Dwindling interest and growing boredom with academia led two students to take their educations out of the classroom and launch their own company. Taking a dive head first into the real business world, economics sophomore Preston Brown and Austin Community College business administration freshman Alex Yang founded Austin Acai Company.
A staple of the UT food truck scene, this sweet and nutritious snack venue was established in 2016 by two college students with an entrepreneurial drive.
Brown and Yang met sitting next to each other in an ACC business course and bonded over their mutual motivations for success.
“We were both studying business because we both wanted to start (one),” Yang said. “And businesses are a lot easier to do with a partner.”
The pair’s shared goal of constructing and owning an enterprise led them to collaboratively brainstorm profitable ideas.
“We both had similar interests in starting a business,” Brown said. “Then we went to Blenders and Bowls, and were like, ‘We can do this way better.’”
With that vision in mind, Yang and Brown went to work trying to solidify their idea, such as figuring out the business and financial requirements of managing a food truck.
“There was a lot of research and development we had to do ... We had no idea how food businesses ran,” Yang said.
Brown and Yang, both 19 at the time, began researching what their competitors were doing and looking into what it would take for them to run a business in the food industry. They contacted blender manufacturers and acai distributors and started comparing recipes, all in the hopes of dreaming up the best, most unique product.
“None of our stuff is copied from someone else, so our menu items you’re not going to find anywhere else,” Yang said.
The food truck capitalizes on the current trend of eating convenient and healthy foods: All of their ingredients, with the exception of Nutella, are organic, allowing college students to have access to delicious and fresh snacks.
Bobby Kirkov, owner of Pommes Frites and Austin Acai’s neighbor in the Co-op Food Court, is inspired by how Brown and Yang run Austin Acai. Kirkov even said he’s integrated some of their ideas into his own truck.
“They seem to be very inspirational, as far as health goes...Since I met them I’ve changed a bunch of stuff on our menu,” Kirkov said. “A bunch of our stuff now is all organic.”
Although Brown and Yang seem to have a fair amount of business savvy, they said it’s less thanks to formal education and more a result of the networks they’ve made while building their business.
“To be very honest, and hopefully this doesn’t discourage people who need school, school didn’t really help at all,” Yang said.
Both Brown and Yang are more invested in acquiring knowledge from real-world, tangible situations, rather than anything involving their school studies.
“Classes don’t teach you how to start a business,” Brown said. “They teach you how to be an employee for an existing business.”
Though schooling did not exactly prepare the two for this venture, they have certainly gained a lot from it.
“I learn so much more—probably 90 percent of how business works working here, and 10 percent through class and studying other things,” Yang said.
With experience as their ultimate teacher, they know there is more to learn in the future.
“I mean, obviously, this is the food truck business, so it’s not like we’re doing anything super complicated,” Brown said.