At the beginning of 2005, I knew nothing about this city that I’ve come to love. That spring, Jenn was accepted into the Organizational Communication PhD program at UT and suddenly Austin was on the short list of places that we might make our home. We came to visit for a few days; it was warm (even in March), it was green, there was a river, there were hills, the people were friendly and there seemed to be a never-ending supply of bars and tex-mex. It was my first visit to Texas. We came back again for a weekend June. On that second visit to Texas, we bought a house. And so, five years ago this month, we moved to Austin from Raleigh, NC.
Jenn went to school and I worked remotely for a company in Raleigh. This was the first chapter. We made friends, we played kickball, we learned our way around. We got used to the heat (though the humidity wasn’t as bad as North Carolina despite what anyone said). This part was fun, but I never felt terribly connected to Austin. Most of our friends were here for grad school as well. They were from all over and knew they would be leaving in a few years. These are some of my dearest friends and will be so for the rest of my life, but we could all have met up anywhere. So that was not when I came to love Austin itself.
In 2008, I was feeling the itch to start a new company. This is the second chapter. That spring, we went to SXSW. In May, I quit my remote job in Raleigh and Jenn and I founded Appozite. I was a Ruby n00b but had decided that I would write our software in Ruby. I’ve never been much of a “user group” kind of person but I wanted to learn, so I went to an Austin on Rails meeting. I was in over my head during the presentations and I didn’t know anyone. Afterward though, Damon Clinkscales took the time to sit down with me over beers. He was genuinely interested in who I was and what I was doing. At that point, I realized there was something special here in the tech community Austin.
What followed has been the most fun, stressful and interesting two years of my life so far. And I owe most of that to the people here in Austin. Jenn and I went to all sorts of things: Refresh, tweetups, Bedouins, more SXSWs and on and on. I got to know other people struggling with the same challenges I was. I learned from those who had already been through it a few times, with their experience of both successes and failures. I felt what it was like to be part of a real community of people doing diverse things, learning from each other, sometimes competing with each other, and always supporting each other. I’ve made incredible friends in Austin over these last two years and met some incredible people who have advised us as we continue to build Appozite. This is when I learned to love the unique people and character of Austin.
The people are the reason it’s now so difficult to say goodbye. In a few weeks, Jenn and I will be moving to San Francisco to pursue our goals both personally and professionally. We have big ambitions for Appozite and our products and we believe that the Bay is the right place to realize those. More than that, we’ve always had a deep love of San Francisco; we spent our honeymoon there. We know that, for us, now is the time.
So, to all our friends in Austin and to so many of you who have supported us, thank you. You probably don’t realize the impact you’ve had on making us who we are today. We love this city and the people.