just a ton of energy and excitement here. You get to learn new things and see new people. It’s like a combination of CES, Madri Gras and the world's biggest college-dorm frat party," he says. "The ferment here is just really exciting."

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