JR Atkin's Blog

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

Posted in Innovation, Mobile Apps, Social Media, Start Ups, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Responses to The Dallas Startup Scene

  1. JR,

    Thank you for this, nice overview. Being a serial startup guy who has done multiple start-ups in silicon valley and Boston the following are my 2 cents on the market here. There are a number of challenges that never seem to get discussed when we (media, VC community, etc…) talk about the Dallas (Austin) start-up market.

    1. Staffing – while you can certainly find engineers and finance personnel it is quite difficult to build out the rest of the team with strong marketing and business development folks. I would also argue that seasoned start-up CEO’s are hard to find here. There are no lack of senior executives, from large companies, I often don’t find that they are the best fit for a start-up
    2. Most of the investment money here still focuses on energy and distressed assets with income that need some capital infusion and some new management
    3. While i have seen some interesting technology at a number of the local universities the process (if there is one) to bring this technology to market is very complex and frustrating. Why folks don’t go and study the Stanford and MIT model i don’t know. They encourage their professors and students to bring items to market – and everyone benefits
    4. Dallas also needs to decide what start-up industries it want to be a key player in. i have discovered that we are a major player in the gaming (mobile) industry not that anyone would know it. There are even very exciting things to do in the energy space – the smart home, electronic grid, etc…

    We still need to do coffee
    Regards,

    David Sym-Smith

  2. you speak gospel here…

    have you been in contact with Dr. Pickens at UTD? or looked at the Disruptive Tech course at UTD in ATEC????

    There are people who can band together to make what you have in mind.. grassroots was how SXSW happened.. can do that here – and accelerate it as well..

    –jerry robinson

  3. Katie Harner says:

    Fantastic stuff. Thank you, J.R.
    Best regards, Katie

  4. JR, Good work getting the message out… It is a shame that there are no heavy hitter DFW eco systems in the startup community anymore e.g. Startech.. They provided guidance and access to funding.. The reason for this is that without customers buying products or big companies buying smaller ones the VC model is broken and none of the investors are making money anymore. The DFW VCs have wound down and the Angel investors are not risking their money. I’d say the new term for what we call a ‘Startup’ is ‘Shoestring’. It’s the ‘Shoestring’ mindset with viral growth strategy that works today.

    Let’s grab a coffee sometime.

    Cheers,

    Peter

  5. I wanted to reach out to you and tell you how much I enjoy your newsletter each month. I saw you mentioned a Startup Crawl in Dallas and I love that idea. Please let me know if I can help.
    Thank you,
    Patrice

  6. Robert Hunt says:

    Another well done newsletter. See you soon

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