What Can Happen in a Year? The DEC Turns 1
By: Trey Bowles. Trey is a serial entrepreneur, social capitalist, and educator. Trey cofounded the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), a central location for entrepreneurs to learn how to start, build and grow businesses through training, education, mentorship, promotion, and capital investment. As Co-Founder and CEO, Trey leads strategy, vision, and drives the overall planning and development efforts for the DEC.
One year ago The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC) opened in the SoftLayer Catalyst Space in downtown Dallas. We decided to launch this new entrepreneur center under the hypothesis that Dallas was primed for a central hub that would provide education, programming, incubation, and collaborative space. The theory was that the Dallas (well, all of North Texas) startup scene was about to start growing.
We were wrong… It was actually about to explode.
In only six months after the launch, we saw the Dallas region grow immensely. Dallas went from having one accelerator to six accelerators and we went from one incubator to six incubators. The number of co-working spaces was growing exponentially and for the first time since 2001, North Texas had the highest amount of VC dollars investing, even more than our sister city Austin.
Dallas was entering a startup boom! This was an exciting reality to all of us in the community, but not a surprising one. This region has been a leader in entrepreneurship since it inception in 1841. With 25 billionaires, 18 Fortune 500 companies, and countless tech corporations building a large presence in the area, DFW has built a history around its “can do” entrepreneurial spirit. However, even with all of this history, statistics, and impact on the global economy, it was surprising to us how the rest of the country doesn’t have the same perception of the state of entrepreneurship in Dallas.
So, The DEC set out to be one of the many groups in Dallas to help change that perception. We are doing our best to showcase Dallas startups and the entire community that supports the recent report by the US Chamber of Commerce that Dallas is the best place in the country to start a business or Kiplinger’s claim that there is no other city in the country better to start a business than Dallas.
So in just a year, what have we seen out of The DEC?
- More than 5,000 people have come through The DEC for mentorship, programing, events, and collaborative space
- Over 200 hours of mentoring coming from nearly 90 mentors and over 160 hours of meeting with investors from more than 15 investment firms across the country.
- Over $3 million has been raised by companies in the DEC over the last 6 months.
- We have held over75 events including 22 educational classes
- Over 50 companies are housed out of The DEC, including 9 incubated companies
- Housed the seed accelerator VentureSpur Dallas class
- Through key partnerships with organizations like Dell, Microsoft Biz Spark, Alcatel Lucent’s ngConnect program, EY, Jones Day, The Dallas Regional Chamber, City of Dallas, SoftLayer, the USPTO and more we are able to bring corporations to the table to work with and along side startups across the region.
- National partnerships to bring programs like CoFoundersLab, Startup Weekend NEXT and 1 Million Cups to Dallas
- The first volunteer network called The DEC Ambassador Program, a 3-month program for up and coming leaders in the community to get involved in various projects that support a more collaborative community
In partnership with the Dallas Regional Chamber we created this infographic titled “Why Dallas For Startups” and in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation and University of Texas Dallas, we put together the North Texas Startup Survey to get an understanding of standard demographic data on our startups as well as capital raised, and other key economic development information.
This past week we opened up our new location for the DEC in the historic West End District in Dallas. Our new address is 311 N. Market St, 2nd Floor, Dallas, TX 75202 where we have over 10,000 sq ft dedicated to serving entrepreneurs, helping build businesses through incubation, education and programming.
Also, this past week we launched:
- A new location through a partnership with the Town of Addison called the Addison TreeHouse
- A partnership with Comerica for the 1st Ever DEC Business Pitch Competition Sponsored by Comerica which will award the winning pitch $50,000 in November
- Announced our first year list of accomplishments of the things that the DEC has done since its inceptions
Although we are proud of the work our organization has accomplished in the last year, one of the most exciting things for us is seeing how a collaborative ecosystem has continued to develop and thrive in the Dallas and across the North Texas region. We are all seeing first hand the importance of a community driven by a “giving before you take” ecosystem. LaunchDFW, our local media outlet, has revamped its site and is becoming a key destination for people who want to know what is going on with the startup scene as we begin to see new events pop up all over the region. So how do you get involved in the Dallas/North Texas Startup Scene? We have Big D Open Coffee Club (BigDOCC) in downtown one week and in Plano (North Dallas) the next week. We have Dallas New Tech which was started to help give people the ability to pitch once a month to a large community, this compliments the 1 Million Cups, a weekly event that gives people a great entry point into the community as well as providing opportunities for people to pitch their ideas and get feedback.
So, why is Dallas a great place for startups? Because we have one of the most collaborative ecosystems in the country, that spans 343 square miles of space and include over 60 entrepreneur support organizations dedicated to and working towards a common goal where companies can launch and succeed. One might say, we are the most active, dynamic, and explosive startup community you have never heard of. Our job at The DEC and throughout the startup scene is to talk more about the great companies and startups that are being created and launched in this region and over time, we are certain that Dallas will become one of the go-to spots in the country for entrepreneurship.
So, if you haven’t been here in awhile, or ever, please accept our invitation to come down, visit the DEC and all of the startups and organizations, and find out why this is the place to be for startups in the US.