After yet another year of uncertainty for small businesses, local entrepreneurs still prevailed and continued to adapt to the world around them. Of the thousands of small business owners in Austin, 23 were named on Forbes’ Next 1000 list
The Next 1000 list is a year-round showcase for America’s small businesses and sole proprietors with under $10 million in revenue. The list is fueled by nominations to create four seasonal installments of 250 people redefining what business means to them. The list is still accepting nominees for the next installment.
More Austin-based companies were named than any other Texas city, though Dallas comes out on top if you include the full metro area of Fort Worth and Frisco, with 24 businesses.
Meet the entrepreneurs from Austin:
Antoinette Alexander Adefela | Exp.Design founder
After more than 10 years of consulting, Adefela started architecture and design firm Exp.Design at the onset of the pandemic and quickly scored big with her first client, Apple's Inclusion and Diversity team.
Nitin Agrawal | Cofounder and CEO of Interstride
Interstride was inspired in 2016 by the real-life experiences of Agrawal and cofounder Christian Eder, who moved to the U.S. several years back to pursue higher education. The result: an interactive portal to help close the opportunity gap for international students by putting community, job opportunities and visa guidance all in one place. Now, Interstride is used at more than 150 universities, including Duke University and UT Austin.
Tim Angelillo | Founder and CEO of Source Craft Cocktails
Austin-based company Source Craft Cocktails spurred to life after the COVID-19 pandemic rendered the bar industry inoperable for months with luxe cocktails delivered to your door. Source Craft Cocktails now serves more than 900,000 customers per day in 10 cities and holds virtual happy hours, called “Sourced Socials.”
Ruben Arias | Beereaders cofounder
Along with cofounder Luis Gringas, Arias started digital learning platform Beereaders to help close the reading comprehension gap among Spanish-speaking students. The platform has helped 135,000 students improve in their native language and has raised more than $2 million in venture capital funding.
Heather Emerson | Prep to Your Door founder
Farm-to-table meal delivery service Prep to Your Door was founded by Emerson after wrapping up a fashion career in New York City and cashing out her 401k savings. Though the service only delivers in Austin and Houston for now, the company has plans to expand nationally by 2024 and has doubled its revenue every year since it began.
Mbiyimoh Ghogomu | Tradeblock cofounder and CEO
Cofounded by Ghogomu, Tony Malveaux and Darren Smith, Tradeblock offers a social marketplace for sneaker collectors with barter-based transactions. Now with more than 38,000 users and 180,000 pairs of shoes, Tradeblock charges a service fee of up to $60 for sales.
Christopher Jane | Proper Good cofounder
Another clean eating company, Proper Good isn’t Jane’s first entrepreneurial endeavor. Proper Good started in 2020, eight years after Jane’s organic condiment company Montana Mex, and offers pre-made meals for all types of diets through its e-commerce platform.
Caren Kelleher | Gold Rush Vinyl founder
As the former head of Music App Partnerships at Google, Kelleher ordered vinyls to sell as merch for an indie band she managed and received them months too late. The late delivery inspired Kelleher to start Gold Rush Vinyl, making the manufacturing process three times faster than the industry standard with energy-efficient practices.
Ariel Lee | Remane cofounder
Personalized hair care company Remane is aiming to disrupt the Black hair care industry by offering personalized recommendations driven by machine learning to those with natural hair. Since starting the company in her junior year of college in 2018, Lee has received funding from Target Accelerators and Blackstone x Techstars.
Charles Li | V2 Admissions founder
At just 21 years old, Li started V2 admissions to help students achieve top-level university acceptance. With its master class on college applications, 150 clients and a three-step approach, V2 Admissions boasts that more than 95% of enrolled students attended one of their top three university choices.
Daniel Marcos | Growth Institute founder
Marcos is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several companies, including Hispanic-serving mortgage lender Unika Mortgage. Most recently, Marcos founded the Growth Institute, an executive coaching company with master classes and online programming. Growth Institute says it helps mid-market companies “scale up with less drama.”
Julia Niiro | MilkRun founder
In the pandemic sphere, a trip to the grocery store can be a formidable task, especially while many home cooks are searching for local alternatives in the kitchen. Niiro’s company MilkRun gives consumers a marketplace to buy produce, dairy and meats from local farmers and has since expanded to Portland and Seattle on top of Austin.
Victoria O'Connell | Golightly cofounder
After having her home burglarized by some renters in 2017, O’Connell started Golightly, a members-only home-sharing platform in 2020. Now with more than 7,000 members in 90 countries, Golightly offers an online and offline community for members to connect.
Janice Omadeke | The Mentor Method founder
Having already raised over $1.5 million in seed funding, The Mentor Method is a reinvigoration of tired corporate mentorship programs and has clients like Deloitte and Chegg. Omadeke did this by creating a double-blind algorithm that matches mentors and mentees, combating unconscious bias and helping increase workplace retention.
Jen Pinkston | La Paloma founder
Pinkston wants kids to be just as cozy at nighttime as their parents, so she created La Paloma, a children's and women's loungewear with garments made from 100% cotton. Now, La Paloma has more than 700 customers including Molly Sims and Meena Harris.
Alexandria Porter | Mod Tech Labs founder
After spending 15 years in the entertainment sphere, Porter created Mod Tech Labs in 2020 to fill a need for realistic content. The business uses machine learning to speed up digital content detailing.
Scotty Reiss | A Girls Guide To Cars founder
Giving women more agency in the auto industry, Reiss founded A Girls Guide to Cars in 2013 and has since gained a digital audience of more than 2 million. Reiss works with brands like Volkswagen, Lexus, Toyota and Cooper Tire while giving car tips on her blog.
Yash Sabharwal | CherryCircle Software cofounder
Working as COO at Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Sabharwal discovered that data management issues delayed product manufacturing and medical availability. Sabharwal cofounded CherryCircle with partner Ryan Shillington to help bridge the gap, accelerate treatments and provide products to patients at cheaper price points. CherryCircle has since raised $4.6 million in funding.
Krista Sampson | Argument-Driven Inquiry founder
Giving teachers tools to create the classroom resources they need, Sampson founded the company in 2015 for educators teaching grades 3-12. Argument-Driven Inquiry provides instructional materials for science, engineering and math teachers through a browser-based application
Benjamin Smith | Disco founder
After a lifelong skincare struggle, Smith started premium care line Disco to give men comfort and confidence in buying skin products. His face cleanser, eye cream, face masks and more are sold at Nordstrom with gender-neutral packaging. The company has raised over $5 million in funding and around $10 million in revenue.
Mark Stern | Custom Box Agency founder
When Stern launched a virtual events company in 2018, he didn’t expect the custom boxes to morph into his main offering just two years later. When the pandemic hit, Stern began to offer more than 100 types of packages to help onboard employees, foster business growth and build business relationships. Custom Box Agency made $450,000 in revenue in 2020.
John Paul Udenenwu | JP’s Pancake founder
A former college basketball player, Udenenwu began experimenting with pancakes for his coworkers while working at a Mexican restaurant. The experience led him to start the first deluxe pancake food truck in 2019, offering toppings like pecans, raspberries, bacon and cookie butter. Since, JP’s Pancake has served more than 20,000 customers.
Lauren Washington | Fundr cofounder
With a mission for bringing equal opportunity to the world of investing, four-time entrepreneur Lauren Washington created Fundr in 2020. Fundr is an online marketplace that automates seed investing by creating portfolios of AI-vetted startups for angel investors and institutional VCs—the company tested the algorithm at the Black Women Talk Tech pitch competition and correctly predicted the winner.
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Summer heat is here and that’s just as good an excuse as any to hunker down with a whole mess of barbecue.
Luckily, some of the best barbecue in the world can be found here in town. If you’re new to ‘cue, start here, if you’re an experienced eater, see how many you’ve checked off your list.
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que | 217 Congress Ave.
For any barbecue lover who hasn't tried the pork ribs at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, it's time to finally do so. Pitmasters Kenny Oestreich and Louis Garcia run the family-owned and operated restaurant, making that delicious barbecue smell wafting on South Congress. Brisket, chicken, jerky and even goat are a fraction of what Cooper's has to offer. You can dine in from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Distant Relatives | 3901 Promontory Point Dr.
Parked at South Austin’s Meanwhile Brewing, Distant Relatives and pitmaster Damien Brockway sport a James Beard nomination despite its youth as a business. The food here is spiced with African influences—try the pork ribs, burnt ends, collard green and smoked peanuts. Distant Relatives is open from 12-8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.
Franklin Barbecue | 900 E. 11th St.
Known for having extremely long lines and mouth-watering brisket from pitmaster and "barbecue nerd" Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue is loved by locals and celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain, Jimmy Kimmel and Barack Obama. From brisket to beef ribs and a Tipsy Texan sandwich, there's nothing more iconic to Austin than this particular barbecue joint. Described by Texas Monthly as "serving the best barbecue in the known universe," Franklin Barbecue is a must-try if you're new to town. Franklin’s is closed on Mondays and open Tuesday-Sundays from 11 a.m.–sold out, which comes earlier than you think so arrive early to line up.
Green Mesquite BBQ | 1400 Barton Springs Rd. and 9900 I-35
An Austin classic, Green Mesquite BBQ has been serving barbecue at Barton Springs since 1988. This Austin barbecue spot switches things up by featuring mesquite barbecue, a method of cooking meat over a fire using mesquite wood that gives it a distinct flavor. This is the spot for chicken wings, fried okra, baked potatoes and sweet smoky meat. The Barton Springs location is open daily from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and the Southpark location is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Interstellar BBQ | 12233 Ranch Road 620 N
Using high-quality ingredients and wood, and cooking in small batches, low and slow is the motto Interstellar BBQ goes by. Of course, you can get all the classic favorites: brisket, pulled pork and ribs, but Interstellar has some pretty stellar signatures. Try the peach tea glazed pork belly, brisket taco, jalapeno popper sausage and you can even get bulk sauces or beef tallow to cook with. You can take out your feast or dine in from 11 a.m. until sold out Wednesday-Sunday.
La Barbecue | 2401 E. Cesar Chavez St.
La Barbecue is a shining star of Texas barbecue. Owned by LeAnn Mueller and wife Ali Clem, La Barbecue serves brisket, beef and pork ribs, sausages and so much more. Pitmaster Clem has established her influence on La Barbecue with help from Francicso Saucedo, especially for the sausages and pork ribs for a perfect barbecue experience. You can preorder online or dine in from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.
LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue | 121 Pickle Road
This new-school and creative food truck blends new school flavors with traditional embellishments. LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue opened their doors in 2017 in the Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden lot and pitmaster Evan LeRoy and Director of Operation Sayer Lewis have provided Austinites with locally-sourced barbecue since. From brisket to sausage to barbacoa, LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue have all the fixins' and more for barbecue lovers in town. Grab some grub from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., or sold out, Wednesday–Sunday.
Micklethwait Craft Meats | 1309 Rosewood Ave.
Micklethwait Craft Meats is no stranger to the well-known barbecue game in Austin. Also featured in Texas Monthly as one of the best barbecue spots in Texas, pitmaster Tom Micklethwait brings standout items to the Austin food game. With brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, homemade sausages and so much more on their menu, Micklethwait Craft Meats is the perfect spot for meat lovers looking for a new destination. You can get your barbecue fix Thursday-Saturday either through preorder or walk up and there's even an outdoor picnic area that is open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew | 6610 N. Lamar Blvd.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew is led by pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick, with a hometown twist and celebrity status of being featured in “Dazed and Confused.” Owner and Texas native Shane Stiles named Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew after a Central Texas railroad stop on the I&GN Railroad from the 1800s. The authentically delicious barbecue such as beef rib, pork ribs and sausage are just the start of the menu. You can dine in from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Terry Black's Barbecue | 1003 Barton Springs Road
Pitmasters Michael and Mark Black, from the famous Black’s Barbecue family, bring Lockhart's barbeque knowledge to Austin. The meat market-style restaurant offers delicious brisket, pork rib, beef sausage and shining sides . If you're new to town and thinking of sending a gift to your friends and family outside of the state, Terry Black's offers nationwide shipping for most of their meats. Austinites can dine in from 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and Friday-Saturday from 1:20 a.m.-10 p.m.
Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ | 11500 Manchaca Road
In a city where tacos and barbecue aren't hard to find, pitmaster Miguel Vida brings Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ to Austin with a twist on both food groups. Is there anything more Austin than skipping tradition and creating something completely unique? Valentina's serves brisket, pulled pork and chicken and beef fajita with a Mexican twist. Make sure to try their smoked brisket taco and order online before it all sells out. Valentina’s is closed Monday-Tuesday, but open for dine-in from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. (or until sold out) Wednesday-Sunday.
The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus is urging Gov. Greg Abbott to call an emergency special legislative session to consider a variety of gun restrictions and safety measures in the wake of a mass school shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two adults dead this week.
In a letter released Saturday morning, all 13 Senate Democrats demanded lawmakers pass legislation that raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years old. The Uvalde gunman was 18 and had purchased two AR-style rifles which he used in the attack.
The caucus is also calling for universal background checks for all firearm sales, “red flag” laws that allow a judge to temporarily remove firearms from people who are considered an imminent threat to themselves or others, a “cooling off period” for the purchase of a firearm and regulations on high capacity magazines for citizens.
“Texas has suffered more mass shootings over the past decade than any other state. In Sutherland Springs, 26 people died. At Santa Fe High School outside Houston, 10 people died. In El Paso, 23 people died at a Walmart. Seven people died in Midland-Odessa,” the letter reads. “After each of these mass killings, you have held press conferences and roundtables promising things would change. After the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, those broken promises have never rung more hollow. The time to take real action is now.”
Such laws are unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has a track record of favoring legislation that loosens gun restrictions. Only the governor has the power to call lawmakers back into a special session for emergency work.
Asked about a special session at a Friday press conference in Uvalde, Abbott said “all options are on the table” adding that he believed laws would ultimately be passed to address this week’s horrors. However, he suggested laws would be more tailored toward addressing mental health, rather than gun control.
“You can expect robust discussion and my hope is laws are passed, that I will sign, addressing health care in this state,” he said, “That status quo is unacceptable. This crime is unacceptable. We’re not going to be here and do nothing about it.”
He resisted the idea of increasing the age to purchase a firearm, saying that since Texas became a state, 18-year-olds have been able to buy a gun.
He also dismissed universal background checks saying existing background check policies did not prevent the Santa Fe and Sutherland Springs shootings, which both happened while he has been in office.
“If everyone wants to seize upon a particular strategy and say that’s the golden strategy right there, look at what happened in the Santa Fe shooting,” he said. “A background check had no relevance because the shooter took the gun from his parents…Anyone who suggests we should focus on background checks as opposed to mental health, I suggest is mistaken.”
Since the massacre at Robb Elementary School, the governor’s comments about potential solutions have centered around increasing mental health services, rather than restricting access to firearms.
This story has been edited for length.
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