One of Austin’s favorite brands shares #WhyAustin
As part of an ongoing series, we’re exploring the business culture and environment in Austin. Everyone knows that over 100 people move to the city every day. Every. Day. So, instead of talking about how Austin graces nearly every desirable Top 10 list ever published, we’re asking some of the most relevant names in business to opine.
Instead of crunching numbers, we’re taking an honest pulse of what makes Austin great, but what some of the challenges are. To do that, we’ve interviewed company founders, politicians, startup investors, programmers, artists, musicians, and so many more.
Tiff’s Treats, founded by UT students
My sophomore year at the University of Texas (the largest university in America at the time), I lived with my best friend from high school in the University Towers, a private dorm. It was blocks away from this tiny little place that delivered warm cookies right do your door. It was unheard of. It was called Tiff’s Treats, and not one student hadn’t tried it before winter break.
We’re not talking classic cookies here, we’re talkin’ heaven and a chocolate factory had a glorious blessed baby that melted in your mouth. They’re the best. We stopped saving money for booze as roommates and every week, we’d go foursies on a box of warm chocolate chip cookies delivered to our door. It made my entire college experience. No exaggeration.
At the time, what we didn’t know is that the company was filed by fellow students – later, I reflected with some college pals that we had all envisioned that it was founded by Mrs. Santa Claus or maybe Julia Childs’ secret love child.
Leon and Tiffany Chen created Tiff’s Treats cookie delivery for warm baked goods, a popular brand that has grown to nearly 20 locations in Texas and remains headquartered in Austin.
Tiffany was brave enough to give a truly honest perspective of her experience as one of Austin’s favorite business leaders, check out the full interview:
When did you move to Austin? Why did you come here?
I moved to Austin when I was almost 18 to go start school at UT.
What is the most attractive part of doing business in Austin?
We love the supportive customers who are willing to try new things and to get behind a local brand.
What is your opinion on the quality of life in Austin compared to elsewhere?
I think Austin is a beautiful and fun place to live and is reasonably affordable. With good schools and good people, I think it’s an awesome place to live.
How is the business environment in Austin unique?
The business environment in Austin is very supportive. Every business owner I’ve met here has been extremely helpful and encouraging. We all want each other to succeed.
Have you ever considered relocating your company? Why/why not?
We have never considered relocating. For one thing, we love living here too much. For another, our staff would be so sad!
Since we have locations all over Texas, we have team members relocate from time to time, but the one constant is that Austin staff never want to relocate anywhere else.
Why aren’t there more millionares in Austin?
I think there are plenty of millionaires, you just can’t tell because they are so low key and down to earth.
Is Austin as small business or startup friendly as all the polls proclaim?
As far as the community and the people, it is very small business friendly. Austinites love to try out new places, even if you are very small. Your peers will be very supportive and helpful. There are so many successful mentors out there willing to help you out.
We’ve run into a few delays in permitting new projects, so in that regard, there is a bit of a hiccup when it comes to being a startup. It could really cost a small business if your rent has begun, but you are months away from being able to open for business.
What are the biggest challenges when hiring talent in Austin?
When it comes to talent, there is a lot out there. But it can be challenging to get someone to work for you when there are so many other great and exciting companies located here. Not everyone thinks of Tiff’s Treats when they are looking for a software developing job, but the truth is that we are always looking for them!
Do you agree that Austinites are among the most generous with their Rolodexes?
Yes, in my experience everyone I have met has been willing to help and share in their knowledge and connections.
Which is brightest: Austin’s past, present, or future? Why?
Austin has a fun past, an incredible present, and an exciting future. It’s neat to come from more humble beginnings as a small town and then see it grow and change in positive ways.
When I moved here, I remember seeing a smoke shop in a rundown converted house. A few years later, that house became a Starbucks. I enjoy remembering that past and hearing stories from true Austin natives. But changing and growing is also exciting and nothing we need to be afraid of.
A big thank you to Tiffany Chen
Because Austin is so popular, it is easy to simply sing it’s praises, but we are grateful to Tiffany Chen not only for creating one of our favorite treats, but for offering an honest view of the town – the good, the bad, and the awesome.
Everyone has their own reason for doing business in Austin, and Chen’s uncensored description above perfectly captures city’s heart and soul. What’s your #WhyAustin?
A special thanks to Austinot.com for use of this amazing picture of Tiffany Chen.
Read other #WhyAustin interviews: