ICYMI: What’s New and Next in Dallas-Fort Worth Innovation

The Container Store partners with Instacart; At Home has a $2.8B deal to go private; UNT boosts computing and cyberinfrastructure for researchers; Fintech Revolut picks Dallas for expansion; RepairSmith expands its innovative on-demand repair shop-on-wheels to Dallas; TWU all-female design competition team wins a NASA challenge to cure headaches in space; and more.

Plus, you’ll find our top 10 most popular stories.

dallas innovates tech and innovation news updates: what's new and next in dallas fort worth

News travels fast, and we’re here to help you keep up.

Every weekday, Dallas Innovates brings you up to date on what you may have missed in the region’s innovation, technology, and impact news. From startup to enterprise, education to invention, and creative to social innovation, here’s our daily mix of what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth.

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Friday, May 7


 Toyota Just Parked Its Insurance Agency in Plano with First TIMS HQ
  Texas Central Signs $1.6B Electric Installation Deal for Bullet Train
  The Dallas Cowboys Are About To Get Thumped — By $700M Recovery Tech Firm Hyperice
  DI People: Keurig Dr Pepper, Berkshire Biomedical, Caris Life Sciences, and More Make Moves
  Arty Automobiles: Alto and Gray Malin’s Collaborative Art Car Will Soon Drive Dallas’ Streets
  Careington Expands Its Corporate Campus in Frisco to Fuel Growth and Product Innovation
  Sabre Partners With Delta on a New Storefront That Makes Airline Offerings Easier to Understand
  Denton Nonprofit to Open Bob’s House of Hope, a Safe House for Young Men Exploited by Sex Trafficking
  Apple Invests $410M in II-VI, Supporting 700+ Jobs in Sherman and Other U.S. Cities
  Dallas’ Trinity Hunt Partners Acquires 3 Tech Companies, Launches Plano-based Argano


[Image: Instacart]

⓵  DELIVERY DETAILS: The Container Store has partnered with Instacart to launch same-day delivery in as fast as an hour from its 93 locations. The partnership kicks off in Texas and will roll out nationwide in the coming weeks. The Coppell-based specialty retailer, which claims the origination of the retail concept for organization products and storage solutions, got its start in 1978.

⓶ BANKING BUSINESS: European fintech Revolut has picked Dallas for a third U.S. office. The company, which has offices in the New York and San Francisco areas, plans to hire 300 folks by year end, the Dallas Business Journal reports. Those hires would make Dallas the company’s biggest U.S. metro in terms of employees. Revolut’s local employees are working remotely at present, but will pick a location, the publication writes. The company, valued at about $5.5 billion, is ramping up in the U.S. with its “fresh approach” to help retail and business customers with currency exchange, spending management, and more. 

Omnitracs AI

[Image: Thitichaya Yajampa via iStockPhoto]

⓷ POWERED UP: The University of North Texas and UT Austin have teamed up to give researchers access to UT’s Texas Advanced Computing Center. The TACC has developed some of the world’s most powerful computer resources, including the ninth fastest supercomputer in the world known as Frontera. Mark McLellan, vice president of UNT’s Division of Research and Innovation says the collaboration will boost computing power and cyberinfrastructure resources for the school’s research teams which will have “extraordinary long-term impacts.”


[Photo: Courtesy of At Home]

⟫ PRIVATE PLANS: Plano-based At Home agreed to sell to private equity firm Hellman & Friedman in a $2.8 billion deal announced on Thursday. The deal, which “no doubt takes both the retail and home furnishings world by a bit of a surprise,” immediately spiked the company’s stock price yesterday, according to Forbes. It’s the latest twist in an up-and-down history, that’s been “very up” recently: The company, which has roots in craft-space store Garden Ridge that went into bankruptcy in 2004, rebranded and went public in 2015. Since then, it’s grown “far beyond its Texas HQ” with about 220 stores and annual revenue of about $1.8 billion, the publication says.

illustration: Oksana Raievska via iStock

⟫ FITNESS FUNDING: Southlake-based startup Predictive Fitness, which uses big data, advanced analytics, and AI to optimize health and fitness for people, has raised more than $1.5 million in equity funding from nine investors on its $2 million offering, per an SEC filing. The startup reported raising $800,000 last year and aims to takes the guesswork out of training and performance by using biometrics, genetics, and activity data.

[Photo: Courtesy Tyler Shin]

⟫ FUTURE OF FOOD: The ghost kitchen concept took off in the pandemic, and Garland-based Revolving Kitchen, which operates something like a coworking space for commercial kitchens has grown alongside the trend. The startup expects to hit capacity this summer and looks to open three new locations in Dallas, Plano, and Allen, reports the Dallas Business Journal. In other recent moves, founder Tyler Shin launched a virtual food hall app that allows people to order from multiple restaurants with a single delivery fee. Read more about how the innovator is helping restaurants cook great food in our Q&A.


⟫ FOLLOW THE MONEY: Carrollton-based logistics startup Selery is getting backing to the tune of $2 million to boost its e-commerce efforts, reports the Dallas Business Journal. Provided by Dallas-based Cypress Growth Capital, the deal gives assistance but without taking on dilution, Selery CEO Jason Taylor said in the publication.

Thursday, May 6


RepairSmith officially announced its at-home car repair and maintenance service in Dallas and Houston. Next up is Austin, the company says.

[Courtesy of RepairSmith]

⓵ OVERDRIVE: Innovative on-demand auto mechanic RepairSmith has expanded to Dallas and Houston, with Austin soon to follow. It makes sense to rev up in the Lone State State: Our residents drive nearly 50 percent more miles per year than residents in other urban locations, the company points out. Founded in 2019 in LA, the startup was named to Fast Company’s list of 10 “most innovative transportation companies of 2021,” alongside Tesla, Waymo, and more. The Daimler AG-backed shop-on-wheels makes house calls in customized Mercedes Sprinters and other vans to service business fleets and individual car owners. It also offers a free repair program called Jump Start for nonprofits.

[Photo: Courtesy of Thompson Dallas]

⓶ HOT LIST: Luxe hotel Thompson Dallas is the city’s only hotel to make Conde Nast’s new list of 69 best new hotels in the world. The hotel, located in the historic George Dahl– designed 52-story The National on Akard St., was part of one of the largest adaptive reuse projects in the history of Texas. The more than $450 million preservation project included the reuse of salvaged materials and restoration. The hotel, which opened last November, is one of three hotels in Texas listed—and among only 24 in the U.S.

[Photo: hhl3271/istockphoto]

⓷ SMART COOKIES: The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas have teamed up with Comerica Bank for a “$ensible program.” Known for their cookies and STEM programs, the scouts are adding financial education to their patch list—proof of “building money management skills now that can continue to pay off decades in the future,” according to My Sweet Charity.

Wednesday, May 5


Photo: Match Group

⓵ LOVE SHOTS: Had your vaccine? Time to take a shot at romance! The trend has injected passionate sales growth in Match Group’s dating apps businesses, reports the DBJ. With COVID vaccines flowing, more people are swiping right—and closing their social distances. The company reported double-digit subscriber growth in the first quarter, with operating income of $189M, up 38 percent. It expects 22-24 percent growth in Q2. “As we head into summer, with a growing number of people getting vaccinated, we cannot help but be excited about the future,” said a shareholders letter from CEO Shar Durbey and COO Gary Swidler. Match shares were up as much as 10% in trading today, reports Bloomberg.

Sportsdigita Founder and CEO Angelina Lawton [Photo: Sportsdigita]

⓶ SPORTS SPURT: Sportsdigita has raised $5M to help double its size—and open an office in Dallas. The Edina, MN-based sports marketing tech company is getting the bulk of its funding from Peak6, which also led Sportsdigita’s $3M 2017 seeding, reports the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. CEO Angelina Lawton hopes her company will grow from 52 employees to 100+ by end of year, with the new Dallas office supporting the growth. The company’s marquee product: Digideck, a cloud-based presentation tool providing virtual tours of stadiums and other multimedia experiences, for sports teams and corporate clients alike. Lawton earlier estimated sales topping $10M in 2021.

TWU’s Spring Athena V Team: Emily Blanton, Ashley Short, Vanessa Parnell, Elizabeth Schatte, and Yuzek Rodriguez [Photo: TWU]

 A PAIN IN THE CAPSULE: An all-female design competition team at TWU faced an out-of-this world challenge: curing headaches in space. The five kinesiology seniors competed in the Texas Space Grant Consortium Design Challenge Showcase April 20-21. The NASA-sponsored TSGC Design Challenge offers undergraduate students an opportunity to propose, design, and build a solution for NASA mission objectives. The TWU team conquered microgravity by designing a two-piece “Mask-Gaiter” to regulate CO2 inhalation and blood temperature in the brain. Twenty teams participated virtually in a final Q&A session with judges; the TWU team placed seventh.

What else?

Photo: Nebula Mat

⟫ SHOE’S ON FIRST: The group behind Dallas management consulting company Collaborative Mind (CMIND) is Kickstarting Nebula Mat: a “highly intuitive smart door mat that automatically releases a medical-grade mist that minimizes germs from the bottom of your shoes,” the company said in a statement. One shoe can carry 440,000 particles of nasty bacteria, the company says. To fight them, the mat has replaceable misting pods with an EPA-approved solution, and a microfiber drying area. Science marches on!

Image: KarbonPay

⟫ PAY UP: KarbonPay, a cloud-based payroll calculations SaaS tool, has hit a $500K Wefundr crowdfunding milestone, raising its total funding to nearly $700K, reports NTX Inno. The company is looking to top out its crowdfunding raise at $1.07M with a pre-money valuation of $6.2M. KarbonPay was also recently selected to raise funds through a private crowdfunding raise on Fundable, which could net the company and its founder Brad Price $500K more.

⟫ VERY BENEFICIAL: Startup Collective Health has reached a $1.5B valuation after raising $280M in new funding, reports the DMN. Its investors include Health Care Service Corporation, a major seller of Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans. Health care “needs to become like anything else that you buy for the enterprise: a primarily data driven-decision,” Ali Diab, Collective Health’s co-founder and chief executive officer, told the DMN.

Tuesday, May 4


Vanessa Ogle Enseo founder and CEO_Dallas Innovator

[Photo: Courtesy of Enseo]

⓵ SENIOR SMART LIVING: Fast-growing Plano touchless tech innovator Enseo has expanded into senior living with smart apartment solutions. Called “Fido,” Enseo’s room control system aims to simplify technology for residents and provide operating savings for communities. Taking into account the unique challenges of seniors, the company also offers fall prevention lighting, sensors to avoid floods, and more.  COVID underscored “the importance of communication, entertainment, and smart living spaces for seniors, said Vanessa Ogle (above), CEO and founder of Enseo Holdings, in a statement. “We’ve spent 21 years providing these exact services.” The system was recently installed in the Calif.-based Atria Newport Beach community. 

[Image: Courtesy of Learfield]

⓶ ESPORTS EVENT: Plano-based collegiate sports marketing company Learfield IMG College is adding to its intercollegiate esports league. Level Next, which was originally created in partnership with video game icon Electronic Arts, will add a new game titled “Rocket League” thanks to a new partnership with Psyonix. The Level Next Rocket League Spring Showcase, a free nationwide event is now open for registration to players attending a four-year accredited university.  Beginning on May 10, the showcase includes a $125,000 total cash prize pool. Learfield’s “long-term plan was to transform itself from a sponsorship sales organization into a digital, data, and content business,” reported Sports Business Journal earlier this year.

[Image via D CEO]

⓷ TECH TAKEOFF: Commercial real estate veteran Bob Young says industry tech and research teams rose to the challenge of the pandemic. The technology tools expanded to meet the moment—and they’ll be a part of going forward, according to the Weitzman exec. Young shares his take on how COVID has propelled CRE tech in D CEO. 


Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has taken a 20 percent stake in sports-themed bar and eatery Walk-On, CNBC reports. The co-ownership deal holds a “genuine connection” for Prescott since it’s based in his home state Lousiana. The quarterback recently invested in Plano-based connected workout service OxeFit.

Monday, May 3


Photo: monkeybusinessimages/iStock

⓵ BIG BUCKS FOR SMALL BIZ: Comerica Bank has committed $5 billion to small business lending over the next three years. It’s also expanded its RISE! Initiative to help boost small business growth. “Coming out of this pandemic, now more than ever, small businesses need our support,” said Cassandra McKinney, EVP of Comerica’s Retail Bank. Last year Comerica made nearly 20,000 loans totaling $3.9B under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). So far in 2021, it’s funded $1B in the second PPP round. The bank has also invested in local nonprofits and directed $12M to aid small and micro businesses in communities adversely impacted by COVID-19. It continues to support Comerica $ense programs, Small Business Bootcamps, and the National Business League’s Black Capital Access Program.

⓶ MAGIC LANTERN: Dallas-based Lantern Pharma has formed an R&D collaboration with Actuate Therapeutics to focus on leveraging Lantern’s RADR machine learning technology, large-scale oncology datasets, and artificial intelligence platform. The goal: Accelerate key aspects of Actuate’s 9-ING-41 drug candidate, a best-in-class GSK-3β inhibitor currently in multiple Phase 2 clinical trials, including for pancreatic cancer. Under the deal, Lantern will receive upfront equity in Actuate subject to benchmark conditions. As we noted in November, Lantern had surpassed 1 billion data points on its AI platform. That figure has since rocketed to 4.6 billion, Lantern reports. According to the journal Cancer Medicine, biomarkers used in patient stratification and monitoring in oncology clinical trials improve the likelihood of drug regulatory approvals by a factor of five. 

[Image: Caterpillar]

⓷ CAT IN THE BAG: The electrifying news landed Thursday: Caterpillar is moving its Electric Power Division to Las Colinas. According to the DBJ, Caterpillar will take multiple floors in Williams Square’s West Tower, with an early 2022 move-in and potentially “hundreds” of jobs. Caterpillar is merging offices from several states for the Irving move. The division delivers custom power solutions, electric power products, and applications from smart energy storage to microgrids to gas gensets that help convert biogas to clean energy. “The Dallas Regional Chamber is thrilled that Caterpillar, one of the world’s great and most admired companies, has decided to establish a regional headquarters presence in Irving,” Dale Petroskey, president and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber, told the DBJ. “The Dallas region’s diverse economy, abundance of outstanding talent, and excellent quality of life will make for an ideal location for Caterpillar and the team moving to the region.”


⟫ DIGITALLY OPERATIC – Now you can spend a night at the opera anywhere, 24/7. The Dallas Opera just launched its new subscription streaming platform  thedallasopera.TV at $4.99 a month, with originals available to all as rentals.

⟫ RING AROUND THE SCHOLAR – Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark is awarding 2021 Bright Futures Scholarships worth $960K to 48 college-bound students. Past recipients have become successes in medicine, education, and engineering. 

⟫ GREAT OUTDOORS – Irving-based PrimeSource Building Products, Inc., is acquiring Tampa-based Nationwide Industries, a provider of highly engineered outdoor living and security products. PrimeSource is backed by Clearlake Capital Group, L.P.

Friday, April 30

TOP 10

 New York Fintech Katapult Hires Execs Following an HQ Move to Plano
 The Pitch: Cornbread Hustle Sweeps Five Categories, Including Social Innovator of the Year
 Denton Nonprofit Carton Council Wants to Make Sure Cartons Don’t End Up in Landfills
 Dallas Fintech Zirtue Receives Investment From Northwestern Mutual, Bringing Its Total Seed Funding to $4M
 Mavenir Gets a $500M Investment From Koch Strategic Platforms
 Dallas-Based Hair and Beauty Startup You Go Natural Raises $2 Million in Seed Funding Round
 Handcrafted Footwear Company Twisted X Raises Minimum Wage and Invests in Its Talent
Falkon Technologies to Double Team, Expand Footprint With a Grant from the McKinney Innovation Fund
 Made For Motherhood: Neiman Marcus Veterans Create Luxury Activewear for Moms-To-Be
 Medchart Raises $17M in Seed and Series A Funding to Hire Talent, Expand Product Innovation


Dallas Cowboys partnership with Hyperice

Photo: Hyperice

⟫ MUSCLING IN: The Dallas Cowboys are about to get thumped—by $700 million recovery tech firm Hyperice. A new multi-year partnership will optimize player performance with innovative handheld percussion massage devices and other tech. “At the Dallas Cowboys, we’re always in search of cutting-edge technology that helps our athletes recover quickly and efficiently to stay on the field,” Cowboys Head Athletic Trainer Jim Maurer said in a statement. Valued at $700 million, Calif.-based Hyperice has attracted $48 million in investments from the NBA, the NFL’s investment arm 32 Equity, and athletes including Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt, the Washington Wizards’ Russell Westbrook, golfer Ricky Fowler, tennis star Naomi Osaka, and other sports royalty.

pga headquarters frisco

[Rendering: PGA]

⓶ FORE IN FRISCO: PGA of America’s headquarters (rendering above) is relocating from Florida and reached its construction midpoint last month. Meanwhile, the OMNI PGA Frisco Resort has been waiting to tee off through much of the pandemic. Now construction is finally underway, the DMN reported yesterday. As we noted back in April 2019, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh envisions the resort as part of an innovative “Silicon Valley of Golf” in Frisco. With 500 rooms and 125,000 square feet of conference and meeting space, the resort will be part of the PGA’s 600-acre, $500M+ development—which will feature two championship-level golf courses, a golf entertainment district, a technologically advanced retail village, and the PGA’s new 106,622-square-foot HQ. The project could generate $2.5 billion in economic impact over the next 20 years, according to a Frisco-commissioned feasibility study.

Jacobs and NASA Begin Processing of Space Launch System Core Stage, Received Final Piece of Artemis I Flight Hardware

[Image: courtesy of Jacobs]

 TO THE MOON: Dallas-based Jacobs, which is NASA’s largest services contractor, has delivered the final piece of Artemis I flight hardware to the Kennedy Space Center this week. It’s a critical step in the preparation for the launch of the Space Launch System rocket. An uncrewed Orion spacecraft will rocket around the moon and back to Earth later this year. That test flight paves the way for future Artemis missions with astronauts, according to the company.


⟫  DONE DEAL: Dallas-based o9 Solutions, which became one of North Texas’ newest unicorns last year, has a “new chapter” in its partnership with Deloitte. A new agreement extends their collaboration to operate services through a Center of Excellence. The team-up aims to accelerate digital transformation and value realization in the CPG, retail, high-tech, and industrial products sectors with improved delivery timelines, cost, and user adoption. “Operating successfully in today’s complex supply chain networks requires a new mindset,” said Adam Mussomeli, a principal at Deloitte Consulting, in a statement. AI software-maker o9 Solutions, founded by tech entrepreneurs Sanjiv Sidhu and Chakri Gottemukkala in 2009, raised a $100 million investment from KKR’s second tech growth fund in 2020. The company brings together tech innovations into one platform.

steve miff parkland pcci covid 19 innovation

Steve MIff [Image via PCCI]

⟫ PUSH BACK: This week, the experts at the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation revised their estimate of when Dallas County could hit herd immunity to late June or July. That’s partly due to a dropping of demand for vaccinations, per PCCI.  Herd immunity, defined as when 80 percent of folks are vaccinated or have had COVID-19, is at about 64 percent of the threshold, Dr. Steve Miff (above) said on WFAA. D Magazine takes a look at 12 Dallas ZIP codes that have hit 80 percent herd immunity. 

Thursday, April 29


[Courtesy of Tappit]

⓵ TECH TALENT: U.K.-founded cashless payment tech startup Tappit, which is planting its U.S. roots in Plano, has a new CFO. Jonathan Simkins most recently led the spinout of cybersecurity company Appgate from Cyxtera Technologies. One of his first priorities? Hire more people, writes Fortune. “I don’t feel right now we have enough employees to handle the interest we’re getting and the demand for the product, which means we’re leaving out future revenue,” he says in the publication. The privately held company provides global payment and data ecosystems for sports, events, venues, and stadiums. The startup, which competes with the likes of Apple Pay and Google Pay, currently has less than 20 U.S. employees with multiple jobs listed on LinkedIn. The new CFO is bullish on the product: “I’ll put it this way, I took this job when I saw the data product. It blew me away,” he says in Fortune.

SOAR fund

[Courtesy of SOAR]

⓶ APPLY NOW: A new multi-million fund launched this week to provide affordable capital to nonprofits and small businesses in the South, including Texas. The Southern Opportunity and Resilience Fund, or SOAR, was developed by 13 community development financial institutions, including Liftfund and PeopleFund, to help businesses rebuild from the pandemic. SOAR, which has $50 million in initial commitments from investors. plans to raise $150 million. It’s open for applications for very low-interest loans of up to $100,000 and free business support.


⓷ (FAIR) TRADE TALK: RevTech Ventures has a brand new show for innovators. Called The Rev Show, this month’s episode features Dallas-based Rachel Bentley of The Citizenry (above), one of RevTech’s earliest investments, and Kinda Lincoln of Raven + Lily, an emerging Austin-based brand. You’ll also learn about a blockchain-as-a-service platform that can help “prove up” claims such as “fair trade,” “certified organic,” and “certified green” with an audit trail back to the source. Topl, one of RevTech’s newest investments, will take a deep dive on how to build profitable brands with fair trade as a core principle. RevTech Managing Director Dave Matthews‘ One-Man-Band is the musical guest. Register here to catch the show hosted by Craig Shacklett tomorrow (Friday, April 30) at 5:30 p.m.


Illustration: useng/iStock

⟫  The DEC Network’s flagship State of Entrepreneurship event announced its speaker lineup and a new title sponsor that helps take innovations from idea to market in 30 days. The hybrid event, which celebrates the people behind North Texas’ thriving startup ecosystem, will take place in person and virtually on May 5. This year attendees can enter to win $100,00 of startup support.

Wednesday, April 28

Michael Petersen, M.D. [Photo: Business Wire]

⓵ NEW HIRE: NTT DATA announced it’s bringing health equity thought leader Michael Petersen onto the team as its new Chief Clinical Innovation Officer. He is expected to help the Plano-headquartered company develop the agenda and lead discussions around product and service design, technology access, and more to address inequities and deliver on services to improve health justice, per a statement. By bringing Petersen onto its growing healthcare consulting leadership team, NTT DATA is able to build on its commitment to better health and wellbeing.

Nikki Wilson, chief talent and culture officer at The Richards Group

⓶ TALENT AND CULTURE: In other hiring news, Nikki Wilson is joining The Richards Group as its first chief talent and culture officer. Her addition is expected to further the Dallas agency’s commitment to a broader and more diverse workforce, while focusing on its people. Wilson will also be part of The Richards Group’s newly appointed Leadership Council. Prior to her new role, Wilson was the human resources and labor relations director at General Motors, where she worked for 18 years.

⓷ BUSINESS WORKFLOW:  Prakat Solutions, a tech company with offices in Dallas, has partnered with Dragonchain to create niche clean energy, fintech, and healthcare blockchain solutions. The partnership creates a unique ‘blockchain for business’ solution that began as the ‘Disney Private Blockchain Platform,’ says Prakat CEO Anuradha Biswas. Dragonchain founder Joe Roets created the blockchain technology at The Walt Disney Company in 2014. The patented tech, which can process hundreds of millions of transactions in 24 hours, is multi-currency and quantum-resistant, according to Prakat.


Nadine Lee [Photo: DART]

⟫  TRANSIT LEADER: Since Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Gary Thomas retired last year, the DART board of directors has announced its next president and CEO as Nadine Lee, who is joining the team from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO). Per D Magazine, Lee served as the chief of staff at METRO and was at the helm of its $2.1 billion Better Bus Initiative. Lee brings a plethora of experience to the role as she is also a professional engineer registered in Colorado and Kansas and previously helped develop bus rapid transit projects with the Denver Regional Transportation District. DART also recently announced a new bus network it has in the works.

Ben Vann, founder and CEO of Dallas-based Impact Ventures

Ben Vann, founder and CEO of Dallas-based Impact Ventures

⟫  SEEDING IMPACT: Dallas’ Impact Ventures, a nonprofit on the cusp of launching the Dallas Inclusive Capital Fund, has announced a $200,000 “catalytic investment” from the Phillips Foundation. The new capital fund is the first locally grown and minority-led integrated capital fund for woman- and BIPOC-led businesses in North Texas, per Impact Ventures. “We’re honored to invest in Impact Ventures’ expansion at such an inflection point,” said Elizabeth Carlock Phillips, executive director of the Phillips Foundation. The seed funding follows a recent $450,000 grant received by the nonprofit from the Communities Foundation of Texas.

Tuesday, April 27


[Photo: Kimzy Nanney/Unsplash. Logo: Panda Biotech]

⓵  HEMP JEANS?: Dallas’ Panda Biotech has expanded its collaboration with global apparel company Kontoor Brands, which includes Wrangler and Lee in its brand portfolio. Together, the companies aim to bring traceability and scale to U.S. textile-grade cottonized hemp. Kontoor sees sustainable hemp as “the perfect complement fiber to cotton,” per Sourcing Journal.  Panda Biotech, a “first mover” in the relatively new industrial hemp fiber industry, was founded by Bob Carter, an entrepreneur who also started Panda Power Funds, a private equity firm in the clean energy space, and Panda Energy International, a power plant construction company.

[Image: Courtesy of Lyft]

  SELF-DRIVING SALE: As Lyft ride-hailing demand rebounds, the company is selling self-driving unit Level 5 to a Toyota subsidiary for $550 million, reports Bloomberg. Woven Planet Holdings, an extension of Toyota’s research division, aims to advance self-driving car technology. Lyft’s deal follows that of Uber, which sold its autonomous group to Aurora Innovation last year.

Gold’s Gym Introduces the “Gym of the Future” with Berlin Flagship Campus

[Image: Gold’s Gym]

  FITNESS FLAGSHIP: Dallas fitness franchise Gold’s Gym, which was acquired by RSG Group last year, has introduced the “gym of the future” at its Berlin flagship campus where its brand owner is headquartered. Noted as a proof of concept and the inspiration for all future Gold’s Gyms, it’s also the first commercial gym with a LEED Platinum certification, the company says. Take a drone flythrough tour here.


[Courtesy of Amazon]

Amazon has launched in-garage grocery delivery in more than 5,000 cities, mere months after the program’s pilot in Dallas and four other cities. In other news, a report says Amazon will pass Walmart in retail sales in 2025, suggesting the e-commerce giant has momentum on its side. 

A North Texas vaccine trial focused on kids is about to be underway. Fort Worth’s Benchmark Research is enrolling kids as young as six for trials of the Novavax vaccine, per NBC 5 DFW.

High-tech wine bar Vinotopia at Legacy Hall in Plano will let folks try before they buy with Wine Station smart dispensers for small sips. The hybrid bar and shop, a new concept from FB Society, opens on April 30. 

Monday, April 26


DJO orthopedic acquisition, image of handshake

[Image: Nixxphotography/istockphoto]

⓵ DONE DEAL: Dallas-based DJO Global, a maker of medical tech that aims to get and keep people moving, closed its acquisition of MedShape, a privately held company founded in 2005 that makes innovative orthopedic shape memory devices—its fourth in under six months. The company has “taken another giant step” to being a major player in the ortho device market, writes Fierce Biotech. DJO itself was acquired by publicly traded tech company Colfax Corporation (NYSE: CFX) in more than $3 billion deal in 2019. Colfax had big news in March: The company will split into two public companies next year. That split—with “businesses including DJO forming a new, stand-alone orthopedic device company”—will create a not-yet-named medical device company based in Wilmington, Del., along with a significant presence in Dallas, per Medical Design and Outsourcing.

  RAISING THE ROOF: Addison-based disinfection tech company CASPR Group has a new air-cleaning solution for building managers and owners: Blu Tile. Rather than needing HVAC installation, CASPR says its solution is as easy as replacing a ceiling tile, according to CEO Scott Wheeler.  CASPR’s unique patent-pending tech converts oxygen and moisture in the air to low levels of hydrogen peroxide, which are dispersed continuously throughout a building, reducing pathogens in the air and on surfaces safely, the company says.

[Image: Courtesy IF/THEN]
  ART OF THE POSSIBLE: NorthPark Center in Dallas will host the most life-sized statues of women in one place. #IfThenSheCan—The Exhibit, a free exhibit on display from May 15 to Oct 2021, features more than 120 female STEM professionals and role models from a variety of industries including entertainment, fashion, sports, business, and academia. Each woman’s full-length silhouette was 3D printed in the largest scale project of its type. Nicole Small, CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies and founder of the IF/THEN initiative wants to showcase what’s possible for girls in STEM. The organization’s commitment is unwavering: “IF she can see it, THEN she can be it.”

Friday, April 23


 Two Dallas Companies Make Deloitte and Wall Street Journal’s Second Annual U.S. Best Managed Companies List

  Ask Doctor Bitcoin: This Dallas Entrepreneur and Blockchain Expert Offers Free Advice for Emerging Crypto Market

  Dallas-Area Robot Mowing Tech Firm Buys Mowbot, Deepens Ties to Sweden’s Husqvarna

  Virtually Beautiful: Mary Kay Launches Suite 13

  Plano Aviation Manufacturer Unveils Latest Unmanned Aircraft System With More Power and Small Footprint

  Dallas-Based Hair and Beauty Startup You Go Natural Raises $2 Million in Seed Funding Round

  Mavenir Gets a $500M Investment From Koch Strategic Platforms

  Dallas-Fort Worth Joins Bay Area and NYC in Addressing Lack of Venture Capital Funding for Female-Founded Companies

  Plano-Based CharaChorder’s New Kickstarter Product Wants to Help You Type Faster Than Any Other Keyboard

  First Look: Capital One Reveals Plans for Its First-Ever Airport Lounge at DFW. Up next, D.C.’s Dulles.


⓵ THE PITCH: At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas‘ fifth annual social innovation competition, local staffing agency for second chances Cornbread Hustle won a total of $145,000 in funding. The startup was the winner in five categories, including Social Innovator of the Year. Presented by AT&T, The Pitch is a social innovation competition that culminates United Way’s yearlong Social Innovation Accelerator program with Accenture (United Way is currently accepting applications for the next cohort, due April 30). Each competitor pitched their organization’s innovative solutions to improve United Way’s area of interest—education, income, and health—in North Texas. If you couldn’t watch, check out our overview of every pitch. Also announced was United Way’s plans to expand its social innovation work in North Texas with a new incubator program exclusively for women and entrepreneurs of color.

Pictured above, Cornbread Hustle founder Cheri Garcia was presented a $60,000 check and named Social Innovator of the Year by United Way’s Jennifer Sampson and AT&T’s Anne Chow.

Rendering: MJDII Architects

⓶ GROUND BREAKER: Electronic parts maker Micropac Industries plans to invest $17 million in a new HQ and manufacturing facility in Garland that will double its space—and potentially, its workforce. The high-tech company expects to break ground in May, according to the Dallas Morning News. Founded in 1963, the company announced an accelerated pace of innovation last year, along with a new logo. The new mark was designed to “accentuate Micropac’s drive to the new levels of innovation which accelerates adoption of technology and change in historically cautious markets,”  it said at the time. Micropac’s products are used around the world in a variety of industries, including military, aviation, space, medical, and industrial.

canoo ev dallas electric vehicle

Image: Courtesy of Canoo; video screenshot

⓷ EV EXPANSION: Electric vehicle maker Canoo will open executive offices in Dallas. The LA-based mobility tech company also announced the appointment of Executive Chairman and investor Tony Aquila to an expanded role as CEO. Aquila, one of the company’s largest investors, will focus on bringing the company’s EVs to the masses and maximizing the value of its intellectual property. Aquila expects to commercialize Canoo’s previously announced vehicles, including a fully electric pickup truck, a multi-purpose delivery vehicle, and a lifestyle vehicle. “We don’t have to wait for EV technology to become economic for consumers,” Aquila said in a statement. “It already is, which is why our business model and our design is made for the delivery and tradespeople who rely on their vehicles for work—the people who build America.”

The company recently revealed its purpose-built pickup truck, pictured above with a camper shell. The truck, which has a modular bed has more than 200 miles of range and “instant acceleration, Canoo says.


Browse our curated selection of contests, nominations, pitches, and grants. From entrepreneurs to corporates, creatives to inventors, educators to social innovators, here’s a roundup of goodies.

Deadlines coming up include:

  • Fast Company’s Brands That Matter (Today)
  • Silicon Valley Bank’s Southwest Investor Trek (April 26, 5PM CST)
  • Kubota’s Hometown Proud Grant (April 27)
  • D CEO’s Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards (April 30)
  • The J.M. Kaplan Fund’s 2021 J.M.K. Innovation Prize (April 30)
  • Inc. 5000 (April 30)
  • Fast Company’s Innovation By Design (April 30)
  • Fast Company’s Next Big Things in Tech (May 14)
  • The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program (May 27)

Go here for details and other upcoming opportunities.

Thursday, April 22



[Illustration by Lukutin77 via iStock]

TRANSFORMATION TEAM: Mr. Cooper Group is partnering with Google on a new AI initiative that can help mortgage customers adopt digital services such as Google’s DocAI. Coppell-based Mr. Cooper, one of the largest home loan servicers in the U.S., and Google Cloud engineers will work side-by-side to digitize the core mortgage process. The plan is to create a more personalized customer experience by using conversational AI to make things easier for customers—and the industry, per a news release. Google Cloud’s Rajen Sheth, who handles AI and industry solutions, is ready to tackle transformation with Mr. Cooper: “The heavily manual practices required in the mortgage process creates a massive drain on the bottom line and overall operational efficiency.”

Drexell Owusu [Photo: The Dallas Foundation]

IMPACT INNOVATOR: The first community foundation in Texas—The Dallas Foundation— has a new executive role. Drexell Owusu (above) has been named Chief Impact Officer, starting April 26. Most recently, Owusu led the Dallas Regional Chamber’s efforts to equitably grow and develop the existing regional education and workforce pipeline as the Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce. In his new role, he’ll lead a team focused on the Foundation’s community impact strategy to reduce intergenerational poverty and improve child well-being. Owusu’s career spans strategy, investment, and impact: Prior to his stint at the DRC, he founded Brave Capital Partners, an investment company focused on catalyzing minority communities and consultancy The Owl Group. Corporate leadership roles include Civitas, Blockbuster, FedExOffice, and Accenture. At Civitas, Owusu was responsible for managing the GrowSouth Fund, a double-bottom line investment fund focused on Southern Dallas.

[Image: sdecoret via istock]

LAST CALL FOR TECH TREK: Are you a tech-focused startup? Silicon Valley Bank and Wilson Sonsini have teamed up on a Southwest Investor Trek to showcase top early-stage companies. Startups can connect with and pitch VC investors. Eligibility for tech-focused companies—direct to consumer, B2B, mobile/web application, development tools, and digital health (not life science)—includes:
    • Plans to raise a seed or Series A round of $1-$10M by the end of 2021
    • Having an MVP or a product with sales to end customers
    • Based in the Southwest
Learn more and apply here. (This just in: The official April 23 deadline has been extended to Monday, April 26, 5 p.m. CST.)


Two prominent North Texas M&A deals closed this week.

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⟫ Govtech leader Tyler Tech’s $2.3 billion acquisition of NICits largest yet—was completed on Wednesday. NIC technologies will advance Plano-based Tyler’s digital services. If you’ve renewed or purchased a passport or professional license, you likely used NIC’s tech, the company says. Most recently, NIC provided solutions for COVID-19 vaccination administration. Pictured are Tyler’s Lynn Moore, left, and NIC’s Harry Herington.

RealPage headquarters in Richardson [Photo: Michael Samples]

⟫ Thomas Bravo also completed its acquisition of Richardson-based RealPage, which will become a privately held company no longer listed on the Nasdaq. The all-cash transaction values the real estate tech firm at about $10.2 billion. “It’s a new chapter, says Chairman and CEO Steve Winn, in a statement. Winn, who founded RealPage in 1998, says the company’s tech “revolutionized digital transformation in the real estate industry, and we believe the best is yet to come.”

Wednesday, April 21


LOW-CARBON FUTURE: Plano-based Toyota will explore a strategic alliance with Chevron to lead the development of commercially viable, large-scale businesses in hydrogen. The goal? To advance a “functional, thriving global hydrogen economy”—and carbon neutrality. The companies have three main priorities: public policy, understanding market demand now and in the future, and exploring opportunities for joint research and development. Toyota EVP Bob Carter (above) says the company’s experience in developing hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric technology combined with Chevron’s deep resources in the energy sector could create new transportation choices.

Elbit Systems of Americas Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle for the U.S. Marine Corps.

⓶ BATTLEFIELD EDGE: Fort Worth-based Elbit Systems of America was awarded a $41 million deal for the supply of night vision systems and spare components to the U.S. Marine Corps. The order is part of $249 million five year contract for Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle systems initiated in 2019. “Marines need to quickly understand their surroundings and act to engage their targets – no matter the light conditions,” president and CEO Raanan Horowitz said in a statement. The helmet-mounted high tech goggles with thermal imaging and extra-long run times give Marines an edge, the company says. The company’s real-world tech, which may seem like science fiction helps soldiers to be operational anywhere in the world, under any type of conditions.

⓷  PROPTECH PROTECTION: As short-term rental bookings have doubled their pre-pandemic levels, Dallas-based NoiseAware has hit a new milestone: 1 million stays monitored. The smart noise monitoring company protects customers from nuisance issues with its privacy-safe “peace of mind” solution. The startup, which just raised an $8 million Series A, has driven growth from long-standing ties with Airbnb and other property management companies. “The passionate return to safe travel has been a pleasure to witness,” said CEO Andrew Schulz (above). And, as he points out, “our services were needed more than ever.”

Photo credits (from top): Courtesy of Toyota, Elbit Systems of America, and Noiseaware. Illustration via istockphoto.

Tuesday, April 20


John Gomes, Julia Spillman, and Fredrik Eklund douglas Ellison North Texas REal EState

From left: John Gomes, Julia Spillman, and Fredrik Eklund

⓵ TIPPING POINT: Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing celebrity Fredrik Eklund is part of a new powerhouse real estate team (above) in North Texas. Douglas Elliman Real Estate, one of the largest residential real estate firms in the country, is expanding in Dallas, writes D CEO. The mega firm, which will hit the market with $1.1 billion in new local projects, says “Texas is the most exciting market in the country right now, with buyers from California, New York, and Florida relocating here.” CEO Jacob Sudhoff of Douglas Elliman, Texas, plans to raise the bar: “Our technology advances, combined with our national footprint and international reach, is going to bring unprecedented platform to Dallas like no other firm.” In March, the firm’s parent company, Vector Group, announced the launch of a proptech investment venture, New Valley Ventures. It acquired a stake in Dallas-based startup Rechat, a real estate agent lead-to-close workflow platform.

⓶ BIOTECH FUNDING: Dallas-based Spectral MD, which uses data and AI to advance wound care, has gotten approval of $20.6 million for a clinical study under a contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, DBJ reports. The contract follows the $27 million the startup received in 2019 for an expanded proof-of-concept clinical trial of its DeepView device, which has the FDA’s “Breakthrough” designation. The system looks beneath the skin’s surface to assess wound and burn damage. Using deep-learning algorithms and AI, the portable device can aid clinicians in diagnosing and improving patient treatments. 

Energy Freelance has teamed with the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), which will verify the education and certification of its landmen members on the EnergyFreelance.com platform to ensure a standard of excellence and adherence to AAPL’s Code of Ethics.

Energy Freelance has teamed with the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), which will verify the education and certification of its landmen members on the EnergyFreelance.com platform to ensure a standard of excellence and adherence to AAPL’s Code of Ethics.

⓷ ON-DEMAND TALENT: A Fort Worth energy software company has launched an online platform to connect the energy industry to freelancers. Energy Freelance opens a previously unavailable market segment, the company says: “Millions of landmen, geologists, petroleum engineers, and others now have a dedicated place to find work they couldn’t easily get in front of previously.”  MineralWare, which was founded in 2014, is a privately-held provider of mineral management software used by banks, institutions, investment funds, foundations, family offices and individuals. “Uber has proven that there is a strong market for the on-demand services and be-your-own-boss model,” says CEO and Co-Founder Ryan Vinson. “We’re taking that same concept and applying it to a vast and growing energy marketplace.” This year, the startup also plans to launch an online oil and gas asset marketplace called Energy Domain, per a news release.

Photo credits (from top): Johnny Than, Spectral MD, MineralWare

Monday, April 19


[Image: Courtesy Martin UAV]

⓵ HIGH FLYING: Martin UAV’s unmanned VTOL aircraft bested L3Harris and its FVR-90 hybrid quadcopter to win the Mi2 Technology Demonstration competition. Last week, a US Navy spokesperson announced it intends to award a prototyping contract to the Plano-based aerospace company in July, per Janes INTEL. Martin UAV will initially provide three complete systems, but a final number will be determined pending contract negotiations. The company recently unveiled the V-BAT 128, a tail-sitting, fixed-wing UAV with a less-than 12×12 footprint. Designed to be accessible and easily implemented, it takes just 30  minutes for two people to assemble, the company said. Martin UAV also recently supported United States Southern Command’s counter narcotics operations to disrupt the flow of drugs in a 10-month mission.

⓶  TRAVEL REWARDS: Capital One will open its first-ever airport lounge this summer, starting at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Packed with a “suite of features,” the company wants to provide unique amenities to help customers get the most out of travel. In addition to quiet working spaces and secure lockers, its 10,000 square-foot lounge in Terminal D will offer curated food options from local chefs, cocktails on tap, meditation and yoga studios, nursing rooms, shower suites, and (much) more. An industry-leading grab-and-go food section will offer healthy selections with sustainable packaging “that will make ‘sad salads’ a thing of the past,” says Capital One. A second location at Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport is slated for 2022. Check out the amenities and artist’s renderings here

GameStop CEO George Sherman [Photo courtesy of GameStop]

⓷ EXECUTIVE EXIT: GameStop CEO George Sherman (above) will leave by the end of July as the company accelerates a turnaround, according to Bloomberg. Activist investor—and next chairman—Ryan Cohen is bringing in new executives and prioritizing online commerce over brick-and-mortar retail. The game retailer’s shares, which jumped today, have risen more than 700 percent this year as of Friday—though trading is about 70 percent under the “Reddit-infused all-time high in January, CNN notes.


⟫  SOHO SQUARE: Builders will break ground soon on a $1 billion West Dallas development that will have thousands of homes and a lagoon. The Megatel project, located near Trinity Groves, will also include retail and entertainment space along with workforce housing and an affordability component. The property, which was once used for a waste disposal operation for portable toilets, will get a clean up of an old industrial site, per the DMN.

⟫  MARKET DEBUT: The DBJ takes a look behind Alkami’s recent IPO and why its move to the public market will ‘turbocharge’ the fintech. The company, helmed by CEO Mike Hansen, raised more than $400 million and garnered a multibillion valuation.

⟫  NFT TRACKER: “Every other week there’s news about Mark Cuban and NFTs now,” writes Decrypt. The billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner has invested in NFT data aggregator service CryptoSlam through his VC company, Radical Investments. The aggregator started in Texas in 2018.  In related Shark Tank news, Cuban also invested a half million dollars in Truffle Shuffle, founded by two Bay area chefs, on Friday’s episode. The startup, which sold truffles direct to restaurants, pivoted to a online cooking classes and meal kits in the pandemic. 

Friday, April 16


Robin autopilot mower lawn tech startup

Photo: Robin Autopilot

⓵  A CUT ABOVE: Robin Autopilot USA just claimed a bigger stake in the future of lawn care. The Dallas-area robotic mowing tech firm has acquired Mowbot, a competitor with 16 franchises across the U.S. and backing by Swedish powerhouse Husqvarna. As part of the deal, Robin is deepening its partnership with Husqvarna, a global leader in outdoor power products. “We’ve strategically partnered to attack the Robots as a Service (RaaS) sector,” the company said. Together with Mowbot, the Robin Autopilot plans a Dallas expansion.

Shokworks founder and CEO Alejandro Laplana [Photo: Shokworks]

⓶  FAST WINS: Dallas-based Shokworks has a new skills-based game called High Speed Hands based on the TV pilot Poker Showdown. The game, developed In collaboration with entrepreneur and poker aficionado Rob Huxley, uses the studio’s proprietary X/R, writes D CEO. The company, which moved from Miami to Dallas last year, has generated over $100M in direct revenue and cost-savings for its clients that includes Fox Sports, Real Madrid, Dupont Chemicals, FC Barcelona, Telemundo, and the United Kingdom government, the company said at the time. “Dallas has become a spot that tech companies, green energy and financial institutions are pouring into to call home,” said Founder and CEO Alejandro Laplana (above).

⓷ ON-THE-GO OPERA: The Dallas Opera has put its show on the road with a special tricked-out truck. Perfect for pop-up performances and private events, the OperaTruck will make its debut in May, per CultureMap Dallas. Dallas innovator Quincy Roberts (above), who is CEO of Roberts Trucking and a trained opera singer, retro-fitted and donated the truck. Roberts, who also is a TDO trustee and chorus member, said the pandemic was a chance to “become even more bold and creative in our approach to our mission.”



Money concept showing a wave of US dollar bills

[Photo: creisinger via istockphoto]

Dallas-based Applied Blockchain has launched into the Ethereum and Altcoin mining business with a new strategic partnership and an oversubscribed $16.5 million private equity investment. The partnership with blockchain companies SparkPool and General Mining Research (GMR) will allow the new pure play publicly traded Ethereum mining company to scale quickly, the startup said in a news release. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq “soon,” per Seeking Alpha.

⟫ Car Capital closed $20 million in debt financing. The recently launched Grapevine-based fintech startup—led by CEO and Co-Founder Justin Tisler and Chairman Brian Reed—closed on a $8.8 million Series A funding round in early April.

⟫ COMSovereign’s latest deal eyes signal processing tech, according to Washington Technology. The Dallas holding company on Wednesday announced the acquisition of Innovation Digital for $8 million in cash, debt and stock. Founder Scott Velazquez, who is “credited as a pioneer and expert in signal processing technology that mixes analog and digital techniques,” will become chief research officer at COMSovereign.  The holding company’s drone aviation arm delivered its first drone-deployed LTE network in December.

Nashville-based Premier Parking has partnered with AI-powered autonomous commerce platform Metropolis to deploy proprietary tech in Dallas and four other cities in the coming months. It plans expansion to 40 markets this year: Additional markets are based on urban density and demand for innovation in parking. Metropolis raised a $41 million Series A in February.


 Ask Doctor Bitcoin: This Dallas Entrepreneur and Blockchain Expert Offers Free Advice for Emerging Crypto Market

  AT&T Unveils a New Innovation Studio That Will Unlock the Power—and Potential Applications—of 5G

  Southern Dallas’ Redbird Mall Revitalization Brings Access, Talent, and Purchasing Power to the Area


  Dallas’ Taysha Gene Therapies Gets Worldwide Rights to Gene Therapy That Treats a Rare Neurodegenerative Disease

  UNT Masters Programs Top New Ranking of 2022 Best Graduate Schools

  Fresh Air: CASPR Group’s Disinfection Tech Can Kill Up to 99.99% of COVID-Causing Virus in 24 Hours

  PQC President Michael Sorrell to Helm The Dallas Foundation’s Board of Governors

  The Digital Divide is Real. AT&T Commits $2 Billion To Bridge the Broadband Connectivity Gap

  Hunt Energy Network’s New Venture Will Put 50 Batteries Across Texas, Giving ERCOT a Portfolio of Energy Generation

  Revolving Kitchen’s Commercial ‘Ghost’ Kitchens Help Restaurants Optimize Deliveries While Lowering Costs

Thursday, April 15

⓵  BEAUTY EXPERIENCE: Dallas-based beauty innovator Mary Kay has launched its first pop-up digital showroom. The 360-degree, 3D beauty experience will roll out in most markets by the end of 2021. “Today, technology is at the center of everything,” said Sheryl Adkins-Green, chief marketing officer for Mary Kay, The company is focused on finding “new ways for people to connect virtually for personalized low-touch experiences based in high-tech innovation.”

⓶ GIFTED: The Impact Ventures accelerator has received a $450,000 grant from the Communities Foundation of Texas, Founder Ben Vann announced today. The grant from the W.W. Carth Fund, a multiyear investment over three years, is the accelerator’s largest to date. The funds will support programming and the hiring of a full-time staff. Impact Ventures also has a new partnership with business consulting firm Jabian Consulting. The business consulting firm will support Impact Venture’s Local Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, or LEAP, with financial awards for participants.  The Atlanta-based firm, which has a local office, recently launched a micro-grant program called Project Amplify in honor of its 15-year anniversary

⓷  WORKFORCE STUDY: Earlier this week, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced the city will look at what jobs it needs post pandemic. The study, thanks to a $100,000 grant, will look at the Covid-19 impact on available jobs, identify growing sectors, and assess skills gaps that should be closed. Funded by nonprofit Bloomberg Philanthropies, the results are expected in September, KERA reports.


Images (from top): Istockphoto, City of Dallas, Mary Kay Inc.

Wednesday, April 14

⓵ IPO: Plano-based Alkami Technology is now Nasdaq listed (ALKT). The fintech’s shares posted a strong first-day performance in its U.S. market debut today, Barrons reports. The stock opened at $41.26 and peaked at $49.32, a surge of more than 43 percent from its $30 IPO pricing. The company, founded in 2009, provides a cloud-based digital banking platform and aims to level the playing field between small banks and large financial institutions. “Ultimately, everyone will go to electronic delivery of financial services,” predicted Stephen Bohanon, the founder (above) who oversees Alkami’s product direction, strategy, and sales efforts, in 2019 at Venture Dallas. The startup at the time was considered to be “under the radar.”

⓶ GROWTH TRACK: One of Dallas’ fastest-growing small businesses is joining a publicly traded company. Dallas Mechanical Group, founded in 2009, was acquired earlier this month by EMCOR Group. CEO Joe Smith and President John Smith, who are brothers and co-founders, have a goal to triple the company’s size in the next 10 years, which would put DMG revenue at $200 to $250 million, the DBJ reports. The acquisition “wasn’t part of a big exit strategy so much as, ‘How can we continue to have the resources we need to keep the company growing and make it even bigger than it is now?’” Joe Smith said in the publication.

⓷ MEASURING IMPACT: Innovation can absolutely, positively be measured, writes Forbes. Four pros, including DFW Airport’s Jodie Brinkerhoff, weigh in on how to show the innovation engine is humming with “Jedi-level” metrics. The VP of innovation creates a comprehensive report covering who the team is working with, what projects are active, and how many ideas are in the pipe, along with budget and impact details. Not every leader will read the report in depth, but “no one can say ‘I didn’t know you were doing that,’” Brinkerhoff says. For the full report on monitoring and measuring, go here.

Tuesday, April 13


5G LLC is moving its headquarters to Dallas Fort Worth⓵ HEADING WEST: 5G LLC is relocating its headquarters to Dallas-Fort Worth from Bethesda, Maryland, reports the Dallas Business Journal. “Buildings are the next generation cell towers,” says CEO Matt Davis in the publication. “The infrastructure requirements for the rollout of 5G technologies across the United States are massive.” The company, which calls itself an “aggregator of real estate for the delivery and implementation of technology solutions” on LinkedIn, thinks rooftops of commercial real estate can help satisfy that demand. Its growing “rooftop portfolio” could be a win-win-win: Landlords make revenue, wireless carriers speed deployment, and tenants get “smart” amenities—at a good rate. 5G LLC’s role as an infrastructure provider with an innovative, but simple, solution helps drive 5G deployment, the startup said in a recent news release. 5G LLC was founded in 2020 and has 36 employees, per LinkedIn.

Shravan Thadani Trive Capital⓶ TRANSFORMATIONAL UPSIDE: Legacy consumer internet brand Earthlink, bought by Dallas-based private equity firm Trive Capital in a $330 million cash deal in 2018, has completed a recapitalization. The firm’s portfolio company “carved out and turned around the business,” says Managing Director Sharavan Thandani (above). It’s a testament to the leadership team’s hard work and the firm’s collaborative partnership, he said in an email. Founded in 1994 as a dial-up internet service, Atlanta-based EarthLink looks to connect consumers and businesses to the internet over the long-term. Trive Capital, which manages about $2 billion in aggregate capital commitments, is one of the largest PE firms in Dallas.

Dallas based Haggar ⓷ READY OR NOT: Dallas’ iconic slack maker Haggar Clothing Co. is easing the transition of an “inevitable return to buttons and zippers.”  The company, which got its start in a one-room office in 1926, is looking to a flexible future with innovative four-way stretch fabrics, comfort waistbands, wash & wear products, eco-friendly yarns, and more. Haggar was acquired in 2019 by New York-based Randa Accessories, a maker of accessories under 50 brands that include Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, and Columbia Sportswear. The deal at the time reportedly created a roughly $1 billion company.



⟫ PLAYBOOK: Ready to set out on your startup journey? Our friends at TechFW break down the process in The Startup Funding Roadmap. It’s a detailed account of the path from idea to acquisition. Pro tip: Kick off with an entrepreneurial mindset. If you’re not sure what that entails, Executive Director Hayden Blackburn lists the 13 essential components in this 12-minute primer.


Photo: gopixa/iStock

⟫ Johnson & Johnson has put a pause on its vaccine rollout as feds probe rare cases of blood clots. in an email. But that FDA pause “will not significantly impact the PCCI initial estimate for Dallas County’s path to herd immunity by June,” says Steve Miff, president and CEO of Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI). To date, Dallas County has administered 61 percent Pfizer, 35 percent Moderna, and 4 percent J&J, the CEO says. According to MIff, we’re progressing at a herd immunity rate of 3 percent —”ahead of initial predictions.” PCCI forecasts that we’ll continue to make progress at 2 to 2.5 percent, maintaining the pace for mid-June. “The action by the FDA is out of ‘abundance of caution’ and it’s a strong signal of how responsive they are to any potential safety concerns,” says Miff in a statement. 

Monday, April 12


 BOUNCE BACK: Addison-based Hand Drawn Pressing churns out vinyls on the world’s first fully automatic, modernized record press. Last year, its 80,000 square-foot state-of-the-art pressing plant — one of the largest in the country — became busiest than ever in the pandemic. After a plummet of about 90 percent in March 2020, artist managers started looking for new revenue streams when they realized tours “weren’t going to happen,” according to Dustin Blocker, Hand Drawn’s Chief Creative Officer, in Central Track. But by early fall, he said, business was “picking up steam,” and things “really got insane” in December and January. “Vinyl seems to keep beating the odds in every way,” Blocker said in a Q&A.

⓶ CAFE CONCEPT: Dallas-based La Madeleine has “an innovative new partnership” that brings a mini-cafe prototype to an unexpected place: Walmart. An initial test of ten 1ocations could start with the first in Garland in July, per Culturemap Dallas.

⓷ HOT MARKET: Dallas tech salaries are spiking — and there’s no sign of the trend slowing, writes the DBJ. According to Robert Half’s Thomas Vick, some positions for key jobs have increased more than 5 percent than last year. In 2020, the average salary in tech was $97,801 in the region, per The Dice 2021 Tech Salary Report. 


⟫ TARGET UP: Plano fintech Alkami Technology now plans to sell 6 million shares priced between $26 and $28, for a valuation of about $2.33 billion, it disclosed today. The company’s IPO is expected this week: Alkami will list on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ALKT. Alkami’s CEO Mike Hansen (above) was the winner of Innovation in Finance in D CEO and Dallas Innovates’ 2020 Innovation Awards.

Friday, April 9


 Southern Dallas’ Redbird Mall Revitalization Brings Access, Talent, and Purchasing Power to the Area

  Hunt Energy Network’s New Venture Will Put 50 Batteries Across Texas, Giving ERCOT a Portfolio of Energy Generation

  ‘Plano-Based Alkami Plans IPO Launch at $2B Valuation

  Dallas-based Overhead Door Corp. Buys Innovative Market Leader of Fire and Security Doors

  Lockheed Martin Names New F-35 and Program Management Leaders

  Dallas’ Marcus Graham Project Collaborates With Hennessy on $1M Accelerator for Black Entrepreneurs

  Local Auto Fintech Launches Operations With $8.8M Series A

  UTD Director Aims To Transform How People Learn through Virtual Human Hologram Technology

  Lockton’s New ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Employer Checklist’ Could Help Your Company Decide on Its Vaccination Policy and Execution

  UTD Symposium Marks ‘Meteoric Growth’ in Bioengineering


Arun Gupta
⓵ CLEAN GREEN: A Richardson clean energy startup has gotten new funding to develop tech that supports decarbonization. Skyven Technologies will split a $3 million award with five companies. The startup, founded in 2013 by Arun Gupta (above), creates clean energy systems in the industrial sector. The award was announced yesterday by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as part of $6 million in awards for projects that support the state’s clean energy goals. The awards, which are non-dilutive matching investments, aim to advance innovation to fight climate change. Each company awarded has gotten twice as much or more in qualifying private capital investments. Founder Gupta, an engineer-turned-entrepreneur and thermal energy expert, built the world’s first industrial-grade solar thermal technology which led to the launch of Skyven

EMPOWERING ENTREPRENEURS: SMU’s Cox School of Business has received a $15 million gift to create new tech-equipped collaborative spaces. The gift from Sharoll and Bryan Sheffield will give next-generation CEOs experience in the data-driven environment, along with skills that build trust with customers. “Combined, technology and public trust are critical to supporting our future energy landscapes,” said Bryan Sheffield, founder and managing partner of Formentera Partners, in a statement.

⓷ TOP RANKED: Comparably has released its annual rankings of the 50 best engineering and product/design teams to work for. Fort Worth-based Bell Flight lifted off at No. 11 on the engineering list, which included the likes of RingCentral, Amazon, Google, Credit Karma, and Chegg in the top five. Bell Flight was also No. 33 on the product/design list. Winners are based on anonymous employee ratings in the U.S. who rated their departments on Comparably.com between March 2020 and March 2021, reports TechRepublic.


[Illustration: Texas Blockchain Council]

⟫ The nonprofit Texas Blockchain Council, which promotes the tech’s initiatives that growth and benefit Texans, has a new member: Bonifii, a leader in privacy- and security-enhanced digital identity solutions for credit unions. The group released a toolkit last month to promote adoption of the technology across the state.

Who are Robyn and Mark Jones, the Westlake couple who landed on Forbes’ annual billionaires list?  The Joneses founded Westlake-based Goosehead Insurance in 2003 and have an estimated worth of $2.5 billion, per the DMN. (For a look at all the Texans on the list, CultureMap has a rundown.)

⟫ Newly organized blank check company TPG Pace Solutions Corp. announced pricing of a $250 million initial public offering. Per a news release, it’s focused on “sponsoring the public listing of a company in any industry that is well positioned to thrive in the public markets.”  The TPG Pace Group, a dedicated permanent capital platform, was created in 2015 to sponsor SPACs and other permanent capital solutions for companies. Since then, it’s successfully listed five SPACs, completing three transactions and announcing two others. 

The first-ever NFT digital artwork from a legendary Texas artist is up for auction, per CultureMap Dallas.


SUSTAINABILITY INVESTING: The EarthX E-Capital Summit, April 28-30, will convene hundreds of investment firms, innovators, startups, established companies, industry leaders, policymakers, incubators, and accelerators. With a new administration comes new opportunities, the group says. EarthX partnered with the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), one of the country’s leading clean technology incubators from UT Austin on the virtual summit, which is free thanks to a generous donor. Want to attend the invitation-only event? Potential participants can fill out the General Invitation Request Form, New Investor Application, or Company Application

Images (from top): Skyven file art, SMU video screen shot, Bell Textron, EarthX

Thursday, April 8

WeWork Uptown, Uptown

⓵ FLEX PLAN: WeWork has picked JLL as its exclusive broker in Dallas, the firms announced today. Commercial real estate firm JLL has been hired to lease flex space company WeWork’s 517,583 square feet in eight locations. Companies are figuring out how to handle the hybrid workplace model, and WeWork has “ideal accommodations for both single office users needing to work near home and Fortune 500 companies looking for scalable, branded space,” says JLL SVP Ashley Curry in a news release. Times were tough on coworking space in the pandemic, but JLL saw demand coming, according to a Globe St. analysis last summer: Flexible space will rise again post COVID-19, the real estate firm said in July.  

Per JLL, locations in DFW include:

  • Plano: 6900 Dallas Parkway 
  • Dallas CBD: Santander Tower: 1601 Elm Street  
  • Uptown: 1920 McKinney Avenue  
  • Victory Park: Victory Plaza: 3090 Nowitzki Way  
  • Las Colinas: Williams Square: 5215 North O’Connor Building  
  • Legacy West: 7600 Windrose Ave  
  • Legacy North: 7300 Lone Star Drive   
  • Preston Center: 5960 Berkshire Lane  


⓶  CAPACITY BUILDERS: Dallas-based accelerator Impact Ventures has been invited to participate in the first cohort of a new national initiative that “backs the ecosystem leaders that back diverse founders.” Aptly named “Resource,” the effort is co-led by Village Capital and Black Innovation Alliance. The goal? To ensure incubators and accelerators that focus on supporting people of color “have the financial, social and human capital to keep their doors open and grow,” shares  Impact Ventures’ CEO and Founder Ben Vann on LinkedIn. Vann, who is also managing partner at Inclusive Capital, aims to build more inclusive communities—one venture at a time .

[Photo: Ken Stanek]

⓷ ENGINEERING GAMES: Last year, we told you about plans for the annual VEX Robotics World Championship—recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest robotics competition in the world—going virtual for the first time ever. It was major news, especially considering the competition came back to Dallas in 2019 for the first time in a decade (get a glimpse of the in-person action here). Now, the STEM-based tournament, which involves top global teams using robotics to go head-to-head in creative design thinking and problem solving, is back. Again virtual, the live remote event will have peers build a robot to compete in this season’s engineering game challenges at the regional, state, and national levels. It will be hosted by the Greenville-based Robotics Education & Competition Foundation from May 17-29. Teams have until April 18 to qualify.

Wednesday, April 7

Fidelity's 337-acre campus in Westlake, TX. [Courtesy: Fidelity Investments]

⓵ MORE TECHNOLOGISTS: Fidelity Investments plans to hire 475 new employees at its Westlake campus (above) by mid-year. That’s on the heels of “robust growth in staffing” last year, writes the Dallas Morning News. The company, which hired 7,200 employees in 2020, now plans to hire for another 4,000 positions as it builds out its digital tools for investors and client-facing positions this year. In North Texas, new roles include technologists, such as data scientists and software engineers, as well as client-facing associates, like financial consultants. The hires are part of a nationwide expansion of Fidelity Investment’s team and U.S. footprint. In an email to Dallas Innovates, the company notes that “the North Texas financial activities sector is the only job category showing year-over-year gains.”

CONSERVATION ACCELERATOR: Texan by Nature, the Dallas-based conservation group founded by Laura Bush in 2011, has picked four organizations to partner with this year through its Conservation Wrangler accelerator program. The organizations selected are Texas Water Trade, Texas Longleaf Implementation Team, San Antonio Zoo and Audubon Texas, reports CultureMap. The accelerator aims to spark science-based initiatives that show positive effects for people, prosperity, and natural resources. 

⓷ MOM’S PTO FUND: Texas-based innovator Kendra Scott wants to give back to moms. Leading up to Mental Health Awareness Month and Mother’s Day, the company will give $2,000 each to 50 moms in the U.S. to help cover childcare so they can get some much-deserved time off. Together, WFH and stay-at-home moms about $11 trillion of unpaid labor annually, the company notes. Apply by sharing your real-life mom moments: For details, go here. Deadline is April 22.

Images (from top): Courtesy of Fidelity Investments, Texan by Nature/Grant Miller, Kendra Scott

Tuesday, April 6

⓵ CARBON-FREE SMR: Irving-based Fluor announced a $40 million investment in NuScale Power by JGC Holdings Corp. of Japan. Fluor is the majority investor in NuScale, a small modular nuclear reactor technology company (SMR). The two companies are working to bring the world’s first carbon-free SMR project to commercialization for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. JGC will become a strategic partner for new SMR projects, Fluor says. The ownership stake and partnership “is aligned with Fluor’s long-term strategy to bring aboard new strategic investors to NuScale as the U.S. and international demand for new carbon-free base-load energy grows,” said Fluor Executive Chairman Alan Boeckmann in a statement.

The IQ Richardson Innovation District

INNO ZONE: UT Dallas and the City of Richardson are teaming up to anchor the city’s burgeoning Innovation Quarter, or The IQ for short. The 1,200 acre innovation district east of U.S. Highway 75 was announced in 2020, The city will redevelop a building it owns on E. Collins Boulevard for its Office of Strategic Initiatives.  Five UTD research centers, coworking, and lab space will join the city, according to GovTech.

⓷ DATA DEMAND: Dallas-based data management consulting firm Amplifi has acquired Comma Group, a London-based data consultancy to extend its European Capabilities. Founded in 2008, Amplifi calls it the first step in its “growth-through-acquisition” strategy. Comma will operate under the Amplifi umbrella. “The whole process was done virtually, showing how much two companies can achieve when they think big and align visions,” said Scott Spear, Amplifi chairman and CCO, in a statement.


⟫  DRIVING DISRUPTED: Plano-based Lexus is using tech to change minds about texting and driving. A new video released on 4/6 shows how 4.6 seconds—the average length of time it takes to send or receive a text message—goes way beyond a momentary distraction. Lexus shows what can happen when drivers no longer see the road. In the video, participants get behind the wheel of a specially modified Lexus NX, thinking they’re taking the vehicle for a routine test spin. Lexus uses electrochromic technology to turn the windshield and windows opaque to obscure the driver’s view for 4.6 seconds. The video, which captures what happens, aims to change perceptions. Per Lexus, at 55 mph, “taking your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds is like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

Images (from top): Rendering NuScale Power LLC; Richardson Innovation District; Dmitrii Guzhanin/iStock; Lexus video

Monday, April 5


 BIO CELEBRATION : On April 8 and 9, UT Dallas will mark a decade of what Dr. Shalini Prasad calls “meteoric growth” for its bioengineering program. A free virtual symposium will celebrate impact that’s “palpable in North Texas and beyond.” From the development of sensor technology to detect sepsis (above) to nerve stimulation to reverse brain disfunction, the program “has delivered novel innovations in med tech and digital health,” according to Prasad, a professor who heads the department. The bioengineering program, which has expenditures that topped $17 million in 2019, allows faculty and students to collaborate with researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center

 TECH LEAP: Dallas-Fort Worth jumped to No. 3 in CompTIA’s rankings for technology jobs in March. That rank also puts DFW at No. 1 in Texas. DFW is a top metro for both jobs and for job posting change (+1,872). The only other Texas metro to rank among the Top 10 was Austin (No. 4 for job postings change). CompTIA’s Tim Herbert notes that the employer activity for tech positions “confirms the broad-based demand” for talent. “Technology underpins just about every business across every industry sector across every state, and we’re seeing that in the hiring data,” he says in a statement. Texas, which is No. 2 for tech jobs postings behind California, is rising: The Lone Star State is No. 1 for tech job posting changes. Texas added 4,180 tech jobs while California lost 1,349, according to the report. 

⓷ NEW HQ: Dallas-based Work Shield has a new headquarters with room to expand at The Crescent in Uptown. The startup, which partners with employers to manage, investigate, and resolve workplace harassament, plans to double its team in 2021. With a “90 percent client expansion” in Q1 and 50 percent expected growth in Q2, the company calls its success a testament to the value of its people and solution. The company, which sees a “nationwide shift in companies’ commitment to DEI inititives” and inclusive workplace cultures, raised a $4.11 million Series A last summer. CEO Jared Pope (above) called ‘workplace culture a microcosm of what is going on in society at large’ at the time.

⟫  The Topgolf of soccer: TOCA Social, a new entertainment concept, has picked Dallas for its U.S. headquarters, writes Ryan Salchert in the DBJ. The soccer-focused concept, which features food and beverages as well as events and games, touts proprietary tech including Touch Trainer, AR, and AI-enabled innovations.

  GameStop has finally announced a share sale, per the Fort Worth Business Press. Two months after its dramatic rise in the market, the video game retailer said today “that it will sell up to 3.5 million of its shares with the price still vastly elevated.” Two weeks ago in an SEC filing, the company disclosed that it had been considering “such a sale since January.”

Image credits (from top): UTD, iStock skyline, Rebeca Posadas-Nava

Friday, April 2


 Chase Opens Its First Texas Community Center Branch in Oak Cliff

 7-Eleven Opens Its First Corporate-Owned Drive-Thru With a Laredo Taco Company at an Evolution Store in Dallas

 UT Arlington Team Wins $40K Research Grant to Redesign Historic Black Settlements in Dallas-Fort Worth

  Fasten Your Seatbelts: Arlington Launches First On-Demand Public Self-Driving Shuttle Service

 $10M Dallas VC Fund for AI Companies Closes First Round of Funding

  This Goes On Your Permanent Record: GreenLight Credentials Uses Blockchain for Students’ ‘Life Transcript’

 The Gin’: One of Dallas’ Oldest Buildings Enters a New Chapter With a Next-Gen Angle in Deep Ellum

  Full STEAM Ahead: Texas Middle School Girls Experience Virtual Innovate(her) Conference

  Three Google Career Certificate Programs Are Now Available in Texas to Help Job Seekers

  Nastia Liukin on Why Becoming an Entrepreneur is Just Like Training for the Olympics

Thursday, April 1


⓵  RECURO RAISE: The founding CEO of Teladoc is leading the launch of Recuro Health. Michael Gorton (above) is at the helm of the Richardson startup, which just raised $2.9 million in an an oversubscribed round lead by OLSF Ventures. Gorton says it’s “working on a much larger Series A,” reports the Dallas Business Journal. Gorton’s team includes several Teledoc leaders, including its original CTO and marketing team, according to a news release. Together they aim to build a new industry category with Recuro’s business model for digital health solutions. Recuro’s lead investor sees unprecedented interest: “There are rare moments in a venture capitalist career when you are presented an industry transforming opportunity, at the right moment in time, with a management team that has created the industry category,” said Dr. William Paiva, managing partner at OLSF Ventures, in a statement. “This is one of those moments.”

⓶ PROPTECH EXPANSION: A Kansas City startup that aims to replace traditional property management is expanding to DFW and other “highly active multifamily markets” after a $5 million Series A round. Simplifyy founders Jake Lisby and Paul Worcester say their platform, based on “erasing pain points,” is an easy sell to property owners who can see lower operating costs, reports Startland News. Other markets for growth include  Cincinnati, St. Louis, Phoenix and Columbia, S.C. The startup launched in late 2019, after working in closed beta since 2018.

Vonlane. Dallas, TX

⓷ TRAVEL SURGE: Dallas-based Vonlane is restarting its luxe bus routes to Texas cities and American Airlines says passengers are returning, with its spring bookings at “90 percent of what they were in 2019” before the pandemic. “Yes,” says Southlake businessman Steve Cosgrove on NBCDFW. Cosgrove has seen an increase at his agency, Dynamic Travel: “People are going on vacation. I can’t say business travel is back, but vacation travel is going gangbusters.”


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