Advancing Our North Texas Startup Community
The business and tech ecosystems in North Texas are absolutely thriving, and we’re seeing proof of that everywhere. With incubator programs like Tech Wildcatters and VentureSpur moving downtown, the startup community is seeing a serious amount of traction. Even the US Chamber of Commerce recognizes our success, as indicated in their recent Regulatory Climate Index report on building a business here in the States.
But exactly what resources are we providing aspiring entrepreneurs here in Texas? The need is there — how are we fulfilling it?
Earlier this year, Southern Methodist University’s Entrepreneurship program offered its first ever “Accelerate Your Startup” class with professor and Dallas Entrepreneur Center co-founder, Trey Bowles. It’s programs like this that indicate we’re heading the right direction here in Dallas.
Alex Fulton, co-founder and VP of Operations for Grouplet LLC, recently finished the SMU class, and was very grateful for the experience. “Honestly, the best resource any start up could have is a dedicated time each week with two prominent members of the startup community here in Dallas — where they both teach you what to do and how to handle different situations, as well as mentor you on the more specific problems your business is facing.”
Eduardo Leon, Director of Operations of Iron Triangle Distribution, also went through the Accelerate Your Startup class. “I think that what Trey, the DEC, and SMU are doing is vital to helping the startup scene here in Dallas. Who better to train than college kids who have the time (and aren’t in the “real” world yet) to try and launch a business, with little to no risk.”
All of the students in the class have the opportunity to work at the DEC this summer, and we’re excited to see what they build from that momentum!
There are a number of coffeeshops and tons of offices for lease, but one type of community that Dallas has seen massive growth in is coworking.
Oren Salomon, owner of Dallas Fort Work, provided some insight on what makes coworking so valuable to the startup and entrepreneur looking for space:
Coworking is the gift that keeps on giving. Workers show up for a variety of reasons: a working surface, fast Internet, coffee, collaborative space such as a white board or conference room.
But it’s what they didn’t know they needed that provides the real value. The real value is in the community of coworkers.
The tangibles get you up and running, but the intangibles of a loving, supporting (and sometimes challenging) body of fellow coworkers is what launches you into the stratosphere.
This company of coworkers may lead to a collaboration, an introduction, or even a celebration. In an era where isolation is the default experience and we rarely connect AFK, that’s what the worker needs more than ever: coworkers.
And the idea of coworking is growing throughout Dallas.
Just yesterday, the coworking community, The Grove, launched an Indiegogo campaign, announcing its expansion at 501 Elm.
“To date we have grown from 6 members to over 60 businesses and organizations, and partnered with several nonprofits in supporting their missions. This campaign will allow us to triple the impact that we have had on revitalization and social mission in Dallas.”
There are a variety of different types of workspace all around the Dallas area, and recently The DEC partnered with the Addison Economic Development Department to start the Addison Treehouse.
“Supporting business startups is a major component of our economic development strategic plan,” said Orlando Campos, Addison’s Director of Economic Development. “Our venture with the DEC will also help us attract talent to the community, and innovation that will help fuel our economic growth into the future.” The Treehouse occupies 14,800 sq. ft. on the second floor of 14681 Midway Road in Addison.
Workshops, Meetups, Events
There are a number of events in the Dallas area — hackathons, meetups, and workshops, all aimed at giving entrepreneurs and startups an environment to learn and connect in.
In fact, the first ever Lean Startup Machine workshop was held in Dallas this past weekend. The LSM model is an intensive workshop, held in various cities, where entrepreneurs and businesses meet to learn how to build companies that customers want.
Kara Brown, one of the co-organizers of the event, said that it “was a very successful first-time event. The group of participants had very different backgrounds and represented a multitude of areas throughout the metroplex … To me, this highlighted the fact that Dallas is continuing to grow and mature into the collaborative ecosystem that it needs to be in order to become a thriving and supportive hub for startups at all stages.”
Nonprofits in the area are passionate about helping business owners grow and learn how to run their companies.
Techmill, a nonprofit group consisting of passionate members in the Denton community, has one goal: “To make Denton the best place to start an independent, creative, bootstrapped tech business.” Techmill runs several initiatives and events for the community, including OpenHack and LittleDOCC.
They’re also launching an Indiegogo campaign to create a coworking space — with a twist. The Techmill space will be “the first non-profit shared working (aka “coworking”) space dedicated to Denton’s creative techies and entrepreneurs.” You can donate to their awesome mission by visiting their campaign page.
It’s easy to see that there are some solid programs and people in our community who want startups to succeed (and learn how to fail, of course). We’re grateful to be a part of that, and look forward to helping our ecosystem grow even more.