ICYMI: Dallas is 5G Hotspot, DFW has Jobs for Hackers, Texas as a Major Biotech Hub, and Voltea’s Water Tech Goes Smart for CES

From tech bytes (Azpen Innovation, FindMe, Project Verte, Freebird Rides) to launches and expansions (Marley Spoon, Service Fusion, Deliveright) to this week's top 10 (‘Citi’ of Irving), here's your briefing on ideas and innovation in North Texas.

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Dallas Innovates’ weekly mix of business, culture, and technology in Dallas-Fort Worth.  

Data and connectivity undergird the tech world, and according to local technology experts we are about to experience a major upgrade for the end-user experience as 5G begins rolling out.

Last week’s ICYMI mentioned AT&T will make Klyde Warren Park part of its initial nationwide rollout of the high-speed communications tech, and Dallas’ AT&T and Verizon have both announced they will carry the upcoming 5G Samsung smartphone.

For service, the Dallas hotspot near downtown is part of 12 cities getting 5G this year with AT&T adding seven more markets in the first half of next year. T Mobile will roll out service in Dallas next year as one of only four cities to get its 5G, Verizon has already launched its service in Houston and three other markets but only for home broadband with phone service coming next year, and Sprint is rolling out in nine unnamed cities next year.

Why is 5G news making the rounds? The tech is considered a major upgrade over 4G—think 100 times faster, less latency, and lower per bit cost meaning lower wireless data bills. A Dallas Business Journal report on 5G cited wireless industry group the CTIA likening the speed increase to comparing a six-minute movie download on 4G taking just 15 seconds on 5G, five times more responsiveness to network requests, and the ability to connect to 100 times more devices.

“It is unprecedented mobile performance in terms of speed, reliability, (and) capacity,” Abhi Ingle, senior vice president, Digital, Distribution and Channel Marketing, AT&T Services, told the DBJ.

Even though the tech has implications for consumers and business, the full 5G rollout is going to take some time. Axios published a nice roundup of what is already known about 5G including news on the major telecom carriers and hardware predictions such as people shouldn’t expect a 5G compatible iPhone in 2019 given Apple’s propensity to let the technology mature a bit before wading in.

For now, 5G may take some time to crisscross the nation, but thanks to AT&T, Dallas is on the forefront on the latest tech revolution.

“The Internet and computers transformed everything,” Jeff Kagan, a wireless analyst, told the DBJ. “That’s what 5G wireless is going to do again.”

Future visions

Is Texas poised to become a major biotech hub?

A TribTalk report by Glenn Hegar, comptroller of Texas, makes a compelling case why Texas is ready to make smart state investment in biomedical research to better compete with Boston and San Francisco as a player in the biotechnology industry.

A piece of Hegar’s vision is UT Southwestern Medical Center as a leading-edge medical research outpost, such as pharm giant Pfizer-funded research by Nobel-prize winning immunologist Dr. Bruce Beutler on a search for the genes underlying cancer and metabolic diseases.

The return on state investment in biotech can be considerable. Taking grant money to UT Southwestern from out-of-state sources into account, Texas has seen a 9-to-1 return on every one of those investment dollars, Hegar wrote.

“Texas has a long history of embracing new industries, from the invention of the integrated circuit to the sprawling wind farms in West Texas,” wrote Hegar. “Biotechnology offers a new frontier for improving the health of our people and taking the state’s economy in an exciting new direction. Texas should embrace this opportunity and increase its support of biomedical research to make our state biotech’s ‘third coast.’”

Tech bytes

How about hacking?

A Popular Mechanics feature highlighted North Texas as an “unexpected haven” with a sustainable ecosystem for hackers. The report pointed out the DFW area has the most available cybersecurity jobs in the U.S., and area community colleges and universities are creating cybersecurity institutions. The entire piece is a fun dive into the Dallas Hackers Association and some of its personalities. 

Voltea brings water treatment to the smart home

Dallas-based Voltea is partnering with Green Builder Media for The Align Project, a groundbreaking, sustainable home that features forward-thinking products and technologies. The demonstration home—created by Green Builder Media and prefab home builder Kasita—will use the company’s residential water treatment solution, according to a release.

Featured at two of the biggest technology- and building-focused trade shows in the U.S.—the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), organized by the Consumer Technology Association, and the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show (IBS)—the one-year project is designed to help people understand how we can align our lifestyles with our values and environmental realities.

At CES (January 8-11, 2019, Las Vegas) and IBS (February 19-21, 2019, Las Vegas), Voltea will serve CapDI-treated water side-by-side with Las Vegas city water to demonstrate the difference in quality. Voltea’s water systems can integrate into any smart home for high-quality water with a low environmental impact, the company notes. 

Voltea’s water treatment solution is different from any other technology on the market, says CEO Bryan Brister in a statement. The company aims to deliver high-quality water without putting a strain on the environment. Its patented “CapDI” technology is a salt- and chemical-free two-step process that removes dissolved salts from water using electricity with less environmental cost than any other available technology, the company said in a release.

And it’s been a good year for the company: Voltea was recently named Breakthrough Water Technology Company of the Year at the 2018 Global Water Summit in Paris. In September, the company moved into a larger U.S. headquarters location in Farmers Branch due to rapid growth sparked by two new water purification products and a 300 percent increase in global orders, per Voltea. 

Azpen Innovation rolls out wireless charging device

A new product from Plano’s Azpen Innovation, a developer of wireless chargers for Qi-enabled devices, is also making an appearance at the upcoming CES event. The DockAll Assist model G600 includes built-in Google Assistant and Bluetooth speakers, a microphone, and a MicroSD card slot. 

The new G600 combines Google Assistant and Qi Wireless Charging into one device which provides a unique all-in-one, space-saving solution for customers, the company noted in a release. “We worked closely with Google to develop a product that builds upon Google Assistant’s smart speaker ecosystem and are very excited to be a part of their growing brand,” Jim Hu, CEO of Azpen Innovation said. 

FindMine brings machine learning to retail product curation

RevTech portfolio company FindMine was featured in the National Retail Federation’s Stores magazine. The startup was founded by Michelle Bacharach as a system using machine learning and deep data mining to help complete a fashion look by automatically choosing products from retailers’ inventory to make recommendations for anything from an outfit to a room’s décor to creating a skin care plan.

The algorithm parses ecommerce and mobile websites and other channels such as Facebook Messenger, emails, and stores to create more than 11 million outfits daily, essentially acting as a personal shopper at scale. Brands using FindMine include Perry Ellis, John Vavartos, and Laundry by Shelli Segal.

“We’re using technology to help scale out the content creation that a retailer would otherwise have to do by hand,” Bacharach told Stores. “Over time, the technology ‘learns’ when it’s right and when it’s wrong, and the constant feedback reinforces our algorithms making them better and smarter.”

Everthread honored and RevTech is moving

In other RevTech news, portfolio company Everthread, a Dallas-based company, was honored with Best Customer Experience Solution at the ReMode Fashion Awards held in New York late last month. And RevTech itself is moving its headquarters to what it described as “its roots” in the Dallas West End.

Project Verte expanding into Dallas

Atlanta-based Project Verte describes itself as the first social e-commerce platform built on the blockchain, and along with an announcement of a $50 million investment round and a series of community-powered technologies throughout next year, it also announced plans to expand into Dallas and other unnamed major U.S. cities. The company has an international development team of 300.

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App enables restaurants to offer Uber rewards

Uber-affiliated Freebird Rides, a Venice, Calif., based app is being used by restaurants including TGI Fridays, World of Beer, and Buffalo Wild Wings in several cities including Dallas to give patrons cash-back rewards for using Uber to travel to their locations. Restaurants choose the reward and users don’t have to leave the Freebird app to connect with Uber.

TGI Fridays is piloting the app in a few Dallas locations.

Ansira brings Adobe tech to quick-serve restaurants

Ansira Partners, which recently acquired Dallas digital marketing shop Defakto, announced a business-level partnership in the Adobe Solution Partner Program to serve its quick-serve restaurant clients by leveraging the Adobe Experience Cloud.

“Modernizing technology to provide optimal, personalized customer experiences remains a big challenge for companies in the QSR industry,” said Tony Sanders, senior director of Americas Partner Sales, Adobe, in a statement. “Ansira has a strong understanding of the QSR industry, and we look forward to working with the team to drive more success for our customers in this vertical.”

Launches and expansions

Al Biernat’s goes vegan

The expansion in this Dallas Observer item about Al Biernat’s might be the most unexpected of all — the longtime Dallas steakhouse mainstay has added a four-item vegan menu to its beef-heavy offerings. According to the Observer Al himself is a fan of “organic, healthy, natural, good for you” food.

The menu additions were driven by feedback from customers asking for vegetarian options and a nod toward millennials as a health-conscious generation.

Maybe that’s not so surprising since Dallas was named a top vegan-friendly city in America in 2017. 

Pei Wei goes gluten-free

Dallas-headquartered Pei Wei Asian Kitchen announced The Wei Forward, a clean-label initiative and an expansion of its gluten-free menu items and a partnership with AllergyEats, a location guide for allergy-friendly U.S. restaurants.

“We promised to expand our gluten-free menu when we launched the Wei Forward Initiative,” said Pei Wei CEO J. Hedrick, in a statement. “The Wei Forward is the philosophy that will drive our brand into the future. This is one of many changes that we have planned in order to make the Pei Wei experience exceptional for our guests.”

Marley Spoon expands into Dallas

Martha Stewart’s meal delivery service, Marley Spoon has signed a lease for a 128,000 square foot manufacturing center in Dallas for national fulfillment. The facility is expected to begin operations next March.

The new site will increase Marley’s operational footprint in the Dallas region threefold with the ability to grow even further within the site over the coming years, per Marley’s CEO Fabian Siegel. The facility “will allow us to capitalize on the strong growth at stable customer acquisition costs we are experiencing in the US market,” Siegel told Proactive Investors Australia. “Both our US brands continue to gain traction with customers, and this fulfillment site will allow us to meet this growing demand. 

Everything But The House adds Dallas showroom

Everything But The House, an online marketplace for estate sales and pre-owned good recently opened a Design District showroom. The location gives people a place to drop of items consigned to the website, a pickup spot for winning Dallas items to avoid shipping fees, in-person previews of items to bid on online, and it will host workshops and speaker series.

KC-based logistics firm expands to Alliance Center

Smart Warehousing leased a 269,494-square foot industrial block in the AllianceTexas development in North Fort Worth in Hillwood Properties’ Alliance Center North 15 per a Dallas Morning News report. The facility is the Kansas City-based companies second in Texas and joins a current location in Houston.

“There is no better location for logistics companies in North Texas than the Alliance Corridor,” Ed Lee, Smart Warehousing’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “Hillwood had space immediately available at AllianceTexas to accommodate our current needs, and additional land and resources are accessible to us if we decide to expand in the future.”

Service Fusion relocates to Irving

The four-year-old startup software management firm shifted operations from Colleyville to a 23,000 square foot office north of DFW International Airport per the Dallas Business Journal. The move was made to attract to a more centralized location rather than the “deep suburbs” of Colleyville said founder and CEO Max Paltsey.

Last mile delivery network Deliveright expands into Texas

Deliveright focuses on heavy goods and announced expansion across Texas in Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio where it will bring its self-described technologically-advanced operation.

Furniture sellers across the US, “ranging from eCommerce sites to brick-and-mortar stores to designers rely on Deliveright to give their end consumers a fantastic experience,” Doug Ladden, CEO of Deliveright, told Supply & Demand Chain Executive. “Our customers have consistently asked us to provide a solution for the 18+ million consumers in the growing Texas market,” he noted. 

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What we’re reading


RevTech Ventures is moving
RevTech—a venture capital fund focused on early-stage investments at the intersection of retail and technology—is going back to its roots by moving to 311 N. Market Street in the West End. To commemorate, the company is having one last happy hour at its current office, complete with food, drinks, and reminiscing.

Final vision for Innovation District east of US 75 presented to Richardson City Council
On Dec. 3, a team of consultants presented their strategic plan to revitalize 1,200 acres that sit east of US 75. Intended to be the Collins-Arapaho Innovation District, the area hopes to become a premiere tech hub in North Texas—a place where industries can grow and thrive.

Collin County Business Alliance discusses innovation and changes in the workforce
Last week at Capital One, the Collin County Business Alliance hosted its seventh anniversary luncheon. The event kicked off with a panel—including Paul Quinn President Michael Sorrell, Dallas Innovation Alliance President Jennifer Sanders, Brooke Paup of the Texas Water Development Board, and AECOM Associate Vice President of Design Steven Duong—to discuss issues pertaining to Collin County. After lunch was served, a fireside chat between Capital One Financial Services President Sanjiv Yajnik (who also serves as CCBA Chairman) and Fareed Zakaria, noted journalist, political scientist, and author. “We need to think of innovation as a much more complicated phenomenon. It involves technology—but it also involves human beings,” Zakaria said.


Communities Foundation of Texas opens Collin County office in Frisco
On Oct. 1, the Dallas-headquartered Communities Foundation of Texas—which works with both donors and nonprofits—opened a satellite campus in Frisco. The new campus will sit at 2401 Internet Blvd., Ste. 101.


Telemundo stations launch “Telemundo University” to empower the next generation of bilingual local broadcast journalists
A new program Telemundo program will help bilingual broadcast students at University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Florida launch careers in media. The “Telemundo University” training program will teach students the work skills they need to succeed.

Beginning in 2019 undergraduates at UT Dallas can study data science
University of Texas at Dallas students will, this spring, be eligible to enroll in data science courses, a curriculum designed to teach students methods for drawing conclusions from information sets. The program prepares students for careers in banking, finance, technology, health care, marketing, manufacturing, government and more.


Dallas Finally Has a Strong Cultural Policy. But Will It Be Implemented?
A new cultural plan in Dallas aims to generate a healthy cultural scene with initiatives that incentivize organizations to bolster smaller organizations, make living in the city affordable for artists, and funding spaces where Dallasites might go to experience art.

Dallas Summer Musicals And AT&T Performing Arts Center Announce Partnership
Dallas’ two main venues for watching musical theater have announced a partnership that will give attendees more options when seeing touring Broadway productions. Starting in the 2019/2020 season, Dallas Summer Musicals subscribers will have the option to experience shows both in the Winspear Opera House and the Music Hall at Fair Park, and to choose from various add-ons.

Why a Chicago filmmaker is shooting a documentary about Dallas institution Bill’s Records
Chicago-based filmmaker Chuck Przybyl is working to raise $30,000 by Dec. 28 for a documentary about Bill Wisener, the purveyor of Bill’s Records.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra To Host Instrument Drive
Dallas residents with unused or forgotten musical instruments are encouraged to donate them to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s new residency and education programs. The Southern Dallas Residency aims to ensure every student in the region has free access to musical education. Capital One and The Eugene McDermott Foundation have donated to support the drive.


Commissary Pop-Up Now in the New Park District Building
We loaf Commissary. Sorry for that bad bread pun, but we do. The high-end deli revolutionized grab-and-go when it came to Main Street with its headquarters. Now, Commissary has a pop-up outpost in the Park District Building in Klyde Warren Park, with a counter filled with goodies Monday-Friday 7-10 a.m.


‘Shark Tank’ gives $200,000 worth of holiday cheer to Southlake entrepreneur’s Hire Santa business
For Mitch Allen, this year, Christmas came early. The Texan made his debut on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ this week and walked away with a $200,000 investment from real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran. His Southlake-based Hire Santa company was founded in 2012, but is predicted to make over $1M in sales this year.


The Texas bullet train now looks likely. Here’s what to expect
You can almost hear that train a comin’. Leaders at Texas Central Railway Co. — the private firm that is developing the first bullet train line in the U.S., one that will zip passengers at high speed from Dallas to Houston and back — says the company will break ground late next year. While much of the technology and the know-how to get the train whizzing through the countryside of Central Texas is coming from Japan, the project is awaiting final approval from the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration.

Electric Buses Are Not Only Clean but Less Costly to Run
Electric buses are more expensive to buy, less expensive to operate, and are environmentally friendly. There aren’t very many on the road, but that could be changing. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is among systems around the country that are exploring electric buses. Govtech.com reports that DART recently launched seven battery-powered electric transit buses, that were paid for in part by general obligation bonds and a grant from the Federal Transportation Administration. The buses are projected to save DART roughly $2.1 million in fuel costs over the course of their life cycles.

Bird launches fleet of electric scooters in Frisco
Residents in Frisco now can scoot along to their jobs, school, the store — just about anywhere nearby — after Bird launched its fleet of electric scooters in the Collin County city. Like other scooter-sharing programs, riders rent a vehicle by downloading the Bird app to find and ride one of the scooters. The scooters are a common sight in downtown Dallas and Plano recently added them.


Cardtronics Doubles Office Space in Frisco’s HALL Park
Cardtronics is making its way north. The Houston-based cash machine company is expanding its offices into HALL Park’s newest office tower in Frisco. The 82,000 square feet of space will occupy the first and third through fifth floors, with around 240 employees from different cities being consolidated into the new building.

Largest Pharmaceutical Company in U.S. Moving its HQ from California to DFW
The largest pharmaceutical distributor in the country, McKesson Corp., announced this week that its global headquarters would be moving from San Francisco to Irving next year. Behind ExxonMobil Corp., when McKesson relocates to North Texas, it will be the second-largest public company in the region.

Deliveright Expands Its Proprietary Platform to the Texas Final Mile Market
Heavy goods final mile delivery network Deliveright Logistics is continuing its expansion by launching in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Deliveright said that its robust furniture carrier network can ship cargo from the East Coast to Texas and from the Lone Star state to the East and West Coasts. “Our customers have consistently asked us to provide for the 18+ million consumers in the growing Texas market,” Deliveright CEO Doug Ladden said. “Furniture sellers across the U.S., ranging from e-commers sites to brick-and-mortar stores to designers, have all come to rely on Deliveright to give end consumers a fantastic experience.


Lyft Ranked Dallas’ Most Popular Bars, Restaurants, In 2018
Forget the Golden Globes. This week, all we care about is the Lyfties. Rideshare giant Lyft has ranked its most popular destinations in Dallas for 2018, including bars, concert venues, gyms, and neighborhoods. See if you took a ride to one of these spots this year:

  • Most Visited Bar: Backyard Dallas
  • Most Popular Concert Venue: American Airlines Center
  • Most Visited Restaurant for Brunch: Pecan Lodge
  • Late Night: Whataburger
  • Most Visited Fitness Studio/Gym: LA Fitness
  • Most Visited Late Night Neighborhood: Uptown
  • Only In Dallas-Fort Worth: The Statler

TELL US: What’s grabbing your attention right now? What should we be reading? Send your tips, links, and thoughts here

Top 10
Dallas Innovates most-read stories this week

1. ‘Citi’ of Irving: Firm Professionals Advance Digital Platforms, Stave Off Cyberthreats, Log 35K Volunteer Hours

2. Varidesk Creates First Airport Coworking Space at DFW — In Just 24 Hours

3. Innovative Spaces: Valencia’s Latest Irving Hotel Goes Retro

4. ICYMI: Spacee Stacy the Virtual Bartender Serves Drinks—and Flirts; DFW, Neoface Facial Recognition Deploys; and Gemmy’s Bass Lip-Syncs Alexa

5. ‘Moms in Law’ Unites Female Lawyers in North Texas for Support, Networking

6. Dallas Dentist Turned ‘Wine‑preneur’ Bottles Ethiopian Tradition

7. Sensory Sciences: Hypergiant’s New AI Startup Teaches Machines to ‘Learn How to Learn’

8. The Greater Dallas Planning Council Announces Urban Design Award Winners

9. Q&A: The Pure Company Makes Cleaning Your Air Fashionable—and Portable

10. 29 Acres to Fill a ‘Need in North Texas’ with Innovative Autism Community

Things to Do
Events to inspire, connect, educate, and inform innovators

Calendar: Dallas Millennial Gala, BionorthTX In the Know, Intramural Esports Coworking League
From art exhibits (Cult of the Machine) to blockchain briefings (Global Legal Blockchain Consortium), browse our curated selection of events to plan your next week—and beyond.

Quincy Preston, Alex Edwards, and Payton Potter contributed to this report.

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