THIS IS THE FIRST COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP OF THIS KIND FOR SOUTHWEST
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. is teaming up with the Addison TreeHouse to support the local startup community by starting a new business competition.
Called the Southwest Airlines “Soar to Success” Business Pitch Competition, the event is open to any minority or female entrepreneur in North Texas.
“Southwest Airlines is a leader not only in the aviation industry, but the type of company that we want our companies to aspire to become,” said Shelley Widom, director of the Addison TreeHouse. “With an intentional dedication to building a positive culture as well as a leader in the country on diversity and inclusion, we are looking forward to highlighting that through this community partnership.”
SOUTHWEST’S FIRST COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP OF THIS TYPE
Widom said the competition will “give startups opportunities for national access to capital, press, introductions, and other important functions that will add to their likelihood of being successful.”
This is the first community partnership of this kind for Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV).
DFW startup experts will judge the initial applications in the first round, and then trim the field to four semifinalists that will present their pitches on Sept. 7 at the TreeHouse in front of a live audience and panel of four judges provided by Southwest, Widom said.
“Our target number is going to be around 100 of applicants,” Widom said.
Winning the competition has some high-flying perks.
SOUTHWEST WILL PROVIDE WINNER WITH A YEAR’S TRAVEL
The winner will be given a year of complimentary travel — up to 24 e-passes — on Southwest Airlines, and will share the travel experiences via online channels such as blogs, social media, videos and more.
“As a leading organization in North Texas, Southwest’s focus on serving the entrepreneurs in our region acts as a great example to other key stakeholders in the community as to the importance of giving back to the courageous entrepreneurial community that represents Dallas so well,” said Trey Bowles, founder and CEO of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (the DEC), the TreeHouse’s sister location.
For the airline, the competition is a forum in which it can help boost the fortunes of emerging businesses.
“Southwest Airlines came from humble beginnings,” said Liji Thomas, Southwest Airlines senior manager diversity & inclusion. “As a business that started out on a cocktail napkin only serving three cities — Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, we’re excited to work with Addison TreeHouse in an effort to help make the dreams of local minority/women entrepreneurs come true.”
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