New Entrepreneur Center Aims to Connect, Brand Startups in Dallas
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In the meantime, Bowles is working on getting the United States Patent and Trade Office and area universities, law firms, and accounting firms to set up on-site satellite offices in order to provide a one-stop-shopping area for entrepreneurs. The DEC has gotten the financial support of Dallas’s business establishment, including the Jones Day law firm and the Dallas Regional Chamber, which will have an office at the DEC.
“We want to create a home base for entrepreneurs to come connect and help push them in the right direction based on what their needs are,” Bowles says. That could mean making introductions to venture capital firms for a big fundraising push, or pairing a struggling entrepreneur with a mentor who can help morph an interesting idea into a business plan that works.
Alexander Muse is a longtime Dallas tech entrepreneur who’s done his share of community-building within the city’s startup scene. Even still, while there was a lot of activity, it was often not connected to each other, he says.
Indeed, Dallas has often sparred with its ambitious suburbs, each of which wanted to be an entrepreneurial hub on its own. Muse says startups were not talking to scientists and innovators at the region’s main universities. “We have all this technology tied up in North Texas universities, all this intellectual property that we don’t know about,” he says. “And they don’t know how to advertise to us.”
Dallas needs what DEC offers, he says, so much so that he became the center’s first tenant with his new startup Haul, a sort of online talent management firm for shopping “haulers,” who are largely teenage girls who flaunt their latest purchases on YouTube videos and become informal, but influential, spokeswomen for retailers.
Bowles, for his part, has jumped around the country a bit, holding executive positions in a number of startups including Morpheus, a peer-to-peer file sharing platform in Nashville, which debuted right after Napster was shut down, and then at Dallas’s Big Jump Media—which owned Godtube.com, the largest Christian video sharing platform. He took a break from startups to teach entrepreneurship classes at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He also launched the Texas chapter of the Startup America Partnership, founded by Steve Case.
“When I was meeting up with everyone, they kept saying, ‘Great, you’re from Dallas. We didn’t think Dallas had entrepreneurs,’ ” Bowles says. “This was very frustrating to me. There are some experienced entrepreneurs here, a wealth of talent.”
For all the talk of cooperation, though, Bowles can’t help but display a little Texas swagger and take a good-natured shot at Silicon Valley, America’s entrepreneurial lodestar. “Silicon Valley talks about going public,” he says, referring to tech IPOs. “Dallas companies focus on earnings and profit.”