The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC) got a pretty sweet gift on its first birthday: $50,000 from Comerica Bank. That money will fund the prize in the DEC’s first-ever North Texas business pitch contest.
From July 1-September 1, the DEC will accept applications for the competition. All local startups are encouraged to apply — in particular those for whom $50,000 can “take the company from one stage to another,” says DEC co-founder Trey Bowles.
“This contest if fairly open, but we want to help companies where $50,000 adds a material benefit to their business,” he says. “This might be money they use to build a prototype, launch a storefront or provide necessary cashflow that will bring help get a company to the next level.”
A panel of judges — composed of investment professionals, Comerica and DEC execs, mentors, and advisors in the community — will whittle down the applicant pool to 10 finalists, and the public will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite. The people’s choice winner will be guaranteed a spot in the “top 4,” a pitch showdown in front of a live audience, during which a team of yet-to-be-determined celebrity judges will help select an overall winner.
Bowles says they are looking at November for the top 4 event. The winner will be selected an announced — and presented with a fat check — on that day.
Since its inception in June 2013, the Dallas Entrepreneur Center has served the burgeoning North Texas startup community by providing education, training, programming, events, collaborative space, access to capital and promotion. More than 90 mentors and more than 15 investment groups have offered advice and counsel to startups.
The center also has a program called “White Board Sessions,” in which DFW startups can come and learn from experienced entrepreneurs and investment professionals. DEC now has two locations, in the West End and Addison.