Business Leaders Talk Failures, Funding, Finding Success

For Capital One's Karen Stroup, failure doesn't exist. "You see the opportunity for why it won’t work and why it hasn’t worked," she said during Techweek.



Entrepreneurs risk it all when they go out on their own with a startup idea. And sometimes, it doesn’t work. 

If they were to walk into Capital One with that on their résumés, Karen Stroup, senior vice president of the Digital Lab/The Garage, would see it as a positive.

“I’d say, ‘What did you learn from that?’ Not, ‘Why did it fail?,’” she said. “It’s two different mentalities. There are no failures. You see the opportunity for why it won’t work and why it hasn’t worked.”

Stroup joined others on a panel discussion about growing tech ecosystems such as Dallas Tuesday morning at Capital One’s expansive Plano campus as part of Techweek Dallas 2016.

“There are no failures. You see the opportunity for why it won’t work and why it hasn’t worked.” 

Karen Stroup

The Techweek event was hosted in The Garage portion of the campus where Capital One does its own tinkering on user experiences for its apps and websites, as well as new ways to work in office spaces. The Garage opened two years ago and was expanded to 36,000 square feet earlier this year.

Despite having more than 6,000 people on its Plano campus, Capital One relies on the work of its partners, including startups, to help stay ahead of the curve.  

“It starts with the strategy and awareness that we have to look externally to innovate,” Stroup said. “If we as companies have too much of an internal focus, we will be disrupted.”


Investors in North Texas also need to change their mentality. As older investors retire and a younger generation moves into positions of power, there’s a hope that they will shift more money to tech industry rather than putting money into punching holes in the ground for the oil and gas industry, said Darold Rydl, founder and CEO of PB&J Labs, a Plano-based tech company.

The Dallas/Fort Worth region is an innovation hub with a vibrant business climate that makes it a key factor in Polsinelli’s growth. Within the first few years of its 2011 establishment, the office has grown ten-fold and has become an active member of the North Texas business and civic community.


“That’s pretty risky as opposed to investing in technology,” Rydl said. “There are some stories of failure. There are far more success stories in tech in the last decade.”

Trey Bowles, CEO and co-founder of The Dallas Entrepreneur Center, said companies that are just starting out in North Texas don’t have trouble finding capital. It’s the more mature companies that are having to look harder for funding dollars.

“Once they actually need to prove that the concept works and is scalable, that’s where we have an opportunity to bring in more investors,” Bowles said. “It’s about connecting those investors in the community.”

“There are some stories of failure. There are far more success stories in tech in the last decade.” 

Darold Rydl

The tech companies that do succeed in North Texas don’t do enough to publicize, which also hurts the perception in the region, Rydl said.

“You really don’t see that much, though it’s happening all the time,” Rydl said. “There does seem to be a little more privacy here. There are success stories to be told, you just don’t hear them.”

Following the panel discussion, Capital One offered a tour of The Garage, including the observation room where employees can watch someone try out the auto finance or home finance websites. Through a closed-circuit television, they can watch someone navigate the user experience, identifying potential pain points or areas that need improvement, said Kristen Przano, who manages The Garage.

The Garage overall has a laid back atmosphere with games, comfy chairs, and collaboration areas throughout the space.

“We used the garage as a prototype a couple years ago to test out a new way of working,” Przano said.


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[Photo Courtesy Capital One]


Trey Bowles, co-founder and CEO of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, second from right, talks while other panelists listen during the Techweek event at The Garage at Capital One in Plano. [Photo Courtesy Capital One]

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