Kuki & Laura – How To Start A New Life by Moving from Madrid to Austin

I am fascinated with startups since Gary and I started DilogR. When I found out that Kuki and Laura had moved from Madrid, Spain to Austin, TX to run their company here I was fascinated – and wanted to feature them immediately. So many people dream about living in Spain – and they moved to Texas.

Please introduce yourselves.

I’m Juan Luis Bastos but everybody calls me Kuki. I was born in Oegstgeest – a little town in Holland – but we moved to Madrid when I was 1 year old. I was raised in Madrid (Spain).

I’m Laura Megías, I was born and raised in Madrid as well. I studied Law and have Masters degree in Marketing and Commercial Management. I have always worked in marketing( business), the last few years focusing on the Internet.

When and why did you move to the USA and left Spain?

We moved from Madrid to Austin one year ago (2013). We did it for several reasons.
A family “challenge” was something we wanted to take on. We wanted to live in another country to experience how it is to live immersed in another culture. We have a daughter and a son (14 and 11 years old) whom we would like to grow up bilingual. We feel this is the best gift we can give them.
As entrepreneurs, we have to find the best business opportunities – and those opportunities carried us to Austin.

What do you enjoy most about the USA/Austin ? After a year you have a bit more experience, how’s the quality of life compared to other US cities, Spain or NL you may know?

USA is a huge country but in general what we enjoy the most, is the feeling that things are easier for people. There isn’t so many administrative steps to follow for everything and for example the companies don’t have to pay so many taxes when they are starting like in Spain.
Austin compered to Madrid is a small city – we like that. Everybody complains about the traffic, but it can be worse believe us! On the other hand, we have to say that the public transportation in Madrid is excellent, and you can move everywhere by Subway or bus.

Kuki: There is a huge problem with the new people moving to USA that I faced – Credit score. In our countries we are people with loans, credits, mortgages and a (good) reputation, but here in USA you don’t even exist until 1 or 1 year and a half. Your past does not matter – even if you bring a letter from your previous banks etc

Usually there are some negatives, what are the ones for Austin that really stand out for you personally

We are impressed with the music selection that Austin offers. Almost every week there are some nice concert/s. But we miss painting and sculpture exhibitions of relevance. If you want to see something very nice you usually have to take a trip to Dallas or Houston.

Austin is in the middle of Texas, so it’s far far away from other interesting cities/states we want to visit on short weekend trips.

Do you feel Austin is a good place for you as an entrepreneur right now? Are there any areas expats like you might like in the USA in your opinion better than Austin. WHY?

I only can say good things about Austin as an entrepreneur right now! We found the people and the funds to build a fantastic project. Obviously Silicon Valley is THE place for startups. However, it is expensive, the competition is huge and we discovered a lot of people from California and NY moving to Austin. Austin is a very hot place for startups right now.

Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Austin as an expat in your experience?

We chose Southwest Austin because we were looking for quality public schools, and we are happy there. It is a green area with many parks and sports area, and the neighbors are young and professional.

Do you go out a lot – hobbies? Or is everything about work/home right now?

Laura: I go to the gym – and I like to do Yoga and do some biking. Our son plays soccer with Lone Star and I drive him twice a week to practice. Our daughter Claudia loves drawing and photography.

We also like to visit new places like water holes, Wimberley etc….

Kuki: I’m trying to do some biking and swim at lunch time everyday. I love crafting, and Austin is also the city for crafting and recycling. I re-discovered working with wood: tables, coffee tables and also I love iPhone photography. I’m experimenting with some inventions I made as accessories for taking pictures, lens, etc

What’s the cost of living compared to other cities you are familiar with? What is cheap or expensive in particular?

Electricity and gas are cheaper here, restaurants are a little bit cheaper as well. In Spain you have buy the school books even if your children go to a public school, here the state pays for it. On the other hand the college it’s much more expensive than in Spain.

What it is really expensive here is health care. We don’t feel that health care is just business. That is what health care is for most companies here, business! You must be very careful if you don’t want to bankrupt yourselves if something goes wrong.

Did you think it is easy meeting people/other startups and making friends in Austin?

Kuki: For me Austin is a city for connecting people. I always find people that know people who are doing something related to my project. That’s how we started here.

Tell us about your company?

Wake App is a company that started focused is design and develop mobile apps for music, entertainment and Health. Sounds like Yamaha Corporation that make pianos and motorcycles 😉 We are not developers, we are designers, thinkers and creatives with a very special way of thinking. We developed some very successful apps in Spain. We were finalist at SXSW interactive 2014 with N by Jorge Drexler, a combinatory music app.

How about getting funding/banking?

We found the partners and the funds to develop a super secret new product related to chid’s education. I can’t say more… just http://www.kidu.com

What are your favorite restaurants/bars in Austin – why?

Best pad thai: Tai Passion (unfortunately is closing soon)
Best carbonara: Congress and 3rd
Best Fish tacos: Turf N’ Surf Po Boy

Kuki at LindedIn
Kuki at Twitter
Kuki at Facebook

Laura at Facebook
EuroCircle Austin Facebook GROUP

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Wednesday, Jan 20 2016

We are very saddened when we heard the news on Laura’s death yesterday. Our prayers and thoughts are with you. Please let us know anything we can do for you just to help you cope with this difficult situation.
Our love and sympathy to you and your family, Kaisa & Gary – EuroCircle Family