We’re Betting on Small Business in 2021
We can probably all agree that 2020 was rough. Small businesses were hit particularly hard. But what we found in our workspaces in Austin is that small businesses are incredibly resilient, thanks to the people behind those small businesses.
We’ve had the unique perspective to watch people come together to ideate, flourish and grow in our shared workspace in Austin. We’ve witnessed single founders at a coworking desk grow into needing our private offices and then bring on clients and employees to work alongside them. It’s inspiring to watch any time, much less with COVID-19 threatening to shut down businesses.
Seeing people work together to solve modern problems and bring something good into this world gives us hope that everything is inspiring growth! Small businesses are the backbone of every great city, and workplaces in Austin are full of amazing talent, positivity, and perseverance.
We’d like to feature a few Austin businesses that got their start with us at Vuka. They may have started small, but they have grown significantly and are making a real difference in our community and beyond.
Well Aware is an Austin-based non-profit that builds “100% successful clean water systems in East Africa,” lowering disease rates, improving classroom attendance, and enabling communities to thrive. Since its founding, its donors have funded more than 70 water projects and provided clean water to nearly 300,000 people.
Well Aware’s small team shared an Austin workspace at Vuka for five years. As they quadrupled their size, they were able to move into their own space on South Congress Ave. But the relationships they built at Vuka remain strong. They have partnered with many of the people they met and worked alongside at Vuka, including photographers who travel and document Well Aware’s work in Africa, advisors and board members, and marketing resources.
Clearhead was an Austin-based company that helped brands test, redesign and personalize digital experiences and digital products to optimize business outcomes. In July 2017, Clearhead was acquired by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) to strengthen the personalization services of Accenture Interactive. Today, Clearhead’s services are a core service line at Accenture.
Accenture may be a global professional services company with $44 billion in revenues in 2020, but Clearhead got its start right here at Vuka. They grew from a small Vuka office to one of our largest – a 24-person office. They didn’t stay there long, however, needing more space once again and moving to a private space. Now as part of Accenture Interactive, their team contributes to accounts like Radisson Hotels, the Golden State Warriors, and Adidas.
Twitch Is the world’s leading live streaming platform for gamers, and in 2016, the San Fransisco-based company opened an Austin office for six employees right here at Vuka. Why Austin? According to Ken Demarest, their director of product development and head of the Austin office, in an Austin Business Journal interview, “Some of the best and brightest engineers are based in Austin, and they have the ability to create cutting-edge products that benefit from game broadcasting.”
With GamesIndustry.biz, Demarest elaborated, saying, “Austin’s culture is amazing, vibrant and speaks for itself as a driver of Austin’s impressive growth. Austin offers great lifestyles, with a terrific outdoor scene, great cost of living, and warm friendly people.” We couldn’t agree more, and we are so excited to see them grow.
Blenders and Bowls
Blenders & Bowls is a small company with big flavor. The charming business launched out of Vuka by two best friends who moved to Austin from Hawaii and noticed Austin didn’t have anywhere to enjoy acai – a Brazilian superfruit they were used to on the islands. The ladies share an Austin workspace here at Vuka, strategizing, creating, and growing their brand.
What started out as a single acai bowl food truck has expanded to a broader menu and several locations around Austin, including storefronts and kiosks inside of yoga studios. What is an acai bowl, you ask? It is a frozen, blended mixture of acai berries and other fruits, served in a bowl, and piled high with a variety of fruits, granola, honey, nuts, coconut, seeds, and all kinds of other options. Blenders and Bowls also sells customized smoothies, sandwiches, coffees, and other delicious items.
Spycloud is a cloud security company that started at Vuka with four members and grew to 50 before they graduated to their own space. We knew them when they were just beginning, but they quickly grew to stardom with their proprietary system to prevent account takeover and thwart online fraud. Today, four of the Fortune 10 companies are using SpyCloud.
In 2020, Gartner named them a “Gartner Cool Vendor in Identity Access Management and Fraud Detection.” The company also won the Cyber Defense Infosec Award for Cutting Edge Enterprise Security. Built In named them one of Austin’s Best Places to Work, and the company is regularly featured in Forbes and other respected publications. SpyCloud recently announced its $30 million Series C round.
Literati is an Austin-based book club and subscription service whose story began at Vuka in 2016. When it began, Literati was geared towards children, sending monthly boxes to subscribers, with books organized by age and reading level. It became so popular with parents that it now has book clubs for adults, connecting them with an online network of fellow readers to discuss each book.
In January 2021, Literati announced a $40 million Series B round. The money will help it invest in product and technological innovation as it continues its mission to promote lifelong learning and create communities of people who love discussing books. Celebrities and global figures, like Malala Yousafzai, Stephen Curry and Sir Richard Branson, are now getting involved, curating their own book clubs and investing in the brand.
We congratulate all of these incredible organizations and are so honored that Vuka played a role in their start. We are inspired every day by the entrepreneurs, start ups, and small businesses that fill our Austin workspaces each month. If you are looking for a creative, uplifting workspace to launch your ideas, we’d love to show you around.