Louis Black, co-founder of South By Southwest and The Austin Chronicle, is bringing something new to SXSW — “Made in Texas.” Made in Texas is a program of six short films with topics as wide-ranging as aluminum-clad aliens, Jim Morrison and a mother and daughter lost on a road trip — but what all the films share in common is that they were, indeed, made in Texas.

The movies were originally filmed around Austin in 1980 and premiered in New York in 1981. They will re-premiere at SXSW on Friday at the Marchesa Theatre and again the following Friday at the Alamo Ritz.

The program’s films — “Death of a Rock Star,” “Invasion of the Aluminum People,” “Speed of Light,” “Fair Sisters,” “Mask of Sarnath” and “Leonardo, Jr.” — were influenced by the punk and new-wave scenes that took Austin by storm in the early ’80s.  Black, who directed “Fair Sisters” and produced “Mask of Sarnath,” said he believes the films act as a kind of time capsule for the Austin film community.

“In restoring these films, we get to restore honor to these people,” Black said. “The talent in this town at that time was extraordinary, and they all worked together. When you see the credits for one of these films, you’ll see that a lot of those people are on the credits for one of the other films.”

After director Jonathan Demme, who helped assemble the original collection of films, was honored at SXSW last year, he and Black began discussing the possibility of a rerelease. Black said they were sure the films would still hold meaning. 

“The great thing about this program is that young and old filmmakers who have seen these films are blown away by them,” Black said. “Watching them now, you would still think of them as something that nobody’s done before.” 

Paul Collum, UT alumnus and writer of “Speed of Light,” said his film — set in 1963 — placed historical events in the modern context of the late ’70s, when he first started planning his project.

“The film takes place in this moment of optimism before [President John F. Kennedy’s] assassination,” Collum said. “People were making these shock waves that resonated with everyone, and that was something we heard in punk rock then.” 

Both Black and Collum said the “do it yourself” attitude of punk-rock bands served as motivation for them to start making their films. Black said their shared passions pushed them forward, even though many of the filmmakers were living in cramped apartments near campus and were without much money.

“To me, Texas has always been a place where you can create yourself,” Black said. “If you were here, it was because you wanted to be here. We didn’t want to make movies that were just like everyone else’s, and if we did, we’d have been in New York or [Los Angeles] instead.”

As the films return to the screen, Black said he hopes they will connect modern audiences with the creative spirit of Austin in the late ’70s.

“I know that it’s a long program and that some people will walk out,” Black said. “But at the end of the day, I want people to celebrate these films and celebrate this microcosm that kept Austin weird.”

Photo Credit: Crystal Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

Ben Barker, co-founder of London-based PAN Studio, is bringing “talking lamps” to Austin. But for Barker and his co-founder Sam Hill, the biggest challenge wasn’t giving a lamppost the ability to talk via text message — it was figuring out what it would say. 

The premise behind Barker’s project, “Hello Lamp Post,” is simple: Anyone with a cellphone can text the object’s reference code to the project’s phone number — which will go live on the project’s website Thursday. Then the sender waits for them lamppost’s reply, and a conversation is born.

Carrie Brown, the Art in Public Places coordinator who helped bring the project to Austin from its birthplace in Bristol, U.K., said she liked the simplicity of the interaction. 

“You don’t need a smartphone, you don’t need to be able to get on the Internet, [and] you don’t need an app,” Brown said. “You just need to be able to send a text message. It’s really easy to engage with the project.” 

Brown collaborated with Asa Hursh, executive director of Art Alliance Austin, to bring the project to Austin. Hursh said he admires the tech-centered artistry of the project.

“We were excited about this combination of art and technology and expanding the representation of what art is and can be and what an artist is and what an artist can be,” Hursh said. 

Brown and Hursh met the PAN Studio artists when they came to town for last year’s South By Southwest. They worked together to make Austin’s streets come to life.

The idea for the project came from W.G. Sebald’s novel, “Austerlitz,” in which the protagonist learns about himself by exploring the world around him. Barker said this plot element motivated the PAN Studio team to think about how a city connects to its inhabitants and how much people can learn from its streets. 

“[The project] paints an image of our environment, the city, as a [guide] about how we got to be the way we are, where we can walk the streets and be reminded of the ingredients,” Barker said. “The project for us is about asking people to think differently about their environment and where the boundaries between citizens and services are.”

“Hello Lamp Post” is more than a conversation between a person and a bench — the objects share stories that other people have told them. 

“You approach it as if you’re talking to a lamppost or to inanimate objects,” Hursh said. “But what ends up happening is that it’s a facilitator for conversations among people. It really becomes ‘Hello Austin,’ in a way because it’s about communicating with one another.”  

The developers encourage participants to find and “wake up” as many objects as possible. Revisiting the same objects results in different conversations because the personalities change over time. As more people use the platform, the objects have more stories to tell. 

The project will run for 10 weeks in Austin, starting with a kickoff event at Republic Square Park on Thursday from 4–6 p.m. 

The developers hope to tour it in more cities, such as Tokyo. For now, Barker said he likes Austin because of its similarities to Bristol.

“If there is one city in the U.S. that has a similar feel [to Bristol], it’s Austin,” Barker said. “Much like Bristol, during the development people haven’t questioned the idea of talking to lampposts. They’ve just said, 'When can we start?'"

Photo Credit: Isabella Palacios | Daily Texan Staff

For an estimated 40,000 attendees, the Capitol and the surrounding downtown area became a literary wonderland over the weekend during the 19th annual Texas Book Festival. 

More than 80 exhibitor and vendor booths were present at the festival, representing publishing companies and book stores. Some of the exhibitors were mainstream names, such as Barnes & Noble, while others were more obscure, such as Cinco Puntos Press. 

Cinco Puntos Press, a publishing company from El Paso, belonged to a growing group of independent publishers that ran booths at the Texas Book Festival. Bobby Byrd, co-founder of Cinco Puntos Press, said he hopes his booth made an impression on at least a few of the festival’s attendees. Byrd attends several state book festivals and national conferences every year in hopes of promoting his company. 

“It is very hard to compete with large publishers and to get recognition on a national scale,” Byrd said. “Festivals like this give us the opportunity to reach a much larger audience than we usually could.” 

April Terrazas, a UT biology pre-med alumna and founder of independent press Crazy Brainz Publishing, ran her first exhibition booth at the festival this weekend. Terrazas said the biggest challenge of running her own independent press is marketing it.

“Huge publishing companies have all of these connections, and I have to do all of the marketing myself,” Terrazas said. “Once people see the books, they love them, but actually getting people to see them can be tough.” 

Bryce Milligan is the publisher and co-founder of Wings Press, a small publishing house that represents multicultural authors. Milligan said Wings Press stayed afloat this year primarily because of the sale of a single e-book, “Black Like Me.” Milligan said, as long as he continues selling successful titles, he can keep the company running and continue his mission. 

“The mission of Wings Press — of all indie publishers really — is to represent voices that are rejected by or can’t find success with the mainstream publishers,” Milligan said. “We take the chances others won’t.” 

According to Terrazas, competing with large companies as an independent publisher is difficult, but it does offer financial benefits. 

“All of my profits go to me,” Terrazas said. “I get to keep a much larger percentage of my returns than authors working with large publishing companies.”

Terrazas said despite difficulties along the way, being an independent publisher is rewarding. 

“Showing off my books and getting so much positive feedback from so many people here at the festival is really, really encouraging and rewarding, and I am so glad I could be here at the festival,” Terrazas said. 

Daniel Heron has no interest in being a commercial cook. The UT alum and Austin-based entrepreneur believes that food goes beyond the industry — it is a platform for different cultures to connect and understand each other.  

Heron is an instructor at Austin-based Cooking Up Cultures, a nonprofit that offers a fusion of language and cooking classes. These classes allow participants to learn a language in a kitchen environment, using food as a way to understand the basics of a language quickly.

When he studied at UT, Heron co-founded The Food Lab, a UT think tank that generates awareness about food systems, food justice issues and food politics. He also created the UT Food Studies Project, which allows students to focus on how food can be used to control nations and how to think about food from different angles.

Heron, who considers himself a food-loving global citizen, said he first discovered his passion for languages and culture during his time in Latin America. 

“From my experience in Brazil, in poverty, some of the foods that we eat in abundance and with ease here in the U.S. can be really used as a method of helping your brain deal with your economic status,” Heron said.

Heron is also the brainchild behind a monthly soup party called “Global Soup,” which he said he started to celebrate Austin’s diversity. Each month, Heron and the team at Cooking Up Cultures choose one language and cuisine to highlight, and a local chef prepares a soup based on a recipe from that chosen culture.

This month, “Global Soup” celebrates Latin American culture with chefs from Austin’s El Naranjo restaurant cooking a black bean soup with pasilla de Oaxaca chiles. The soup party will be Sunday at in.gredients, an East Austin zero-waste microgrocer.

“We wanted to do more outreach events,” Cooking Up Cultures founder Casey Smith said. “Even if you don’t want to sign up for an entire class, you can still experience the cross-cultural influences through one monthly event.”

Currently, Cooking Up Cultures offers language learning classes in English and Spanish with “Cooking Up Arabic” beginning in May and other classes in French, Russian and Chinese that will be launched soon.

“We have so many languages in the world today, so we were thinking about which ones we are were going to focus on,” Heron said. 

Smith and Heron decided that the easiest way to choose the languages they wanted to offer would be by choosing the six official languages of the United Nations.

Food, for Heron, is a way to overcome the common fear of other cultures.

“Moving to Texas was a radical change for me,” Heron said. “I was an obese person for most of my childhood. I knew my mom wasn’t going to cook for me anymore. Once I began cooking, I started seeing the world through the lens of food, in everything that I did. I now want to use food as a platform to build community and bridge cultures.”

Immersion-styled language learning is what makes “Cooking Up English” and “Cooking Up Spanish” a fun experience, according to Heron. “This way, no matter where you are at, you are always going to get something out of it,” Heron said.

The five-week classes have been structured to allow people to start learning recipes from day two of the class. Participants are discouraged from translating from English or Spanish to their native languages and are allowed to do so only when they truly do not understand what the instructor is asking them to do.

Spanish instructor and Cooking Up Cultures board member Adriana De La Cuadra said the whole idea of the class is to learn as you go along.

Cuadra, an Austin entrepreneur, is also co-founder of Lista, a web application to make it easier for people to cook at home.

“Language brings you closer to cultures,” Cuadra said. “The combination of cooking and language classes brings out the complexity of a culture through cooking.”

Neurobiology sophomore Amber Garza registers to becomes a blood or bone marrow donor withThe Delete Blood Cancer DKMS Longhorn chapter. Students can become donors by simply swabbing the insides of their cheeks for genetic information. 

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Those who suffer from leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma can be treated when matched with a suitable donor, and all the information needed to save a life can be found on a single cotton swab — something UT students had in mind when swabbing hundreds of cheeks Wednesday.

Students from the Longhorn chapter of Delete Blood Cancer DKMS registered students for a national database, with the goal of matching cancer patients with a donor that could give them a blood or bone marrow transplant. 

Katherine Kuntz, management senior and co-founder of the chapter, said she chose to advocate DNA registration because she has been personally impacted by a donation.

“I got involved because my mom was diagnosed with cancer in March 2012 — acute myloid leukemia,” Kuntz said. “They basically told her, ‘You have to have a donor in order to survive.’ Luckily she had a perfect match. She’s been 1 year and 3 months cancer-free.”

Amy Roseman, recruitment coordinator for Delete Blood Cancer, said only four out of 10 patients suffering from a blood-related cancer find a donor. Roseman said the process of finding a donor is difficult because the immune system often rejects the genetic signature of donated tissue.

“There are thousands of different combinations of DNA,” Roseman said. “Only 30 percent of patients even find a match within their family, so the odds of finding a match with a complete stranger are astronomically small — only 1 percent of people who register are identified to be a donor. We’re trying to add as many people to the database as possible to in order to have the best chance at saving lives.”

Kuntz said there is a lot of misinformation about the process of marrow donation. 

“[Most people] think [doctors are] going to take a chunk, and you’re going to be awake, and it will be painful,” Kuntz said. “They just think all of these crazy things that are not true.”

Roseman said actual bone marrow transplants are not the norm — only patients under 3 years old need them, and in these cases the donor is sedated during the surgery. Roseman said what 75-80 percent of patients actually need is stem cells, and most of the time these can be extracted from the blood stream. 

Roseman said it takes three minutes to swab the inside of the cheeks for genetic information.

“People don’t realize how easy it is,” Roseman said. “Giving somebody a second chance at life is a very unique opportunity.” 

Jeffrey Stulmaker, government junior and co-founder of the club, said blood cancer should be easily addressed.

“It’s the only form of cancer where you depend on someone else to survive,” Stulmaker said.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

Austin Startup Week is the fall version of South by Southwest Interactive.

For those who are tech junkies, Austin Startup Week provides a much needed break from the incessant music conversation from Oct. 7-11. The week features events such as “Find a Co-founder” and meet-and-greets with startup lawyers. For students, Startup Week festivities provide opportunities to find an internship or a job that offers experience in what is typically a smaller and less structured company. Headlining Austin Startup Week is the Startup Crawl. 

The Crawl is hosted by Google and takes place Oct.10. Sixty-five start-up companies will set up camp on the ground floor atrium of the Omni Hotel and fill the “hot tech” requirement of The Crawl’s official slogan: “Hot Tech. Cold Beer.” 

“There are a lot of great companies this time around,” said Allyson Weber, ATX Startup Crawl Event Coordinator. “There’s a lot of opportunity for [UT students] to find a potential internship or job.”

The relatively informal atmosphere and abundance of cold beer create an ideal forum for talent-hungry companies to meet with potential candidates in an informal setting. 

“Startup Crawl honestly isn’t that much crazier than a normal week for us, just maybe with more people than usual,” said Shaan Shah, co-founder of MakerSquare, one of the Crawl’s featured companies. 

MakerSquare is a start-up company that teaches fast-paced intensive courses on web development. Students learn everything from HTML and CSS to Ruby on Rails and AJAX in just 10 weeks. 

“Most start-ups are always hiring even if we don’t have intern positions posted anywhere,” Shah said. “If you come to us with an idea and say, ‘What you guys do is really cool. Here’s what else I think you should be doing and here’s how you should do it,’ we’re going to
be impressed.”

Because start-up companies aren’t fixed with the same rigid hiring policies as big corporations, The Crawl can provide an event for attendees to find a company with which they identify with for more than just skill set. 

“We look for people that will fit before we even think about the skills you could bring to the table,” Michelle Skupin of RetailMeNot said. “We have to know first and foremost that the culture is going to work on both sides.” 

RetailMeNot is a website and a mobile app that helps consumers find coupons for popular retail locations. 

“Follow up on a personal level and create a conversation that shows you really want to contribute,” Shah said. The best bet for a potential employee, Shah said, is to show up and show passion.

Startup Crawl tickets are still available for free on Capitol Factory’s website.

Nancy Terry, co-founder of the largest private source of scholarships in the state, died from complications related to Parkinson’s Disease in her Houston home Saturday at the age of 85.

Nancy Terry co-founded the Terry Foundation, a Houston-based scholarship organization, in 1986 with her husband Howard Terry, who died last spring. The foundation has provided $46 million in scholarship funding to UT students since its inception, said Tom Melecki, director of student financial services at UT.

Melecki said Nancy Terry will be greatly missed by many for her exceptional personal qualities that prompted her to help others throughout her life.

“Mrs. Terry was a gracious and caring lady, and along with her husband, she made attendance at the University possible for more than 1,000 young Texans who could not otherwise have afforded to enroll here,” Melecki said in an email.

The foundation‘s endowment will increase following Nancy Terry’s death with the donation of funds from her estate, said Terry Foundation spokesperson Laura Sanders.

According to an obituary provided by the foundation, Nancy Terry was born Nancy Myers in Upstate New York, where she attended high school and college. She moved to Texas as an adult and married Howard Terry. They were married for more than 45 years until his passing.

Howard Terry was successful in the oil, gas and banking industries, and the foundation is completely funded by contributions from Nancy and Howard Terry. Howard Terry wanted to help others afford college, as he made it through UT in the 1930s with the help of financial assistance. The foundation gives scholarships to students at eight Texas state universities, according to the foundation.

The couple were honored multiple times for their charitable contributions in recent years. They were designated as National Points of Light by former President George H. W. Bush in 2001, and the Houston City Council designated March 22 as Nancy and Howard Terry Day in 2011.

Nancy Terry was preceded in death by her husband and one of her sons. She is survived by a sister and brother, three daughters, one son, 14 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, according to the obituary.

The foundation will hold a ceremony in front of the UT Tower at 8 p.m. Thursday to celebrate the lives of the Terrys and commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Terry Scholar Program. The tower will be lit as part of the ceremony, and all Terry Scholars and members of the general public are encouraged to attend, said Ed Cotham, director of the Terry Foundation.

Printed on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 as: Ceremony to honor foundation founder

Students listen to a discussion between aspiring student entrepreneurs and organization leaders at the SAC, Monday. The discussion kicked of the first ever UT Entrepreneurship Week, developed to help assist aspiring business leaders.

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

Before students dive into their spring break week, student entrepreneurs will have the chance to dive into a week of events aimed at building connections and receiving professional and peer guidance for their future businesses.

The first UT Entrepreneurship Week kicked off Monday with a discussion between aspiring student entrepreneurs and campus entrepreneurship organization leaders that will be associated with UTE Week. uThinkTank, creator of UTE Week, is a networking site that allows student entrepreneurs to get feedback on their ideas, connect to mentors on campus and in Austin and build their general business plans, said marketing junior Jonathan Van, co-founder of uThinkTank.

Van said the idea of UTE Week is to merge the entrepreneuring nature of Austin with the University in order to provide city resources to students and expand the entrepreneurial culture on campus.

“We want students to go from their idea to where the rubber meets the road,” Van said. “Students that attend the events can start talking to other students and professors that might be able to help them and as well as possible stakeholders for their companies.”

Rhetoric and writing junior, Nick Spiller, co-founder of uThinkTank, said his ideas for UTE Week originated from listening to his current mentor, Robert Metcalfe, electrical and computer engineering professor and co-inventor of Ethernet, speak about connecting the Austin and UT entrepreneurial communities.

“This week is for students to push this snowball of a movement of entrepreneurship over the tipping point at the University,” Spiller said. “We think that if we can get enough people on board and make sure everyone meets the right people, we can basically change the metrics of how your college experiences at a large public research university can be judged.”

Management senior Neil Lloyd said he attended the kickoff event Monday to find out about the resources that are available for him. Lloyd said his business idea is in its rough stage but eventually wants to create a networking tool for the martial arts community.

“I’ve been an aspiring entrepreneur for a long time and I guess I’ve never been able to get my ideas into action because I was never able to find the right people,” Lloyd said. “I’m hoping to make some connections and bounce ideas off each other.”

Electrical engineering senior Aaron Sanchez, vice-president of the Technology Entrepreneurship Society, said the organization’s monthly meeting is a part of UTE Week in order to offer student entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn about applying to local startup-assistance groups.

“We want students to share their ideas and thoughts and expose them to information that can compliment those thoughts,” Sanchez said.

Economics and finance senior, Kanish Mehta, president and founder of the University Entrepreneur’s Association, said the organization wants to connect student entrepreneurs from all disciplines together in order to share their ideas and form teams for new start-up companies.

The association will present the “Austinpreneur Panel” event on Tuesday at the SAC Blackbox Theatre that will feature a panel of speakers from Austin who will discuss the relationship between entrepreneurship and the community, Van said.

uThinkTank and Austin Technology Incubator will present the second annual Student Entrepreneurship Symposium on Wednesday in the SAC Ballroom.

“The symposium is going to give students the chance to see people that are highly successful, such as Robert Metcalfe, and allow them to make connections with their peers and possible mentors,” Van said.  

Printed on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 as: Budding entrepreneurs receive advice

Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple Inc. in 1976, died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday, October 5.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Apple co-founder and visionary Steve Jobs died Wednesday, Oct. 5, of pancreatic cancer, Apple announced. Jobs stepped down from his role as CEO of Apple in August, and the newest iteration of the company’s popular iPhone, the iPhone 4S, was revealed yesterday by new CEO Tim Cook.

Jobs, who co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976, was perhaps the most high-profile and influential celebrity CEO since John D. Rockefeller. After being fired in 1985, Jobs returned to the computer company in 1996 and ushered in a wave of advancements that would forever change how an entire generation of consumers would think about its relationship with technology and media.

In 2001, under the guidance of Jobs, Apple released the first-generation iPod. It was a thick, brick-like device that had a low-resolution black-and-white screen and five gigabytes of storage space. At the time, it was only compatible with Macintosh computers and retailed for $399.

Ten years later, the current iPod model, the fourth-generation iPod Touch, is comprised of a glossy touchscreen display, can hold up to 64 gigabytes of data, can record and play back high-definition video and features a front-facing camera for video conferencing over the Internet. IPods currently make up 78 percent of the portable music player market share.

The speed at which new developments came from Apple under Jobs’ command helped create a culture of commerce that values immediacy. In addition to its nearly annual refreshment of its product lines, which includes iPods, laptop and desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones, the launch of the iTunes Store in 2003 dramatically shaped how the entertainment industry entered the digital age.

More importantly, Jobs made the crucial distinction that entertainment and technology are inherently tied to each other by the Internet. ITunes was a bold reversal to the pervasive digital piracy of the ’90s and early ’00s — its massive success (now the largest and highest-grossing music retailer in the world, with more than 16 billion downloads) proved that consumers are more than willing to pay for digital content when the program is attractively designed and easy to use.

Design and ease of use became the guiding modus operandi for Apple under Jobs to reach great creative and financial success. The iPhone, perhaps Jobs’ greatest and most influential creation, has defined the mobile device marketplace since its release in 2007. Its sleek, intuitive design, user-friendly interface and unshakable cool-factor has become the standard for consumer electronics.

But the largest reason for the iPhone and Apple’s success is Jobs’ careful construction of his company’s emotional narrative — he made computers and phones feel human. In Jobs’ keynote presentations and in the commercials and advertising for Apple products, the emphasis is laid on how the products foster intimate, almost poignant human connections.

In one of the ads for the iPhone — the first to feature the FaceTime video conferencing technology — a mother and her newborn child conference call with her husband, who is away for work; grandparents get to see their granddaughter’s graduation; and a couple are able to use the camera to speak to each other in sign language. Jobs blurred the distinction between living with technology and living through technology — an inspiring, effective touchstone of a brilliant career. 

Printed on October 6, 2011 as: Apple co-founder, innovator dies at 56

Axel Setyanto works at his desk in the Borrowed Sugar office on Tuesday. The mission of the company is to provide users with a direct on-line connection to their local community; helping them find their way through the massive amounts of information on the Internet.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Local communities are weaker as globalization and corporatization grow, said representatives from a UT-driven company who hope to turn that trend around.

Borrowed Sugar designed a website which will provide news and information on events, people and businesses in local communities to members, said UT alumna and co-founder Kelley Rytlewski.

“How can we be so connected across the world but not across the street?” Rytlewski asked.

She said the website will use member addresses and language patterns in searches to create an interactive experience that feels authentically local and provides the information they seek about their own community.

Rytlewski said Borrowed Sugar wants to lead the “local movement” and help not only businesses but also schools, community organizations and individuals build a network.

“It’s really about harnessing the individuals in the community to create a place that is thriving and connected,” Rytlewski said.

The company will launch a beta version of their website in a month through which they will be able to get feedback from communities, said UT alumnus and co-founder Eric Sung.

“The key challenge that we’ve solved is really recruiting talented and passionate people who believe in this idea of living locally,” Sung said.

Twelve of the 17 employees are current or former Longhorns, and they said the skills they learned and people they met at UT prepared them to raise the necessary funds and create their online product.

Investments in November 2010 allowed the company to test out and learn from an initial prototype this spring, Sung said.

By providing local businesses with a place to advertise to their customers and informing these customers about the businesses, Borrowed Sugar can have a profitable self-sustaining business that will be viable in the future, he said.

“Right now we are in the learning mode, and we have been really fortunate to have a lot of people who believe in us,” Sung said.

Rytlewski said one of the biggest technological challenges was customizing the website for every local area to provide what residents were looking for. She said another challenge was ensuring a vibrant online community from the start to foster member participation in the long run.

Rebecca Melancon, executive director of the Austin Independent Business Alliance, said local businesses contribute and reflect the city’s culture tremendously and provide its economic backbone.

Austin has about 35,000 local businesses, and everyone benefits when profits from those companies stay in the city, Melncon said.

“When people travel they look for what makes a place different, what makes it unique, what it has to offer that others don’t,” she said.

Melancon said a healthy local economy also needs support from national chains, and while having consumers abandon corporate businesses is unrealistic, a shift in spending toward local businesses could put millions into the local economy and significantly expand the job market.

She said the major issue faced by organizations trying to encourage awareness of local communities and businesses is finding funding and employees that will sustain them.

Borrowed Sugar has already overcome these challenges and recruited many UT alumni and students through the Undergraduate Business Council, said finance computer sciences senior and outreach coordinator Jay Shah.

Shah said the company is preparing for its national launch in Austin next month, and will launch in other cities as soon as a certain number of members signs up.