This is a guest post by Trey Bowles (@TreyBowles) Trey is cofounder and CEO of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (aka The DEC) in Dallas. Bowles also serves as an adjunct professor at SMU teaching Social Entrepreneurship and a Startup classes in the Meadows School.
As I settled into my very comfortable chair at the Inwood theater, I could feel the excitement and anticipation in the air. This is the first Dallas Pitch Day for two year old Venture Spur Accelerator created out of Oklahoma City. In the second year of their operation they decided to offer a duel class in both Oklahoma City and now Dallas. With 3 companies participating in the accelerator in Oklahoma City and four in Dallas, this is the first accelerator in the world to offer the same program in two cities at the same time.
About twenty minutes before the event is scheduled to begin, the room fills up, the who’s who of investing in Texas enter the space anxious to find a comfy spot and check out these companies from Venture Spur. Entrepreneurial support in Dallas has been going gang busters in the last year. We went from one accelerator to four accelerators in just a few short months. Venture Spurs investment criteria looks for startups in the education technology, mobility/telecom, banking/finance/insurance related technolgies.
This Pitch Day is indicative of a much larger statewide movement to support entrepreneurship. There are 3 Pitch days in less than a four weeks in Texas. There was Tech Stars: Austin on 10/29, Venture Spur 10/30, and HealthWildcatters on 11/20.
Executive Director, Kraettli Epperson kicks off the day and acts as mc for the day. A special and unexpected addition was the musical interludes between sessions provided by Venture Spur Cofounder and Trailblazer Capital Principal, David Matthews Yes that is correct, The Dave Matthews Band was our musical entertainment for the day.
Sparx Life, a technology solution that empowers people to discover their purpose and live it. It is essentially a recommendation engine built around an discovery process where you can help understand your purpose and how you pursue it. The technology then provides recommendations based upon an extremely efficient methodology around assessing what gives a person meaning… Think Match.com for discovering and fulling your purpose.
One big highlight of the pitch was when LA-based Sparx life announced it permanent move to Dallas. This is indicative of a rapid influx of companies moving to Dallas as they see it a great place to start and build a company.
Order My Gear was another interesting startup where they have an online ordering system that simplifies ordering and selling team sporting goods equipment and uniforms. Seldom found in early stage accelerators, Order My Gear is a profitable company that joined Venture Spur because they felt like it was time to really expand their current operation to support an entire marketplace connecting schools, parents, boosters, manufacturers distributors, sales reps, coaches. CEO, Kent McKeaigg saw the value of the network of mentors, advisors, and investors that Venture Spur could bring to the table through this accelerator program.
There was an interesting and unique panel discussion in the middle of the pitch day moderated by Joel Fontenot and represented by key leaders in the networking, cloud computing, and mobility/telecom space from companies including Microsoft, SoftLayer (an IBM Company), Alcatel-Lucent, and Cisco. A key takeaway from the panel was a question posed around What is more important today? Your device or your network? The overwhelming response… Your network. In the future, it will matter much less whether you have an iPad, a Kindle, a Nokia phone or a Samsung. The power will be in the network you have and the connection to your content and relationships that exist.
The Haul Company, a global prover of online advertising and e-commerce solutions driven by haulers, was cofounded by Alexander Muse, one of the “godfathers of the modern startup scene in Dallas”. With several other successes including most recently as cofounder and chairman of Shop Savvy, haul is poised for success in really creating a new market of e-commerce and monetization for haulers.
SIVI, another startup founded by previously successful entrepreneurs, Nicholas Seet and Ashok Kamal, has created a ramified e-learning platform for aspiring entrepreneurs and startups. SIVI has launched with partnership with key organizations including, Rice Alliance, Surge Accelerator, Venture Spur Accelerator, and The Dallas Entrepreneur Center who all see the value of providing education to people who are trying to start companies.
There were several other great presentations from companies like Zalongo, Toga Box, and Little Fish who were examples of startups from a investment focus around education technology, mobility and telecom, and banking/finance/insurance related startup technology.
This pitch day, a culmination for the 7 startup companies in the Venture Spur Accelerator adds just one more example of a burgeoning and thriving entrepreneurial scene in Dallas. With a constantly growing region which includes new incubators, cowering spaces, startup programming and accelerators, there has been an explosion of startup activity in the last 12 months in North Texas. There is no question as to the potential that exists for this region, but it will sure be fun to see all of the ways we are able to achieve and grow our ecosystem to serve the millions of people that live in the Dallas metroplex.
For a complete list of companies that presented, you can connect with them here at the Venture Spur site or individually via their web sites:
- Little Fish- http://www.getlittlefish.com/
- Order My Gear- https://www.ordermygear.com/
- SIVI- http://sivi.com/
- Sparx Life- http://www.sparxlife.com/
- Toga Box- http://www.togabox.com/corp/index.html
- Zalongo- https://zalongo.com