"Your Product Doesn't Have to Change The World"

PLUS: An $800m DTC Marketing Funnel... Noah Kagan's A/B Testing Playbook... Meme Warfare 101... And More...

Welcome to this week’s issue of Austin Business Review, a weekly roundup of great local events and insights for Austin business owners (plus some other cool stuff for your life outside of work).

My name’s Ethan and I’m the one writing this (holler at me here!).

This week, we’ve got a few things on-deck:

  • 📅 Upcoming Events

  • 📣 Word On The Street

  • 📸 Local Artist of the Week

  • 🤠 Local Shop of the Week

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Upcoming Events

Running a business is tough. Here are a few great places to meet cool people going through the same sh*t you are.

  • TONIGHT @ 5:30: West Austin Innovators: A lot of the city’s capital is based west & northwest of town. This gathering, hosted by Paul O’Brien of MediaTech Ventures and Elijah May of Funded House, is a chance to connect with founders and investors alike.

  • Feb 27: AITX: Every month, Michael Daigler gathers a group of founders and operators to share practical insights on how they’re using AI at work. Check out his recent piece on the AI boom in Austin.

  • Feb 27: Starting a Non-Profit in Texas: If you’re in a phase of your career where you’re considering launching a non-profit, the City of Austin Economic Development Dept. is hosting a hands-on info session complete with templates, tips, etc. Also check out this upcoming virtual session on simple fundraising strategies for non-profits.

  • Feb 28: “Life 3.0” Book Discussion: (Online) The Austin Forum on Technology & Society hosts regular reading and discussion groups. This one, led by Michael Ignatowski, will dive into Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, and discuss the impact superintelligent machines may have on our lives.

  • Mar 8-11: Funded House: If you’re fundraising soon, be sure to check out Funded House during SXSW. They match investors with startups and are hosting a bunch of events. Co-organizer Marc Nathan also has a great insider’s guide to SXSW.

Fun Stuff Coming Up

…Annd if you’re anything like me, you work too much already. So here’s some fun stuff to do around town that’s not necessarily related to business.

  • Feb 23: ATX Writing Club

  • Feb 24: The Board Walks

  • Feb 24: Ira Glass, Live at the Paramount Theatre

  • Feb 24: Snow Moon Hike around the lake

  • Feb 25: Shop Small Sunday at Central Machine Works

  • Feb 28: Pour the Record Club, dinner with wine + vinyl pairing

  • Feb 29: Texas Poker Culture Meetup

  • Feb 29: Candlelight Concert - Best of the Beatles

  • Feb 29: Growing Your Own Spring Herbs and Veggies

  • Feb 29: Chocolate Workshop at Sur La Tablé

  • Feb 29: Leap Year Party & Throwback Tunes at Hotel Vegas

  • Mar 2: Twenty Five Years Through the Wrong End of the Telescope - VIP Reception for the Art of Dr Seuss Exhibit

A special selection of the most highly sought-after works from The Art Of Dr. Seuss Collection, curated by his wife Audrey after his death, and including pieces he never published publicly

Word On The Street

Thought-provoking ideas and stories published by founders in ATX

  • $800m DTC Marketing Funnel: In this 30-second breakdown, Alex Garcia from Marketing Examined looks at the funnel and promotions Farmer’s Dog uses to power their sales machine. Pairs well with this piece on $300m retention ecosystems.

  • My A/B Testing Process Revealed: In this piece, Noah Kagan breaks down the exact process he used to split-test book covers for Million Dollar Weekend. Includes budgets, ad creative, audience targeting, and more. Bonus: His recent interview with Tim Ferriss is one of the best podcast episodes I’ve heard in years.

  • Beware of This Scam: DTC founders - you need to know about this scam coming out of the UK, targeting American brands. Hats off to Cathryn Lavery for sounding the alarm.

  • Meme Warfare: Everyone’s talking about the threat of AI disinformation with the upcoming election. Yagub Rahimov’s company, Polygraf, is tackling it head-on. This week, researchers on his team published a spine-chilling primer on meme warfare, and called for a three-part solution to the problem.

  • Your Product Doesn’t Have to Change The World: A great reminder from Sam Parr, for the days when you find yourself asking, “WTF am I doing?”

  • The Silver Tsunami: This piece from Codie Sanchez is packed with interesting data on the wave of business owners retiring in the US. If you’re eyeing an acquisition, it pairs well with the full IBBA Q4 2023 Business Brokers Report:

This chart from Codie’s newsletter caught my eye for another reason: It seems like burnout is a significant risk at all levels.

Local Artist(s) of the Week

I love hidden connections between things. So I thought it was really cool when I learned that a bunch of the quirky signs around town that give Austin its unique look were all done by the same people.

From the iconic ATX sculpture on 5th, to the glowing backdrop of the Capital Factory stage, to the signs at Franklin BBQ and Stubbs, and many, many more. The thing they have in common is that they’ve all been touched by the hands of Greg and Sharon Keshishian, and their team over at Ion Art.

Since 1986, they’ve been producing high-end neon art for clients all around Austin and beyond. They even did the sign for Starbase Texas.

With a team of 30+ they can handle everything from pencil sketches to large-scale installations. They even have a long list of unique neon art pieces you can rent to spice up a party or event. Check out their site if you’re looking for custom signage, or follow ‘em on IG to see new work and hear about awesome exhibits they host.

Book Shop of the Month

Owned by husband and wife duo, Taylor and Robin Bruce, both of whom have fascinating business experience outside of the shop – Taylor is the founder of Wildsam Guides, and Robin the president of a venture philanthropy group called Dovetail Impact.

The cafés open until 9PM seven days a week, serves beer, wine, and local baked goods. And they’ve even got a membership plan that gets you 20% off books, free drip coffee daily, access to events, and free delivery if you’re within a five mile radius of the shop.

Bonus: It shares a wall with Tiny Grocer, a small-batch artisanal grocery store with a bunch of local brands. Look for Teddy V’s chocolate chip walnut cookies by the cash register, and thank me later.

That’s all for this week. If you liked this, do me a favor and forward it to another business owner here in town you think might get some value from it!

You can also email me here if you’re hosting something for local founders that might be a fit for the newsletter.

Until next week,