For the last four years, the ATX Startup Crawl has acted as the unofficial prelude to SXSW Interactive, the technology portion of the SXSW festival that will take Austin by storm this week.

And the 2015 Pre-SXSW Startup Crawl (5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, March 12) will be the largest yet. Heralded as the biggest party to kick off before SXSW and boasting the slogan “Hot Tech. Cold Beer,” the Startup Crawl showcases the best talent, startups, and more that Austin’s tech community has to offer. If you’re looking for an  opportunity to network, recruit, job hunt, or just check out the office space of some of Austin’s coolest startups, this is it.

“It’s amazing to think back to when we started it,” said Startup Crawl founder Joshua Baer, executive director of the Capital Factory, the Austin startup incubator where the Startup Crawl got its start.

Baer said this year’s Startup Crawl is expected to draw in the neighborhood of 10,000 to 15,000 attendees with  more than 100 startups participating—a major leap from the event’s humble beginnings in 2011, which had very little planning, no budget, and got started with a simple Eventbrite page. That first Startup Crawl managed to draw roughly 1,000 people to Capital Factory to check out a handful of startups. “It still felt huge,” Baer said.

Things are different in 2015. The Startup Crawl has introduced a new concept called Mega Stops, where some stops along the crawl route feature startups clustered together based on similarities in their businesses. (WP Engine, a Gold Sponsor of the Pre-SXSW Startup Crawl and will have a booth at the Mega Stop at the Capital Factory, 701 Brazos Street, 16th Floor, Austin.)

Startup Crawl’s growth and evolution parallels the explosion of Austin’s startup movement, Baer said. Austin’s fast growth and reputation as a hub of creativity benefits the startup scene by attracting top talent and innovative companies to the city.

“This is how we know the startup scene is growing – it’s one of the yardsticks,” Baer said of Startup Crawl’s success.

Along with the Startup Crawl, Baer said he’s also looking forward to the Demo Day scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, March 13, where 15 Austin startups in the SXSW Startup Village will showcase their products.

The Startup Crawl kicks off at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 12 at the Capital Factory, 701 Brazos Street, Suite 1601, Austin (or at your assigned starting point). RSVP now. You can follow the Startup Crawl on Twitter @ATXStartupCrawl.