Josh Hare, founder of craft brewer Hops and Grain, didn't plan to stay in Austin indefinitely when he moved there from Boulder, Colorado, in 2005. But the city grew on him as he transitioned from an early foray in specialty retail into brewing in 2011. Active in a local brewer's guild, Hare found the small but growing community of craft brewers to be incredibly supportive and helpful when it came to perfecting his product.
"Everyone is blown away by how collaborative we are," said Hare, whose business recently raised more than $787,000 to open a new brewery on Wefunder, an equity crowdfunding platform.
By many accounts, the public is also very receptive to the innovation coming out of Austin's many new businesses, among them successful products such as Epic Bars, made from grass-fed beef, bison and other meats.
"In Austin, word of mouth spreads very fast," said Dan Gillotte, chief executive grocer at Wheatsville Food Co-op, a full-service natural-foods cooperative grocery store that has served Austin since 1976. "People use social media and talk about stuff on Yelp a lot of times. Every city has these things, but in Austin they are extremely vibrant. Even on Reddit the latest taco truck gets enthusiasm."
And while the cost of living in Austin is rising, it's still more affordable than tech hot spots like Silicon Valley and New York. The potential to keep costs lean wasn't lost on Sarah Ware, CEO and co-founder of Markerly, who with husband and co-founder Justin Kline moved her 20-person marketing technology start-up, founded in 2012, from Silicon Valley to Austin in 2013.
"Because housing is lower and the cost of living is lower, you don't have to pay your employees the same amount you would in New York City," said Ware. "Texas is really tax-friendly for businesses," she added.
Austin also has a rich entrepreneurial ecosystem, including hubs such as Austin Technology Incubator, located at University of Texas at Austin; the prestigious Techstars Austin accelerator; and a start-up density that puts it in the top 10 for the country, according to the Kauffman Foundation.