If you haven't heard of Dallas' robust startup community, you’re probably asking “Wait… Dallas has a startup scene? What is it? And, why should I really care?” Ah, so glad you asked. Take a seat, because you're about to get schooled on what the Dallas startup community is and why it’s important to you:
First, let’s start with the question “what is the Dallas startup community?” Here’s what it is:
It’s an expansive and tightly knit network of local entrepreneurs and supporting organizations that tirelessly help one another to advance Dallas/Forth Worth and raise the region's economic prosperity. How do we achieve this? Here are a few examples:
- March 2015’s inaugural Dallas Startup Week (#DSW15). – Dallas Startup Week, part of UP Global, is a national conference put on by leading startup cities to showcase, educate and bring together their respective communities. #DSW15 was planned, executed and ran by local volunteers. The 5-day conference featured 134 sessions, 238 speakers, and 2,667 registrants. Dallas Startup Week broke inaugural attendance records – this means Dallas broke the first-year records of cities like Austin, Seattle and Denver.
- December 2014’s State of Entrepreneurship (SOE) – The first SOE was put on by the Dallas Entrepreneur Center in December 2013 as a way to highlight the year’s entrepreneurial achievements and announce new projects for the upcoming year. December 2014’s SOE had over 300 registrants – a 500%+ increase from the previous year.
- Dallas/Fort Worth’s consistent national recognition as one of the country’s top cities for business – Here are only a few of the recognitions we’ve received:
Now, let’s dive into the second and most important part: why should you care?
As an entrepreneur at any level, if you tap into the Dallas startup community you will be supported. It’s true. The Dallas/Fort Worth startup community is a collaborative and empowering….wait for it….ecosystem. As much I detest using the word, there is no other way to describe it. If you’re an entrepreneur, there are several legitimate – most of them free – resources here to help you. Just to name a few:
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office
- The North Texas Small Business Development Center (they have an astonishing amount of free resources, which I can attest to after personally having partnered with them.)
- The IBM Innovation Center
- The events at coworking spaces like:
- Common Desk – which has been ranked as one of the top coworking spaces in the nation.
- CoLAB Workspace
- Fort Work
- The Grove
- McKinney Werx
- NoD (North Dallas Coworking)
- Accelerators and incubators like:
- AT&T Foundry
- Collide Village Accelerator Program
- DFW Excellerator
- Genius Den
- Health Wildcatters – focusing only on healthcare.
- Motive – focusing only on real estate.
- Revtech Accelerator – focuses on restaurant and retail.
- Tech Wildcatters – which had its largest attendance at the American Airlines Center last spring.
- The Free mentor program offered by the Addison TreeHouse and The Dallas Entrepreneur Center.
- Organizations like:
- Dallas Makerspace
- Dallas Innovates
- Digital Dallas
- Geek House Dallas
- Launch DFW – which curates and keeps you up-to-date on startup news.
- Startup Weekend
- TechMill Denton
- UNT Innovation Greenhouse
- etc, etc, etc
And, these are just a few of the resources available to Dallas/Fort Worth entrepreneurs.
Finally, if you’re already an established entrepreneur or company, and not a startup, you should still join the Dallas startup community – Why?
- By joining the Dallas startup community, you’re ensuring that Dallas will continue to be a lucrative business market.
- You will gain marketing and brand presence (which leads to business development).
- For personal fulfillment – it’s highly rewarding to help people fulfill their dreams.
Now, how do you join? The best way to join is to share your experience and the lessons on how you became successful. Experience cannot be taught, but you can help others by sharing your valuable knowledge. Here are a few ways you can share:
- Become a mentor – most of the incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces mentioned above have a type of mentor program you can join.
- Mentoring at a Startup Weekend is a good quick way to join.
- Volunteer as a speaker – with all of the startup events there are each day, you will not have problems finding a speaking opportunity.
- If you do have problems, organize your own event and ask one of the aforementioned spaces host or help you market it.
- Go on Startup Dallas TV. Better yet. Sponsor.
- Write – yes, you’re busy. And, the last thing you want to do is submit an op-ed. But, you can find time.
- Dictate into an app on one of your commutes.
- Draft a quick 500-word post on one of your several flights.
- Or, have someone from the startup community write a piece for you.
The point is, we need your experiences – your stories – to help our community become better. Now that you have a better idea of what the Dallas startup community is, the only question left to ask is, “will you join us“?