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: Oren Salomon of Fort Work.
After founding his own company in the Bay Area after college, Oren Salomon, founder of Fort Work, returned to Dallas to set up shop providing a unique coworking venue for freelancers and startups to launch their ideas into reality.
Fort Work has recently announced its partnership with Utah-based coding school DevMountain, which will run its first out-of-state program out of Fort Work’s downtown offices.
We chatted with Salomon about Fort Work and why Dallas is the perfect place for ambitious bootstrappers.
CultureMap: What makes the startup community in Dallas special?
Oren Salomon: The most unique part about the Dallas startup community is how incredibly accessible all of the players are. If you want to contact me, you can just show up at Fort Work. Same goes for many other important people, like Gabriella Draney Zielke of Tech Wildcatters or Alex Muse of CultureMap.
You may want to drop either of those people an email first as they travel a lot, but it’s incredible how decision makers are available to interact with every member of the community.
CM: What is something that people don’t know about doing business here?
OS: There’s no red tape, literally none. No state income tax, no city payroll tax.
CM: Why do you think Dallas is as important an entrepreneurial hub as cities like San Francisco or Austin?
OS: Dallas serves a unique role as being a bootstrapper’s dream. Anyone trying to fund their own endeavor considers this place a paradise. With a combination of an extremely low cost of living, high standard of living, and a massive market (7 million in the metro area), Dallas offers all the opportunity with the most minimal of costs.
A six-month cash runway in San Francisco or NYC can easily be extended to a three- to four-year runway in Dallas, if not longer. Our market is five times the size of Austin, so they can’t really compare in that regard.
CM: Sum up Dallas in three words.
OS: Accessible, affordable, aspiring.
CM: How does your organization fit into what’s happening on the startup scene?
OS: Being centrally located in downtown, we’re at the center of everything and highly accessible via DART. Socially, we’re unique in that we offer people a chance to connect 24/7 via coworking and through our numerous nightly events.
Whether you’re a freelancer with complete independence or someone who works 9-to-5, we offer plenty of ways to get plugged in.
CM: What does innovation look like to you?
OS: Lots of failed experiments along the way. Otherwise it’s just a happy accident.
CM: What is Fort Work doing that’s different than anyone else in Dallas?
OS: We offer a dedicated workspace and a dedicated event space in the same facility. Every other coworking space requires them to coexist in the same physical space, which can be distaracting for workers and event attendees.
CM: Why is it important for individuals to have a coworking space?
OS: After college, I found it incredibly difficult to keep my friend group intact. Suddenly I was lucky to see people twice a year that I was used to seeing multiple times a day.
Coworking provides a context after school for people to share all experiences from a philosophical conversation to a snack to moral support and everything in between.
CM: How do Fort Work members support one another in their ventures?
OS: Members are incredibly willing to support one another through critical feedback through their unique professional lens or even some free consulting. The ability to have an accountant, lawyer, web developer, designer, blogger, social media professional, etc. all review a startup idea within 20 minutes of its being born is pretty outstanding.
There aren’t many other places where that can happen in a safe, open environment.
Buy tickets to the CultureMap Social: The Innovation Edition, which takes place September 30, 6 pm, at 129 Leslie.