successful austin startups

Back in 2009, two young entrepreneurs moved to Austin, TX, to nurture their young company, called Homstie. Launched a year earlier in Southern California, Homstie helped people rent spare space in places like garages to others needing to store their belongings.

After Homstie relocated to Austin to join startup incubator Capital Factory, it dropped the person-to-person storage model in favor of connecting self-storage facilities and self-storage customers. The company also renamed itself SpareFoot. Since 2009, SpareFoot has grown to become the country’s largest online marketplace for self-storage.

It turns out 2009 was quite a year for Austin startups.

On the new Inc. 500 | 5000 list of the country’s fastest-growing private companies, the top three Austin-based companies all were founded in 2009—at a time when the U.S. economy wasn’t exactly humming along. In response to Austin’s strong showing on the Inc. 500 | 5000, Lew Little, chairman of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, said the business group is “thrilled that Austin continues to be a place where capital is invested, which allows firms to grow rapidly and creates jobs for our citizens.”

Hats off to MileStone Community Builders, Patient Conversation Media and Phunware for their impressive Inc. 500 | 5000 honors, and for helping showcase Austin as a great place to grow a business.


Milestone Community Builders
Revenue at the top Austin company on this year’s Inc. 500 | 5000—MileStone Community Builders LLC—skyrocketed 17,938 percent from 2009 to 2012. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Last year, MileStone’s revenue climbed to $45.7 million. Overall, MileStone ranks sixth on this year’s Inc. 500 | 5000.

MileStone builds homes at master-planned communities in the Austin area.

Garrett Martin, CEO of MileStone Community Builders, said in a 2011 news release: “Our focus and commitment to delivering high-quality homes at a remarkable value as well as innovative design and architecture deeply resonates with the markets we serve.”


Patient Conversation Media
In second place among Austin companies on the Inc. 500 | 5000 is Patient Conversation Media Inc., with 2009-12 revenue growth of 8,782 percent. The company racked up revenue of $9.8 million in 2012. Patient Conversation Media appears at No. 22 on this year’s Inc. 500 | 5000.

Patient Conversation Media publishes doctor- and pharmacist-reviewed health care content online for consumers (including dailyRx), and connects patients to physicians and other health care providers through a collection of toll-free phone numbers.

“We are focused on delivering our mission to empower health care providers and patients with innovative solutions that will lower the cost of health care by 5 percent,” Donald Hackett, CEO of Patient Conversation Media, said in a news release. “Achieving our mission will deliver measurable benefits to our employees, stakeholders and shareholders.”

At No. 3 among Austin companies on the Inc. 500 | 5000 is Phunware Inc., where revenue soared 6,527 percent from 2009 to 2012. Last year’s revenue reached $8.2 million. On the Inc. 500 | 5000, Phunware comes in at No. 40.

According to Inc., Phunware develops apps that allow its customers, such as NASCAR, CBS and McDonald’s, to engage, manage and monetize consumers on mobile devices.

“Our vision is that apps should provide engagement and entertainment, and that brands and companies should invest in a high-value touch point for the consumer, so that they would engage, spend time and, more importantly, spend money,” Phunware Chairman and CEO Alan Knitowski told Texas Tech Pulse in 2011.

‘Being Great at What They Do’
Aside from the formative year of 2009 and the success they’ve attained, what links SpareFoot, MileStone, Patient Conversion Media and Phunware? All four of these successful Austin startups serve a need—and serve it well.

In a news release, Inc. Editor Eric Schurenberg noted that not all of the companies on the magazine’s Inc. 500 | 5000 list are in glamorous industries, “but in their fields they are as famous as household-name companies simply by virtue of being great at what they do. They are the hidden champions of job growth and innovation, the real muscle of the American economy.”

These “hidden champions” certainly are helping bulk up the muscles of Austin’s economy.

Bottom three images courtesy of,,