Last Call: Apply Now to Trend Forward Capital’s First Startup Pitch Competition in Dallas

Calling all North Texas startups: Today is the last day to apply for Trend Forward Capital's pitch competition coming later this month. As the investment arm of Irving-headquartered Trend Micro, the team is specifically looking to bolster its commitment to local startup talent.

We’re only a few months into 2019, but Trend Forward Capital, the investment arm of Irving-based cybersecurity company Trend Micro, has been busy making big moves. For starters, at this year’s CES, Trend Forward held a startup pitch competition with cash prizes. Then, in February, it announced it was bringing the event to Dallas in May, and had invested in a provider of workload automation software, Turbonomic.

Trend Forward Capital’s Forward Thinker Award at CES offered $10,000 cash prizes to each of six winning finalists. Back in February, the company said it was looking for promising technology startups in North Texas. Jonathan Chang, a partner at Trend Forward Capital, said startups and entrepreneurs should stay tuned.

“We welcome tech startups from the area with breakthrough ideas to reach out to us or submit applications for our future competitions,” he said. “We’re always looking for promising technology startups with a growing base of satisfied customers.”

And now, local entrepreneurs are getting their chance. 

Trend Forward Capital, in a partnership with Veem, is bringing its Forward Thinker Award and pitch competition to Dallas on May 20. Startups interested in participating have until May 1—don’t miss your chance—to email their pitch deck and a 60 second video to [email protected].

“The pitch deck gives us a peek at the company while the 60 second video gives us a glimpse into who the founders are,” Chang said. “We encourage everyone to be creative.”

Each submission will be carefully reviewed and evaluated by Veem and Trend Forward Capital, then five finalists will be invited to present at the Dallas Trend Micro office on May 20. Whether you’re interested in pitching or attending, we caught up with Chang to get some more details about the competition.

Why was the team inspired to bring the competition to Dallas?

We want to find and learn from the technology innovators and problem-solvers of tomorrow. The pitch competition allows startups to showcase their bold ideas for how to make the world smarter and provides us with opportunities to invest in purpose-driven companies and help them navigate the road from startup to change-maker. 

Additionally, the event provides us a chance to bring together veteran entrepreneurs, tech executives, established investors and young founders to share their unique perspective and expertise with one another.

Are there plans to hold events in other cities in the future?

As a recently formed fund, we try our best to distinguish ourselves by consistently demonstrating how we put founders first. The uniqueness of a VC hosting a pitch-off competition at CES resulted in the team meeting many innovative startups, empowering our portfolio companies to shine, and, lastly, to help make impactful introductions between founders and investors. 

In fact, Veem, our first investment ever made, was so excited about our CES events that we partnered together to bring the Forward Thinker Award to Dallas. This metroplex has become a thriving hotbed of entrepreneurial ideas and business growth, and with Trend Micro’s North American headquarters located here in Irving, we want to bolster our commitment to local startup talent. We will indeed be returning to CES 2020 and we’re definitely considering hosting the award in other cities as well where the startup ecosystem is growing and thriving.

What type of companies are you looking for?

We know there is a wealth of innovation happening outside the security sphere and we (Trend Forward Capital) like to back entrepreneurs who are breaking down doors to see what’s next and across a variety of industries.

For the Dallas competition we are specifically looking for early-growth (seed/Series A) startups focused on IoT/wearables, blockchain, and artificial intelligence because smart and connected technologies offer an unparalleled opportunity to make us all safer, healthier, and more productive.

What is the format of the event going to look like?

The five finalists invited will each have 10 minutes of stage time in front of the audience and the judges; five minutes to present their deck and five minutes to answer questions from the judging panel.

We’re very excited for our all-star lineup of judges including Trend Micro co-founder and CEO Eva Chen; Veem founder and CEO Marwan Forzley; co-founder of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, Jennifer Conley; founder and President of Turbonomic, Shmuel Kliger, and WeWork Labs Dallas Manager Will Akins.
The finalists will be judged on five factors:

  • Leadership — Does the team have the right expertise to execute the bold vision?
  • Product — How well does the solution uniquely solve the problem to scale?
  • Market — How large is the addressable market and how well-defined is the target segment?
  • Customer Validation — Are customers already paying for the solution and showing they love it?
  • Business Model — How will they make money and how clear is the go-to-market strategy?

What should startups know before applying?

While the finals of this competition are being held in Dallas, this is ultimately a global competition and all startups are encouraged to participate. We will set up a video conference option to allow for remote presentations should a team be unable to travel to Dallas.

Do you have a call-to-action you’d like to share with founders interested in entering the competition?

Beyond the cash prize, this is an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators across the globe to showcase ideas and get in front of business leaders and investors who will stand by you every step of the way as you grow your company. We understand the value in collaboration and while we will offer our expertise, we also want to learn from you.

In addition to potentially winning $10,000—no strings attached—the winning team also receives two passes to CES 2020 and an automatic finalist slot to the Forward Thinker Award at CES for a chance to win an additional $10,000.

What does the partnership with Veem entail?

We are proudly co-hosting this event with Veem, a leading global payments platform and early investment partner of Trend Forward Capital. So, if you’re a business owner frustrated by how expensive and slow submitting global payments can be, please stop by the event and come say hello to the awesome Veem team over free drinks and food!

What do you want readers to know?

We want to introduce ourselves to the fast-growing Dallas startup ecosystem. So, anyone supporting the local startup scene, whether you’re an entrepreneur, investor, adviser, community leader, or even a wanta-preneur, please stop by our free event on May 20. Please RSVP to [email protected] by May 17 with your name and we’ll add you to the registration list and provide further details.

Alex Edwards contributed to this report.

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