Technology Puts DFW Ahead of the Experiential Retail Trend, 5G is Coming, Cowboys Coworking

From tech bytes (Cien, Fujitsu, AuGames, Groove Jones) to spaces and places (ZIPZONE, ParkHub, Cognizant, JLL) to our weekly top 10 (Traffic-Control Signals Cut Stoplight Wait), here's your rundown on ideas and innovation in North Texas.

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.

Several weeks ago, we featured North Texas brands showing off retail innovations at the NRF 2019 “big show” in the space, and this week we’re looking at local brands succeeding with experiential retail.

Dallas-based Topgolf is often cited as an example of experiential retail. In February, the global entertainment sports leader partnered with Super League as both a live event and technology partner to bring amateur competitive video gaming events to Topgolf venues across the country.

Uptown’s Forty Five Ten, a luxury department store, is an example of leveraging experiential retail, while playing off its name. It features frequently changing luxury goods, like 4 seasons, 5 senses, and 10 edits (representing 10 white shirts), writes Dan Calladine, global head of media futures at Carat Global, in a Medium post.

And, a Bisnow report in 2018 on DFW’s healthy retail market credited a number of locals—including GlowZone, Punch Bowl Social, iFly Indoor Skydiving, and Alamo Drafthouse—as part of the new breed of retail keeping retail real estate alive and well.

The new esports TCL Lounge debuted at Topgolf Las Vegas. [Image: Topgolf]

The new esports TCL Lounge debuted at Topgolf Las Vegas. [Image: Courtesy Topgolf]

“For retailers that want to test new concepts, Dallas is really high on the list—usually number one,” Alan Shor, co-founder, president, and co-chairman of Retail Connection, previously told Dallas Innovates. In a panel discussion on retail real estate by the Dallas-Fort Worth Real Estate Review, Shor pointed to experiential retail entertainment spots such as Main Event, Dave & Busters, iFly, and Topgolf as playing a part in making the region one of the hottest retail real estate sectors.

What is the experiential retail trend? If you’ve visited any of growing number of pop-up shops, like the multi-brand Valentine’s Day pop-up experience in Uptown’s West Village, you’ve experienced experiential retail.

The term covers more than just the pop-up retail experience, of course. A report from last fall on a keynote panel at ICSC Western States on the topic highlighted three characteristics: convenience, technology, and an omnichannel platform.

The tech behind convenience includes innovations such as mobile apps replacing checkout lines, AI-powered shopping assistants, and more consumer transparency into store inventory. Omnichannel tech allows consumers to shop online and have products delivered or picked up in a brick-and-mortar location. The idea is experiential retail is based around making everything extremely customer-centric and convenient, often via technology.

David Matthews

David Matthews

“AI is ‘theme No. 1’ in the retail world right now. Retailers and consumer goods companies are attracted to the idea to discover what the consumer wants and how to better serve them with the tools,” David Matthews, managing director of RevTech Ventures, a Dallas seed-stage accelerator program and fund supporting early stage retail startups focused on the intersection of technology and retail, told Dallas Innovates.

Dallas-Fort Worth has seen its fair share of retail evolution this year, Steve Dennis, founder of SageBerry Consulting, told Dallas Innovates in December.

He named four standouts in 2018: In Plano’s Legacy West, Neighborhood Goods took a futuristically fresh take on the department store. In Irving, 7-Eleven started testing its convenience-based Scan & Pay service near its Irving headquarters. In Dallas, The Container Store got a 24,500-square-foot technology-infused Next Generation Store, and Sam’s Club opened an “epicenter of innovation” prototype on Lower Greenville.

Between the corporate giants and the influx of technology-driven openings, North Texas is becoming a hub for retail disruptors, Dennis says. As he puts it: “Physical retail isn’t dead. Boring retail is.”

New Dallas-based retail experience design consultancy launches

This week Sky Bench, a retail experience design consultancy, announced its launch as a resource for “brands looking to solve modern-day retail design challenges with customer-centric, culturally-responsive and authentic retail experiences” as described in a statement. It’s part of The Integer Group, itself part of ad holding giant Omnicom Group.

Sky Bench offers new store concept development, store fleet modernization, store-within-store build-outs, unique pop-ups, shopper journey tracking, retail cx audits and mapping, and other capabilities.

Ellen Cook will serve as Sky Bench Advisor and President of The Integer Group Dallas and Los Angeles.

“Every retailer’s future growth strategy relies on simultaneously developing its online and offline channels, says Cook. “However, the majority of retail design firms today focus only on one side.”

Sky Bench wants to bridge the gap between traditional firms focused on physical spaces and the surge of digital experience agencies that aim to impact online journeys, she adds.

Neiman Marcus launches travel-themed campaign

Yesterday Neiman Marcus launched “The Art of Travel,” a campaign with more than 500 travel-themed product exclusives curated across all its merchant divisions. Content around the campaign created by a number of noted photographers can be found in the spring issue of the retailer’s spring book.

“Through The Art of Travel, we are bringing the spirit of travel and the magic of fashion together for our customers in an innovative and experiential way,” said Theresa Palermo, Senior Vice President, Brand Marketing & Public Relations, Neiman Marcus Group, in a statement. “We are inspiring our shoppers and engaging them at every touch point, both in stores and online. The Art of Travel will be an immersive experience for our customers, offering them insider travel tips from notable fashion designers, engaging in-store events with brand partners, and an impressive collection of exclusive products.”

[Image: Courtesy Neiman Marcus]


Neighborhood Goods to drop exclusive merchandise

The 10 hallows eve by Nike. [Courtesy of Neighborhood Goods]

The 10 hallows eve by Nike. [Image: Courtesy Neighborhood Goods]

On Monday, Plano’s Neighborhood Goods will drop merchandise—including Nike’s “The 10” collection as well as Yeezy, and Palace—that is exclusive to the retailer’s region. Unless you are heading to New York City sometime soon, Neighborhood Goods will be the only place to find these items. Neighborhood Goods is home to Stadium Goods, the world’s premier sneaker and streetwear marketplace, the company added. Last week Dallas Innovates reported Neighborhood Goods raised $8.8 million in expanded seed funding, bringing its total round to $14.5 million.

The 10 pink by Nike. [Courtesy of Neighborhood Goods]

The 10 pink by Nike. [Image: Courtesy Neighborhood Goods]

State Fair spin-off

Jace Fletcher Christensen and her mother, Vickie Fletcher—great-granddaughter and granddaughter respectively of Neil Fletcher who introduced corny dogs to the State Fair of Texas in 1942—are opening their own fried-food business, Fletch. It will be a concessions and catering company featuring fried stick foods and already has deals lined up with AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, University of Texas football games and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

The granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Dallas’ late corn dog king, Neil Fletcher, are making fried food dreams come true —corn dogs and funnel cakes year round, writes Park Cities People. [Image: Courtesy Fletch]

Tech bytes

The latest in 5G

At Barcelona’s MWC (Mobile World Conference) trade show, Sprint announced its 5G network will go live in Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, and Kansas City in May. Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington are also expected to get the service by Q3. Per the telecom, the Dallas coverage will included around 230 square miles across North Texas. This handy guide provides an overview on where each provider stands with 5G right now.

AT&T, Microsoft partner on 5G network edge computing

AT&T and Microsoft are teaming up to combine the telecom’s 5G network and the tech giant’s Microsoft Azure cloud computing service for edge computing capabilities. One location where this will be tested is at the AT&T Foundry in Plano.

Cien showcases new AI feature at MWC

Dallas’ Cien, an AI sales productivity solutions company, used the MWC event as the platform to announce “Cien Mentor,” an AI-powered feature, and its participation in the Mobile World Conference Open Innovation Challenge.

Fujitsu releases new data hardware

Richardson’s Fujitsu Network Communications announced its 1FINITY T600 blade, a next generation optical transponder for data center interconnect (DCI) and 5G transport networks.

“The convergence of artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of things (IoT) and edge computing are transforming how ubiquitous video and data are delivered to the hyper-connected world,” said Rod Naphan, Chief Technology Officer at Fujitsu Network Communications, in a statement. “The best-in-class capabilities of the 1FINITY T600 enable service providers and hyperscale operators to scale their networks for explosive traffic growth while reducing cost per bit.”

AuGames partners with Kathy ireland Worldwide

Dallas-based AR/VR company AuGames announced a partnership with Kathy ireland Worldwide (kiWW) to create augmented and merges reality (AR/MR) experiences for consumers and kiWW partners.

“We’re proud & energized to partner with the kathy ireland® Worldwide family. With technology moving at ferocious pace, it can be hard for both business owners and consumers to know a passing ‘fad’ or ‘trend’ and what technology can envelop a true paradigm shift that has the ability to integrate into our everyday work and family lives for the better,” said DR Dunlop, cofounder and executive of AuGames, in a statement.

In other AR news, the Mavs’ latest AR-enabled billboard on the YMCA building in downtown Dallas features Luka Dončić. The experience uses Facebook to provide users a video superimposed over the billboard image. The AR filter was created by Dallas’ Groove Jones. 

Pariveda Solutions builds app for the Houston Food Bank

Pariveda Solutions, a Dallas-based management consulting firm, turned its interns loose on an app project for the Houston Food Bank, and the resulting tech is helping connect 2,500 monthly users who are food insecure with resources to help them with contact information for locations and open slots for appointments.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for us,” Casey Ferrell, the Houston Food Bank’s director of information technology, told Innovation Map. “And we thought an app would be the best thing for the intern team to work on.”

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Avanci adds China Mobile to its IoT patent licensing platform

Dallas’ Avanci announced mobile operator China Mobile joined its IoT patent licensing platform, adding its global portfolio of 2G, 3G, and 4G standard essential patents to the Avanci marketplace. The platform currently includes 21 patent owners with the addition of China Mobile.

“Having China Mobile, a significant contributor to communication standardized technology, join our platform is yet another boost to the growing momentum behind our vision for a simple solution to patent licensing that reduces risk, makes technology sharing easier and results in more business success,” said Kasim Alfalahi, founder and chief executive officer of Avanci.

Alliance Data Systems Corporation partners with Houzz

Plano’s Alliance Data Systems Corporation announced a private label and co-brand credit card services agreement with Houzz, a home remodeling and design platform.

“We are excited to partner with Alliance Data, given their deep expertise in our industry and in building innovative payment options,” said Alon Cohen, Houzz president and co-founder.

Accolades for Masergy, QJumpers

Dallas’ Masergy, a provider of cloud communications and managed security solutions, was positioned by Garner as a “visionary” in the consultancy’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global report. The company was the sole visionary in the quandrant.

QJumpers, a Plano-based AI recruitment software company, was named a Top 10 Recruitment Software Solution Providers by trade magazine HR Tech Outlook.

Spaces and places

Yeehaw for cowboy coworking

Formation, an 18,000-square-foot coworking space coming to The Star in Frisco, will provide options from open workspaces to dedicated desks to private offices. D Magazine reports that the Cowboys aim to curate a tenant mix infused with innovation culture. “We believe business professionals can channel that [winning] spirit and leverage it for their benefit,” says Jerry Jones, Jr.

Common Desk moves into Austin market

Common Desk’s expansion now includes the Austin coworking marketplace after its acquisition of Link Coworking and its current two Austin offices with another in the works. Link was founded in 2010 and was a coworking innovator in Austin.

READ NEXT Coworking Grows Up: Shared Space Is One of North Texas’ Hottest Placemaking Tools

“Acquiring Link Coworking was a perfect way to establish an immediate presence, and continue the legacy of one of the great, original co-working brands of Austin,” Common Desk founder Nick Clark told Connect Texas.

Founder Nick Clark (right) at Common Desk Granite Park.

Founder Nick Clark (right) at Common Desk Granite Park.

Hana to open in Park District tower

Hana, a new coworking brand from commercial property firm CBRE, is opening its inaugural location in Uptown’s Park District tower overlooking Klyde Warren Park. The spot will be the first of 25 Hana locations planned across the U.S. A Dallas Morning News report noted North Texas has more than 2 million square feet of shared office leasing and in 2018 coworking was the second-highest office leasing sector in the U.S. The Hana location brings the new building to 75 percent leased.

ZIPZONE to connect riders to the North Texas Xpress

Trinity Metro is offering ZIPZONE, a first mile/last mile transportation service in select areas to connect riders with the North Texas Xpress, a line operating between downtown Forth Worth, Alliance, and Denton. The first service area will be the Alliance corridor in partnership with the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) per the Fort Worth Business Press. The program replaces Alliance Link, a first mile/last mile pilot program from Toyota that ended in January.

“When we started North Texas Xpress with DCTA in Fall 2016, we knew the bus route would be a good choice for employees in the Alliance area,” Trinity Metro President/CEO Paul Ballard, told the Business Press. “Now we’re taking it one step further to help Alliance employees arrive at work without having to drive.”

ParkHub acquires SpotHero’s assets

Dallas’ ParkHub made news this week after closing a $13 million Series B funding round and acquiring SpotHero’s enterprise business. The SpotHero deal is an asset purchase agreement ParkHub founder and CEO George Baker Sr. told Dallas Innovates and it provides the company a large footprint in the Northeast U.S.

Pictured from left to right, ParkHub senior management: Todd Marshall (CTO), George Baker (CEO), Jake Edsell (COO), Conner Mowles (CFO), Geoffrey Byers (CXO), Nick Shanbaum (General Council and Chief of Staff). [Image: Rebeca Posadas-Nava]

JLL report finds Dallas third in hotel development

Per a recent JLL construction report, Dallas is third trailing only New York City and Orlando in hotel development. One data point driving this development in the hotels sector is a fast-rising average daily rate. In the key revenue per available room (RevPAR) metric, Market Center hotels are up 6.2 percent annually and a full percentage point above U.S. averages.

Hotels are booming in North Texas. And Texas is dominating the sector. Dallas, Houston, and Austin all ranked in the top five among U.S. cities with the most hotels projected to open in 2017, according to industry research company STR. That projection is the best evidence of the strength of the hotel market in North Texas where occupancies are well above the long-term average and demand for hotel rooms is increasing.

Cognizant moves into Plano

Expanding its area footprint beyond the Irving location opened last summer, New Jersey-based Cognizant Technology Solutions is planning a 69,000 square foot office near Legacy business park in Plano. The city’s economic development corporation is offering a $273,000 grant to the tech company contingent on creating up to 500 new jobs at the location by 2024. Per the Dallas Morning News, Cognizant will move into the new office by September.

What we’re reading


BRIT and FIVS to Co-Manage International Sustainable Winegrowing Competition
Fort Worth’s Botanical Research Institute of Texas, commonly called BRIT, is partnering with Paris-based FIVS to expand BRIT’s one-of-a-kind international sustainable winegrowing competition and award. FIVS is a global organization that serves the wine, spirits, and beer sectors. BRIT’s award honors wine organizations that are leaders in implementing sustainable practices.


How Mayor Mike Rawlings is positioning Dallas to be a global leader in addressing climate change
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings isn’t joking around about climate change. Even before the city council voted to proceed on Dallas’ first climate action plan, Rawlings was working on making Big D a big deal in addressing climate change. Rawlings says he is not only looking for ways to limit climate change damage, but instead to prevent it entirely.

The Art of the Brick at the Perot Museum
In its new exhibit, The Art of the Brick, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science features more than 100 works of art made entirely from Lego blocks. It’s an acclaimed display of creations like a re-imagined Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and even a 20-foot T. Rex skeleton.

A Dallas of intimate spaces, creekside walks and inventive buildings: James Pratt was there first
You might not be familiar with the architect James Pratt, but architecture critic Mark Lamster says he was one of the “most inventive and under-appreciated architects of the postwar years.” Pratt died in November, and a public celebration of his life and legacy will be held Sunday at the historic Old Red Courthouse, which he restored and transformed into a museum.


Apple Watch Detects Heart Problem in Dallas Woman
Liz Turner, a 75-year-old North Texas grandmother, credits her new Apple Watch with helping her catch a heart issue during a recent workout. She says the device recorded the data and sent it to her doctor. She felt her heart “just racing,” and the watch tracked her rate rate at 181 beats-per-minute, not her normal 140. Her cardiologist said the data helped speed her diagnosis.

Dallas Researcher Finds Cancer Earlier With New Imaging Technology
The new tool, called molecular imaging directed, 3D ultrasound-guided biopsy, was developed by UT Dallas’ Dr. Baowei Fei. It allows doctors to more precisely pinpoint cancer cells earlier, leading to better diagnosis and treatment, and ultimately lives saved.

Top 10
Dallas Innovates most-read stories this week

1. Go Time: Traffic-Control Signals Cut Stoplight Wait by 40% in Richardson

2. Fashion-Forward: rewardStyle Brings on Top Execs to Move Into a Phase of Accelerated Growth

3. Retailer Neighborhood Goods Raises $8.8M in Expanded Seed Funding, Announces NY Location

4. DI People: Varidesk, Masergy, One Technologies, rewardStyle Make Leadership Moves

5. Photo Recap: Innovate(her) Conference Sparks Innovative Thinking in Middle School Girls

6. Meet the Innovators: Skip Howard, Spacee

7. Early Adopters: Accenture Survey Puts Dallas Ahead of the Pack in Emerging Tech

8. Meet the Innovators: Brig. Gen. Michael W. Miller, Viziz Technologies

9. Follow the Money: ParkHub Buys Competitor, Closes $13M Series B Round; Kibo Makes Acquisition

10. TCU and UNTHSC’s Fort Worth Medical School Rethinks Healthcare Education

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

Calendar: DFW Open Data Day, The Medical Innovation Collaborative Conference, Tech Ladies Dallas
From exploring AI in business (EuroTech Talks) to the ‘world’s largest gathering of creative professionals’ (SXSW), browse our curated selection of events to plan your next week—and beyond.

Quincy Preston, Alex Edwards, and Payton Potter contributed to this report. This post was updated on March 4 at 4:30 p.m.

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    Nonprofit BUiLT is hosting the event to highlight the success and possibilities of Black tech talent in the region. “There is no talent pipeline problem,” says Peter Beasley, co-founder of the Blacks United in Leading Technology International. “Black tech talent is widely available, especially in North Texas.”

  • The NTXIA is a founding member of the new National Smart Coalitions Partnership, now one of the largest smart cities networks in the country. The organization unites more than 100 governments across seven regional smart cities consortiums. The goal? To accelerate sustainability and resilience in communities.

  • The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which passed in May, has the power to develop 20 tech hubs throughout the United States. According to Tech Titans' CEO Bill Sproull, Dallas-Fort Worth could be a strong contender for one of those spots.

  • Dr. Justin Lonon, vice chancellor of Dallas College, addresses the crowd at the recent Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Dallas Graduation. [Photo: 10KSB]

    “There’s no one tougher and stronger than DFW small business owners," U.S. Representative Marc Veasey said at the event honoring the North Texas graduates. Here's the list of the 105 graduates and a rundown of the event. 10,000 Small Businesses also released insights from a recent research report. The survey says, among other findings, adaptation will be key to survival.

  • Lee Bratcher Texas Blockchain

    The inaugural October 8th Texas Blockchain Summit could be a watershed event for making Texas "the jurisdiction of choice" for Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Lee Bratcher, president of the Texas Blockchain Council, will host a wide array of speakers including Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis.