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Coronavirus relief: Austin Small business owner shares process on getting new loan approved

Amber Allen, owner of Double A Labs, received the Paycheck Protection Plan loan in her business's bank account on Thursday afternoon.

AUSTIN, Texas — Monday morning, Amber Allen applied for the Paycheck Protection Program loan from the Small Business Association. At first, her banker denied her application.

"My banker actually denied it and said, 'Hey this is going to get declined,'" Allen said. "'You’re going to want to do these three things correctly. Like, this is not filled out right.' ... On Tuesday, we resubmitted and by Thursday it was in the bank."

Allen owns Double A Labs – an event planning company that works with real-world and augmented reality experiences. She employs a little more than 30 people. In the throes of coronavirus, she had to lay off one employee and transform one from full-time to part-time.

“We do live events so we really saw a hit because of South by Southwest closing," Allen said.

Because of SXSW canceling and none of her clients hosting events until November, Allen turned to the digital space. It was already about 40% of her business, but with a new loan from the SBA, it's about to become her whole business.

"What this has done has ramped up what I thought our business model would be in two years, to happen in the next four months," Allen said.

Developing XR Technology to Enhance the Healthcare Industry

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Posted by Double A Labs on Monday, April 6, 2020

Allen added that her advice to other small businesses is to use this time during the COVID-19 pandemic to innovate and move forward as much as possible.

"Be OK with a little bit more innovation and expanding that, instead of just battening down the hatch," Allen said. "I believe this is a time where we take some of these funds and we figure a way not just to survive, but to expand."

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As soon as the SBA announced the PPP loan, she immersed herself in educational tools: webinars from the Austin Chamber of Commerce, calling other small business owners to see what worked for them and keeping in contact with her bank as she worked through the application process.

"The week before South by Southwest, you could see the writing on the wall, so immediately I was reaching out to my bank saying, 'What is our line of credit? Where are we at with certain things there? What do we do in our offices that we need to cut costs,'" Allen said.

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