Editor’s note: In advance of our CultureMap Social: The Innovation Edition, we chatted with our event partners about the Dallas startup scene. First up: Trey Bowles of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center.
With seemingly inexhaustible energy, Trey Bowles, co-founder and CEO of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), also serves as an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at SMU, chair of Startup America: Texas Region, and has been an essential leader behind tech initiatives across the country.
The DEC has just launched the Dallas Innovation Alliance, a public-private partnership dedicated to designing, developing, and implementing the White House’s Smart Cities initiative in the West End.
He took some time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions about the DEC’s impact and what makes Dallas a great place to do business.
CultureMap: What makes the startup community in Dallas special?
Trey Bowles: The Dallas entrepreneur community is special for two reasons. When someone in Dallas decides they’re going to start a new business and tells a friend, that friend’s response is, “You should do that!” The second thing that friend asks is, “How can I help?” This doesn’t happen in other cities.
CM: What is something that people don’t know about doing business here?
TB: We actually have a really strong and burgeoning fashion tech scene in Dallas. With companies like rewardStyle, Need, Foremost, Foot Cardigan, Mizzen + Main, Quixotic, and the great work of Abi Ferrin, fashion is alive and well in Dallas.
CM: Why do you think Dallas is as important an entrepreneurial hub as cities like San Francisco or Austin?
TB: Dallas has a history of entrepreneurship and innovation that has existed much longer than those other cities. The entrepreneurs and innovators that built Dallas were pioneers not just here in Dallas, but on a national scale.
With companies, like TI, which were started here, and with the leadership that Dallas has held in the launch and success of the telecom corridor, we are seeing a new breed of innovators in Dallas. They represent a rebirth of innovation that will put Dallas back on the map, highlighting the amazing entrepreneurial hub we are.
CM: Sum up Dallas in three words:
TB: Opportunity, entrepreneurship, legacy.
CM: How does your organization fit into what’s happening on the startup scene?
TB: The Dallas Entrepreneur Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that was created to help entrepreneurs start, build, and grow their businesses. We’re also working to create a brand for Dallas as a leading entrepreneurial and innovative city in the United States. We help entrepreneurs by offering education, training, mentorship, coworking space, access to capital, and promotion.
CM: What does innovation look like to you?
TB: Innovation is about vision, collaboration, and execution. You have to create a vision, bring together the right team or teams to be prepared to accomplish that vision, and finally, they have to go out and do it.
CM: What is the DEC doing that’s different than anyone else in Dallas?
TB: We are the only private 501(c)3 run by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs, that is supporting innovators from idea to profitability. We bring essential elements, mentorship, and community-driven elements to provide tools, resources, and accountability to help make entrepreneurs successful.
We also have a significant focus on making sure Dallas steps into its full potential by launching and supporting innovative initiatives for our citizens.
CM: How does the DEC help drive the Dallas economy?
TB: We help entrepreneurs with company creation, job creation, and projects that will provide an approach to innovation that is sure to enlarge and enhance the city’s perception as a leading hub for entrepreneurship.
CM: Why is collaboration essential to the startup community?
TB: In the last few years, we have seen a style and commitment to innovation that is second to none in the community. An entrepreneurial ecosystem will never reach its full potential unless different stakeholders in the community are willing to come together, give first, and find and fulfill their role in making the community as collaborative and successful as possible.
Buy tickets to the CultureMap Social: The Innovation Edition, which takes place September 30, 6 pm, at 129 Leslie.