01 Dec What’s Unique about North Texas’ Startup Community
What’s unique about North Texas’ startup community? Besides our Southern drawl and warm smiles, North Texas offers a bevy of opportunities for startups to succeed.
And not abstract opportunities that may lie in a networking happy hour, but real, concrete opportunities found through local government, private/public companies, and collaborative partnerships.
These opportunities have garnered us titles such as:
- #7 in Forbes’ list of Best Place to Launch a Startup in 2014
- Named by U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation as the best place for startups
- Named as a top city with the most women in tech by RJ Metrics
Here are three ways North Texas has cultivated a successful startup community:
1. Aligning with local government
Most startups don’t know how to use local government to scale their business. Where are they even located?
What North Texas has done is bring government to the startups by having coworking spaces act as conduits. At the Addison TreeHouse, a resource-centered coworking space in DFW, we have the town of Addison’s Economic Development Department housed in our space. This provides startups organic relationship-building with the city’s government, education on how the local government can help them, and it’s easy to find them.
Is your target market retail or restaurant? Pop in and talk to the Executive Director down the hall. Need introductions to local businesses? Oh, let’s chat about it over lunch with the E.D. in the break room. Want the Mayor to speak at your company’s launch party? The E.D. will get on the phone with him.
According to an interview Julie Lenzer Kirk, Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Department of Commerce, gave to the Dallas Business Journal, “This is the new model for economic development that’s supporting entrepreneurial innovation, and small business growth. That’s where jobs happen. Their (the city’s) contribution is a crucial element in building and (sic) agile and resilient community economically.”
2. Relationships with Corporate America
There are 19 Fortune 500 companies within the DFW metroplex. This gives North Texas startups a direct advantage to easily access major corporations. Whether the startups need mentorship or act as a vendor to these companies, being able to align with these power houses give entrepreneurs credibility and strong potential to acquire a large client.
And, most large organizations have embraced the local startup community. For example, Bank of America, TriNet, Microsoft, UT Southwestern, IBM, and several others, have representatives that serve as local mentors, mentoring in different locations, including Health Wildcatters.
3. Building a collaborative ecosystem
Working alone sucks – this is true for an individual and a community. We cannot achieve our goals if we silo ourselves. What we’ve done in North Texas is make sure we partner across similar organizations to achieve common goals.
Coworking spaces such as Common Desk, The Grove, NoD, Fort Work, TechMill Denton, the DEC and the TreeHouse work together to provide value to their members by hosting organizations such as TeXchange, LAUNCH DFW, Cofounders Lab, 1 Million Cups, User Experience groups, Digital Dumbo: Dallas, etc.
By having “rival” spaces work together, we ensure that organizations have a location and that the community receives access to valuable programming and networks.
Another example of our collaborative spirit is our annual State of Entrepreneurship event. Started in 2013, this annual event “brings together a dynamic network of entrepreneurs and community leaders as we celebrate our region’s growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and share a recap of some of the big news and events from the year.”