When Chuck Gordon and Mario Feghali started Sparefoot, the 25-year-old entrepreneurs relocated to Austin, Texas, from Los Angeles, having received seed money from local tech incubator Capital Factory. Four years later, the self storage “marketplace” startup has blossomed into a 60-person company with plans to expand its presence in the state capital. The company is currently tacking on additional office space (that’s likely to include a firehouse-style pole between floors) in its downtown building.
“It makes so much sense to be here. For starters, there is a ton of bright talent to recruit from,” says Rachel Greenfield, Sparefoot’s marketing manager. “Austin in general is a very relaxed place full of smart people who work their tails off. We’re keeping our culture intact as we scale, just like Austin is.”
Thanks to the 51,000-student University of Texas at Austin, a bevy of Silicon Hills startups like Sparefoot.com, and the presence of mega corporations like Whole Foods and Dell (in nearby Round Rock), the Lone Star State’s capital is an economic powerhouse. With an estimated annual population growth rate of 3% for 2012 and 2013, a 3% rate of job growth in 2012, 4.9% unemployment, and an economy that expanded 6.3% last year, Austin takes the top spot on Forbes’ annual list of America’s Fastest Growing Cities for the third year in a row.