Bright Ideas

10 most exciting startups in Dallas turn bright ideas into business

10 most exciting startups in Dallas turn bright ideas into business

Small business is the new business. At least, that’s the case for Dallas, as more and more startups come into the marketplace. North Texas is quickly becoming the next hub for entrepreneurs, and already there are a few startups that merit closer attention.

What’s exciting about these 10 businesses is the varied nature. There’s a company that wants to change how we use big data, one that’s helping universities create quality online courses, and one bringing light bulbs into our ever-connected world.

No matter where you look, Dallas startups are creating a place that is smarter, faster and more interesting than ever before. Although it’s true not all startups succeed — most, in fact, do not — these 10 deserve to stick around awhile.

People on YouTube known as haulers review products and reach thousands of eyeballs with each video. Haul is designed to get them paid with a video-based marketplace that will connect haulers with brands and advertisers.

It’s a win-win. The haulers make money from their videos, and all those viewers equal a coveted, non-traditional advertising market. Haul comes from Dallas entrepreneur Alexander Muse and company and currently has more than 1,200 haulers in its network. 

Traditional colleges are more expensive than ever, and the costs keep rising. To combat that, many universities offer online courses that are cheaper and more flexible than the brick-and-mortar alternative.

iDesignEDU works with faculty and administrators to convert traditional courses into an online format with standardized grading rubrics and curriculum. In the end, the online course is ideally equal in value and education to what one could receive in a classroom or lecture hall.

Ilumi Solutions
Everything in the household — from thermostats to home entertainment centers — is becoming more connected, so it makes sense that your lights should too. Ilumi lights are fully customizable LED bulbs that fit into normal sockets, offering a million colors that can be individually programmed via your phone and Bluetooth to alert you to phone calls, change with the music, or turn on and off on schedule for home safety.

Corey Egan and Swapnil Bora’s patent-pending HyperLux technology ensures the bulbs are brighter and use less energy than similar multicolor LED bulbs.

It’s never been less fashionable to be an unfashionable guy than today. Thanks in part to a revitalization of the sophisticated stylings of the midcentury, men are expected to put some effort into their wardrobes.

Enter Matt Alexander’s Need, a website that curates monthly outfits designed for the urban professional. The clothes are smart and simple but never boring and offer flexibility between the office and a night out. The modern man rarely wears suits anymore, but that doesn’t mean he can’t look good in a pair of dark denim jeans and a classic pea coat.

Without data, it’s impossible to learn, but context is equally vital to understanding all those numbers. PureDiscovery wants to change how companies use data to better conduct business.

PureDiscovery’s BrainSpace software enables users to take their search results and cull related data using semantic algorithms. Instead of hunting and pecking through indexed search, BrainSpace creates natural clusters of relevant data for quicker and better understanding.

By contextualizing what you seek, BrainSpace ensures you see the big picture coming out of all that data. The company has already received $10 million in funding as it moves through its beta testing period.

It’s a drag to find out that the jacket you bought is already out of style. So goes the mission of Ravesy, a new shopping site that monitors what people are talking about on social media to bring the most popular and trendy products to your screen.

It’s all done via founder Michael Bielinski’s other company, ToggleShift, which scours the social channels to find what people are talking about. At Ravesy, you can shop for anything — really, it’s a “shop engine” — and find links to the retailers’ sites. Naturally, you can share your finds on social media to keep the cycle going.

Blogging about your passion can be a worthwhile experience in exploration, but, at the end of the day, it won’t put food on your table if you’re not monetizing the experience. RewardStyle founder Amber Venz knew this firsthand, so she and Baxter Box built a solution to solve her own problem.

RewardStyle connects bloggers — fashion, home, beauty and baby — to more than 2,500 retailers and more than 200,000 brands, who pay commission to the bloggers who help drive purchases. Venz said in a recent interview that RewardStyle was on track to drive $150 million in transactions.

Venz also just launched for Instagram, which allows bloggers to get around the fact that Instagram doesn’t allow for links in photo captions. Users who sign up can get the relevant info about a product delivered via email.

Socrates Health Solutions
More than eight in 10 diabetics must frequently check their glucose levels, and with that comes finger pricking and a plethora of test strips. Socrates Health Solutions’ Companion aims to offer a painless and accurate glucose reading without the need to draw any blood.

The Companion uses a sensor that clips to the ear to check glucose levels, which are then displayed on a small LED monitor. There’s no prick, no blood and no strips. The Companion is in research and development right now, and Socrates is working to get the gadget covered as a reimbursable healthcare expense with insurers.

Sparx Life
Existential angst may not be the sole property of twenty- and thirtysomethings, but there sure is a market for it. Sparx Life hopes to help answer the question “What am I doing with my life?” by examining your strengths, passions, awareness of your impact in the world, and relationships with people you need to find your true calling.

From there, the site gives you guidance with books, online classes and more to go for what really makes you happy. It’s currently in limited beta, but it’s free to sign up.

Tango Tab
Eating out is fun, but do it enough and the wallet starts to feel really light. Tango Tab’s goal is to offer daily incentives for diners in the form of free, limited coupons that range from free appetizers with a meal to $20 off a $40 order.

The site, which is also available in app form, has a philanthropic angle, as each redeemed coupon feeds a person in need. So far, Tango Tab has fed more than 230,000 people.

Ilumi's Bluetooth-enabled LED lights feature more than a million colors and a full suite of customizable features.  Ilumi/Facebook
Backpack on Need
Need provides a curated wardrobe for men looking for a little style.  Photo courtesy of Need
Amber Venz
Amber Venz's RewardStyle seamlessly connects bloggers with retailers.