Big Town Small Business
Our first Big Town Small Business webisode was posted on Monday! We’ve gotten some great feedback and even picked up some new supporters! We want to give a special thanks to Anthony and Joe Vennare of Hybrid Athlete; Anthony and Joe are two brothers running a business – just like iWebXpert.
To say that the last 9 days have been amazing would be an understatement. In that time, we’ve travelled over 2,500 miles, eaten some delicious food, made some new friends and experienced first-hand the truly humbling generosity of good, hard-working people. We had our first 14-hour-straight production session to edit our first video from the road, conducted 5 informative interviews, slept very little, and learned a lot about ourselves and how we handle pressure as a team.
We arrived in Austin, TX at around midnight on Thursday, April 4th, and awoke early for our two interviews on Friday the 5th. The first was with Amy Simmons, owner of Austin’s iconic Amy’s Ice Creams and Phil’s Ice House. If you find yourself in Austin, you owe it to yourself to check out one of her locations. The ice cream flavors were creative and delicious, and served with a cheerful smile by juggling employees who send ice cream scoops sailing through the air into your bowl.
Amy opened her first ice cream shop in Austin almost 30 years ago and has since expanded to 15 locations, including one in Houston and one in San Antonio. She had some very valuable things to say about the importance of community involvement for small businesses. Amy’s has a reputation for steering clear of formal advertising; instead the word is spread by Amy’s involvement in the Austin community and the personal relationships developed with their customers every day. Amy speaks in support of non-profit and educational organizations, and is also devoted to helping entrepreneurs and independent businesses thrive. She mentors aspiring business owners and even sets up properties called “Austinvilles”, which she only rents out to local businesses. We got a great deal of advice from Amy, which we’re eager to share with you in our next webisode.
Next we headed over to Spider House Café and Ballroom to meet Conrad Bejarano. At first glance, we swore he was a rock star, but once we got to talking with him, we could see that he was simply a born entrepreneur and one of the coolest, kindest people we’ve met. He spent nearly four hours talking with us about his multiple businesses, all of which he co-owns with long-time friend and business partner John Dorgan:
- Spider House Café and Ballroom: A coffee shop built in an old 1920’s house near the University of Texas campus in the mid 1990’s, which has since evolved into an eclectic music venue with 5 stages and a small community of local businesses to which Conrad rents out space.
- I Luv Video: Probably the coolest video rental store on the planet. Definitely the oldest (founded in 1984) and world’s largest, which was pretty impressive.
- EcoClean: An eco-friendly laundry service that offers a safe alternative to the toxic chemicals used in dry cleaning.
After geeking out at I Luv Video for awhile, we went back to our room and stayed up all night editing our very first webisode. On Saturday, we had some time to experience Austin; we saw the Capital building, had incredible tacos at Torchy’s, and hung out at some of the local dives on 6th Street. By Sunday, we were on the road again. Our impression of Austin, TX is that the people are incredibly kind and welcoming, the lifestyle is unique (Austin’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird”), and the economy is thriving, due in no small part to a community of business owners who work together to survive, and who pride themselves on building meaningful and lasting relationships with their customers. Keep an eye out for our Austin webisode, coming soon!
Want to ask us about our trip, or tell us about a super-secret awesome place we absolutely must see on our travels? Leave us a comment below!
Check out our Austin Big Town Small Business Webisode, HERE!
-Next stop: Colorado Springs, Colorado!