Amy Wood returned to her hometown of Lubbock and founded Flint Avenue Marketing after the company she previously worked for in Houston ended up closing.
“One of the advantages to being in the heart of West Texas is that we have that natural customer service and ability to serve with excellence,” she said. “I found that a lot of companies appreciate that and recognize that this is a good place to be.”
In addition to dedicated, hard-working individuals, Wood said the Lubbock community also has a wealth of organizations that provide support, guidance and mentorships to start-ups and other businesses.
“When I first started Flint Avenue, I didn’t even realize all the resources that were available to me through Texas Tech,” she said.
One of the very first things Wood did after establishing her business was to attend One Million Cups, which meets monthly at the Innovation Hub. Founded on the idea that “entrepreneurs discover solutions and engage with their communities over a million cups of coffee,” the meetings are a great way for entrepreneurs to meet others and introduce their business to the community.
“I made a lot of connections from that very first visit and started to see all of the programs that are happening here,” Wood said. “I started seeing how much is poured into start-ups in this area and the research coming out of Texas Tech.”
“If you are willing to plug into those resources,” Wood said, “there are plenty of opportunities to help you succeed.”
“At the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, I’m one of the ambassadors. I’m also a member of Leadership Lubbock and the networking in that alone is just amazing. You are going to learn everything about Lubbock, and you will come to understand that the Chamber is not just ribbon cuttings and happy hours. They are working on policy to help improve the lives of small businesses and help you grow and get attention in West Texas. Texas doesn’t stop at I-35. There is life happening over here—and it’s good.”
Anthony Presley grew up a Navy brat and moved around the country, but eventually returned to Lubbock to put down roots.
“I love the people and the environment,” he said. “As an entrepreneur, it’s really easy to walk in and talk to business owners. Almost everybody will talk to you."
Presley echoed the roles of Lubbock’s award-winning Chamber of Commerce and Texas Tech’s Innovation Hub in helping entrepreneurs.
“A number of the colleges at Texas Tech have also created some programs around entrepreneurship,” he said. “It’s suddenly a very popular topic with a lot of resources. The Innovation Hub offers 11 programs, depending on where you are in your business. Then there is the Hub Fuel Fund, which will be investing in early stage deals, and if you want to get health insurance, if you want to get plugged into other Chambers, if you want to sell to governments, there is no better place to do that than here,” he said.
Lubbock’s easy commute and excellent work-life balance also gives families the opportunity to spend more time together.
“I’ve always tried to make sure I stay involved with the kids at every stage of their life and being in Lubbock has made that really easy,” Presley said. “My commute lasts almost one song. I’ve got friends in other communities who spend a lot of time in the car. I relocated my business partner here from Virginia and he got 18 hours of his life back each week.”
“West Texas has a fantastic start-up culture,” said Ryan Reber. Reber is with the Lubbock Angel Network, the first of the 14 nonprofit Angel Networks in Texas that provide seed and support capital for innovative start-ups.
“You can be really creative in the early stages with your company and who you partner with and how you structure that,” Reber said. “If you own 100 percent of a company, find a partner, or two, who complement your skill sets—the right people who can come in and help build value, so that your percentage—while it’s going to go down because you gave away some to find a partner—ultimately the value increases and your piece of the pie is now worth a lot more than your whole pie previously was.”
Mike Jones, of Primitive Social, said the business environment in Lubbock is second-to-none.
“Opportunities are limitless. Everybody here—from the government agencies to the volunteer groups—are all in. Everyone here recognizes the value of hard work and the true grit mentality of West Texas—we are going to do the work and get it done. It’s a large enough community that we have any opportunity that you could want, and it’s a tight-knit enough community that we have the people and the resources that we need for our businesses. I think it’s a really great environment.”