January 3, 2015
The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC) truly believes that Dallas was built with a can-do spirit and an enterprising attitude. That’s precisely why they hosted their second annual State of Entrepreneurship, bringing together a dynamic network of local and national business leaders to celebrate the growth of the ecosystem and recap the big news from 2014.
In attendance were investors, accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces, universities, and mentors – to name a few of the many groups. All told there were over 400 attendees, which was a vast improvement from the previous year’s 75.
Tickets for the event sold out in the first two hours, and the DEC had to find a bigger venue to accommodate all the extra bodies. I sat down with Trey Bowles, CEO and co-founder of the DEC, to discuss the bigger picture of this event and what it means for Dallas on a larger scale.
Tech Cocktail: What was the motivation behind this event?
Trey Bowles: In Dallas, we have a “State of _____” for everything. State of the City, State of Education, State of Technology, State of Downtown, etc, etc. But there was nothing focused on what made Dallas the great city it has become: entrepreneurs.
So, we decided that we, meaning the startup community, should snatch up that name and begin to use our event to showcase the burgeoning startup community that exists in Dallas and across North Texas. It would be a place, time and location to highlight the wins of the different startup organizations that support our community, to speak about the roles and contributions from all of the stakeholders that are necessary to build a startup ecosystem.
We as a community believe that there is a role for everyone to play. A role that is focused on giving before taking. A role that is necessary for the establishment, growth, and prosperity of a region. A region that has both economic development and community development purposes. A place where startups/small businesses provide most of the jobs that exist and where a community of people, startups, and entrepreneurs are building upon a history of entrepreneurial success to build a long term sustainable model that will continue to make Dallas a leading global city.
Tech Cocktail: How will this event shape the current ecosystem in Dallas?
Bowles: I think this event shapes the current Dallas ecosystem primarily by fostering the collaborative ecosystem that is becoming so prevalent across our North Texas Region. I also believe that the awareness and exposure created by events like this, and more importantly by the impact of the great organizations featured in the SOE, we will be able to reach new entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, corporate partners, and a whole other level of stakeholders interested in supporting, serving, and growing our startup ecosystem. It will prove that Dallas truly is the best city in the country to start a business.
Tech Cocktail: And what about long term effects on Dallas?
Bowles: Ultimately, we want people to find their role in how they can serve and support the ecosystem. How can we make it even easier for someone to start a business? How can we make people believe and understand that entrepreneurship is palatable and that people truly can start their own businesses?
The community that is being built and strengthened through collaborative support can help serve those aspiring entrepreneurs in ways that have never been available before creating the right environment and the right accountability for someone to build and grow their idea to becoming a business and fulfilling their dreams.
Tech Cocktail: In your own words, why should entrepreneurs head to Dallas?
Bowles: I personally believe that people should pick Dallas for a multitude of reasons. Sure we have the fourth largest metro area, with a very affordable cost of living, with a very friendly business climate that does not charge state income tax.
But I think startups should move to Dallas because we are an international business city with a small town feel, where people actually feel compelled to help each other. We have a history of entrepreneurial success and wildcatter type bootstrapping where corporations like Texas Instruments, Southwest Airlines, and 7-11. We have a community of over 25 billionaires, not to mention the half billionaires, that know what it’s like to create something from scratch and couple that support system with the “can do” spirit of entrepreneurism in Dallas.
I also believe that another core differentiator is the corporations headquartered in Dallas. These companies can become key customers and clients, investors, and acquisition partners for our startup communities. Why Dallas for startups? Because after having lived in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Nashville, New York, Birmingham, and Los Angeles there is no other city I have ever lived in with more opportunity than what Dallas has right now.
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