Texas Startups Dish Their Favorite Austin Eats
There’s more to the Austin startup scene than South by Southwest.
During the rest of the year when the city isn’t awash with visitors and entertainment and tech moguls, Austin possesses a thriving startup scene that has launched a number of tech IPOs, including HomeAway and Bazaarvoice.
Mashable spoke with Austin tech players, from well-known ones like digital coupon giant RetailMeNot to up-and-comers like online organic grocer Greenling, to get a feel for the city’s best restaurants and what to order at those eateries.
RetailMeNot has become one of the web’s largest coupon emporiums largely because its deals get to know you. When RMN’s users agree to share their Facebook likes and favorite retailers with the service, RMN sends them deals tailored to their interests, which they can also pass onto their Facebook friends. All told, RMN features 500,000 offers from more than 50,000 retailers.
Favorite restaurant: Tacodeli
Favorite dish: Happy taco with seasoned shredded chicken, sautéed mushrooms, melted Jack cheese, cilantro and onion.
Startup says: “After literally the first bite I was hooked,” says RetailMeNot CEO and founder Cotter Cunningham. “It is simple yet delicious. We eat TacoDeli at least once a week, and I think I always get at least one Happy. It is very well named.”
2. Gone: Thai Passion
Gone works like Amazon in reverse. Whereas that service allows you to purchase virtually anything your heart desires (so long as it can be delivered to you), Gone gives you the ability to get rid of that item when you don’t need it anymore. Unlike eBay, Gone takes care of all the appraisal work and shipping supplies. Simply snap a picture (or leave voice commentary) of the item and Gone’s team gives it a price, finds a buyer for it, sends you shipping supplies, arranges free pick-up and, finally, sends you a check. If it’s an unusable item, Gone can find a way to recycle or upcycle it. Either way, it’s off your hands.
Favorite Austin restaurant: Thai Passion
Favorite dish: Roasted duck curry with pineapple, tomatoes, bell pepper and basil in coconut milk
Startup says: “Among the best,” says Gone co-founder and CEO Nicolas Bayerque. “Thai Passion is open until 3 a.m. everyday, which makes it perfect for those nights at the office.”
Bigcommerce has become an ascendent name in the ecommerce SaaS space, thanks in large part to a $40 million investment this year from Steve Case’s venture capital firm, Revolution. The Aussie-founded, Austin-based platform helps small businesses do much more than sell, though. With Bigcommerce, they can track inventory, manage search and SEO, process payments and perform other vital business functions. The platform is growing, too, and actively courting developers to make its software even more helpful to merchants.
Favorite restaurant: Kerbey Lane Cafe
Favorite dish: Kerbey queso: Award-winnning, scratch-made cheese covered in guacamole and topped with pico de gallo.
Startup says: “They have absolutely the best queso,” says Bigcommerce CMO Meg Murphy.
4. uShip: Shoal Creek Saloon
uShip has the distinction of being one of the only startups to be featured on a reality show (“Shipping Wars” on A&E uses uShip to find transportation for interesting and hard-to-ship items). On the small screen and in real life, uShip is a transportation marketplace that connects consumers, brokers and businesses with licensed freight vehicles. Like on eBay, uShip users can set a price for their cargo or create an auction, leaving feedback when the shipping process is finished. The end goal of uShip is get users the best price and freight drivers the most out of their long distance runs.
Favorite restaurant: Shoal Creek Saloon
Favorite dish: Chicken fried chicken sandwich
Startup says: “Shoal Creek Saloon holds a special place in uShip lore,” says uShip Founder and CEO Matt Chasen. “In our early days, we went there originally for the free Wi-Fi, but ended up discovering the life-changing chicken fried chicken sandwich. Chicken. Gravy. Deep-fried. A can’t-miss combo.”
— Buenos Aires Cafe (@BuenosAiresCafe) March 21, 2014
VolunteerSpot understands that many people want to volunteer. Where they’re stymied, the startup says, is in finding the right opportunities and keeping all the details together. To ward off confusion, VolunteerSpot offers easy online and mobile sign-ups, alerts and a mobile payment processing for organizers and attendees. All those functions eliminate the constant back-and-forth and aggravation that repels many volunteers.
Favorite restaurant: Buenos Aires Cafe
Favorite dish: Empanadas
Startup says: “Something for everyone and a generous wine list too,” says VolunteerSpot founder and CEO Karen Bantuveris.
6. Indeed: Bar Congress
If you’ve job-hunted, you’ve probably used Indeed. The world’s most-visited job site sees more than 140 million unique visitors every month and is available in more than 50 countries. It’s free for job-seekers and pay-per-click for employers, meaning hiring companies are never saddled with high upfront fees for their listings, an important feature for small businesses looking to grow.
Favorite restaurant: Bar Congress
Favorite dish: Roasted chicken breast with corn panzanella, grilled tomato, citrus jus and cilantro
Startup says: “It’s hard to believe that I am recommending chicken, but it is really that good,” says Indeed’s Senior Vice President of Marketing Paul D’Arcy. “It’s a perfectly cooked chicken breast that is a shockingly fulfilling mix of flavors.”
7. Greenling: Thai Fresh Coffee Bar & Restaurant
Finding a great farmers market near you can be a drag. Sometimes, your desire for organic food doesn’t match your willingness to drive 45 minutes both ways to find it. Greenling, an online and mobile grocer of for organic food, brings accessibility to the space by offering free delivery and prices comparable to what shoppers would find in a supermarket. All of Greenling’s products are hand-inspected for quality and the company gladly keeps money flowing into the communities it services by working with dozens of local farmers and food producers.
Favorite restaurant: Thai Fresh Coffee Bar & Restaurant
Favorite dish: Chicken and waffles
Startup says: “It’s amazing and the sauce has a little extra kick to it,” says Greenling co-founder and CEO Mason Arnold. “They use sustainably produced chicken and the entire dish is gluten-free!”
What are your favorite Austin eats? Tell us in the comments.