New Entrepreneur Center Aims to Connect, Brand Startups in Dallas

Blame it on J.R.

The traits displayed by the fictional oilman—enterprising, hyper-competitive, a win-at-all-costs mentality—have helped to make real-life Dallas into one of America’s top business cities and home to an impressive list of Fortune 500 corporations.

But that hasn’t necessarily been the best boost to the city’s startup scene. “Historically we are a very territorial city,” says Trey Bowles, a co-founder of the newly opened Dallas Entrepreneur Center. “We did a lot of oil and gas and real estate deals, and those types of deals are very clearly territorial. But because of the now limitless ability that technology and the Internet give us, we have begun to realize that collaboration before competition is the best structure.”

That shift has occurred in the last three or four years, Bowles says, and to take advantage of it, he and two others decided to start the DEC, a co-working space, incubator, and accelerator all in one. “We launched DEC to help aspiring entrepreneurs to build growth businesses and to help create a national brand for Dallas as an entrepreneurial hub,” he says.

The space already is home to one high-profile tenant. VentureSpur, an Oklahoma City-based accelerator, is opening its Dallas hub there, and will start working with its first cohort of entrepreneurs July 29. The 12-week program will focus on edtech, telecom, and finance companies. Each company will receive a $30,000 investment with the possibility of an additional $100,000.

With VentureSpur, the DEC will operate much like an accelerator, but it will also serve as a co-working space to startups for a monthly fee, and will provide mentoring and programming separate from VentureSpur’s activities. Right now, it is located in the data center of SoftLayer Technologies, the Dallas cloud-computing startup that was bought by IBM earlier this month for a reported $2 billion. (DEC is looking for more permanent space, Bowles says.)

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