When you think of Dallas, you think of entrepreneurial spirit. At least, that’s what Mayor Eric Johnson wants you to think — and he’s put plenty of resources into making this hope a reality.
Johnson formed a Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship earlier this year to identify and establish the conditions that best support innovation, entrepreneurship, and growth in Dallas. After months of hard work, the Task Force, Co-chaired by Kanarys CEO Mandy Price and The DEC Network co-founder and Chairman Trey Bowles, has released its 40-page report.
The report doesn’t stop at strategies for growth and innovation but digs deep to address the socioeconomic challenges and create a “collaborative and multi-faceted plan to educate, equip, and empower entrepreneurs to create scalable, sustainable, and high-growth businesses” over the next ten years.
Mayor Eric Johnson Wants to Support Entrepreneurs
Texas is one of the fastest-growing states in America, with Dallas coming in as the fourth fastest-growing city. As a city of pioneers and innovators, Dallas has a rich history of being a hub for creative thinkers.
For the next several decades, Mayor Eric Johnson believes energy must be spent on supporting agile startups, whose forward thinking and out-of-the-box solutions will complement the business activities of those large corporations who are pillars of the business community. As Johnson himself stated at The State of Entrepreneurship event last month: “We haven’t even scratched the surface of what we’re capable of.”
Entrepreneurial Liaison(s) in Residence Within City Hall
Taking cues from Miami, Syracuse, Atlanta, Denver, New York City and San Francisco, Dallas will tap into the thought leadership of its brilliant communities by partnering with local startup talent and venture capitalists. The Task Force recommends the creation of two Entrepreneurial Liaisons within City Hall, one Entrepreneur in Residence and one Venture Capitalist in Residence. Their roles will be to spur innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the city and find alternative ways to address financial gaps in city efforts.
Entrepreneurial Support Platform
The Task Force’s report found that the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Dallas is siloed and that helpful services and resources are difficult to find and complicated to leverage. The suggestion, therefore, is that the city creates an integrated platform that will provide the entire ecosystem with all of the “information and connectivity to resources enabling a thriving ecosystem in the palm of [innovators’] hands”.
Entrepreneur Resource Hub
Building on the online platform, the Task Force recommends that special attention be paid to the content populating the platform, encouraging consistent use and ensuring relevance. Curricula will be developed for all demographics and age groups. According to the report, curricula content will not only be academic in nature. It will include: “experiential learning, competition opportunities, success story forums, coaching engagement opportunities, and critical startup information checklists to ensure proper licensing and permitting for business use types”.
Innovation Zones and Infrastructure Network
While digital programming and opportunities are important, programs that bring like-minded innovators together for the opportunity to collaborate are indispensable. The sheer size of Dallas is an obstacle in bringing people together physically. The Task Force recommends creating Innovation Zones and Infrastructure Networks to bring Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs with aligned visions together.
Capital Sources for Startup Growth and Success
The Task Force’s most pragmatic recommendation is to provide grant funding for a $50,000,000+ privately managed Venture Capital “Fund of Funds” with the goal of filling the much-needed institutional Seed and Series A funding void for high growth startups in Dallas: “Without access to funding, startups will not be able to scale and grow sustainably — both key factors in allowing for job creation, acquisitions, and general economic impact.”
Mayor Eric Johnson didn’t mince words when it came to his hopes for the city as a leader in the entrepreneurship space, stating: “Dallas should be an inclusive hub for entrepreneurs, not just tolerant of entrepreneurs. We need to be a hub; an attractive force.”
It’s clear that opportunities abound for the local business community in Dallas – the future is bright!