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My three favorite Austin based companies

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Kammok LogoIf you are looking to start a business, Austin is a great place to launch from. The city is full of entrepreneurs. Even though a lot of those new businesses are tech related, there are also several amazing consumer packaged good companies started out of Austin, including my own company, Bearded Brothers.

Tech companies are a dime a dozen, but entrepreneurs producing tangible products are far fewer, so if you plan on starting a business for the world’s next greatest widget then Austin, Texas is a great place to launch from. They city is full of like minded entrepreneurs, which makes for a great pool of friends to draw from for support and encouragement.

Since starting Bearded Brothers I have meet the owners of several other companies. All of them have interesting and inspiring stories. Below is a list of my three favorite Austin based companies in the consumer packaged goods market.

Kammok
Kammok makes the most comfortable and easy to use hammock you will ever lay in. Prior to meeting these guys and trying out their product I could care less about hammocks, but now I love my Kammok.

Kammok is a 1% For The Planet member, and they donate their 1% of total sales to CTC International, as well as helping children receive life saving treatments through Malaria No More. Their mission is to Equip and Inspire for Life Changing Adventure.

SPIbelt
The world’s first, and best Small Personal Item Belt. Developed by Austin local Kim Overton to solve the problem of not having a good place to store keys while running. After her, “there has to be a better way” epiphany, she created the first SPIbelt: a small no bounce waist belt to hold small personal items such as keys and cell phones.

Her company has strong local roots. In the early days of her company she provided jobs to people in the local community that allowed them to work from home producing the belts. Kim has since moved her production process to a warehouse close to downtown, but still provides jobs for people in the local community.

Chameleon Cold-Brew
This is hands down the best cold brew coffee on the super market shelves. Started by the owners of Bennu Coffee as a side project, this small company is taking off like wild fire, and now has its product on the shelves of Target in the Southwest Region. While Chameleon is still fairly small, they are available across the nation in select stores.

I have had the pleasure to meet both of the owners, and both are very generous and always willing to talk business and offer advice. Chameleon and Bearded Brothers actually recently attended Expo West in Anaheim California and were just two both spaces down from each other!


There are many other amazing companies in Austin, making it an excellent place to start a business. The community here is very supportive of local products, making it easier to get your business off the ground by getting support from the people you live closest to.

Although you will find the cost of living in Austin quite a bit higher than a lot of places, the trade off is worth it for the community of like-minded entrepreneurs you will have access to. If you are thinking of starting a consumer packaged goods business, Austin is the place!

8 Reasons to start your business in Austin and 4 reasons you may want to reconsider

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So, you want to choose the best city to start your new business? If you have asked yourself that question, I’m sure you have thought about Austin. Having lived in Dallas before moving here I firmly believe Austin is one of the best places for any startup, whether it be tech, product oriented, or food.

Here are 8 compelling reasons to start your business in Austin.

  1. The community screams, “Support Local.” With several farmers markets, several organic farms, and hundreds of locally owned coffee shops (as well as other businesses), this community is local proud, and loves supporting local brands.
  2. Business incubators abound, and not just tech incubators. It’s home to Incubation Station, a business incubator geared towards consumer packaged goods, and there are plenty of office spaces geared towards co-working.
  3. High net worth community. If you are looking for investors, Austin is filled with people of high net worth in a relatively small area. Austin may be big, but it has a small town feel.
  4. Networking is a breeze. Because Austin has a small town feel it’s easy to network and meet new people to partner with. And, since the community is so supportive of local you won’t have a problem finding somebody willing to give you a moment of their time to help you with your startup.
  5. Looking to start a consumer goods food business? Austin is the Silicon Valley of food. There are numerous packaged food companies in Austin, some already large, some on the rise. A few of them are: Sweet Leaf Tea, Oatmega Bar (Boundless Nutrition), Bearded Brothers, Kosmic Kombucha, Daily Greens, Food for Lovers, Zhi Tea, and many more.
  6. Festivals abound! Aside from the business side of things, there is some sort of festival going on nearly every weekend. There is not shortage of quality entertainment here in Austin, and many of the events are free.
  7. If you love the outdoors then Austin is a wonderful place to live. There is access to the Greenbelt trail system from downtown, cycling routes through the beautiful hill country, and you have loads of State Parks within an hour and a half driving distance from town.
  8. Food trucks, food trucks, food trucks. LOTS of them, on every other corner! Not only that but Austin is also home to several other fine eateries. Austin is often known as the music capital of the US, but it is also a great place to eat!
Town Lake Austin

Austin’s Town Lake from the I35 pedestrian walkway.

 But Austin also has its drawbacks; here are some reasons you might make you reconsider

  1. Traffic is a nightmare. If you think traffic is bad where you live, Dallas I’m talking to you, try living in Austin. It may take you forty-five minutes to an hour to drive 35 miles in DFW, but in Austin it will take you an hour just to drive 12 miles during rush hour.
  2. The population is BOOMING. Hundreds of people are moving to Austin every day, condos are going up on every other corner, especially near downtown. Yet nothing is done to improve the roads. The population is getting dense.
  3. If you need your own office or production facility built, the city is currently backlogged with permits. It may take months to get your plans approved.
  4. Even finding already existing office/production space can be difficult because so many other startups are looking for the same type of space.

 

There will be cons anywhere you live, but even in locations like Austin that have a list of cons, the pros far outweigh them. Otherwise, why would people flock there? I love Austin, it’s one of two places in Texas I would want to live, the other being Denton. But, as a business owner and a lover of the outdoors I feel Austin is the perfect home in Texas.

The Trail to 50 Miles

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The Trail to 50 Miles

50 MilesSince I started getting into running I have always found the need to set goals for myself in order to improve and stay motivated to exercise. If I didn’t have a half marathon on the books I would find a trained less.

Recently I decided to train for a triathlon. After completing that this past August I soon found myself injured and unable to run anymore. Now that my injury has decreased I once again find myself lacking the motivation to train.

Goals are an important part of training and fitness. My new goal…. to run a 50 mile trail run. My plan is to run the Cactus Rose 50 in October. I have already teamed up with a group of trail runners to train for the event. Having never run more than 15 miles before, training for this trial race will be a huge undertaking.

Additionally, I hope to enter a couple more triathlons along the way. So, it would seem my workout schedule this year will be pretty packed. I’m just really hoping this summer is not as brutally hot as it was this past year. I can’t imagine having to do long training runs in 100-degree heat. But, seeing how this winter has already been unseasonably warm, I have my doubts.

Another reason I have decided to take up train running is, I am still not fully healed from my bike accident in October of 2010. My knees still give me problems, as well as my heal from a more recent injury. The running coach I have talked to recently assured me that trails are where I need to be right now. It makes a lot of sense – the ground gives as you run on it, pavement does not, thus injuries are more likely.

You may think I’m crazy to set my goal so high, seeing as how I have never run more than a half marathon, but I feel it’s better to set my goal high, so if I end up only obtaining a 50k this year, I’m one step closer to obtaining the 50 mile mark.

I have always thought the Ultra Runners were crazy, and that there was no way I would ever do that. But I’ve said that plenty of times, about several things, including entering a triathlon. So, I have learned that If I say I will never do something, chances are I just might end up doing it.

So, keep checking back for updates about my progress. I’m sure I will begin posting more about the sport of trail running as I learn more. I feel fortunate to be living in Austin, where there are so many awesome trails within 30 minutes of my house. It’s sure to make training a lot easier.

Do you find it necessary to set goals to keep your training levels up? If so, share your goals here to motivate and inspire others.