Dallas Startup Week 2023: Where Big Names and Big Ideas Power North Texas Entrepreneurs

The DEC Networks' eighth Dallas Startup Week, hosted at UNT Frisco from September 10-14, features entrepreneur and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, AOL's Steve Case, Nextdoor Co-founder Nirav Tolia, rapper-turned-investor Chamillionaire, and BuzzBallz CEO Merrilee Kick among its 200 speakers and 100 events.

Next week, North Texas is set to take the startup spotlight. Dallas Startup Week 2023 promises to ignite the region’s entrepreneurial scene from September 10 to 14 at the UNT Frisco campus in HALL Park.

Speakers range from Troy Aikman, the Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback, to Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, and Nirav Tolia, co-founder of Nextdoor. The list also includes Merrilee Kick, CEO of BuzzBallz, and rapper-turned-investor Hakeem Temidayo Seriki, better known as  Chamillionaire.

The roster offers a star-studded view of entrepreneurship, with speakers primed to share business wisdom. Each one offers powerful lessons for the innovation and startup world. 

The DEC Network event—stacked with more than 200 speakers across 100 events—touts programming on emerging technologies, funding strategies, and more.

A-List Assembly

Cowboys legend Aikman is “thrilled” to be back at Dallas Startup Week for a second year. The Hall of Famer says the week is a “great way to connect with other entrepreneurs around innovation and creating first-class products and brands.” Aikman will talk about his Texas-based beer brand, Eight Beer, alongside his partners, on Thursday.

Texas-based rapper and investor Seriki, aka Chamillionaire, will kick off the week’s keynotes on Monday during Dallas Startup Week’s Disrupt Dallas Summit.

Tolia, co-founder and former CEO of Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods, will keynote Tuesday’s Corporate Startup Innovation Summit presented by Capital One.

BuzzBallz CEO Kick will dissect her journey from a Plano school teacher to running a $70 million ready-to-drink cocktail business. It’s a lesson in invention and market acumen to headline Wednesday’s Women of Innovation Summit.

Startup champion and AOL co-founder Case will share his perspective on the current state of the startup and investment industry during the Dallas Startup Week Future of Venture Forum keynote. 

Fireside chats, panels, pitches, and networking

It’s not a stretch to say there’s something for everyone: From fireside chats and networking events, the week is an opportunity to rub elbows with big names and folks with big ideas.

Hubert Zajicek, CEO and co-founder of Health Wildcatters, says DSW is a place where “you can pick your niche, meet experts in the field, and know that everyone here is going talk, mix, and mingle.” In a video statement, Zajicek said DSW is a “really great week for entrepreneurs to meet each other in the context of open networking—and passing on as much information as we can.”

Vendorzs founder, Michelle Ochoa, went to her first startup week in 2016. “That’s actually what inspired me to really pursue entrepreneurship… and building my product,” she said at last year’s event. Ochoa, a woman in tech and a vintage vendor, says the folks at Dallas Startup Week and at The DEC “actually want to see you succeed” and can help provide the tools to facilitate it.

“I stand as a testament to that support, and I believe this is merely the start of my journey,” she said.

Capital One, returning as DSW title sponsor for the fourth consecutive year, will host a pitch competition for auto-related businesses with prizes totaling over $50,000. Dell will also host a pitch showcase and highlight its Dell for Startups program.

Tangible economic impact

Dallas Startup Week 2023 celebrates North Texas’ growing influence as a startup hub. It’s also an incubator for the next generation of business leaders focusing on delivering connections, knowledge, and resources. 

DSW is a signature event for The DEC Network, and this year is a milestone for the organization that marks the 10th anniversary of The DEC in cultivating the North Texas startup ecosystem. The non-profit led by CEO Bill Chinn and founded by Trey Bowles has played a seminal role in pushing Dallas into the top 10 largest startup ecosystems in the country.

Since its launch in 2013, the DEC Network has generated more than $100 million in economic impact and supported over 3,500 entrepreneurs in the DFW community, according to the organization.

As Rocky Garza put it last year:  “I think that Dallas Startup Week honestly has grown in the same way that Dallas has as a city.” The founder of Staff Retreat Company sees more ideas, more resources, and more entrepreneurs: “Every year we get a little bit bigger.” 

Editors’ picks for DSW2023

Sunday, September 10
  • Evening Kick-Off Celebration
Monday, September 11
  • Dell Pitch Showcase
  • Disrupt Dallas Summit Keynote: Chamillionaire
  • Startup Alley Showcase
Tuesday, September 12
  • Corporate Startup Innovation Summit Keynote: Nirav Tolia, founder of Nextdoor
  • Capital One Accelerator Pitch Competition
Wednesday, September 13
  • Women of Innovation Summit Keynote: Merrilee Kick, founder of Buzzballz
  • Women Entrepreneurs Marketplace
Thursday, September 14
  • The Future of Venture Forum Summit Keynote: Steve Case and Troy Aikman with Doug Campbell

Register now

The DEC Network expects the five-day event to draw a crowd of over 5,000 entrepreneurs, investors, industry pros, and students. Register now at Dallas Startup Week’s official website. Some events have limited capacity.

Check out the full lineup here.

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