EVERY LAST WORD: “The Most Dangerous Thing You Can Do Is To Bank on the Fact That Things Will Not Change”

Scott Harper has the "last word": The innovator, who is half of one of the region's most iconic entrepreneurial power couples, co-founded tech consulting firm Dialexa on the belief that every industry should be won with technology.

Here's more of "who said what" in North Texas.

THE LAST WORD on Dallas Innovates. Find "who said what" in our collection of quotes on Dallas-Fort Worth Innovation.

These North Texas innovators had “The Last Word.” Here’s a collection of the quotes that inspire, inform, motivate, or simply make us laugh.

Dallas Innovates publishes “The Last Word” each day in the Dallas Innovates Every Day e-newsletter. Don’t miss it: Sign up here. And if you have wise words of your own, let us know.

Tuesday, April 13

“You should have patented that thing—you’d be a billionaire!”

… on Mariano Martinez’s frozen margarita machine, via Texas Monthly

Martinez, who made history with the icy green cocktail fifty years ago, would “smile and nod” when customers told him he should patent the invention that changed happy hour forever. But, he had his doubts, according to Texas Monthly: “It would have been about as ridiculous as putting two carburetors in a ’57 Chevy, painting on some flames, and trying to patent it.”

Even so, Martinez “kick-started a movement” that took “tequila from hooch to haute.” Now 76, he invented something in 1971 that changed the restaurant industry and the way people imbibe cocktails, “from piña coladas to frozen daiquiris,” writes the publication.

The machine, inspired by 7-Eleven slurpees, now resides in the Smithsonian.

D Magazine previously named the restauranteur one of the 100 greatest Dallasites of all time. Martinez ranked at No. 10.

Monday, April 12

“A quote that inspires me is, ‘adversity causes some men to break, others to break records.’”

Taylor Reimer
Student and professional midget car racer
… on breaking female stereotypes.

Girlpower is horsepower,” according to Carrollton-based cocktail brand Buzzballz. The woman-owned company with a fun brand message has partnered with midget car driver Taylor Reimer.

Buzzballz founder Merrilee Kick bonded with Reimer by their presence in male-dominated spaces. They agreed it was the “perfect partnership,” according to Buzzballz in a news release. Both have “firsthand experience with the intimidation and pressure” that comes with proving they deserve to be in the “boys club.”

Kick, an ex-Plano high school teacher who founded Buzzballz in 2009  as a result of her master’s thesis, started by mixing cocktails in her garage. Kick also blazed an engineering trail developing the brand’s ball shape for its cute pop-top cans.

In under ten years, Buzzballz has become the first woman-owned joint brewery, winery, and distillery in the U.S. Now Kick is boosting the brand’s distribution and growing worldwide. 

Reimer is a University of Oklahoma student by day and drives a 900-pound race car with a four-cylinder engine and 300-400 horsepower by night.

Image: Courtesy of Trace Thomas

Friday, April 9

It’s so important to feel validated in the work you do and recognize that you deserve your successes and your own seat at the table.

Lauren Hasson
Author and Founder
…on how to ditch imposter syndrome, via LinkedIn.

“Do you ever find yourself at work feeling like you don’t belong? Like no matter how much you achieve, you still feel like a fraud?”

You are not alone, says Hasson.

The founder of career development platform DevelopHer, poses these questions because many may be having these feelings as of late. And they could point to evidence of imposter syndrome.

The pandemic’s massive workplace disruption—layoffs, furloughs, and the shift to remote—have many employees second-guessing their skills, according to the Wall Street Journal. These feelings can signal imposter syndrome, in which “self-doubts engender fears of being exposed as a fraud despite one’s accomplishments,” the publication says.

Luckily, Hasson offers some solutions in a new blog.

1. Identify Imposter Syndrome: By understanding and accepting how you’re feeling, Hasson says, it’s easier to reframe your thoughts.
2. Apply the Expansive Power Pose: Making broad gestures—standing tall with your hands on your hips—can reconfigure the mind to be more assertive and less prone to stress.
3. Surround Yourself with Peers Who Support You: Recognizing that so many are going through the same experience will help us conquer the feeling of inadequacy. “We get ahead by building each other up,” she says.
4. Take it Step by Step: Seeing your progress in front of you can help remove some of the pressure.
5. Be Courageous: “Courage isn’t the absence of fear but rather the act of moving forward and taking action despite the fear,” according to Hasson. 

Imposter syndrome tends to affect many women in tech, as fear that they don’t deserve a seat at the table often creeps in. She was inspired to write the blog post because she heard many of her ‘DevelopHers’ were struggling.

But that’s a driving reason why she founded her company: to empower tech women to own their careers and earn what they’re worth.

Hasson wrote the playbook for empowerment, literally. Her book, published earlier this year, The DevelopHer Playbook: 5 Simple Steps to Get Ahead, Stand Out, Build Your Value, and Advocate for Yourself as a Woman in Tech, is available on Amazon. 

Image: Courtesy of Lauren Hasson

Thursday, April 8

“The most dangerous thing you can do is to bank on the fact that things will not change”

Scott Harper
CEO and Co-Founder
via LinkedIn

Harper co-founded tech consulting firm Dialexa on the belief that every industry should be won with technology. The company, which counts big brands such as Toyota, Topgolf, Audi, Geneteech, and Boston Consulting Group among its clients, builds solutions to complex challenges.  Its technologists and designers can turn concepts into cutting-edge products. 

Harper encourages Dialexa employees to be all-around creative problem solvers. The company’s internal “innovation and development engine” called Dialexa Labs even has a goal of spinning off new companies.

The forward-looking innovator is connected to a number of area startups born out of the incubator: Harper is founder and former Chairman of Vinli, a founder and board member of Rosy Wellness, and was a founder and board member of Robin Technologies. 

Harper, who is half of one of the region’s most iconic entrepreneurial power couples, is married to Rosy founder Dr. Lyndsey Harper. The entrepreneur was named as one of D CEO’s most influential business leaders in the 2021 edition of the Dallas 500. (The deadline to suggest executives for the 2022 edition of the annual power list is June 30.)

Wednesday, April 8

“This is the wave of the future—and the future is coming a little faster than we thought.”

Pat Wood
Hunt Energy Network

In 2019, Wood was asked to lead an “in-house motley crew” of young innovators (a time he calls one of the most enjoyable couple years of his life). That led to the fruition of HEN Infrastructure, a newly launched venture that was created and incubated within the energy technology venture business unit at Hunt Energy Enterprises.

HEN Infrastructure, led by Wood, will put 50 batteries across Texas, supplying ERCOT with some 500MWs of distributed energy across Texas. 

While the deal’s been in the works for years, the team decided to go “big league” during the pandemic. Winter storm Uri in February ended up being something of a proof of concept: It showed everyone involved the dire need to address resilience and liability, says Wood. Though he does wish they’d had four days worth of battery storage when the blizzards began. 

Wood, who hopes the batteries will be the first step on a greater journey, says HEN is not wedded to any single technology.

“The nice thing about our business is that we’re interfacing with the market all over the world all the time. We’re trying to learn if there’s a better, cheaper, faster way to do storage than what we’re doing,” says Wood. “And I assume that will come around … I think that’ll be a strength for us over time.”

Tuesday, April 7

TimelyMD Founders Chris Clark, Luke Hejl, and Alan Dennington, MD. [Photo: TimelyMD]

“Accountability is the first one.”

Luke Hejl
CEO and Founder
…on values that are central to the startup’s success, via TechFW.

Hejl (pictured above, middle) spoke to a virtual audience on “the uphill climb of a serial entrepreneur” at the TechFW TechNext education series earlier today.

Since co-founding TimelyMD in 2017, Hejl’s telehealth company has gone on to succeed, recently landing a $60 million investment from JMI Equity in January 2021. The Fort Worth company says it’s the only full-service student-first telehealth provider.

TechFW is a Dallas Innovates Partner Organization.

Monday, April 6

“I’m a firm believer that adversity and perseverance are necessities.”

Isaiah Stanback
Former Dallas Cowboy and Entrepreneur
…via YouTube.

The entrepreneur, a former Dallas Cowboys player who now owns a personal training and performance facility in Lewisville, will kick off The DEC Network’s new speaker series that launches with a virtual talk on how businesses are coming out of the pandemic—and what’s next.

Stanback will talk about the hardships posed by the pandemic and how his own business is doing, as well as tell the story of his entrepreneurial journey. The free event starts at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 13. Register here. 

The DEC Network is a Dallas Innovates Partner Organization.

Thursday, April 1

“This is not a thing we want to be permanent. We do think it’s an exceptional model going forward when needed.”

Patrick Brandt
Co-Founder of Get Shift Done
…on the nonprofit, via the Dallas Morning News.

At the beginning of the pandemic, a new nonprofit was born thanks to business leaders Anurag Jain, chairman of Access Healthcare and managing partner of Perot Jain, and Patrick Brandt, president of Shiftsmart. The company, Get Shift Done, connects displaced hospitality workers with nonprofits to serve and provide hunger relief.

Since its launch, the project has expanded to cities across the country and was named one of the world’s most innovative companies by Fast Company.

The co-founders recently celebrated the first anniversary of Get Shift Done in which North Texas Food Bank President and CEO Trisha Cunningham surprised them with a proclamation from Governor Greg Abbott recognizing the program as “the best company, most innovative not-for-profit organization.”

Photo of Patrick Brandt and Anurag Jain by James Edwards.

Wednesday, March 31

“We are at the 1997 phase of the Web, where there are massive amounts of opportunity for entrepreneurs (and a) massive opportunity for investors to build really successful businesses.”

David Evans
Managing Partner
Sentiero Ventures
…via the Dallas Business Journal.

Plano-based venture capital firm Sentiero Ventures plans to invest heavily in Texas companies, with a focus on artificial intelligence, reports the DBJ.

Why concentrate on AI? David Evans told the DBJ, “There’s a ton of opportunity now. And there’s a next stage of opportunity that we’re going to be able to tap into as this flywheel gets going.”

After recently closing a $10 million funding round, the firm is planning to make 10 investments of up to $500,000 into companies at the outset.

Evans is no stranger to startups. According to Sentiero’s website, he started his first company at 19, previously founded and led EasySeat.com, and designed and built a national digital signage network that was later sold to CBS. 

Courtesy photo

Tuesday, March 30

“Dallas is a city that booms north of I-30. Unfortunately, if you live south of I-30 all too often you only hear rumors of that boom.”

Dr. Michael Sorrell
Paul Quinn College

In an effort to make financial services and education more accessible for the people of Oak Cliff and Southern Dallas, Chase recently opened its first Community Center branch in Texas. The branch is part of Chase’s $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity and provide economic opportunities to underserved communities.

“JPMorgan Chase is actively being a bridge builder. It is a repairer of the breach. That is who the bank is. That is what the bank does,” Sorrell said.

The new branch offers workshops to build financial health, mentoring for entrepreneurs, and free space and WiFi for community groups and neighbors. It also has a full-time Community Manager, who works hands-on to engage the community and increase their awareness of the branch’s available resources.

Image: Courtesy of JPMorgan Chase

Monday, March 29

amazon, dallas, texas, machine learning, machine-learning, computer science, computer sciences, computer-science, artificial intelligence, pandemic, ut dallas, utdallas, doctoral, innovators, innovator, accessibility, alexa, computer engineering, graduate students, graduate student, university of texas at dallas, well-being, wellbeing, well being

Product Photo: Amazon; Illustration: AlexeyGorka/iStock

“Without this, you can’t get human intelligence.”

Kinjal Basu
Computer Science Doctoral Student
UT Dallas
…on humans having commonsense reasoning.

Over time, humans naturally learn how to fill in gaps in a conversation, make inferences, understand exceptions to rules, and recognize a speaker’s mood. But for robots, these skills are much more complicated. 

Amazon is challenging teams to teach AI how to do all of this and more through its fourth annual Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge with $500,000 on the line.

As Kinjal Basu, the leader of the competing UT Dallas team, puts it, “The question is: How can you make an AI friend who can have a discussion with you?”

Anyone in the U.S. can currently test out one of the competitors’ socialbots (although they won’t know which one they’re trying out) by telling the AI, “Alexa, let’s chat.”

Friday, March 26

Alay Shah plano student winner STEM talent Regeneron

“I decided to stick with it because it was something I believed in.”

Alay Shah
Plano West Senior High School
…on inventing an eye-tracking test to detect brain disorders, via Forbes. The 17-year-old senior won a $70,000 award and took seventh place in the oldest U.S. science and math competition for high school students, Regeneron Science Talent Search.

“A lot of times, you’re met with failure, but that one success can completely change everything,” says the STEM superstar who started the project in the ninth grade.
It all started with football, according to Forbes. Shah saw a player take a hit and observed the concussion check. It got him thinking about better ways to check subtle eye movement in the “chaos of a busy stadium.” And, he wondered, what if a portable eye-tracking solution could diagnose other brain conditions? 
He set out to build a “portable, inexpensive eye tracking device” to detect neurological abnormalities. Shah, a fan of project-based learning, simply “jumped in.” He set about learning the principles of AI and computer science online.
Today Shah’s tool tracks pupil movement and gaze with an infrared camera, and uses software he wrote, while learning coding along the way. “The data is then analyzed using deep learning algorithms to identify abnormal eye reflexes,” according to a talent search news release
Once the young scientist had a working device, he teamed with Lone Star Neurology for a clinical trial. In a test with 200 people, Shah developed a dataset. In patients with Parkinson’s, dementia, multiple sclerosis, and ADHD, he says he found “unique eye patterns associated with each condition.”
Persistence counts: Shah faced criticism for what eye tracking can and can’t do, according to Forbes.
What’s Shah’s advice for other young scientists? “Don’t give up, even if experts don’t think it will work,” writes Forbes.

Image: Regeneron

Thursday, March 25

“When they said we could do anything, no one said we had to do it by ourselves.”

Lindsay Wilson
…on women in the workplace in D CEO

“I might not be a fan of #girlboss, but #teamworkmakesthedreamwork is what I am all about,” writes Wilson in an op-ed in D CEO. (The #girlboss concept is thin, the senior leader at Dallas-based architecture firm Corgan notes: “It’s just boss. No one ever says “boyboss.”)

For her part, she’d rather focus on confidence and a connection to a career path—and “getting women back in the workforce in creative and innovative ways.” There’s a staggering talent loss from the women who have left the workplace and want back in. “Overcoming the resume ‘gap’ is a real issue,” she points out.

Wilson advocates finding “innovative solutions, in all their forms, to the hosts of issues facing women in the workplace today versus continuing to highlight what isn’t working — that makes sense to me.”

The topic of women in leadership is “admittedly uncomfortable,” Wilson writes: It’s complicated. But while the subject is tough to distill, there are common threads. Read her exploration in D CEO.

Wednesday, March 24

simon mak smu

“I would like Dallas to be the next Dallas.”

Simon Mak
Executive Director
SMU Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship

While some Texans may want Dallas to become the next Silicon Valley, Simon Mak thinks the comparison is unnecessary.

“When everyone says they want to be the next Silicon Valley, what they really mean is they want to be known as a tech hub that creates companies that generate thousands of jobs and billions in economic impact,” Mak told SMU.

As part of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Mak believes it’s the first area where SMU is distinctly positioned to help the city.

“[The Caruth Institute is] very integrated into helping the Dallas community historically,” Mak said. “The task force is an additional effort on top of that. It really focuses on public-private partnership, which, as an entrepreneurship center, we haven’t had much experience with, so that would be very interesting for us to learn from them.”

Tuesday, March 23

Last Word Dallas Innovates

Whitney Wolfe Herd [Photo: Bumble]

“Whitney Wolfe Herd may be the youngest commencement speaker we have ever had.”

R. Gerald Turner
…in a statement announcing the Bumble founder/CEO as the featured speaker for the university’s May 15 commencement address. Wolfe Herd, who became the youngest woman to take a company public in February with the initial offering of her dating app shares on Nasdaq, is an SMU alumna.

It’s only been ten years since Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd walked across the stage in a cap and gown at SMU.

“Our graduates will feel a kinship,” President R. Gerald Turner said in a news release. “She began experimenting with entrepreneurism while at SMU, and went on to transform a big idea into something that helps people connect in new ways.”
The 31-year-old entrepreneur founded two companies while she was pursuing her degree in international studies at SMU: one marketing fair trade clothing and another raising funds for wildlife affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Graduating in 2011, she volunteered overseas and then worked for a customer rewards app company briefly before co-founding Tinder in 2012.
Her signature company, Bumble, was born to reinvent the internet for women, according to SMU. “On the Bumble app, women must send the first message to men they are interested in within the first 24 hours of matching.” In 2018, she told SMU Magazine, “When you think about it, women are making the first move, which is empowering. We tolerate zero abusive behavior, so that kindness piece is there, too.”

The outdoor commencement ceremony, which will be live-streamed, is scheduled for May 15, 8 a.m., in Ford Stadium.

Monday, March 22


“The beauty of this initiative is the alliance of communities and the unity of working toward the common good.”

Anurag Jain
Get Shift Done
on the one-year anniversary of the nonprofit Get Shift Done, an initiative that was created in four days in response to COVID-19. The program, which was launched in March 2020 to pay a living wage to newly unemployed hospitality workers to fill the gap of volunteer shifts in hunger relief organizations, has expanded across the country.

“Two groups of people needed one another: the displaced workers and those who manage the food banks and pantries,” says Jain, who is also Chairman of AccessHealthcare

“‘How will I feed people?’ was my immediate concern,” says the tech investor and entrepreneur. Jain was serving as Board Chairman of the North Texas Food Bank at the time.

The ramp-up period was rapid, beginning with a phone call with Patrick Brandt, president and co-founder of Shiftsmart. Together with co-founder Brandt, the duo devised the plan using Shiftsmart’s technology.

“From Anurag’s phone call on Sunday afternoon to the first shift on Thursday, we were in a full sprint for four days,” says Brandt, who calls that week “unforgettable.”

Within days, other cities were contacting the new nonprofit requesting assistance. Since then, it’s been a year of milestones and firsts with 28,000 workers in 12 regions and 110 non-profit agencies on the roster. That adds up to almost one million shifts, 60 million meals served, and nearly $15 million in wages for the workers.

Get Shift Done recently ranked No. 1 in the Not-for-Profit category in Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2021. It was also named No. 28 in the publication’s World’s Top 50 Most Innovative Companies list.

Friday, March 19

Shane Long [Photo: 7T]

“There’s no reason for Dallas to be here. There’s no oceans or rivers or mountains or beaches—we built this amazing city in the middle of nowhere, and we did it for entrepreneurs.”

Shane Long
President and COO

After Shane Long was equipped with a “good paycheck,” he became an entrepreneur with two Finns who worked for Nokia, founding semiconductor company Bitboys Inc.

After successfully selling that company for $44 million and going on to be a pioneer in the smartphone industry, he realized that his passion lies with helping fellow entrepreneurs. Now as a leader at the Dallas-based software development firm, he says, “It’s the most fun thing we do at 7T.”

7T has built more than 100 mobile applications and software platforms for a big-name client list that includes SiriusXM, PepsiCo, and Bell Helicopter. You can read more about Long, 7T, and the company’s recent rebranding here.

Thursday, March 18

Elyse Stoltz Dickerson, CEO and Co-Founder of EOSERA Inc. ranked NO. 25 on the Inc. 500 Regional Texas list.

Elyse Stoltz Dickerson, CEO and Co-Founder of EOSERA Inc.

“If you have products that work, people want to buy them.”

Elyse Dickerson
CEO and Co-Founder
… via the Dallas Business Journal

Dickerson, who founded the biotech company in 2017 with partner Joe Griffin,  says once people started using its specialized ear care products, more people bought them. “Then, more retailers want them on their shelves,” she said in the DBJ.

One thing leads to another, but it all starts with finding an unmet need and filling it, according to the entrepreneur. Traction took awhile, she says, but the company, which practices conscious capitalism, has seen two-year revenue growth of 433 percent. and just ranked No. 25 on the Texas list of the Inc. 5000 Regionals.

Now the company is launching a new brand for nose care called Nose Well. The line, which includes a gravity-fed neti pot, could be available by May, the DBJ reports.

Wednesday, March 17

Mark Cuban

“You’ve got a better chance of making money when you’re doing business in Dallas and Texas generally.”

Mark Cuban
Billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks
via the Austin American-Statesman

The Lone Star State is a hotbed for entrepreneurs, according to Cuban and fellow “Texas tycoon” Kendra Scott in a SXSW panel discussion yesterday.

There’s so much less friction doing business here than Silicon Valley or other tech destinations,” Cuban said. Scott, who calls it a “breeding ground,” says entrepreneurs love to help each other here. 

Both had tips for entrepreneurs:
Cuban: “[Try to] come up with solutions that solve problems and make life easier for people.”
Scott: “Focus on building something great and be scrappy.”

Read the recap in Austin360.

Tuesday, March 16

“Get up every day with a sense of purpose and end every day with a sense of accomplishment.”

Thomas Long
Energy Transfer
…on his best advice, via D CEO.

During his years at oil and gas company Energy Transfer, Thomas Long has gone from joining the company after it acquired his former employer Regency Energy Partners to overseeing its own merger of Energy Transfer Equity and Energy Transfer Partner as CFO.

Now, he serves at the helm of the company alongside Marshall McCrea.

Although he’s been through many tough challenges, he told D CEO that 2020 taught him to “how to survive in a foxhole.”

Monday, March 15

“Don’t do STEM for STEM, do it because it will help others.”

Lisa Wong 
Director of Technology
Trinity Christian Academy
…via NBC DFW.

Lisa Wong decided to leave her corporate engineering job to foster young girls’ interest in STEM, according to NBC DFW. Now, her students at Trinity Christian Academy use their own STEM skills to help others by creating technology for students with special needs.

Wong originally realized the challenges women in STEM face while in college and participating in The Society of Women Engineers, per a spokesperson. She has mentored women who are beginning their careers in engineering or are majoring in a STEM curriculum in college for over 20 years.

Females bring such a different perspective to the table, which is so invaluable when it comes to collaboration and innovation,” Wong told NBC DFW.

Image: File photo

Friday, March 12

Drop the tool and put your client’s needs first.”

Cameron Gawley
Co-Founder and CEO
…via LinkedIn.

One size doesn’t fit all. “If you’re a tool-based agency, you can’t be a strategic-based agency,” says Gawley on LinkedIn. It can also limit an agency to “just selling the same commoditized services.”
The Buzzshift agency co-founder thinks standard go-to tools are great, but being “tool agnostic” is key to adaptability. Forcing a fit could set a client up for failure, he says. 
“Strategic based agencies are the future of growing brands, ” Gawley says.

Gawley offers more advice to small business owners and entrepreneurs in a one-on-one conversation with Bill Chinn, CEO of The DEC Network, here.

Image: File photo

Thursday, March 11

“Let’s talk to each other rather than past each other.”

Hattie Peterson
Board Member
Dallas Dinner Table
…via LinkedIn

The Dallas Dinner Table hosts an annual event in which people gather for various small dinners across DFW and offer their perspectives about the impact of race on the lives of local residents. Overall, the organization’s mission is to end racism in America one dinner at a time.

In Hattie Peterson’s statement announcing she is joining the organization’s board, she mentions that Dallas Dinner Table is hoping to go national by bringing its program into businesses and schools across the U.S.

Those interested in getting involved in Dallas Dinner Table can learn more about it here.

Image: LinkedIn/HattiePeterson

Wednesday, March 10

Lantern Pharma cancer

Panna Sharma [Image: DI composite, Photos courtesy of Lantern]

“The golden age of A.I. in medicine is beginning…”

Panna Sharma
President and CEO
Lantern Pharma
…on Lantern Pharma’s role in transforming oncology through tech

With Lantern Pharma’s fiscal year coming to an end, the clinical stage oncology biotech firm took a look back on its successes in 2020.

Among its accomplishments have been amassing over 1.2 billion datapoints on its proprietary artificial intelligence platform RADR, expanding its data sciences and research teams, and completing a $26.3 million initial public offering.

Sharma anticipates 2021 to be a transformational year for Lantern Pharma, according to a statement. The year is already starting off well for the Dallas-headquartered company with it completing a $69 million follow-on public offering in January.

Tuesday, March 9

“A challenged world is an alert world.”

International Women’s Day
… via LinkedIn

To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, Beth Garvey, the CEO and president of BGSF, took to LinkedIn to share words from the IWD website as well as her own and show her support by participating in the #ChooseToChallenge by raising her hand to show she’s in.

She writes, “We can choose to give voices to those who don’t have the same rights. We can choose to build up, promote and mentor the next generation.”


Monday, March 8

[Photo: Michael Samples]

“Dallas is a hotbed of innovation, and we are fortunate that there are so many amazing women leading companies that are willing to share their time and their experiences with us.”

Bill Chinn
The DEC Network

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Erica Molett, the owner of Expansion Solutions Consulting, Kandake Tech, and Beyond the Ball, will be The DEC Network’s featured guest of its “Her History: A Fireside Chat” event that will take place virtually on March 15.

Bill Chinn notes in a statement that she “has been recognized across the country for her innovative approach to public private partnerships and her ability to initiate innovative solutions to community challenges.”

Along with tuning into the event next Monday, feel free to check out our recent article on four Dallas-area female founders as part of your International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month celebrations.

Friday, March 5

“The biggest risk for Texas is complacency and killing the golden goose. And taking for granted how competitive we are. Short of that, you are a dynamo of economic activity.”

Peter Linneman
Linneman Associates
…on the affordability of Texas, via D CEO.

What’s the biggest issue for the retail industry right now? According to Peter Linneman, a former professor of real estate at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, it’s not COVID or the online market: “The biggest problem is the state and local taxes.”

Thankfully, the Lone Star state is known for its affordability in various important areas. Texas also leads the nation in population growth and DFW specifically reported the hottest home construction market in more than a decade, reports D CEO.

“Overall, the best thing is that we are affordable compared to the rest of the country—housing, office buildings, taxes, through and through, and that is the greatest asset you have,” Linneman said during a recent event.

As D CEO’s Bianca Montes puts it, “Even in a pandemic, Texas is a good place to be.”

Thursday, March 4

“An emerging sentiment took hold that you don’t need to be in the Bay Area to build the next unicorn or decacorn.”

Mark Sherman
General Partner
Telstra Ventures
…on how COVID has affected VCs, via the Dallas Business Journal.

According to a recent report from Telstra Ventures, Dallas-Fort Worth had the highest growth rate in the country when it came to VC investments in 2020. The ongoing pandemic may have possibly played a role in the area’s 66 percent expansion rate.

“During the past 12 months, COVID required the VC community to think, act, and work differently,” Telstra Ventures’ Mark Sherman said in a statement. 

So what type of companies have been garnering VCs’ interests lately? Health tech, security tech, education tech, and fintech are among the top gainers during the pandemic.

Photo: Drew Bird Photography

Wednesday, March 3

Chris Luna Dallas 500 D CEO
“…if you have different thoughts and different backgrounds, you have a better exchange of ideas and thoughts and discussions; you’re going to have a better result and a better work product.”

Chris Luna
Vice President of Legal Affairs
…on the benefits of diverse companies, via the Dallas Business Journal.

Chris Luna has worked with various organizations throughout his career including The Dallas Foundation and the Dallas City Council, but now as part of the T-Mobile team, he is focused on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, according to the DBJ.

“I think that’s going to be the biggest problem when we go back to the office; we’re not all going to be together, and so how do you promote and encourage inclusion and diversity when people are sitting in their home office? I think that’s going to be the big challenge,” Luna told the DBJ. 

Among the initiatives he’s worked on during his time at the telecom giant include forming an annual diversity survey for the company’s partner law firms and working with the legal department to create justice volunteer opportunities. 

On companies moving from California to the Lone Star state, he says, “It’ll be interesting to see how some other North Texas companies will want to keep up with them and want to do greater programming and greater initiatives.”

Tuesday, March 2

Eva Szalkai Csaky Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity

“With its ‘can-do’ spirit, Texas can harness the momentum of the 2021 freeze and transform the markets for energy efficiency.”

Eva Csaky
Executive Director
SMU’s Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity 
…via the Houston Chronicle.

Energy efficiency is the forgotten fuel to prepare Texas for climate extremes, Csaky says in an op-ed published last week.

“When done right, the rewards of energy-efficiency measures are significant, including reduced household utility bills, improved health and comfort, reduced energy poverty, more competitive small businesses, up to 30 decent jobs created for every million dollars invested, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved resilience in the face of climate events and price shocks,” she writes. “Texas has many of the puzzle pieces to lead the way so long as stakeholders can join forces towards a common goal that just took a very clear shape thanks to the storm of 2021.”

Csaky says the Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity works to leverage technologies and convene stakeholders to foster systemic sustainable solutions that can improve both resilience and livelihoods. 

“In our work we’ve found that there is great potential for economically viable energy-efficiency improvements in Texas,” continues Csaky, who is also a co-founder of the Inclusive Economy Consortium, Texas.

Csaky, who led a “first-of-its-kind energy efficiency and renewable energy program at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank,” says energy efficiency can be a driver of resilience and economic progress, but it takes smart policies—which includes both sticks and carrots. Those policies “need to go beyond building codes to empower stakeholders through information, training and education as well as incentivizing energy-efficiency improvements,” she writes.

Monday, March 1

Sanjiv Yajnik, president of Financial Services at Capital One, was the Corporate Innovator of the Year and a Dallas Innovates Future 50.

Capital One’s Sanjiv Yajnik

“Many companies fail because they don’t recognize the external landscape and impending changes, or they don’t realize the impact these will have on them.”

Sanjiv Yajnik
Capital One Financial Services

Yajnik, who was named Corporate Innovator of the Year in the D CEO and Dallas Innovates 2021 Innovation Awards, has helped vault Capital One’s financial services division from 51 team members in 2008 to nearly 5,000 in about a dozen years. He also drove the development of the company’s innovation center in Plano.

In order to make sure the fintech institution doesn’t become obsolete, Yajnik focuses on the S-curve, which he says is what a successful business trajectory generally looks like.

“Companies must make the jump to a new S-curve, reimaging their business into something completely new and innovative in order to survive,” he says.

For more of Yajnik’s thoughts on the S-curve, putting people first, reimaging car buying, and what’s next, go here.

[Art: Michael Samples; Headshot: Capital One]

“Many companies fail because they don’t recognize the external landscape and impending changes, or they don’t realize the impact these will have on them.”

Sanjiv Yajnik
Capital One Financial Services

Yajnik, who was named Corporate Innovator of the Year in the D CEO and Dallas Innovates 2021 Innovation Awards, has helped vault Capital One’s financial services division from 51 team members in 2008 to nearly 5,000 in about a dozen years. He also drove the development of the company’s innovation center in Plano.

In order to make sure the fintech institution doesn’t become obsolete, Yajnik focuses on the S-curve, which he says is what a successful business trajectory generally looks like.

“Companies must make the jump to a new S-curve, reimaging their business into something completely new and innovative in order to survive,” he says.

For more of Yajnik’s thoughts on the S-curve, putting people first, reimaging car buying, and what’s next, go here.

Friday, Feb. 26

Todd Dauphinais [Photo: Clavis Capital Partners]

Todd Dauphinais [Photo: Clavis Capital Partners]

“We believe the U.S. is entering into a bit of a Renaissance in manufacturing, and a lot of the manufacturing that over the last 30 or 40 years has been placed globally … the rationale behind that has really changed over the last 10 years.”

Todd Dauphinais
Managing Partner
Clavis Capital Partners
…via the Dallas Business Journal.

As an investment firm that focuses on manufacturers of industrial products, Clavis Capital Partners chooses around only two out of 700 to 1,000 potential deals a year, according to the DBJ.

“The complexity of those supply chains, being closer to your end customer, rapid prototyping and speed to market and all of these things really play into having a U.S.-based manufacturing presence. That is something that we believe strongly in,” Dauphinais told the DBJ.

Recently, the Dallas-based firm was named the fastest-growing privately held company in SMU Cox’s annual Dallas 100 ranking. It exceeded 1,000 percent growth over the last 3 years, which was well beyond the collective average growth of this year’s 100 companies.

Clavid’s five-person team is part of every deal, with Dauphinais describing its growth as “steady by design.”     

—Lauren Hawkins

Thursday, Feb. 25

ARKH founder Landon Nickerson [Video screenshot: ARKH]

“It was a bit daunting to sacrifice everything I previously had going to take the leap of faith with ARKH. But looking back now I can safely say it has been the best decision of my life so far.”

Landon Nickerson
…on joining the ARKH team, via Dallas Business Journal.

At the age of 15, Landon Nickerson began his career on YouTube with a focus on video games. He garnered around 4.1 million subscribers at the height of his channels, reports the DBJ.

Now, he leads ARKH, a Dallas-based company that received $3.7 million in funding and has a $40 million valuation.

So how did Nickerson make the career change? According to the DBJ, “a key moment came in the middle of 2019 when he was ‘hit with an insight’ that led him to understand the potential for ‘Spatial Augmentation Layer.'”

The insight aligns with ARKH’s products such as the ARKH Ring, which aims to replace virtual reality controllers through the ARKH Spatial Data / IOT Ecosystem running on connected hub devices.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Sean Suggs [Photo: Thomas Wells/Toyota]

“We take our role as community leaders seriously, so when winter storms affected millions … our top priority became helping Texas get back on its feet after this ordeal.”

Sean Suggs
Vice President of Social Innovation
Toyota Motor North America
…on Toyota pledging $1M to relief programs, via the Dallas Morning News.

With every part of Texas being affected by damaging winter storms last week, organizations of all kinds stepped up to help out. Among those providing the largest donations are Toyota Motor North America, Vistra, Bank of America, and Target.

It’s a personal issue for companies like Toyota and Vistra that call Dallas-Fort Worth home. The two orgs have donated a total of $6 million combined to support Texas communities. 

The Dallas Morning News has created a complete roundup of companies doing good in major ways here.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

Dennis Cail Zirtue
“We see purpose and profit as a virtuous circle to do what is right to help, not hurt an already painful situation.”

Dennis Cail
CEO and Co-founder

With a mission to drive financial inclusion, one relationship at a time, Cail is doubling down on Zirtue’s focus on purpose, partnerships, and profit. “In that order,” he says.

For Cail, the big challenges of 2020—COVID-19 and racial injustice—were the collision of “two perfect storms,” prompting his team to look for ways to be “part of the solution.”

Zirtue created a COVID-19 Relief Program during the pandemic, waiving its monthly subscription fee so users got no-cost access to borrowed funds from friends and family.

Now, Cail says his team has laid the groundwork for 2021 to be a pivotal year: “We spent 2020 preparing for it by setting the foundation required to build something meaningful and impactful,” he says.

Monday, Feb. 22

“Retailers and restaurateurs are extremely entrepreneurial, and reinvention is the cornerstone of the industry.”

Steve Lieberman
The Retail Connection
…on change being a constant in retail, via D CEO.

As the CEO of retail real estate services provider The Retail Connection, it may not come as a surprise that Steve Lieberman believes retail stores will remain central to the shopping experience even with the growth of digital shopping.

But as Lieberman writes, “Whether retail is red hot or in a blue state, retailers bring us together, meet the challenges of change, and unite parties for the optimal shopping experiences.”

The ongoing pandemic has accelerated some retail trends such as online shopping. Even so, 80 percent of all retail sales are still in stores, according to Lieberman.

Friday, Feb. 19


Illustration: AAA-pictures via iStock

“The United States will adopt bitcoin as a reserve asset.

Alex Treece
…in an opinion piece on Coindesk.com.

“Why? Because it’s unequivocally in U.S. strategic interests to do so,” writes Treece on blockchain media platform Coindesk.

The question is not if this will happen, but when,”  he continues in the opinion piece. “Whether it happens within 12 months, two years, five years, or 10 years will have major implications for U.S. positioning for decades. Failure to embrace bitcoin sooner rather than later will damage U.S. strategic interests and benefit rivals adopting it first.”

Treece, whose Dallas-based startup Zabo raised $2.5 million to bring crypto to mainstream financial services last year, thinks “we can already see the logic for this transition to occur by looking at how countries are managing their reserve assets today.”

Read more on Coindesk.

PLUS: Have a case of cryptoconfusion? Zabo has a game — Papercrypto — that lets people construct a virtual portfolio to help new and existing users get engaged and educated.

Thursday, Feb. 18

Elaine Agather [Image: JPMorgan Chase]

“The silver lining of the lockdown is we’re better prepared for events like this.”

Elaine Agather 
Region Chair
JPMorgan Chase
via the Dallas Business Journal

We learned to pivot quickly and embrace te technology last year, Agather said in the DBJ. “Our advisors now have a lot of experience meeting with their clients on Zoom and addressing their needs.”

Agather and other DFW banking leaders said the flexibility learned from the pandemic have helped weather the recent storms.

Wednesday, Feb. 17

Gig Wage Founder and CEO Craig Lewis [Photo: Jae Oates]

“Diversity is an innovation multiplier and a revenue driver.”

Craig J. Lewis
Founder and CEO
Gig Wage
via LinkedIn

After raising a $7.5 million Series A round in October, Gig Wage, the Dallas-based fintech that aims to simplify payroll for the gig economy, announced an additional $2.5 million raise in January to continue boosting its fintech platform that’s built for the “future of work.”

The latest round brings the Dallas-based fintech’s total Series A funding to approximately $10 million, the startup told us at the time. Founder and CEO Craig Lewis plans to quadruple his team by the end of 2021.

The gig economy pays around 65 to 75 million people as independent contractors, amounting to an estimated $2 trillion in transactions. But, Lewis says, the payroll structure is designed for traditional work situations—which leaves1099 workers to lose 2-20 percent of their income. 

That’s why Gig Wage’s solution benefits both sides of a transaction: It lets employers instantly pay 1099 workers with control, flexibility, and scale–and at the same time, gives independent contractors an efficient way to receive payments.

Tuesday, Feb. 16

Mike Daugherty FUSE Workspace Prosper Austin Houston

“This macro trend in how people work puts cowork operators in the sweet spot of the overall workplace industry.”

Mike Daugherty
Founder and CEO
FUSE Workspace
… on the “dramatic acceleration” of a distributed workforce for enterprise users in the pandemic.

“When we first got into the business, we did not realize we would be working with larger enterprise users to the extent that we see now,” says Daugherty.

The founder was inspired to launch the coworking brand after briefly running his hospitality company from home. In a move that diversified his business, DPG Partners—which develops, owns, and operates hotels in Texas—he launched FUSE, according to Coworking Insights.

Today, “the market has matured, which we believe benefits us all long term,” he says. Just two years ago, “we spent a lot more time explaining flex workspace and coworking we do today.”

Daugherty originally founded FUSE Workspace in 2018 to create an efficient space for doing business while benefiting the local community in Prosper. The brand motto—“Do More”—is its mission.

FUSE aims to help people do more in their vocation, their community, and the world, according to the publication. “We partnered with a local group called Grace Bridge,” to make that a reality, he says.

FUSE has three flex office locations in Texas that also include Austin and  Houston.

Friday, Feb. 12

Bhavani ThuraisinghamInnovation is at the heart of civilization, and it means everything to me.

Bhavani Thuraisingham
Founding Executive Director
Cyber Security Research and Education Institute
University of Texas at Dallas

…via D CEO.

When it comes to innovation, Thuraisingham is most excited about the integration of quantum computing, cybersecurity, and AI and data science. To her, “that is the future.”

And she’s rightfully qualified to speak on the subject. Thuraisingham is lauded as one of the leading experts in data security and data mining. She has a 40-year career in tech, spending more than two decades in the commercial industry before joining UT Dallas. That includes stints at some big names: Honeywell, Control Data Corporation, MITRE Corporation, and the National Science Foundation.

After that, she held roles in federally funded research and development and the government before joining academia full time in 2004. Today, at UTD, she also is a professor of Computer Science and Louis A. Beecherl Jr. distinguished professor.

But her true mission? Advocating for and educating women in cybersecurity and data science.

Last month, Thuraisingham was a finalist for the Innovation in Cybersecurity award from D CEO and Dallas Innovates’ The Innovation Awards 2021 for her dedication to building a culture of innovation in North Texas.

Thursday, Feb. 11

“New York gave us the confidence to be authentically Western.”

Lizzie Means Duplantis
Miron Crosby
…on creating a boot brand, via D CEO.

While Duplantis (left) and her sister Sarah Means were in New York, they were surprised “by the positive feedback they received when they wore their traditional cowboy boots out on the town,” per D CEO. 

You can read more about how growing up in West Texas and being inspired by the city motivated the sisters to create their own boot brand called Miron Crosby, along with three other Dallas entrepreneurs’ stories, here.

Wednesday, Feb. 10

[Photo: Courtesy Match]

“Music plays a powerful role in two people’s love story.”

Hesam Hosseini
…on the company’s just-released playlist of 50 Texas love songs on Spotify.

With live music on hold, Dallas-based online dating company Match has released a playlist just in time for Valentine’s Day that includes songs by Texas artists Leon Bridges, Barbara Lynn, Gary Clark Jr., Lizzo, Demi Lovato, Blaze Foley, Black Pumas, The Chicks, and more. 
Why? For the love of music, Match says. And Texas has been the Match home for more than 20 years,  CEO Hosseini says. “We know the role that Texas music venues and artists plays for our members.” 
Along with the Spotify-exclusive playlist, Match announced a $25,000 donation to the National Independent Venue Association, or NIVA, which curated the playlist that ranges from country, hip-hop, blues to punk rock. The dating company will “match” additional donations to NIVA’s emergency relief fund, hoping to hit a total goal of $75,000. 
The donation to NIVA, the organization behind the Save Our Stages Act, “will help save our Texas stages so that music can continue to be the soundtrack for the many more love stories ahead,” Hosseini says in a news release.

Tuesday, Feb. 9

MediBookr Founder and CEO Sunny Nadolsky [Image: Courtesy MediBookr]

“Traditionally, the concept of customer lifetime value hasn’t existed in healthcare.”

Sunny Nadolsky
Founder and CEO

…”We aim to change that,” the CEO says.

Nadolsky sees a healthcare experience of the future that rivals the efforts taken in the retail sector. Healthcare plans and healthcare services have long overlooked improving the end user’s experience, losing opportunities to earn customer loyalty, she says.

Her Dallas-based digital platform MediBookr, which streamlines communication between patients and healthcare providers, is raising the bar for user experience and customer satisfaction, says the founder who started the company in 2015. 

By focusing on that UX, the ultimate end result can be lower operating costs and increased revenue. “There’s a value to improving the end user’s (patient, member, employee) experience,” according to the founder.

Monday, Feb. 8

Hubert Zajicek healthcare startup accelerator health wildcatters

Hubert Zajicek is the CEO and Co-Founder of Health Wildcatters.

“In healthcare, there is no goal too bold to be excited about.”

Hubert Zajicek
CEO and Co-founder
Health Wildcatters

Early in the pandemic, Hubert Zajicek moved fast to build an innovation response team to support medical professionals called the Health Hacking Crisis Network (HHCN).

That helped fill a vital need in the pandemic: PPE.

The network’s innovators created cloth masks, face shields, and even snorkel masks to be converted into personal protective equipment. Some 30,000 cloth masks have been delivered so far.

Zajicek was recently honored as the Innovation Advocate of the Year in the D CEO and Dallas Innovates 2021 Innovation Awards. He’s also credited with raising life science research awareness and impacting innovation in the sector, garnering an award from BioNorth Texas last fall.

Read about his take on innovation and what’s next, including a partnership with United Way’s Healthcare Innovation Challenge that has a $1 million prize, here.

Friday, Feb. 5

“Innovation means creating unique systems in order to open up new possibilities in an industry—changing it for the better.”

Mandy Price
CEO and Co-founder
…via D CEO.

Kanarys, a Dallas-based technology startup that aims to foster collaboration between companies and employees on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), has been an innovative company from the start as the first Black- and female-founded DEI-focused tech company, receiving fast notoriety in its first few years by growing 2,000 percent in users since its initial launch.

Price and fellow co-founder Star Carter are among a select group of 25 Black female founders who have raised at least $4.6 million in venture capital, after raising a $3 million seed funding round.

Last month, the startup won the Innovation in Talent and Diversity award from D CEO and Dallas Innovates’ The Innovation Awards 2021 due to it cultivating talent in North Texas.

Price was also featured in Dallas Innovates’ Future 50. Read more about her goal to change the “face of DEI, so that we can all work where we belong” here.

Thursday, Feb. 4

[Image: Jim Smelley/LinkedIn]

“Honestly, Texas! First, you become No. 1 in wind energy. This year, you will have the largest solar installation. … What’s going on down there?

Jim Smelley
Cyber Group
via Linked In

“Now,” Smelley writes, offshore rigs are being converted into rocket platforms in the state.

What’s going on? That would be “innovation, transition, progress …,” replies MCC Partner Pam Watkins.

“We just want all pro-business people to chase their dreams with us in Texas,” comments Cyber Group President Saurajit Kanungo. “Are you ready?”

Kanungo recently announced the launch of Dallas-based Cyber Group’s new innovation lab, along with the hire of the company’s first CINO, Rob Palacios. 

Wednesday, Feb. 3

Rock Robinson, co-founder of eCarra EV rideshare

Rock Robinson, co-founder of eCarra

“We’re built on resilience. From the beginning, we knew [building eCarra] would be the most important project of our lives.”

Rock Robinson
…on looking forward to challenges.

eCarra is a Dallas startup offering luxury “rides that matter” in their fleet of Teslas—with a tree planted for each ride given. To date, eCarra has planted more than 6,500 trees, preventing 40,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions.

While the pandemic has been tough on the rideshare sector, eCarra landed its biggest corporate client to date last year: Amazon Web Services Premium.

The startup has also faced its own tremendous setbacks and hardships. But according to him, they look forward to challenges because they’re the reasons for innovation. 

“What’s next for eCarra is scale,” he says. “We have been working silently in the background to make our company better.”

In the near future, he hopes that eCarra will help electrify other fleets across the country, making a more sustainable ridesharing concept available in many more markets. 

Tuesday, Feb. 2

Chris Dowdy Paul Quinn College

Chris Dowdy [Image: Paul Quinn College]

“We even offered land for like $0 rent, you know, for people to come build … and that wasn’t happening.”

Chris Dowdy
Vice President of Academic Affairs
Paul Quinn College
… on efforts to find a grocery store to open a location in Southern Dallas ten years ago, via KERA

When efforts to attract a grocery store to Southern Dallas fell short, Dallas’ Paul Quinn College came up with a new plan: It transformed its football field into the “We Over Me Farm.” Located in a federally-recognized food desert, the college’s garden has grown more than 30,000 pounds of healthy, affordable food for the community since 2010.

In the pandemic, the farm at the historically Black college has had to shift gears again, KERA writes. They’re focusing on expanded partnerships with food pantries and increased donations to the North Texas Food Bank, among other things.

“It’s such a clear indication of what’s possible when we think about our resources without unnecessary constraints,” Dowdy said in the publication. “It’s never just a field, it’s never just a building, it’s never just a school. Especially in this neighborhood, there’s always a way I thinking of it from a new or different perspective, one that’s more appreciative of what can be grown and what can come out of these spaces.”

Paul Quinn College We Over Me Farm Southern Dallas Food Desert

[Image: Paul Quinn College]

Monday, Feb. 1

“I had already invested so much in this. I had to figure out how to keep things going.”

Martha Palacios
Fitness entrepreneur
…on pivoting to a virtual launch for her Dallas-based business, via the Washington Post.

“Welcome to a pandemic-fueled rise in female entrepreneurship,” writes Ilene Zimmerman in the Washington Post. While the pandemic has been an economic disaster for women, some took advantage of it—out of necessity, timing, or both.

Palacios, a 36-year-old Zumba fitness instructor, had planned to open a new fitness studio called Social Joy in late 2020. Early in the pandemic, she “began to panic as gyms canceled in-person classes because of COVID-19,” according to the publication.

The entrepreneur decided to launch Social Joy immediately as a “very different” business than she had first imagined: A virtual fitness membership.

In March—with about $15,000 invested in equipment, software, and more—she advertised her first class on Instagram, according to the Washington Post. There were over 100 people in her first live stream. “Once class was over, I cried,” she said.

Now, business is growing month to month and Palacios says she plans to continue the virtual component as another revenue stream—even after she can open a brick-and-mortar studio, per the publication.

Dancing is “exercise in disguise” and helps humans connect virtually or in real life, she says on her website. The entrepreneur, who calls herself a “Joy-Driven Fitness Professional,” says “today’s joy is essential to getting us moving.”

Friday, Jan. 29

Tye Caldwell ShearShare

Tye Caldwell, co-founder of ShearShare

“When you step out into this world, even if you’re not ready for it, it’s going to be ready for you.”

Tyrone “Tye” Caldwell
Co-Founder and CEO
…via Inc.

To build a business, you first have to build a relationship, says Caldwell. It’s why the founder goes to the bank and drops off his rent check in person (and maybe you should too), according to Inc.

“There’s something about looking someone in the eyes and realizing the authenticity of who they are … whatever you’re trying to do, it’s going to be through relationships,” he says. That in-person outlook has served the entrepreneur well as he builds and expands two businesses: Plano-based Salon 74 by Tye and salon tech platform ShearShare.

Thursday, Jan. 28

“Part of TheLab is the making, but the other side is community.”

Tommy Falgout
Vice President
… on the nonprofit makerspace’s culture of collaboration, via Plano magazine

TheLab.ms, dubbed “everyone’s makerspace,” has moved to Richardson’s Innovation Quarter. It’s now open to members and offers access to 3D printers, laser cutters, pottery, and other specialized tech equipment. Calling it “a gym for tinkerers and makers,” organizers say the volunteer-run space is hosting a “not-so-grand opening for folks to check it out on Feb. 2, per Plano magazine.

Wednesday, Jan. 27

“Underestimate me, that will be fun.”

Allison Silveus
Co-Founder and CEO
… on words of wisdom, via 10 Inspiring Female Founders in Dallas-Fort Worth

Those are words to live by for Silveus, whose mother gave her a shirt emblazoned with the quote. As she puts it, “I really do enjoy proving people’s assumptions about me to be wrong.”

The multi-talented entrepreneur—a designer, educator, geneticist, and researcher—co-founded Unbent, an augmented screening tool startup. Born out of a collaboration with the TechFW startup accelerator and incubator, the company assesses cognitive brain processing using virtual gaming tools. 

As a founder, Silveus says “everyone is going to encounter some kind of obstacle no matter what you look like, what background you come from, or how many people you know. Knowing that, own up to the fact there will be great days, hard days, and average days when starting up a company.” 

While there will be a lot of those average days, she advises maintaining persistence. And, she says, “when life gives you lots of lemons, keep moving forward while being humble. Also, use those lemons to make some really sweet lemonade!”

Tuesday, Jan. 26

“Never in our careers have we been able to unravel the workforce from the workplace. It’s not the physical office that we miss; it’s the people.”

Ran Holman
Executive Vice President
Market Leader
…on the desire to return to work, via D CEO.

With the ongoing pandemic causing many people to work from home for months on end, it may come as a surprise that corporate relocation activity has already begun to pick up, according to D CEO’s Christine Perez.

On top of that, Holman believes that the office market’s restabilization will have momentum by the middle of 2021, with the desire to return to the workplace possibly having more to it than people just wanting to get out of the house.

As Holman told D CEO, “Most of us are in offices because we need to collaborate and be a part of something. The longer people stay remote, the more risk there is of losing cultural adhesion. There may be some changes in the way we use space, but the office market isn’t going away. ” 

Monday, Jan. 25

“They’re actually, paradoxically, a good sign.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci
…on vaccine side effects via The Dallas Morning News

Some side effects can indicate the vaccine is working because it means the body is developing a response to the virus, according to Fauci, who spoke on a virtual panel with Bishop T.D. Jakes about COVID-19 vaccines today.

“People hear RNA and they think, ‘Is this going to do anything to my genes?’ ” Fauci said. “Not a chance.”

A panel of health officials joined Jakes to help “quell distrust about COVID-19 vaccines, especially within the Black community.  Conversations With America: Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine broadcast live on YouTube.

Friday, Jan. 22

“We tried to build a company based on humility. I am the guy in the t-shirt. I am the young guy in the room.”

Kyle Waldrep
Founder and CEO
…on Dottid winning the Innovation in Real Estate award, via the Innovation Awards 2021.

Last night, D CEO and Dallas Innovates announced the 13 winners of the 2021 Innovation Awards. Among the winners were Kanarys for Innovation in Talent and Diversity, Match Group for Innovation in Technology, and Sanjiv Yajnik for Corporate Innovator of the Year. 

Although only 13 (virtually) walked away with an award, all 51 finalists are shaping the future of DFW. Go here for a full list of the winners of the Innovation Awards.

Thursday, Jan. 21

Dallas is a can-do city, and that will show up as the economy takes off this summer.”

Bill Cawley
Chairman and CEO
Cawley Partners
…on his optimism for 2021, via D CEO.

With COVID-19 vaccines currently being rolled out, real estate investor and developer Bill Cawley is optimistic about the real estate industry in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“It’s my belief that the DFW market will be in recovery by mid-summer and very active by later this year,” Cawley told D CEO. “Corporations are going to move to Dallas in greater numbers than we have ever seen.”

Among Cawley’s predictions for the future of the Dallas real estate market are that large relocations will be active by summer, the market will exceed 2019 activity levels, and the city will be fully recovered by the first quarter of 2022.

Wednesday, Jan. 20

“It wouldn’t be surprising to me … if we did five to seven deals this year in total.”

Prem Luthra
Elm Street Technology
…on his 2021 outlook, via the Dallas Business Journal.

Although the year has only just begun, Frisco-based Elm Street Technology has already made two acquisitions. And more could be on the way. 

“We’ll be very acquisitive this year,” Luthra told the DBJ.

Elm Street’s real estate platform provides services such as customer relationship management and marketing. The company was created in 2016 and has garnered almost 150 employees. Elm Street has endured through the challenges brought on by the ongoing pandemic and Luthra remains optimistic for 2021.

“People are buying a lot more properties,” Luthra said. “I’m feeling really good. … I’m bullish.”

Tuesday, Jan. 19

Trey Bowles

Trey Bowles [Photo: Merissa De Falcis/Dallas Innovates]

“As the growth and health of our startup ecosystem continues to flourish, we are finally at (an) inflection point for companies.”

Trey Bowles
The DEC Network
…via the Dallas Business Journal.

Despite 2020 being a difficult year economically for many businesses, the Dallas area experienced its best year in venture-related investing in almost two decades, per the PwC/CB Insights Q4 2020 MoneyTree Report. The area reached over $1.1 billion in 2020, while it was only at $579 million a year ago.

“The consistency of our economy and the richness of talent has created a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation that will only continue to grow and materialize,” Bowles told the DBJ.

Financial technology, healthcare, and cybersecurity were among the industries that experienced growth in 2020.

Friday, Jan. 15

“By working together, we as a business community have the opportunity to serve as a catalyst for change.”

Sanjiv Yajnik 
President, Financial Services
Capital One
…on Capital One’s community programs.

As a champion of innovation, social justice, and socioeconomic mobility, Yajnik is a standout in the region for his work to create a more vibrant and equitable Dallas. 

Capital One announced a $200M Impact Initiative last year to support growth in underserved communities and close gaps in equity and opportunity. Locally, it came to life through a series of grants and partnerships.

Recently, Yajnik was named to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The group is expected to work to attract, retain, and support startups in the area.

Yajnik is one of our Future 50 Dallas-Fort Worth innovators and disruptors you need to know in 2021. You can find the full list of standouts here.

Thursday, Jan. 14

“Giant steps often begin by first taking small steps, so we encourage everyone to … find inspiration for the future through learning about the past.”

Linda Silver
Eugene McDermott CEO
Perot Museum
…on the Staircase Project featuring Black STEM leaders.

After announcing the Staircase Project last fall, the Perot Museum and the African American Museum Dallas have named local architect and artist Daniel M. Gunn the winner of the competition. The project was created to celebrate African American STEM leaders through art.

“When I’m not busy designing buildings by day, I’m honing my skills with the paintbrush on canvas by night,” Gunn said in a statement.

Among the leaders depicted in his design are Dr. Charles Drew, the father of the blood bank; Shirley Ann Jackson, the first African American woman to earn an MIT doctorate; and Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman who went to space. You can see Gunn’s creation in person at the Perot Museum and learn more about the featured STEM leaders here.

Wednesday, Jan. 13

“I would rather be trying to find solutions for small businesses than sitting on the sidelines trying to figure out when the right time to jump in is.”

Eric Donnelly
Capital Plus Financial Partners
…on helping small businesses receive PPP loans, via the Dallas Business Journal.

When the Paycheck Protection Program first began last year, certified community development financial institution Capital Plus Financial Partners wasn’t ready to handle PPP lending and instead directed applicants to The First State Bank, reports the DBJ.

With the PPP reopen as of Jan. 11, this time, Capital Plus is ready to handle the program through a partnership with BlueAcorn. The online platform is able to provide businesses with quick applications that Capital Plus will then process and underwrite. 

“It’s certainly scary to jump out into an area that we don’t have a lot of experience, but I sort of feel like everybody is in an unknown,” Donnelly told the DBJ.

Tuesday, Jan. 12

Harvest Returns COO crowdfunding Ag Fintech platform
“The critical answer to ‘are there quality ag deals out there’ is a resounding yes.

Austin Maness
Chief Operating Officer
Harvest Returns

The COO of Fort Worth-based fintech marketplace Harvest Returns says it has shown the agricultural community that there are like-minded investors around the world who will embrace online equity crowdfunding as an avenue to much-needed capital.

The Fort Worth-headquartered startup has hit a new milestone—$10 million in global private placement agricultural offerings, it announced today in a release.

Since the company’s launch in 2016, Harvest Returns has funded more than 20 farms and ranches through its agriculture investment platform, according to the company. Amidst the backdrop of COVID-19, its investors had “an opportunity to build a more resilient food system.”

Achieving that objective during the pandemic has answered “numerous questions for us at Harvest Returns,” said Maness. “The obvious takeaway is that investors seeking quality, private equity offerings in the agriculture space do exist and are ready to passively participate.”

Harvest Returns, which has a community of some 6,000 investors and 900 farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses, has distributed more than $1.8M in returns to platform investors, the company reports. The company was started by two military veterans, Chris Rawley and Austin Maness, as one of the nation’s first crowdfunding websites for agricultural investments.

Monday, Jan. 11

“We’re excited to bring our customer‑obsessed mindset and technology experience to GameStop and its strategic assets.”

Ryan Cohen
Gamestop activist investor

Cohen, an entrepreneur who co-founded e-commerce company Chewy in 2011 at the age of 25, sees a transformational gameplan for GameStop. The investor, along with Chewy cohorts Alan Attal and Jim Grube, is taking a board seat at GameStop.
The appointment of the three directors—all with significant e-commerce and tech experience—”confirms the board’s commitment to supporting the company’s pursuit of growth and market leadership,” the company said in a news release.
GameStop shares jumped some 17 percent today and “rocketed up 210 percent last year on hopes that it would benefit from the release of new video-game consoles,” reports the DMN.
According to the publication, Cohen’s RC Ventures, which has a 13 percent stake in the company as its second-largest shareholder, “has been pressing the Grapevine-based chain to undertake a strategic review to cut more costs.”

Image: Gamestop

Friday, Jan. 8

“If you look at the DFW area right now, the tech industry is just exploding—a tremendous amount of talent, a tremendous amount of businesses.”

James Henderson
…via the Dallas Business Journal.

After incorporating early last year, SaaS startup mindzie recently raised $2.3 million in funding. Henderson, who was previously president and COO at Avigilon, told the DBJ that mindzie has exceeded expectations. 

“We launched mindzie with one goal in mind, process optimization simplified,” Henderson said in a statement. “Take the very manual concept of business process improvement and substitute it with a data-driven technology solution that provides actionable insights to save businesses time and money.”

Henderson told the DBJ that the efficiency gains by using mindzie’s services are around 20-30 percent for companies.

Thursday, Jan. 7

Bobby Lyle quote
Never underestimate your ability to achieve whatever you can dream.”

Bobby B. Lyle
Founder, Chairman, and CEO
Lyco Holdings
…on his best advice, via D CEO.

Before Lyle became one of the most influential leaders in North Texas, he originally started his career at General Dynamics in Fort Worth as a structural test engineer. While there, he recognized something he desired moving forward. 

“I learned that I did not want to work for a large company where I did not have the opportunity for significant ownership,” Lyle told D CEO.

He went on to help launch a number of private companies and joint ventures and found Lyco Energy Corp. Lyle also developed a major presence at his alma mater Southern Methodist University, where he is the name behind its engineering program and a member of the school’s board of trustees.

Want more? Go here for Every Last Word 2020: The Archive.

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