Season 2: Episode 3 Why Texas?

Small business is at the heart of the Texas Economy.

There is no doubt, there’s something happening in Texas… it’s in the air. There is an electricity. A feeling of ambition & entrepreneurial magic. That the sky is the limit. No matter where you live, I’m willing to bet you’re meeting some New Texans, too. People from all over the globe ready open-up shop and bet their futures on the Legend of the Lonestar State. This influx has already brought confirmed businesses such as Tesla, Google, Oracle, HP, & Samsung as well as celebrities like Elon Musk, Joe Rogan, James Van Der Beek, Parker Posey, 50 Cent, and more. It’s clear that something is happening, even if we don’t have a name for it yet.

This episode is called “Why Texas?” and I decided to focus on the massive growth and migration happening within our State because it’s part of the story of our recovery. 

This episode of Emerging Texas Strong is sponsored by Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a leading worker’s comp provider in Texas, and is a production of Earnest Media.  If you are interested in sponsoring a heartful podcast focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focused market audience email, contact@EmergingTexassStrong.com

Episode 3 Guests:

Ed Curtis, YTexas

Tim Stack – Silicon Hills Auctions

Byron Smith, XSpace

Texas Mutual Insurance Company

EPISODE 3 TRANSCRIPT:

TXMI Commercial: 00:00 Support for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company. a Workers’ Comp provider committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.

Host Linsey Lin…: 00:10 On this episode of Emerging Texas Strong.

Byron Smith, XS…: 00:13 My advice for business owners out there, if you’re not in Texas is to get to Texas. I think that this is where it’s happening in the next three years. This is going to be, you know, if you want to take Austin as a micro example, but if you Texas as a whole example, there’s going to be the Silicon valley of the nineties. This is what is happening. Now, we’re going to look back on this and say, this was the boom boom time. This is when fantastic businesses emerged out of COVID and this is where everyone moved to. And this was the place to be

Host Linsey Lin…: 00:43 Welcome back to Emerging Texas Strong, a growing collection of stories, lessons, and advice from small business owners in Texas, working hard to survive this pandemic economy. We follow a collection of businesses and we weave their stories together. As we navigate a full season of big picture topics like emotional intelligence at work disruptions in the supply chain and the business of bringing business back to the office. There’s no doubt there’s something happening in Texas. It’s in the air. There’s an electricity feeling of ambition and entrepreneurial magic that the sky is the limit. No matter where you live, I’m willing to bet you’re meeting some new Texans to people from all over the globe, ready to open up shop and bet their futures on the legend of the lone star state. This influx has already brought confirmed businesses, such as Tesla, Google, Oracle, HP, and Samsung, as well as celebrities like Elon Musk, Joe Rogan, James VanDerBeek Parker, Posey 50 cent, and more it’s clear that something is happening, even if we don’t have a name for it yet, this episode is called why Texas and I decided to focus on the massive growth and migration happening within our state because it’s part of the story of our recovery. I was introduced to Ed Curtis, the CEO of an organization called YTexas, which is the letter Y and the word Texas. It’s an organization that offers support to business owners, looking to relocate or start new businesses in the great state of Texas. And I quickly became fascinated with his organization that there’s a group who’s making it easier for companies to move here. So in the effort of discovering what’s going on beneath the surface, I was really excited to talk to the business owners on today’s episode, Tim Stack of Silicone Hills Auctions and Byron Smith of XSpace in order to find out firsthand, what’s drawing people here. But first I need to talk to Ed Curtis of YTexas to see what’s going on, big picture. Why is Texas having this moment?

Ed Curtis, YTex…: 02:56 My name is Ed Curtis. I’m the CEO of YTexas. We are a welcome wagon for companies and individuals that are relocating to the great state of Texas. Well, I moved to Texas in 1993. I was raised in upstate New York, about a couple of hours, north of New York City. Funny story. I was working for an ad agency and one of my accounts was to TV station called K T V T in Dallas. The people were so nice and asked me to take a visit to Texas. And I did. I came back and I told my family, I was moving to Dallas, Texas.

Linsey Lindberg…: 03:38 Oh, that’s so great. Okay. You’re the perfect ambassador.

Ed Curtis, YTex…: 03:41 Yes. They say a new Yorker starts a company called why Texas kind of ironic.

Linsey Lindberg…: 03:48 I’d say it’s a pretty good sales pitch. Tell me about what YTexas does as an organization and how it functions to serve its business members.

Ed Curtis, YTex…: 03:59 Well, YTexas we’ve evolved a lot over the last eight years when we first formed the organization, we really wanted to put together kind of a networking group for executives, mainly CEOs that were moving themselves, their families and their companies to Texas, to just have a safe space, to meet people and to just build a network within the state. I tell people, we call ourselves a welcome wagon. If you’re moving into Texas, you want to go to the coolest party. And when you go to the party, you need people that are hosting the party that know how to navigate you around the state. So we’ve always been mindful of making sure that that quote unquote party has more people that are from here than people that have moved here, because those are really the people that are. I think that the companies that are moving here are really looking to learn from. So if we lose that balance of the party hosts to the party guests, we might lose our impact and we’ve evolved as we expanded around the state. Uh, we’ve evolved into a lot more than that. We’re now kind of a collective resource where we’ve been able to not only share experiences with people who have moved into Texas, but also gain thought leadership from people that have been doing business in Texas forever to, you know, help accelerate the success of these companies moving into the state. And then we’ve also been collaborating a lot with kind of legislators and state agencies. Not necessarily politicians, we don’t get into the political scene, but you know, there are the Texas controller’s office and the workforce commission are really looking at Texas as a good collective. I mean, if you think about it, we’re, you know, we’re really a mix of people from different cultures, different backgrounds, people who have moved here, people have been here forever. People are doing business in Houston and Dallas. So there’s a lot of value in that, you know, collective wisdom. So we’ve been able to build good relationships with, um, you know, state agencies that rely on our, on our feedbacks.

Linsey Lindberg…: 06:06 What does business look like for Texas and recovery?

Ed Curtis, YTex…: 06:10 All business in Texas as relates to the recovery is far outpacing the rest of the country. Again, we’ve been open for a while and we’ve had a lot of migration into the state. So our real estate market, any company that’s providing a service to individuals, whether that’s banks or accounting firms or wealth management firms, they’re flocking here as well because they see the migration and the, uh, the population growth. And there’s a lot of intellectual capital moving into the state. So these are people that have skills that have jobs that are coming here, either moving for a job relocation, or just packing their bags and moving down here, knowing that they could get a job within a week. And that’s typically the case. So that’s, I think that’s a main reason why, uh, we’re, we’re outpacing the rest of the country.

Linsey Lindberg…: 07:03 So go ahead and tell me a little bit about why Texas members, what parts of the globe are they coming from? Well,

Ed Curtis, YTex…: 07:08 We’ve got a good mix of people that have come from all over the globe. I’ll tell you, obviously, most of them are coming from California. Uh, there a lot that are coming from the east coast, but some from the Midwest as well. And we’re seeing a lot of international, which is one of the most fun parts for me. So the, the mix, I would say probably 60% of, of our members, if you want to call them members, we kind of call them. The strategic partners are relatively long-standing Texas run businesses. And about 40% probably moved within the state within the last five years.

Linsey Lindberg…: 07:45 What kind of factors are you seeing that business owners and CEOs and boards are looking for when they’re deciding whether or not to relocate to Texas?

Ed Curtis, YTex…: 07:55 Well, uh, there are many factors that companies are considering when they’re relocating and moving into Texas. I’ll tell you recently, uh, the number one on the list, and there’s not even a close second is talent. And the ability to hire people that have the skills to meet the, uh, th the needs of the company. Historically, that was not the number one that was probably two, three or four. Uh, the others were centrally located within the United States, um, cost of living of course, availability to build and to expand and grow your company.

Linsey Lindberg…: 08:31 All right, let me ask one last one. I feel like we’re in a boom time right now, post pandemic. Is there a way that we can make sure that this boom time in Texas continues?

Ed Curtis, YTex…: 08:41 Yep. I, I say this all the time, whether you’re an individual moving here without a job, or you’re a company moving here and bringing thousands of people, everyone’s moving here for an opportunity. And I talked to a lot of people that say, look, I, I don’t know what the heck’s going on down there, but I need to get there because I don’t want to miss out. And, and that’s exactly the feeling that people get when they move here is that there’s a lot happening. And I don’t want to miss out if you of missing out, there are many ways we can continue to boom in Texas. And I think it’s not taking our foot off the gas pedal. There’s still a lot of physical room to grow in the state of Texas. And if you come from some other states, they’re pretty well-developed, and there’s not much opportunity to, you know, take down a million square feet to build a warehouse or distribution center. So I think it’s just continuing to innovate. People are, like I said, they’re going to continue to move here for opportunities and really just operate as a unified business community. I think the sky’s the limit

Host Linsey Lin…: 09:49 Now let’s hear firsthand what the Texas mystique looks like from the outside. Speaking directly to two business owners, who’ve moved to Texas within this past year to find out why they chose to make Texas their home, as well as the global HQs for their companies. Our next guest, Tim Stack is the co-owner of Silicone Hills Auctions, dim relocated from California. And he says his move to Texas was about more than just business. It was about making a good life where his family is the focus.

Tim Stack, Sili…: 10:19 Well, my name is Tim Stack and I’m a part owner of Silicon Hills auctions. We are located here in Spicewood, Texas, just outside of Austin. And our job is to help other companies monetize their surplus assets on the secondary market. My journey to Texas was kind of unique. I ended up retiring after 20 years with the Los Angeles police department moved from that position. And I picked up another job within Texas as a police officer. It was just time. It was time for my family to experience a dad who could actually stay home. My neighbor, who was an owner of another company that moved from California, asked me if I wanted to go in on this new venture with him creating Silicon Hills auctions. We both of us understood the importance of having a company based here in Texas and starting one from the ground up and there just because of the opportunity that Texas actually offers small companies, it was just a good fit for the business model that we wanted to proceed forward with.

Tim Stack, Sili…: 11:19 And that’s what really transitioned me from being that police officer and retired military guy to now take over the operations and run with a company in that manner business here in Texas during this recovery period, I truly believe it’s kind of, it’s opening up a new market for everybody, right? Because everybody gets to reinvent themselves are pressing forward businesses who were completely closed down people at home offices, as that progressed, they had to reinvent how they did what they did. And I think that opened up doors for us, monetizing surplus assets on the secondary market. Hey, we don’t need this equipment anymore, or we don’t need this office space anymore. We have tons of things that need to be sold in the secondary market, right? So we actually are able to take a step back, evaluate the company and their potential for being customers for us, but also our potential for helping them get to where they need to be. I would imagine that any single one of those CEOs, has a game plan that they have in place. And we do fit somewhere in that game plan.

Linsey Lindberg…: 12:26 Why do you think the Texas is having a moment right now?

Tim Stack, Sili…: 12:30 Wow. Texas is, you know, every article you read about business, somewhere in that article, something is going to come up with the word Austin in it. And, and Dallas and Houston, I mean, it just Texas overall has got such good publicity for it being such a first of all tax friendly state. Uh, and I think the word is getting out that not only is it good for businesses, but it’s good for the families that are connected to these businesses. So you have just a number of businesses that when you talk to them, they’re like, you know what? We just moved here. It, we didn’t even plan on moving to Texas. And then we got here and my family loves it. I mean, they start talking about not, it’s not even what they do at work. It’s what they do when they’re not at work. You know? So that environment itself, I think, is breeding this communication amongst companies. Cause we all know that these companies all talk to each other and how it’s really become such a Mecca for big and small businesses to grow and actually live in an environment where the employees actually feel connected to not only who they work for, but where they live.

Linsey Lindberg…: 13:35 What other cities were you considering when you were looking for a new place to each queue, this version of the company?

Tim Stack, Sili…: 13:43 Well, first of all, I think it’s important to pick your location. That’s going to best serve your family. And so we really looked first on, what’s going to be best for the family. We all have kids. The school districts have to be good. You know, you can’t set your company up for success. And at the same time, set your family up for failure, your business life shouldn’t run your entire life. At least we’d all like to strive for that. But when you have a way that when you’re not working, that you can get out and enjoy the amazing amenities of hill country that was an easy, easy selection for us. Um, Austin being within commuting distance for us is, is also an easy way to commute to the airport that would fly out to different states, to have business with other companies and other states as well. But it really also to focus on a lot of business in the local area and, you know, Dallas isn’t that far and Houston isn’t that far. I mean, Texas is big, but you know, half car will travel. So it’s, it’s pretty much a three, four hour drive wherever we go. And if we need to reach out to a company and we need to go meet face to, I think we’re centrally located within the state that we could reach out and be effective and ready to respond. When we need to.

Host Linsey Lin…: 14:58 When we come back from break, we’ll meet a new Texan. Who’s an international, ex-pat looking to expand as Australian flexible space business model into the American market. And he chose Lakeway, Texas as the national HQ, but first a word from our sponsor.

TXMI Commercial: 15:18 Support for this program comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a safety focus workers’ comp provider, supplying information and resources that can help Texas employers stop accidents before they happen more@texasmutual.com.

Host Linsey Lin…: 15:34 And now back to our show. Our final guest on today’s show is Byron Smith, co-owner of XSpace and a new resident of Lakeway, Texas. Byron shares what brought him to Texas and why he’s excited to be a part of the magic moment that’s happening here right now.

Byron Smith, XS…: 15:52 My name is Byron Smith. I’m the co-founder of Xspace. We are our first project in America is in Lakeway in Austin, Texas, and we provide commercial condominiums. It’s an adaptation of a business we’ve done in Australia from 300 to 3000 square feet. We’re going to use Texas as a platform to grow our brand nationally, which we’re really excited about. We decided to open up our first XSpace in Texas for one really big reason. We actually started looking at doing this in New York and LA and, um, we, my business partner and I making a, uh, an adaptation of what we’ve done in Australia. We’re trying in Los Angeles and New York, we didn’t find any luck there whatsoever. And I was in Houston. I was having a cocktail over a strip mall and I looked around and there was a dense commercial building, a church with a school on it and actually a strip club. And I asked the person next to me, what’s what’s going on with the zoning here. They said, there’s no zoning in Houston. So I called up my business partner and we went on a two week tour of Houston and Austin. And once we got there, we started seeing how business friendly it was, how many opportunities where the depth of the market, all the stuff that your, your listeners would know about. And we came down here, we did a tour of Austin, saw that as a massive opportunity for early adopters. And the rest is history. I’ve moved permanently from New York in 2020. We purchased the land in 2019. So we’ve been doing business here since 2019. And now we’re permanently HQ here as of last year.

Linsey Lindberg…: 17:37 Why do you think that Texas is having a moment right now?

Byron Smith, XS…: 17:40 I think Texas having a moment right now because of what’s happening in California in New York, there’s an anti business. There’s a just a bad feeling or bad taste left in the mouth off to the pandemic. And Texas was leading the way in figuring out how you could figure the problems out in a pro-business environment. And from a personal perspective, I think it aligns a lot with a lot of the Australian values that we have. And so both on a personal or business level, it was a no brainer for me and for our company. The reason why I joined YTexas was very simple, there’s a clear vision of what we’re doing. And there’s a clear strategic alignment. And that is using this platform that we’re building in Texas. Because I think we using that as a proof of concept to lay a foundation in Texas, to build 10, 15, maybe 20 XSpaces within Texas, use that as a platform to then grow the brand nationally. So when it comes back to what Ed and YTexas are doing, they’re all about how can we promote what’s going on in Texas and show the world what’s going on in Texas? We’re huge advocates. We’ve decided that Texas is where we want to be. This is where we’re going to build our platform. This is where we’re going to scale up. And we’re going to use that as a platform. So that’s, that’s where the strategic Alliance with YTexas comes in.

Linsey Lindberg…: 19:02 Are there any metrics that you’re revisiting constantly as a business owner that are guiding your plans for the future?

Byron Smith, XS…: 19:10 The metrics that we’re looking at are, how are people after the dislocation that COVID created, where are people going? Are they staying in the suburbs? Are they coming back to the city? How are things going to play out in a post COVID world? Is it going to pendulum swing back closer to where it was? Or is it going to be completely re-imagined? My personal opinion is the pendulum will swing back and we’ll have an adjusted way of life. There was a reason why we built the life that we did before the pandemic, right? Because that’s the life that we like. It’s very social. It’s got all these great things that we weren’t allowed to do. So I don’t think it’s going to be this massive, different world we come into, but it is going to evolve and it’s going to change and like anything in life, or, you know, a great big city, these things, this is what happens. So we’re positioning ourselves to, to be part of that, that conversation and that dialogue in the best possible place. Post COVID my advice for business owners out there. If you’re not in Texas, is to get to Texas. I think that this is where it’s happening in the next three years. This is going to be, you know, if you want to take Austin as a micro-example, but if you Texas as a whole example, this is going to be the Silicon valley of the nineties. This is what is happening. Now, we’re going to look back on this and say, this was the boom boom time. This is when fantastic businesses emerge out of COVID. And this is where everyone moved to. And this was the place to be.

Host Linsey Lin…: 20:38 As a part of the final thoughts of this episode. I wanted to share an idea that I’ve been rolling around in my head for the last few months. Now, there is a perspective that can be worried that with all of these new people, migrating people from all over, who want to call Texas home, but bring different cultures and ways of life political values, all of that to the table. And some people might worry that Texas is going to lose what makes it special it’s it’s Texas flavor. And as I thought that question through to the end, I realized that the thing that has always made Texas special is the merge and the mashup of cultures that we have. And that we have adapted throughout the history of the state. When we talk about TexMex and they come together to make something new and beautiful things like cheese, dip, margaritas, nachos, fajitas, all of these things that are staples would never have happened. If we didn’t get the mashup of these two cultures kolaches on a road trip up by 35 Schulenberg Texas, and the painted churches think about new Braunfels and Schlitterbahn and Oktoberfest. Think about Houston and its amazing food scene. And you can only get that when you have this mix of Cajun and Creole influences coming in, and you have the adaptation and the migration of a large Asian American population that has made an amazing Chinatown, all of your favorite things, music and the Tejano sound for me, I think about living in San Antonio, Texas, where we celebrate a two week festival called Fiesta. And it’s not something that came from Mexico. It’s something that we celebrate here. I think about Fredericksburg, Texas and those German settlements. And I guess what I want people to remember is that as Texas continues to grow, it will continue to adapt and change. And perhaps if we remember that some of our most favorite parts of what makes Texas so special come from the merging and the adapting of two cultures to each other, perhaps we can start to look forward to the changes to our culture that will be made. And the fact that Texas will keep growing that there’s more to come. There’s so much that we can’t even know that’s on the horizon for us. I really truly encourage everyone to get excited about being a part of this moment. I just want to remind people, Texas is beautiful because of the mashup and the merging of these cultures. And I don’t think there’s any doubt that at the end of the day they have become Texas. We just have to trust that this great state is big enough to grow and change and welcome us all. You can’t do it wrong. And if we want to celebrate that, you can go to a place called the original donut shop and get fresh homemade donuts, kolaches and breakfast tacos all in the same place. We’ve got to remember that there’s room here for all of us. And we’re so fortunate to be here in this moment and experiencing this together. Thank you for joining us on this Episode of Emerging Texas Strong. Let’s take a second and review a few things that might be useful to you from this episode. #1. Ed says it’s simple. There’s a sense of FOMO, a fear of missing out on this magical moment in Texas. Why? Because we’re supportive to business. We have space for growth, affordable lifestyles, culture, skilled workforce, and let’s not forget TexMex, but more importantly, this is just where it’s all happening. #2. Texas is outpacing the rest of the country when it comes to the financial recovery post pandemic. I think that this influx is really key to our recovery because it’s been a hard year for many different industries, but with the boom that we’re seeing, there’s no way we’re not going to skyrocket out of this downturn. #3. We should be proud of the fact that word is getting out about Texas being not only good for business, but also good for families. And the more we welcome our neighbors and introduce them to our culture and local favorites. The more we help all those small local businesses with more happy patrons and a boost to the micro-economy in our neighborhoods, too. #4. If we want to keep the boom-time going, we can’t take our foot off the gas pedal. There is room to grow. There are improvements and innovations to be made. What made Texas great the first time around is that we had enterprising men and women who saw the opportunity and made the most out of it. We’re blessed with another chance right now to do the same. Let’s all commit to welcoming our new Texas neighbors and riding the wave together. As we crest into the next big boom for Texas. And #5. The only thing that’s constant is change. The better you can navigate and embrace change the better off you’ll. And remember, Texas is so special because of the milange of cultures that make it that way. Don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a giant part of what makes life in Texas. So great, and that we have more of it to look forward to as we grow, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast or found it useful, please share an episode with a friend. We want to grow Emerging Texas Strong as a free resource for business owners. So send it to someone who could use these lessons to be happier and healthier business owners. Join us next week for episode four disruptions in the supply chain where we’ll talk with business owners in a number of different fields to find out how supply chain disruptions are still affecting business and what they’re doing about it.

Speaker 1: 27:29 Podcast production, interviews, edits, sound design, and office snacks for the emerging Texas strong podcast are done by Linsey Lindberg, bios and business information for all guests featured in season two can be found on EmergingTexasStrong.com. Find out how you can work with them and support Texas small business to share the hope, the journey, the struggles, and the advice. Be sure to follow like rate and subscribe to emerging Texas strong in the web so that each episode shows up directly in your podcast feed. And if you’re enjoying the show and want to show us some love, leave a five-star review, it’ll help more people find us. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn @emergingtexasstrong or Twitter @Texasstrongpod, where I’ll be posting ways to connect with our guests and some gems from episode three mentioned in today’s show. And if you’d like to be interviewed, please reach out contact@emergingtexasstrong.com. Emerging Texas Strong is a production of Earnest Media. If you are interested in sponsoring a heartful podcast, focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focus market audience, we’d love that email contact@emergingtexasstrong.com. And remember, you’ve got a friend somewhere in Texas, who’s rooting for you. I’m your host, Linsey Lindberg. Join us next time. For more stories of Texas small business on Emerging Texas Strong.

TXMI Commercial: 28:58 Support for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company. A workers’ comp provider committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.

Tim Stack, Sili…: 29:10 Now, I don’t know if you just spelled this wrong for whatever reason, but it’s,, Hills like, Hill Country.

Linsey Lindberg…: 29:16 Oh, I just thought I heard you say heels.

New Speaker: 29:19 It’s my California accent. No, I’m just kidding.

Linsey Lindberg…: 29:22 No, you know what? It’s a Texas accent. I was hearing you with Texas ears.

Speaker 5: 29:28 Heels. Yeah. Right.

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