AUSTIN, Texas - A UT student has created an app to support Black-owned businesses in Austin.
Since 2019 he’s been working for hours each day on the app called “Keep Austin Black,” a directory to help others support the African American community.
The creator of the app is originally from the Dallas area. He says he hopes everyone takes advantage of what black Austin has to offer.
“Moving from Lancaster a majority-black suburb in Dallas to Austin it was somewhat of a culture shock. I wanted to find a community and find support and my parents would tell me to support black businesses so I thought it would be cool to consolidate a bunch in the area in one app.”
Earl Potts Jr. says he started developing the app called Keep Austin Black in October 2019.
The double major in computer science and black studies says a few weeks ago when the worldwide protests started happening, he wanted to find a way to contribute to the movement, by supporting black-owned businesses.
“Right now there’s 15 different categories with about 200 businesses. I have some more businesses I want to add a lot of people are pouring in and giving some suggestions.”
He says he went through the Austin Black Chamber of Commerce website and suggestions online. The app features a wide range of restaurants like Bird Bird Biscuit and Baby Greens, to designers, legal businesses, and hairdressers.
Billy Amen, a barbershop owner in the Riverside area is featured on the app. "It’s very simple and easily interpret, name of the business phone numbers, address, nowadays simplicity is everything," he said.
He says seeing fellow neighbors being supported brought joy to his heart.
“It means the absolute most it does because what it’s doing for us is it’s giving us a directory for all black-owned businesses for us to support each other. It’s hard because you almost have to know somebody to know what you’re looking for so this right here is making it more public if you will which makes it easier for people to look for,” Amen adds.
For Potts Jr., he says he hopes these increases support from all ethnicities, allies included.
“This isn’t the solution to you know police brutality or racial equality in America but I think it’s a good way to try to contribute so being able to uplift our community and try to reverse gentrification efforts even though most of it is systemic if we can get black businesses some exposure and get more money in the black community then that can be one way to help.”
The app is in the Google Play store and in beta for iOS, hoping for a full release in the next week. You can find the app here.
Businesses looking to be featured can contact by email.