:: Voices ::

Helping Entrepreneurs’ Ideas to Launch

Brain

I love entrepreneurship. Working with startups is a passion of mine, and has been since I was a child. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and I remember working at my father’s small businesses in junior and high school.

I soldered old telephone parts back together for his telecom services company. I tested out websites and download speeds for his Internet service provider company. I carried bags of grout and moved boxes of tile at my parent’s tile shop. This established a passion for entrepreneurship that has carried forward through my career working with startups.

Why is this important? If you are an entrepreneur, you need to know there are people, places and programs in North Texas that are designed to help you be successful. You see, the startup ecosystem is passionate entrepreneurship. The startup ecosystem wants to see you successful. It quite literally exists to support you.

How do you plug in? There are hundreds of places to plug in. The North Texas region is stacked full of opportunities.

There are four main types of efforts designed to help you get what you need: accelerator programs, startup networking events, education and mentorship and community spaces.

There are a number of accelerators in North Texas and hundreds across the country that target all shapes and sizes of entrepreneurs.

We have five in North Texas that are highly targeted, nationally competitive and provide some seed funding. TechWildcatters and HealthWildcatters are operated under the same umbrella but focus on B2B software and health, respectively. Collide Village works, through a unique lean startup methodology, with all types of tech startups.

Motive helps real estate tech companies get off the ground quickly, and RevTech targets retail tech companies on a high growth pattern. We have a wealth of opportunities through these programs, and they are staggered throughout the year for startups to fit into their schedules.

Startup networking events are a great way for entrepreneurs to learn, engage, network and pitch their ideas. There are dozens of events each month ranging from 1Million Cups to Dallas New Tech to Open Coffee Clubs across the region. Dallas Startup Week is the biggest melting pot of startup events all year and its taking place April 12-16, 2016 (learn more at dallas.startupweek.co).

All entrepreneurs need education and mentorship. Learning and growing is foundational to the success of a startup founder. There are more resources in this category than can be covered in a paragraph, but two main sources for each will have to suffice. For education, both Southern Methodist University and The University of Texas at Dallas provide entrepreneurship-training programs that are not for class credit.

SMU’s Starting a Business Program and UT Dallas’ Entrepreneurial Development Series each are run multiple times per year with a fee to participate in each. With respect to mentoring, the Dallas Entrepreneur Center hosts Whiteboard Session, and the Addison Treehouse hosts mentor office hours.

Each of these programs enables an entrepreneur from the community to sign up for one-on-one mentorship with an expert through their websites. These mentorship programs are free for anyone to attend.

Finally, “community spaces” is a term used to catch all of the amazing entrepreneurship organizations that offer physical spaces ranging from co-working to incubation to community spaces. Yet again, there are dozens of spaces in North Texas, but I’ll list a few for context.

Co-working has emerged as a unique way for startups to launch with low overhead in a collaborative environment, and Common Desk is one of the original co-working spaces. In recent years, NoD and The Grove have emerged as wonderful spaces as well.

We also have quite a few incubators in town ranging from TechFortWorth to NTEC in Frisco and to the Venture Development Center at UT Dallas. Finally, community spaces are hybrids of sorts that serve entrepreneurs with incubation, long-term and co-working space, and both the Dallas Entrepreneur Center and Addison Treehouse offer these opportunities.

As you can, the North Texas startup ecosystem is robust and built to help you succeed. You just have to know where to look. To learn more about each of these categories, visit www.dallaschamber.org/startups and www.launchdfw.com/events.


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Jeremy Vickers is the executive director of The University of Texas at Dallas Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, where he leads a team focused on cross-campus startup activity and entrepre(...)

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