Editor’s note: In advance of our CultureMap Social: The Innovation Edition, we chatted with our event partners about the Dallas startup scene. Next up: Michael Pratt of Digital Dallas.
Michael Pratt, president and founder of Digital Dallas, knows what it’s like to start a company from the ground up; he’s done it in Dallas with the founding of Extra Sauce in 2011 and Panamplify in 2013, and several times in the Northeast before moving here.
Digital Dallas holds showcase, social, and educational events each month across Dallas-Fort Worth that are designed to nurture the area's startup and tech communities.
We synced up with Pratt to learn about Digital Dallas and hear his take on what Dallas has to offer.
CultureMap: What makes the startup community in Dallas special?
Michael Pratt: We have as much talent here as any large city, but our startups tend to be leaner and work toward customers and profitability better and faster than anywhere else.
CM: What is something that people don’t know about doing business here?
MP: DFW has the largest concentration of Fortune 500 corporate headquarters after New York, which means there is a ton of talent and business to support that ecosystem. That indirectly fuels the startup world here by providing backyard access to initial customers in many cases.
CM: Why do you think Dallas is as important an entrepreneurial hub as cities like San Francisco or Austin?
MP: While the Valley and Austin may have DFW beat on capital spent on startups, we compete on the number of businesses actually being started — especially “bootstrapped” businesses.
CM: Sum up Dallas in three words.
MP: Connections, business, growth.
CM: How does your organization fit into what’s happening on the startup scene?
MP: Digital Dallas has two missions: to be a catalyst for community building for all professionals in the digital economy of DFW, and to promote all the amazing things being done here.
CM: What does innovation look like to you?
MP: Innovation in DFW looks like an environment where new startups are being formed by motivated professionals looking to disrupt the status quo without serious access to capital, by doing it the old-fashioned way: bootstrapping.
CM: What is Digital Dallas doing that’s different than anyone else in Dallas?
MP: We are getting companies big and small that are making a difference to tell their stories, on their turf, in their own way. We encourage “showcasing” instead of “pitching” — there are great organizations doing that way better than we are. Our mantra is, “If you make Dallas look good, you look good.”
CM: Why is a sense of community so important for the digital world?
MP: The best job board in the world is community. The best advertising in the world is community. The best fundraising in the world starts with community.
CM: Why are volunteering events an important aspect of Digital Dallas?
MP: We are entirely fueled by volunteers. Without them, we don’t exist.
Buy tickets to the CultureMap Social: The Innovation Edition, which takes place September 30, 6 pm, at 129 Leslie.