ICYMI: North Texas Breaks Out, Female Entrepreneurs Make Waves, TCU Teen Becomes Youngest MythBuster

From companies making Dallas-Fort Worth an emerging tech hub (Infosys, UTSW, AT&T) to accolades (Southwest Airlines, ExxonMobil, Jacobs, and more) to our weekly top 10 (NaturalShrimp), here's your briefing on ideas and innovation in North Texas.

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

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

The overarching theme of the recently released Dallas Innovates annual print edition magazine was how North Texas is in the midst of a breakout moment, especially in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, and the Internet of Things, along with 5G, cybersecurity and more.

That optimism—and really, realism given what is happening in this region right now—isn’t limited to the reporting here at Innovates. A recent Bisnow report highlighted two corporate innovation centers found right here—Infosys’ plans to open a tech hub in Richardson this November with a focus on telecom, retail, and banking; and Walmart Technology which opened in Plano last year. The internal Walmart innovation center is the second for the retail giant with the first located at the corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

“Our investment in Texas will further improve our ability to serve clients by broadening the STEM talent pipeline here and provide training for the specialist skills that our clients need,” Infosys President Ravi Kumar told Bisnow, citing North Texas’ educational institutions as particularly important to the company’s HR outreach. 

Per CBRE, the North Texas total tech labor pool is the fifth largest in North America trailing only the Bay Area, New York, Washington, D.C., and Toronto.

While there was some disappointment the area didn’t land Amazon’s H2 sweepstakes, Joel Kotkin wrote in City Journal that although Amazon brings jobs, they tend to be short term with Amazon being a “second wave” tech firm. He argues the real jobs value is tech companies that make and sell things and are just as home located in the suburbs and exurbs of major cities, something this area has in spades.

And finally, Frank Grassler, vice president for technology development at UT Southwestern Medical Center, made the case in a Newswise report that Dallas-Fort Worth is poised to become a biotech powerhouse. He pointed out UTSW spends $450 million yearly on research and ranks fifth globally in impact on inventions based on the number of research articles cited in patent applications.

“In Dallas-Fort Worth, we have the pieces in place to attract and grow biotech jobs. The same factors that have made DFW attractive to companies like Amazon and Toyota—a world-class airport, an educated workforce, access to capital, low taxes, business-friendly government, and ample real estate—are also attractive to life science ventures,” Grassler wrote. “Additionally, our cluster of higher-education institutions—UT Southwestern, UT Dallas, UT Arlington, SMU, TCU, and the UNT Health Science Center—is expanding its investment in scientific research and generating more discoveries that can be translated into products.”

AT&T to open innovation center in NYC

Dallas companies are making an impact throughout the country. Case in point, AT&T is planning a WarnerMedia Innovation Lab in New York City to leverage its $85 billion Time Warner acquisition and develop emerging technologies, per a Dallas Business Journal report. The tech includes AI, IoT, and VR, with an eye toward new creative experiences and immersive content engagement.

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Female entrepreneurs making waves

A pivot that worked

Erin Marchese, co-founder and chief operating officer of Dallas’ SVI World, was one of five women entrepreneurs highlighted in a Fast Company report from this week. The vignette told the tale of how Marchese and the talent solutions company had to make a major pivot after a seven-figure contract representing most of the company’s revenue fell through. The result was a pivot to becoming a products-based business geared toward licensing talent systems and training.

“We’re financially better than ever, with healthier margins and no debt. We have increased and diversified our client base,” Marchese told Fast Company about the pivot’s result. “And, the client that dropped us like a lead balloon is back, and we are doing fantastic work together that is healthier and more beneficial to both of our companies.”

Bringing women to real estate investing

Dallas’ Noelle Randall says she’s looking to change that women aren’t known as major real estate investment players. Randall is a multi-million dollar real estate investor and licensed mortgage loan officer along with a host of other business interests, including FDR Horizon Enterprises and Bella J Hair.

Randall offers free webinars to teach women why real estate isn’t complicated or expensive and the skills needed to become successful investors. Per a release, she has helped “hundreds of women increase their personal wealth through real estate investing, many of whom started from zero.”

Historic Purse building reopens in West End

The Purse Building, originally named the The Parlin & Orendorff Building, is among the historic district’s last projects to undergo renovation. Built in 1905 as a farm equipment factory, the approximately 70,000-square-foot commercial facility aims to attract innovative companies relocating from Silicon Valley.

The building’s restoration was inspired by the work of author, urbanist, and activist Jane Jacobs, whose larger-than-life face is printed in the building’s ground floor lounge along with her quotation, “new ideas need old buildings,” says Wildcat Management CEO Tanya Ragan.

And as the 114-year-old building nears the end of its restoration—completion is set for spring 2020—the final piece of West End’s rebirth is falling into place. 

Tech bytes

American Heart Association partners with Royal Philips on heart attack survival

Health tech company, Royal Philips, based in the Netherlands, announced a collaboration with the Dallas-based American Heart Association in an effort to increase the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in densely populated areas of the world with the Connected Pulse program. Connected Pulse includes education awareness around CPR, the use of publicly-available AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator), and technologies that improve the “chain of survival” from heart attack to reaching the hospital

“This alliance marks the first time two major global organizations have come together to offer a worldwide, scalable solution to increase out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest survival rates,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, in a statement. “When we educate everyone about the life-saving skill of CPR and make AEDs readily available, we increase the chance of survival for all people. Together with Philips, we’ve combined trusted science and innovative health technology to create a positive health impact in all communities around the world.”

One Technologies names new CTO

Dallas-headquartered One Technologies announced Bhargav Shah as its new senior vice president and chief technology officer, set to lead a customer-centric technology vision and growth strategy development. Shah joins One Technologies from Pier 1 Imports, where he served as senior vice president and chief information officer and led an omni-channel customer experience including AR, supply chain automation, and machine learning.

“Bhargav’s many years of experience helping direct-to-consumer companies like ours harness best-in-class technology will help us create a convenient and personalized experience for customers across all channels,” said Sanjay Baskaran, CEO of One Technologies, in a statement. “We are glad to welcome him to our team and look forward to his leadership with further strengthening the delivery of credit insights to our customers—and enable seamlessly taking control of their financial futures.”  

Skinny IT files Chapter 7

Frisco tech company Skinny IT has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after closing its Frisco office. Per the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas filing it has liabilities between $10 million and $50 million against assets between $1 and $10 million. Per the Business Journal, its website is down, and the lawyer listed in the bankruptcy filing didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

READ NEXT ICYMI: North Texas Tech at ‘Retail’s Big Show’; iLab Founder leaves Neiman Marcus; DFW Named 2019 Global Airport

Dallas to be part of UPS rollout of apartment smart access devices

UPS is planning on introducing Latch smart access devices to make deliveries in apartment buildings in Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., in 2019. It already rolled out the devices in New York City and San Francisco in 2018. The devices let drivers into multi-unit buildings.

“Smart access devices enable our drivers to enter buildings without keys and leave packages safely in lobbies or building package rooms,” said UPS vice president of global product innovation, Jerome Roberts, in a statement. “For UPS, this innovation adds efficiency.”

Point A to Point B

Ryder opens smart warehouses

Dallas, joined by Miami and Chicago, is one of three markets to land a Ryder System smart warehouse. These “showcase sites” include advanced automation, scalable operations, real-time visibility, and a customer-centric approach, per a FleetOwner report. The tech powering Ryder’s smart warehouses covers a range from robotics, autonomous vehicles and drones to sensors, automatic ID tools, and wearables such as smart glasses and ring scanners.

“We are evaluating advanced technology and automation solutions that require minimum investment but deliver maximum return,” said Steve Sensing, Ryder President of Global Supply Chain Solutions, in a statement. “We focus on technologies that are mobile, flexible, and scalable, so they can flex with changing demands. As Ryder customers continue to face increasing omni-channel fulfillment demands, rising consumer expectations, and a nationwide warehouse labor shortage, we will continue to innovate and automate the parts of the process that make sense.”

Hi-tech food supply

Dallas-based Nogales Produce, a supplier of Mexican fresh produce, groceries, and restaurant supplies, tapped Frisco’s Paragon Software Systems for its routing and scheduling software. The tech solution helps uncover areas to improve efficiency and is expected to cut operational costs by around 15 percent.

“With Paragon, we know how long the driver should be out there, plus we can give that information to the customer so they know when to expect delivery,” said Albert Rodriguez, Nogales’ senior vice president of operations, in a statement. “I think this is going to distinguish us [from] our competition. Giving customers accurate updates is a game-changer for us.”

Boeing tests autonomous passenger air vehicle

ICMYI’s CES coverage a couple of weeks ago included Bell’s air taxi drone. This week, news came out that Boeing successfully tested its autonomous passenger air vehicle prototype, eVTOL, for electric-powered, vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft. The inaugural flight lasted less than a minute, but involved a controlled takeoff, hove, and landing. The flight was held near the headquarters of Aurora Flight Services, a Boeing subsidiary and an Uber Elevate air taxi partner. Uber Elevate is planning a demonstration flight in Dallas in 2020 so we might be seeing Boeing’s version of pilotless aircraft in our skies sometime soon.


Southwest among world’s top 50 most admired companies

Dallas’ Southwest Airlines ranked No. 11 in the top 50 list of Fortune’s 2019 World’s Most Admired Companies. The corporate reputation survey went out to executives, directors, and security analysts worldwide asking which companies they most admired among any company in an industry that ranked in the top 25 percent of last year’s survey or finished in the top 20 percent of their industry.

“It is an incredible honor to be on this list once again,” said Gary Kelly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Airlines, in a statement. “I am so very proud of our Employees, and the credit goes entirely to them.”

ExxonMobil also made the list at No. 50.

Jacobs No. 1 on Fortune’s Most Admired in Engineering and Construction

In the industry categories of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies, Dallas-based Jacobs hit No. 1 in engineering and construction.

“The Fortune number-one ranking is a tremendous tribute to our employees—recognizing their leadership and focus in driving excellence in every aspect of our business—while challenging the status quo and delivering critical solutions for complex problems around the world,” said Jacobs Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou, in a statement.

In separate Jacobs news, the company was selected by the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) for engineering design management services as part of the California WaterFix program, the largest water conveyance project in California. The deal includes an initial $93 million contract as part of a 15-year program.

Jacobs also announced that this week it and King County Wastewater Treatment Division received the Envision Platinum designation for the new $250 million Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station.

North Texas companies make Forbes diversity ranking

Forbes released its 2019 rankings of the Best Employers For Diversity and North Texas was well represented, including:

  • Kimberly-Clark (#42)
  • UNT (#62)
  • Southwest Airlines (#99)
  • Texas Health Resources (#140)
  • Toyota North America (#142)
  • Mary Kay (#150)
  • The Container Store (#185)
  • Sally Beauty Holdings (#261)
  • ExxonMobil (#264)
  • Tyler Technologies (#291)
  • AT&T (#303)
  • Topgolf (#343)
  • Alliance Data Systems (#361)
  • Freeman (#392)
  • Energy Transfer (#393)
  • Texas Instruments (#459).


RevTech Ventures VP of Biz Dev named 2019 VentureFuel Visionary

Innovation consultancy VentureFuel announced its list of 2019 VentureFuel Visionaries celebrating some of the most innovative minds in marketing and tech. The RevTech Ventures vice president of business development, Jonathan Fine, made the list and is up for Visionary of the Year. To vote for the Visionary of the Year, head here.

“We are honored to recognize our latest cohort of industry trailblazers in business innovation. Each are champions for change inside and outside of their organizations and we are fortunate to know them, work with them and be inspired by them,” said Fred Schonenberg, Founder of VentureFuel.


DMN architecture critic up for literary award

Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster’s biography of Philip Johnso, The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century, is a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award per the DMN.

North Texas teen prodigy brings science and thrills to the Science channel

Not sure if everyone else is enjoying the new Science channel show, MythBusters Jr., as much as Dallas Innovates has been, but did you know there’s a local connection in the cast of kid scientists? MythBuster Cannan Huey-You is a sophomore at TCU—at the age of 13. His older brother, Carson, already graduated from TCU in the spring of 2017 and is now a post-grad student vying for a masters in quantum physics. Cannan is double-majoring in physics & astronomy and engineering for his undergrad with the goal of becoming an astronaut per his Science Channel bio.

The youngest MythBuster is joined by five other teen prodigy peers from around the U.S., along with original MythBusters host Adam Savage, in the first season of the latest incarnation of the popular science-based TV show.

“There are quite a few things that I learned,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier this month. “In college we don’t build anything or blow anything up.”

Kudos to Cannan and his castmates for bringing science and innovation in a fun package to the small screen. And in true MythBusters fashion, the super slo-mo explosions are big and very cool.

What we’re reading


How GeoForce Brings Order To Chaos in the Oil Fields
GeoForce, which recently relocated its headquarters to Granite Park in Plano, provides connected operational intelligence to more than 500 workers in more than 70 countries. The “infrastructure-less” service uses satellite and cellular tech to monitor remote frac tanks and oil rigs, among other things.


Craig Hall Named Winner of D CEO’s 2019 Pioneer Award
Longtime North Texas real estate developer, lender, and investor, was named D CEO’s 2019 winner of the Pioneer Award. See the full list of 2019 Commercial Real Estate Awards finalists online.

Mixed-use project planned for land between Frisco’s Dr Pepper Ballpark and Ikea
A plot of land in Frisco could soon be home to a mixed-use project that includes plans for a hotel, office buildings, retail, and parking structures. Between the structures will sit a green space.

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. NaturalShrimp Says New Patented Tech Enables Indoor Propogation of All Fish

2. Q+A: Bryan Chambers on Becoming Capital Factory’s Senior Leader in Dallas

3. Dallas-based Ridesharing Startup Alto Raises $13M, Plans to Launch Next Month

4. The X Factor: Four Ingredients are Turning North Texas into a Rising Tech Power

5. Follow the Money: Fossil Sells Smartwatch Tech to Google, Lantern Pharma Raises $535K, Alto Gets $14.5M

6. One Technologies’ ScoreSense Helps Customers Understand What Impacts Their Credit Scores

7. Dallas Sisters Create Female‑Focused Coworking Concept

8. Overwatch League Match Gaming Festival Descends on Dallas

9. Look Inside: Historic Purse Building Reopens In West End

10. New Digital Activations Show ‘Avocados From Mexico are Always Worth It’

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

Calendar: Denton Black Film Festival, Founders Live Dallas, 2019 Texas Healthcare Challenge
From first-of-its-kind competitions (ClubCorp’s luxe traveling wedding showcase) to informative panels (Tech Ladies), 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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