The Dallas startup and technology communities gathered yesterday for one of the more anticipated events in the local scene. Techwildcatters, Dallas’ only startup accelerator, presented it’s 2012 Pitch Day which featured 10 companies they’ve mentored and incubated over the last 3 months as their summer class.
— Startup Texas (@StartupTex) July 11, 2012
I’ve had prior contact with a good number of the entrepreneurs involved so I already knew a lot of what to expect as far as the products were concerned. Not a single group disappointed, delivering succinct pitches within the 10 minute format outlining their innovations, business plans, go-to-market strategies, and addressable market.
The majority of the companies in the class could be categorized in the SoMoLo (Social, Mobile, Local) space, presenting Apps/Platforms that centered heavily around the social web and it’s ties to commerce.
— fancorps (@fancorps) July 11, 2012
Socialyzer, Qwiqq, and Order Mapper each pitched within the first portion of the event, all companies I’m familiar with by interacting with their co-founders over the course of the past year. It was great to see them each represented in public form, having all made great progress in the last few months from a product and marketing perspective. A few other companies, which I wasn’t completely familiar with, Atticous, FanTree, and Nommunity also held their own on stage. The latter was personally intriguing given my gluten free diet (not by choice), and constant search for food I can actually eat when not at home. I’ll certainly be putting that one to use.
If you aren’t familiar with these names click here for a full list to explore them all in more detail. Chances are you’ll find an app you’ll personally love, or a product/company that could make for a great partner, client, or integration for your own startup.
The key takeaway for me was that innovation truly does run deep within the Dallas startup community. All of these companies have great ideas and are on the right track to creating great startups. Only time will tell if their teams will stick it out through hard times, stay true to their vision, and come out successful on the other side.
The question that remains to be answered is if the pocket books of Dallas investors will run as deep as the innovation does?
The Magnolia Theatre was sold out; meaning there was easily 200+ people in attendance. Obviously those were not all investors, but there was a definite presence. From my point of view, a good number of Texas VCs were there. Representatives from Trailblazer, Silver Creek, Dallas Venture Partners, and even Austin Ventures were present. Along side those stood countless angel and individual investors, many of which roll within Techwildcatters as mentors. Did the startups impress these investors and the others watching? Will they land more than an initial meeting from their pitches that eventually culminate with a funding opportunity?
Will Dallas investors take risks on these early and seed stage companies that might not already have fully developed business models and/or millions in revenue? Will they see value and potential in companies that are forging new ground in industries that are still very much in their infancy? Will these investors, who aren’t tweeting and instagraming every day, grasp the enormous opportunity these ideas represent in this space?
Once again, only time will tell.
T.J. Persons, founder of Dallas based Koupon Media, spoke briefly at the event about how their experience with Techwildcatters set them on a path to raise money, and now are flourishing and growing after a follow-up round. Huge congrats to their team for keeping it local at a time when it’s much easier to head west in hopes of accelerating the process.
Coupon Media founder announcing have raised $6.5 million, 30 employees & 9000 sq feet of office now since pitch day last yr. #PitchDay12
— Tech Wildcatters (@techwildcatters) July 11, 2012
But for every Koupon Media there are hundreds of other Dallas startups struggling to maintain their companies, vision, and keep their heads above water. Hopefully, this class of startups from Techwildcatters will forge new ground and represent a breakthrough in the Dallas investment/startup community… acquiring local funding, then growing their companies locally, and eventually succeeding to a point where they can pay it back to other aspiring entrepreneurs following in their footsteps.
A huge high five goes out to everyone who pitched yesterday, those who I consider friends, and those who I don’t even know. It takes balls to do what you did. Stay focused on your products, learn from the mistakes you’re about to make, and as a wise person once told me…
“Whatever you do, just be the last one standing.”