Dallas Startup Week 2020 State of Entrepreneurship: ‘This Year Has Been Tough, But Dallas Is Tougher’

During this year's event, DSW20's State of Entrepreneurship award winners were announced.

This year, the virtual State of Entrepreneurship event aired on YouTube with special guests including Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson; Michael Shawn, radio co-host of K104FM’s DeDe In the Morning; Sanjiv Yajnik, president of Financial Services at Capital One; and Trey Bowles, co-founder of The DEC Network and president of Innocity Partners LLC.
 
Yajnik began the event by discussing how entrepreneurs have transformed Dallas into a city of great companies. He noted that despite this year’s unique circumstances due to COVID-19, he has seen entrepreneurs take this time as an opportunity.

Sanjiv Yajnik

“It goes without saying that we’re meeting in this strange way and not in person because of the unprecedented times we are going through with the virus and the pandemic,” Yajnik said during the event. “But you know, with every problem comes opportunities and if there is any group that can find opportunities in our situation today and continue to drive forward, it is our group of entrepreneurs.” 

Mayor Johnson continued the event by talking about the state of entrepreneurship in Dallas. He discussed how Dallas’ gross metropolitan product is $620 billion, the fourth highest in the U.S. behind the Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York metro areas.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson

He also listed companies like Uber, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, and Kroger that were looking to Dallas to expand and innovate their companies, but then 2020 turned into a year of economic survival instead of economic growth.
 
“The Dallas we know and love won’t come back overnight, but we will come back,” Mayor Johnson said during the event. “We have too many unique strengths and too much talent to be kept down for long, and we will need innovation and entrepreneurship to lead that combat.”
 
He noted that despite the economic difficulties of the pandemic, entrepreneurs have risen to the challenge and worked harder to make Dallas an innovative hub.
 
“This year has been tough, but Dallas is tougher,” Mayor Johnson said.

Trey Bowles

Bowles took the time to thank all of the mentors, entrepreneurs, and volunteers that made DSW20 successful this year, even amidst the challenges of making it completely virtual.

“I invite you all to continue to find your role in this ecosystem,” Bowles said during the event. “I think the best is yet to come for DFW and the North Texas region.”

Michael Shawn

Shawn addressed what he calls the big “pink elephant” in the room, a.k.a. COVID-19, and how it shifted DSW20 and the State of Entrepreneurship to go virtual. He discussed how it has changed so much of our daily lives for the health and safety of people, but that despite the challenges, entrepreneurs pivoted this year to make it work for their businesses.
 
“I’m not good with change,” Shawn said. “But the geniuses that are a part of the entrepreneurship community, you know how to make a pivot, an incredible pivot to adjust quickly, and create ideas.”

Image: Dallas Startup Week

Here are the 2020 State of Entrepreneurship Award Winners:

2020 Student Entrepreneur Award Winner: Varika Pinnam, University of Texas at Dallas student and co-founder of IDA

IDA, or Ideate, Decide, Act, is a mobile app that connects underrepresented female founders to mentors, funding, and more resources to help them succeed in their business goals.

2020 Creative Entrepreneur Award Winner: Quiana McDaniel, owner of House of Dasha and Dasha Cosmetics

The House of Dasha is a size-inclusive, fashion-forward boutique for women and a private label cosmetics line that helps women feel and look beautiful.

2020 Dallas Startup Evangelist of The Year: Tarsha Polk, director of LiftFund Women’s Business Center

The LiftFund Women’s Business Center is dedicated to supporting business owners, especially women and minorities, through business education and business consulting.

Rising Entrepreneur Award 2020: Mandy Price, Kanarys

Kanarys is a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) focused SaaS platform giving companies clear metrics to diagnose, prioritize, and optimize DEI efforts.

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