‘Conversations With Champions’: Sports Titans Hunt, Nowitzki to Headline Venture Dallas Summit

The NFL and NBA icons—Clark Hunt and Dirk Nowitzki—will kick off and wrap up discussions on innovation and investment. They add to an "impressive speaker lineup" including Nextdoor Co-Founder Nirav Tolia and other trailblazing speakers. Here's the full roster.

This year’s Venture Dallas Summit has scored sports titans Kansas City Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt and NBA Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki as headliners for its October 25 event. They join Nextdoor Co-Founder Nirav Tolia and other trailblazing speakers discussing Dallas as an innovation and venture hotspot, along with panels on defense technology, biotech, and more.

The nonprofit Venture Dallas, founded in 2019 to connect innovators and investors, will host its third annual in-person summit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Limited registration is available, as seating is limited for the business venture and startup summit.

According to a Venture Dallas announcement, the summit aims to further elevate Dallas as a top innovation hub and destination for investment capital and startups, together with presenting sponsors JPMorgan Chase and Perot Jain.

‘Conversations with champions’ frame summit

The summit’s “Conversations with Champions” two-part series with Hunt and Nowitzki will bookend the event.

As Chairman and CEO of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, MLS’s FC Dallas, and the Hunt Sports Group, Hunt brings business savvy by leading championship organizations. Hunt says he’s “excited to take part in Venture Dallas 2023 and to connect with entrepreneurs and investors from throughout the area.”

“My family and I have a long history of starting and growing businesses here—from the days of the Dallas Texans and Dallas Tornado to our current team in FC Dallas,” he said in a statement.

Capping off the summit is Nowitzki, who led the Dallas Mavericks to an NBA title in 2011 before retiring in 2019 and getting inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

“As a longtime Dallas resident and active member of our region’s business community, I’m excited to share my perspective at Venture Dallas. It’s a great time to grow companies in Dallas,” he said in the announcement.

Keynotes and panels tackle trending topics

Tolia, co-founder and executive chairman of Nextdoor, is featured in a fireside chat at the summit. Nextdoor is a neighborhood-focused social network with over 275,000 communities worldwide. The entrepreneur and investor also founded the venture firm Hedosophia. Tolia, who led Nextdoor’s growth, will share insights during “Gone to Texas—Choosing Dallas.”

Beyond the keynote speakers, Venture Dallas will host a series of panel discussions featuring insights from pioneers across sectors, including:

  • Venture Capital and Financing – Experts from JPMorgan and more explore the state of VC
  • Defense Technology Innovations – Leaders from DARPA, Firehawk Aerospace, and others discuss advancements in defense tech
  • Biotech Success Stories – BIoLabs, H.I.G., and more showcase North Texas biotech innovators
  • Sports, VC, and Tech – PGA, Topgolf, Dryvebox, and other innovators discuss the intersection of sports and technology
  • Corporate Innovation – How corporations innovate from Fortune 500 companies like AT&T and Aflac.

(See the full agenda below.)

Showcasing Dallas Innovation

The Venture Dallas Summit was created to bring together innovators, investors, and business minds to promote Dallas as a thriving hub for entrepreneurship. The annual summit is the flagship event for the Venture Dallas group, whose mission is summed up with its tagline “innovation meets investment.” 

Three years ago, a group of leading North Texas leaders and dealmakers set out to amplify Dallas’ entrepreneurial spirit by connecting innovators with investors, celebrating the city’s pioneering roots, and driving impactful growth. Since then, a “small-but-driven group of volunteers” has steadily grown the summit with support from prominent local and national business leaders, venture capital firms, and financial partners.

Today, the nonprofit group has set the course for its next chapter with a recent rebrand, including a new logo that symbolizes its role as the “nexus” of creative ideas and capital in North Texas.

According to Venture Dallas Co-Founder and Chairman Aaron Pierce, a partner at the Dallas venture capital firm Perot Jain, “the inaugural conference in 2019 hosted over 200 attendees. Last year, after a pandemic pause, attendance grew to over 400 entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders from nearly 20 regions outside Texas.”

Led by a steering committee of Dallas’ top investors, entrepreneurs, and dealmakers, the summit has grown each year since its 2019 founding. This increasing interest and participation highlights the demand for a platform that showcases Dallas as a premier hub of innovation, investment, and entrepreneurship, Pierce says. 

“Last year, we achieved conference-market fit. The enthusiasm from venture capital leaders signals a promising trajectory for 2023,” the Venture Dallas chairman said.

Go here for registration and more information.

2023 Venture Dallas Summit Lineup

Speakers and tracks are still being unveiled for the Venture Dallas 2023 Summit. Confirmed speakers include (clockwise from upper left): AT&T’s Vikram Taneja, Beautybio Founder Jamie O’Banion, Bestow’s Melbourne O’Banion, Dialexa/IBM’s Scott Harper, investor and Nextdoor founder Nirav Tolia, Rosy Wellness’ Lyndsey Harper, Topgolf’s Artie Starrs, and PGA’s Arjun Chowdri. [Courtesy photos]

2023 summit speakers and topics confirmed as of Oct. 16 include:

Morning Fireside Chat: “Conversations with Champions, Part 1

Clark Hunt, Owner of Hunt Sports Group, FC Dallas, and Chairman and CEO of the NFL World Champion Kansas City Chiefs

Panel Discussion: The State of Venture Capital and Financing

Confirmed panelists include:
Ashraf Hebela, Managing Director, Head of Startup Banking, J.P. Morgan
Michelle Yeh Gillis, Managing Director and Market Executive, Technology and Disruptive Commerce, J.P. Morgan 
Sara Johnson, Horizon Tech Finance
Kevin Lavelle, Steering Committee, Venture Dallas

Panel Discussion: Defending Tomorrow: Innovations and Collaborations for Defense Technology

Confirmed panelists include:
Will Edwards, CEO, Firehawk Aerospace
Dyan Gibbens, Strategic Advisor, AFWERX/SpaceWERX
Sha-Chelle Manning, Chief Commercial Strategist, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
Alex Moore, Partner, 8VC
Hal Lambert, Founder, Point Bridge Capital, Founder, Star Castle Ventures

CEO Discussions: Dallas Success Stories

Confirmed speakers include:
Scott Harper, Co-Founder and CEO, Dialexa
Lyndsey Harper, Founder and CEO, Rosy

Panel Discussion: Venture’s Role in Advancing Human Health: North Texas Biotech Success Stories
Confirmed panelists include:
Steve Curtis, Director of New Ventures, BrightEdge
Dr. Amy Kruse, General Partner and CIO, Satori Neuro
Gwen Watanabe, Managing Director, H.I.G. BioHealth Partners
Gabby Everett, Director of Business Operations & Strategy and Site Head, BioLabs Pegasus Park

Panel Discussion:
Swinging for Success: VC, Sports, and Tech
Confirmed panelists include:
Keith Bank, Founder and CEO, KB Partners
Arjun Chowdri, Chief Administrative and Innovation Officer, PGA
Ryan Engle, Founder and CEO, Golf+
Artie Starrs, CEO, Topgolf
Adeel Yang, Co-Founder and CEO, Dryvebox
Tammy Meinershagen, CIO, Blackshaw Partners

Panel Discussion:
CVC & Corporate Innovation, A Discussion with Fortune 500 Innovation Leaders

Confirmed panelists include:
Moni Chakravorty, Lead Investment Strategist, 7 Ventures
Terence O’Brien, Investment Lead, Aflac Ventures
Vikram Taneja, Head, AT&T Ventures
Gretchen Seay, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Clearsight Advisors

Afternoon Fireside Chat:
Gone to Texas – Choosing Dallas

Nirav Tolia, Executive Chairman, Hedosophia; Founder, NextDoor

Closing Discussion:
Conversations with Champions, Part 2
Dirk Nowitzki, Hall of Fame Basketball player, former Dallas Mavericks player

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