The Dallas Startup Scene

The Dallas Startup Scene

Author of Success Simplified J.R. Atkins is a fan of Startup DFWMy friends and I often lament because Dallas does not get the attention and press for a Startup community like Silicon Valley, Boston or event Austin. One reason could be because we are so spread out and another could be because not enough people know what is going on in the Dallas Startup community. Over the last few years I have been consulting on a few Startups and have observed many Dallas startups, so I thought I would mention a few sources for information, funding, incubators and current startups.

In March, I traveled to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, to specifically observe the Startup activities. One floor of meeting rooms in the Hilton Hotel was dedicated to Startups and on Thursday night before SXSW began there was a “Startup Crawl” or a tour of some 50+ Austin based Startups. I’d like to see us do this in Dallas but we’d need buses to haul us around town.

While in Austin, I got to know the people with “Startup America” a kind of clearing house for information and resources for Startups. We have a local group called Startup Texas that is part of the national group. As it grows we will see more localized “chapters” such as Startup Dallas.

Tech Wildcatters has been named one of the Top 15 Incubators/Accelerators in the US and serves as “a mentorship-driven microseed fund and startup accelerator.” Tech Wildcatters companies receive $10K per company and an additional $5K per founder, up to a total of $25K. You can learn more at the FAQ section of their website. A few of the Startups that have been through the program include Proxomo, MemoryReel, and RentSavey.

J.R. Atkins consultatn to Startups for Marketing likes TechCocktailsTech Cocktail “is a literal “cocktail” of emerging technology and startup events, news, resources and reports for the entrepreneurial minded, tech enthusiast.            “ In May, Tech Cocktail came to Dallas and hosted a Startup showcase at Tech Wildcatters. Here are a few of the Startup companies I visited with at the event:

Rethink Books “is a technology company focused on helping readers buy, interact, and share more books.” Or as I like to say, as you read a book on a tablet, you can interact with others on your social networks, the author or other readers; a real interactive experience. I met the co-founder Jason Illian in 2010 at a kick-off event at the Park Cities Club and have been watching the company and platform grow and mature. The product is solid and the publishing industry is slowly coming around. This is a good company to keep your eye on.

Blurtt is an iPhone App that allows you to share pictures with funny captions. Or put another way, Blurtt helps you add images to your messages to better express yourself. I met the co-founder, Jeanette Cajide, in 2010 and have watched the App go from concept to full function. Check out the Tech Crunch interview with Janette.

Mobile App Consultant J.R. Atkins likes the Meta Watch platformMeta Watch is a watch “platform” that can connect to any Bluetooth enabled device. It has a similar appeal as my iPod Nano I wear in a LunaTik watchband. The difference, the Nano does not have an open API and you have to press a button to see the time and other functions. Meta Watch highlights the “touch free” access to time and more. Meta Watch is also a development system that allows developers to quickly and easily extend the interfaces of devices and applications to the wrist. CEO Bill Geiser is proud to point out the Meta Watch works with both iOS and Android mobile phone platforms.

Clubster is a social networking platform for private clubs. This timely App serves the elite and private person very well as they too want to share and communicate using social media but they do not want the details of their life spread beyond their intimate friends and associates. COO William King says they have set up several clubs and are looking for more.

Climapak, by Kewl Innovations, is a portable temperature control device for carrying insulin. As a diabetic, I know how hard it is to be compliant with your insulin regiment when you need to carry insulin with you all the time. The heat and cold can ruin the insulin. Founder and Chairman, Mike Wilkinson, saw the need and was committed to bring the product to market.

Qwigg is a social sharing site designed with the restaurateur or retailer in mind. It is so simple to use: snap a picture, post a price, and share on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. When someone comes in for the advertised special, complete the transaction. Simple and effective. In time, the restaurateur or retailer can see metrics and track the effectiveness of different specials. Co-founder Jack Wrigley’s  goal is to start with a tool that is simple and delivers results for his customers. “Once they see the results, they are willing to learn more about the details; until then, they are too busy running their business.”

Fancorps is a word of mouth marketing platform using social media. It works for big or small companies and brands. “Fancorps brings structure, performance tracking & actionable guidance to today’s stream of social media, which has become even more important than traditional marketing.” CEO and co-founder G.I. Sanders  tells me that “Fancorps has been used across all facets of social media, for focus groups and survey feedback, consumer product reviews and recommendations, live events, and virtually anywhere else a valuable impression is needed.”

Social Media speaker J.R. Atkins like BookShout book platformGravity Centre “is a place for Entrepreneurs in the Dallas Metro area to have the tools necessary for success, and to enable an ecosystem of incredible Startups that are impactful and relevant globally.” You can rent permanent spaces for full-time residents are available or flexible office spaces are available for the drop-in types; gain access to world-class technology, devices and resources that will help your Startup and product become successful. Jennifer Conley, the Director of Operations, says “Gravity Center community is made up of early-stage startup companies, innovators, investors, mentors and Universities. Housing more than 20 startups since its opening, the incubator has produced a significant number of entrepreneurs and developers who actively participate and engage with key sponsors.”

Co-Habitat Dallas is a co-working space for developers, creatives and entrepreneurs. As co-founder Blake Burris puts it “We’ve got great coffee, Wi-Fi, a variety of workspaces and best of all, a vibrant community of creative thinkers, coders, designers, and entrepreneurs.”                                                                                                                               

Events worth Considering


Is your Marketing Approach like a Leaf Rake or a Leaf Blower?

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins discusses The Leaf Rake Approach to MarketingMarketing to prospective clients has changed greatly with the proliferation of online tools such as websites, email and most recently, social media. Prospects can turn to so many sources for information about you, your company, and your products or services. A recent day of yard work prompted me to explain the shift in marketing to a colleague as being “more like using a leaf blower then a rake.”

The Leaf Rake Approach

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins recomends ACT for Contact or Customer Relationship Management Prior to the proliferation of on-line tools, I collected contact information from prospects such as their name, address, phone number and fax number and stored them on 3×5 cards. In the early 90’s I started using ACT, a Contact and Customer Relationship Management system, or CRM, to keep up with prospect information and to schedule phone calls, meetings, and direct mail campaigns. Armed with this information, I could mail, call, and fax prospects about my products and services. This shows the emphasis on collecting contact information, much like raking leaves into a pile.

The Leaf Blower Approach

Today, I take a different approach that is more like a leaf blower. As I meet prospective clients, I connect with them on-line via email and or social media. I have shifted from collecting and hoarding data, to giving and sharing data. In other words I blow information into the wind and wait for those who are interested to reach out to me.

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins explains The Leaf Blower Approach to MarketingSocial Media is a great tool for “Leaf Blower” marketing. Once a connection is made via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, a blog or YouTube, the prospect get’s to choose if they would like to follow you and if so, they can choose their preferred method of communication. Some prospects will discard the information you share, others will collect it and save it for the future, and some will find if valuable and share it with others, while some will act on it by reaching our my email, social media or phone. The main idea is that the prospects who are interested in you and the content you publish will “follow you” and when they are ready to buy, they will reach out to you.

Yet, there is a key point with this approach. It requires the marketer to publish content that is interesting, valuable and giving in nature. This kind of content will be shared with others and your message will take on the viral affect where it gets passed around to others very rapidly.

When using the “leaf blower” methodology, your goal is to draw prospects to you by “blowing out the information” and letting those that are interested come to you.

You probably need both

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins share the Big 5 off Social Media modelTo be effective in my yard work, I need both a leaf rake and leaf blower to get the job done. In business, we need both approaches to market effectively. We should use the leaf blower approach to share good content through a website, email newsletter, LinkedIn, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, a Blog and a YouTube Channel. Then, we can identify those prospects that have an interest in our content and target them with direct mail, email blast and direct selling content and methods.

By using both approaches we can continue to grow our business while allowing the prospect to connect with us in the way that works best for them. My hope for you is that you “rake in the money while blowing away the competition.”

March Events

3/9/11 Social Media Club of Dallas Presents SXSWi Pre-Party & Chris Treadaway

3/11/11 Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Mendelssohn’s Elijah

3/12/11 Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade

3/13/11 The American Choral Directors Biennial National Conference

3/13/11 SXSWi – South by Southwest Interactive

3/16/11 AIGA DFW Presents Local App Developer Success Story

3/23/11 Digital Dallas – A SXSW Recap

3/25/11 DFW AMA – How Next Gen Network Capabilities are Game Changers for Telecom Marketers

3/28/11 Dallas iPhone Developers/Entrepreneurs Meetup

3/29/11 Social Media & Your Career @ Career Jump Start


Perspective on Travel & Business

I enjoy doing business as I travel. The idea of rising above the stress of business to see the sights of a foreign land, to enjoy a good meal and relax by the pool are attractive. So I offer you the following thoughts on travel and business.

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins taveled to Jerusalem

1.       Perspective

I like the perspective of getting away from home, office and town. Sometimes a trip of only 100 miles away can make a difference in how you see your current situation. Any time I travel I come home appreciating what I have. This is especially true when I travel abroad. When my wife and I went to Israel in January, my comment upon arriving in Dallas was “We are affluent, on our way to wealthy, according to global standards.” I take for granted our infrastructure, the rule of law, individual rights and all the wealth America has at hand. 

2.       Meet others who are doing things

It’s fun to meet people from other places both in the U.S. and abroad. Have you ever been someplace and met someone from your home town? I get excited to meet them since we are away from home. I’m sure if I met them in line at the store at home it would not carry the same level of excitement.

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins recomends the book: What they dont teach at the Harvard Business SchoolI remember Mark McCormack’s book, “What They Don’t Teach You at the Harvard Business School” where he suggested that you fly in First Class because of the people you meet. There is still some truth in this today, that the people who fly are doing something bigger than themselves, something important or something new. I like to meet these people and keep in touch via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. With Social Media, it is so much easier to have a global perspective.

3.       Time away from business productivity

As much as I like the perspective I gain through traveling, on a recent trip to Atlanta it dawned on me that I need to earn a premium on my time when I travel.

Let’s say you place a value of $100 per hour on your time. That would mean in a typical day of work from 8:00-12:00 and 1:00-5:00 you would create $800 of value. This is assuming that you are in one place creating value, like your office, and take just 1 hour for lunch. If your commute is 1 hour each way, you spent 11 total hours creating $800 of value or about $73 per hour.

Now let’s look at a day of business travel where you leave for the airport at 5:30 for a 7:30 flight and land at 9:30, drive to the business location arriving at 11:00, and work for 1 hour, take a 1 hour lunch, then work again from 1:00-5:00, hop on a plane home at 6:30 arrive in your home town at 8:30 and get home at 10:30. In this day you have created 6 hours of value in an office and let’s say another 2 hours of value working on the plane for a total of 8 hours. This would mean that you spent 17 hours creating $800 of value for or about $47 per hour.

This is how I got the idea that I need to earn a premium on my time when I travel. I also need to stay longer in one place while I am there, to spread the travel time and cost over more billable days.

The other solution is to travel less and do more through video conferencing. There are many tools in a wide array of price ranges, from free services, like Skype, to premium services like Cisco Unified Communications platform.

 4.       Time away from family and friends

A little travel might cause you to appreciate your friends and family a little more, but I submit that the more you are away, the more your relationships suffer. Telephone, email, social media and video can make a positive impact on being away from loved ones but nothing takes the place of being there. So before we hop in a plane, train or automobile, we need to make sure it is a worthy trip. (Work Travel & Family Research Project at Texas Tech University)

 What have you learned through Travel? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.

 Dallas sociala media speaker J.R. Atkins attends the Social Media Club of DallasFebruary Events

 2/16 – DFW American Marketing Association Luncheon

2/17 – Social Location Marketing with Simon Salt

2/19 – Saturday at the Warwick Melrose with Ambassador Akbar Ahmed

2/28 – Dallas iPhone Developers & Entrepreneurs MeetUp


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