Reflections on moving our startup from Los Angeles to Austin

In May we got some very exciting news, we had been accepted into Techstars Austin. Given that Techstars has a lower acceptance rate than Harvard we were incredibly honored, packed our bags, and headed to Austin for the three month program. Our plan, like most companies going through the program was to return to Los Angeles at the end of the summer but after our first couple of months in Austin we realized this might just be the perfect place to move our startup.

Fast-forward to present day and we have now officially moved ourselves and our company to Austin. I never thought in a million years I would live in Texas (no offense to Texas!) and I quickly learned that many of the stereotypes I had heard about Texas were pretty far from the truth. It’s weird how assumptions work and I’ve already dealt with comments from friends with things like “so do you love country music now?” or “how many guns do you own?” which for anyone who has been to Austin knows really isn’t in the ethos of this city.

Still there are pro’s and cons of living here so I thought now that we’ve been here for about six months now would be a good time to share them. I’m a positive guy so I’ll start with the pros.

Three things I love about living in Austin:

  1. The startup community is amazing – we’ve traveled between LA, SF and NYC quite a bit over the last two years and have had a great chance to really dive into all of these communities. Austin has an incredibly inspiring and vibrant startup community and the one thing that stuck out right-away is how much everyone in the community wants to help everyone else. We felt welcomed from day one and are proud to be friends with some truly amazing people who have helped us and many other startups immensely.
  2. The music scene is the best of the best – I absolutely love live music and Austin has been dubbed the live music capital of the world for a reason. There is live music everywhere every single night of the week. I’ve seen more incredibly talented musicians play their heart out in the last six months than I have in my previous 33 years outside of Austin.
  3. The cost of living is significantly lower – we spend less money across the board. From office space to lunch to our apartment, everything is significantly cheaper and as a startup that means our money goes further, a lot further.

Three things I don’t love about living in Austin:

  1. Low quality of healthcare – this is definitely the biggest con for me. In LA we had UCLA Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai and a ton of great medical talent. Texas was ranked the worst in the country for quality of healthcare and everyone I’ve spoken to in Austin who has lived here for a while agrees this city is still far behind LA, SF and NYC when it comes to healthcare. On the plus-side, UT is building a hospital but it’s going to be 3-5 years until we really start to see an improvement.
  2. It’s a lot harder to get direct flights – whether we are flying to SF, LA or NYC there is a massive premium on direct flights. So far every single flight we’ve taken has at least one connection which eats up a lot of time. Sure there are direct flights that leave from Austin but you have to book pretty far in advance if you want to get a reasonable deal. In LA we could book flights to SF and NYC on very short notice and still get direct flights at a good price. Austin does have a beautiful airport but it’s tiny compared to LAX, SFO or either of the two NYC-based airports.
  3. The weather – the summer is insanely hot, so hot in August that you really can’t jog which was disappointing for me as I’m used to jogging year-round. The last few weeks have been bitterly cold and I’m told we’ve got a few more months of chilly weather ahead. It looks like Austin has about 3-4 months a year with beautiful weather like LA and then the rest of the year it’s either really hot or so cold you need to wear a hat and gloves.

At the end of the day I couldn’t be more proud to call Austin our new home. It’s an amazing city and we think it is going to be a great place to grow our startup. Like most things in life you have to balance the pros and cons and for us the pros far outweigh the cons.

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton