If there’s one thing a startup community needs to flourish more than any other, it is indeed the community itself. Before the ideas are born, the investors take notice, and the press starts calling, the people ultimately come first. One of the brightest spots in Dallas’s small, yet growing, network of startups and entrepreneurs is the Plano-based Gravity Center.
Born just over a year ago out of a collaboration between Alcatel-Lucent and AT&T Foundry staff in Plano, the Gravity Center is currently home to 23 local startups. The space itself, located about 20 minutes north of downtown Dallas, is an ecosystem of ten thousand square feet, which provides the essentials the companies need to collaborate, innovate, and grow.
The concept is simple. If you put creative and hard-working people in the same place, chances are innovation will emerge. That’s what Alcatel-Lucent is banking on by incubating these startups from an early stage – establishing connections with the companies of the future now, rather than playing catchup after the fact. The atmosphere is casual and collaborative, but it is more of a closed coworking environment. Meaning, it’s not available for any entrepreneur to come and go as they please. The companies involved are carefully vetted, have already created a product, and have either received some funding or are producing revenue on their own. Finding startups that could benefit from a relationship or eventual integration with Alcatel-Lucent or AT&T is a key factor.
Aside from hosting the startups on a permanent basis, Gravity Center also acts as a hub for local events. The vast majority of the sessions pertain to the education, mentorship, and skill sets of the entrepreneurs in the local community, including those who have office in the space.
From speaking with Jennifer Conley, who oversees operations at Gravity Center, it was clear they’re excited about the current clientele of startups and are looking to expand. She’s always scouting for startups that would be a good fit from a culture and product standpoint. As for the companies, the focus is undoubtedly on software as a service and application-based products. The majority are geared towards mobile, APIs, big data, cloud, and M2M technologies.
The Gravity Center is a unique environment for Dallas startups, one that will surely continue to prosper as the community as a whole strengthens. They seem to have an excellent foundation in place that will allow for some great ideas to truly come to fruition, something the scene definitely needs.
As an entrepreneur and cofounder of Dallas-based Fancorps, guest author G.I. Sanders has a passion for startups, social media, and digital marketing strategies. He is a music and fitness enthusiast, frequently merging the two with the latest mobile technology. His primary goal for Tech Cocktail is to bring much-needed exposure and attention to the vast number of startups and entrepreneurs in the southern United States, particularly central Texas. Follow him on Twitter @gisanders.