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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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Monday, April 12
⓵ 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
THE TOP 10
⓵ Southern Dallas’ Redbird Mall Revitalization Brings Access, Talent, and Purchasing Power to the Area
⓶ Hunt Energy Network’s New Venture Will Put 50 Batteries Across Texas, Giving ERCOT a Portfolio of Energy Generation
⓷ ‘Plano-Based Alkami Plans IPO Launch at $2B Valuation
⓸ Dallas-based Overhead Door Corp. Buys Innovative Market Leader of Fire and Security Doors
⓹ Lockheed Martin Names New F-35 and Program Management Leaders
⓺ Dallas’ Marcus Graham Project Collaborates With Hennessy on $1M Accelerator for Black Entrepreneurs
⓻ Local Auto Fintech Launches Operations With $8.8M Series A
⓼ UTD Director Aims To Transform How People Learn through Virtual Human Hologram Technology
⓽ Lockton’s New ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Employer Checklist’ Could Help Your Company Decide on Its Vaccination Policy and Execution
⓾ UTD Symposium Marks ‘Meteoric Growth’ in Bioengineering
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.
⓶ 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.
⟫ 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
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 .
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
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.”
⓶ 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.
⓶ 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
⓵ 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.
⓶ 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
TOP 10 MOST-POPULAR STORIES
⓵ Chase Opens Its First Texas Community Center Branch in Oak Cliff
⓶ 7-Eleven Opens Its First Corporate-Owned Drive-Thru With a Laredo Taco Company at an Evolution Store in Dallas
⓷ UT Arlington Team Wins $40K Research Grant to Redesign Historic Black Settlements in Dallas-Fort Worth
⓸ Fasten Your Seatbelts: Arlington Launches First On-Demand Public Self-Driving Shuttle Service
⓹ $10M Dallas VC Fund for AI Companies Closes First Round of Funding
⓺ This Goes On Your Permanent Record: GreenLight Credentials Uses Blockchain for Students’ ‘Life Transcript’
⓻ ‘The Gin’: One of Dallas’ Oldest Buildings Enters a New Chapter With a Next-Gen Angle in Deep Ellum
⓼ Full STEAM Ahead: Texas Middle School Girls Experience Virtual Innovate(her) Conference
⓽ Three Google Career Certificate Programs Are Now Available in Texas to Help Job Seekers
⓾ 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.
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.”
Wednesday, March 31
⓵ EXPERIENTIAL REBRAND: Dallas-based Cosm, a global tech company backed by Dallas billionaire Steve Winn, has its eye on the future of live immersive sports and entertainment. In January, the company emerged after months of M&A activity when Evans & Sutherland, Spitz, and LiveLike VR joined forces. Now the LiveLike VR division has rebranded as Cosm Immersive. Working with leagues, broadcasters and teams, Cosm produces and distributes live VR and experiential events. Its production portfolio includes some of the world’s biggest events, teaming with partners such as FOX Sports, FIFA, Telemundo, Sky, BBC, FranceTV, and more, according to a news release. “What excited me most about becoming part of Cosm, is a renewed ability to innovate,” said Fabrice Lorenceau, a division leader who co-founded LiveLike. “Our live production has four tenets: immersive, content rich, interactive and social; and Cosm allows us to push all four of these to places we have only imagined.”
⓶ PHARMA TECH: Fort Worth-based Nacuity Pharmaceuticals has raised $3.17 million in equity and other options in an $11 million offering, according to an SEC filing. The company has deep life science roots in DFW: CEO and Co-Founder Halden Conner is a son of Alcon founder William Conner, as well as a former board member of that company. The clinical stage startup’s emerging anti-oxidative therapy moved into clinical trial last year. The startup is focused on a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa to slow vision loss. It also aims to address a host of other ocular diseases involving oxidative stress such as cataract, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, presbyopia, retinal detachment, and vitreous degeneration.
⓷ EDU EXPANSION: The Texas A&M University System has announced the expansion of the TAMU-Commerce College of Business and College of Education and Human Services in Dallas. The colleges will be moving into the top two floors of 8750 NorthPark Central, which will serve as their headquarters, per the Dallas Business Journal. With the move, there will also be bachelor’s degrees offered in sustainable agriculture and food systems, agribusiness, and agricultural sciences in North Texas.
Images (from top): PR Newswire, iStock
Tuesday, March 30
⓵ CHIP STARTUP: Richardson-based Nebula Microsystems has launched with $15 million in seed funding to “rapidly grow its engineering team,” it announced today. The company makes smart analog and mixed-signal products designed to connect to electronic and digital systems. Nebula’s products are aimed at high-end consumer, automotive, telecom, healthcare, and industrial applications. On the signal-chain side of the business, innovative solutions are needed to support “ever-increasing speed,” the company says. CEO Gaurang Shah says the startup is well positioned to disrupt the high-performance analog market. It’s also “addressing the unprecedented chip supply shortage,” he said in a news release. The company, which is building its team in China and India, currently has three jobs posted on its website.
⓶ SEED FUNDING: Fort Worth’s Animal Cloud will join 9 other startups from around the world in OCEAN Programs’ 2021 accelerator. The startup, which will receive $50,000 in seed funding, launched in April 2020 to provide high-tech healthcare monitoring, documentation, and collaboration solutions for dogs and horses working in law enforcement. Dylan Jones and his team (above) see unlimited growth, the CEO told us last summer. With plans to “explode” into the animal healthcare market—a known competitive landscape—the startup was eyeing solutions to meet the needs of USDA disease traceability programs for livestock animals. Animal Cloud is uniquely positioned to grow across industries, he said. The OCEAN Programs faith-based accelerator is backed by 11 Tribes, a Chicago early-stage venture fund.
⓷ LAB LEAD: Shared laboratory network BioLabs has named Jeffrey Laidlaw as Director of Operations for its new location at Dallas’ Pegasus Park, a biotech hub slated to open this fall. Before joining BioLabs, Laidlaw, who began his career as a research scientist at UT Southwestern, joined fast-growing life science startup Peloton Therapeutics and helped integrate the company’s operations into Merck & Co., its new owner, when Peloton was acquired in 2019. “We’ve long needed a place close to our universities where people can take their science and develop it,” Laidlaw said in a statement. He sees the new lab as an “engine that drives innovation, giving startups a better chance to connect with capital, partnerships, and technical assistance to help them succeed.”
⟫ The four-story Allen Tech Hub has broken ground, writes the Dallas Business Journal. The building, which touts unique amenities such as a proposed drone landing pad, is planned to deliver in April 2022. “I see Allen as the new epicenter for growth in the technology sector in North Texas,” said Sayres Heady, executive vice president and partner at Heady Investments, in the publication. Heady Investment’s project is among some 2 million square feet of new commercial development in Allen, the EDC said late last summer.
Monday, March 29
⓵ VIRTUAL FOOD HALL: Dallas’ top ghost kitchen has a new app that consolidates orders for multiple restaurants at Revolving Kitchen into a single order with one delivery fee. Launched in 2020, founder Tyler Shin calls his operation the “Airbnb of commercial kitchen rentals,” according to CultureMap Dallas. Earlier this year, Shin was featured in Dallas Innovates’ Future 50 in January and a winner in the D CEO and Dallas Innovates’ 2021 Innovation Awards in the food and beverage category.
⓶ CLOUD COLLABORATION: For public sector technology, in particular, cloud complexities exist for compliance, security, and more. Plano-based Tyler Technologies has a new agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to advance innovation in cloud-native services for the sector. It’s a “monumental shift” for Tyler Technologies’ client base, the govtech innovator says. The company’s client list, which represents every level of the public sector, “is enormous and includes some of the largest (and smallest) cities in the country.” Teaming up with AWS can improve the flow of information and provide a even better experience for state, local, and federal governments, it says. Tyler Technologies recently announced the acquisition of digital solutions and payments company NIC for $2.3 billion—its largest to date.
⓷ AE NEXT: Dallas-based technical professional services firm Jacobs has won a global architecture and engineering contract with the U.S. Air Force.The shared program ceiling is valued at $2 billion. The contract, which has an initial five-year base period, has an option to renew for an additional five years. The company has previously worked on “innovative installations” of the Future Concept, smart systems, as well as building more sustainable, cyber-secure and resilient solutions for the Air Force, said Tim Byers, Jacobs federal and environmental solutions SVP and GM, who is a retired USAF Major General, in a news release.
Friday, March 26
⓵ Fasten Your Seatbelts: Arlington Launches First On-Demand Public Self-Driving Shuttle Service
⓶ 7-Eleven Opens Its First Corporate-Owned Drive-Thru With a Laredo Taco Company at an Evolution Store in Dallas
⓷ ‘The Gin’: One of Dallas’ Oldest Buildings Enters a New Chapter With a Next-Gen Angle in Deep Ellum
⓸ Meet AECOM’s Dev Rastogi, the Local Exec Spearheading Infrastructure Projects That Could Redefine Transportation
⓹ New Water Coalition Launched to Invest in Conservation Efforts for the Upper Trinity River
⓺ DI People: Topgolf, ActivePure Technologies, and North Dallas Bank & Trust Co. Make Moves
⓻ TPG Launches New Initiative to Seed Diverse Investors and Entrepreneurs
⓼ ActivePure Technologies Names Former White House Coronavirus Coordinator as Chief Advisor
⓽ Three Google Career Certificate Programs Are Now Available in Texas to Help Job Seekers
⓾ Can Restaurants Revolutionize the Juvenile Justice System? This Dallas Chef Turned Nonprofit Leader Is Betting On It
⓵ SPAC DEAL: WeWork has a new path to go public via a merger with blank-check firm BowX Acquisition Corp., per CNBC. The coworking startup is valued at $9 billion in the deal. WeWork, the largest operator of shared space in the region, expanded its pay-as-you-go program to DFW in January.
⓶ CONSOLIDATION MOVE: Toyota Financial Services could move hundreds of jobs to offices in Plano and other cities in a consolidation of its customer service operation. The company plans to consolidate its customer service footprint from six locations to three. The reorganization, which will affect 1,110 workers who will be given an opportunity to move, is planned to take effect in 2022, reports the Dallas Morning News.
⓷ MTC MILESTONE: Bell celebrated its state-of-the-art Manufacturing Technology Center, an “innovation proving ground,” with a ribbon-cutting ceremony today. The center, which broke ground last August, plans a grand opening this summer, writes the Fort Worth Business Press. Known as the MTC, it’s a digitally connected collaboration center that can promote smart risk taking. Bell plans to test and vet new systems for viability and demonstrate products like the Future Vertical Lift Aircraft.
Photos courtesy of the companies: WeWork’s Clearfork location in Fort Worth, Toyota Motor North America, Bell MTC
Thursday, March 25
⓵ EUROPEAN EXPANSION: Frisco-based logistics firm Transplace, one of DFW’s largest private companies, is opening its first office in Europe. “The global supply chain is interconnected and the lifeblood of economies around the world,” CEO Frank McGuigan (above) says in the Dallas Business Journal. Transplace, which was founded in 2000 when six carriers combined their logistics divisions, took the No. 1 rank in market share and freight under management in an ARC Advisory Group study last summer. Last year, the company made multiple acquisitions and expects to have $300 million in freight under management by mid-2021.
⓶ GREENER LABS: The country’s largest member-driven healthcare performance company, Irving-based Vizient, has teamed up with a nonprofit that wants to clean up R&D. A strategic partnership with My Green Labs aims to lower the environmental impact of laboratory supplies. Labs may be sterile, but they have a “dirty secret”: a big carbon footprint. Together, they will “speak to the market with a common voice” to accelerate the transformation of healthcare and supply chains, says the global nonprofit’s CEO James Connelly.
⓷ SMART PARK: “Parks and technology are concepts we generally don’t associate with one another,” writes the Dallas Morning News. But the new West End Square presents a “very smart” model, bringing nearly an acre of green space and free tech to downtown. The $7.55 million park in the heart of the historic district—aka “the city’s burgeoning silicon business hub“—is the second of four to be developed in a public-private partnership between Parks for Downtown Dallas and the City of Dallas Park & Recreation Department. A ceremony to celebrate the opening will be held Friday morning at the park (607 Corban St., Dallas), followed by a special lighting display at Bank of America Plaza that evening, per Downtown Dallas Inc.
Also at the new park, you can catch interactive artwork ANTIBODIES, which reacts to people’s movement via a motion sensor. Thanks to artist group AURORA and Parks for Downtown Dallas the installation will kick off the West End Square’s Innovation Arcade, the park’s showcase of temporary digital installations. ANTIBODIES is on view from March 26 to April 4 on the Market Street side of the park.
You’ll also want to check out the water feature that changes with the weather.
Photos courtesy of the organizations; Illustration via iStock.
Wednesday, March 24
⓵ IPO WATCH: Self-driving truck startup TuSimple has filed an initial public stock offering. The tech trucker teamed up with Hillwood last fall. The startup announced an expansion in the AllianceTexas Mobility Zone (the MIZ) that will connect its cross-country freight corridor and add new autonomous operations within the “Texas Triangle.” TuSimple, which has raised some $350 million in funding, made its IPO filing public yesterday.
⓶ STUDIES SAY: COVID infections among vaccinated people are very rare, Axios reports. The publication cites a pair of studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Published yesterday, one of the studies found that just four out of 8,121 fully vaccinated employees at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center became infected. Or, as Tim Rogers’ story in D Magazine puts it: UT Southwestern study shows vaccines, in scientific terms are effective AF.
⓷ ELECTRIC KANDI: EV maker Kandi America is electrifying a new division: Kandi Powersports. The U.S. subsidiary of China-based Kandi Technologies Group Inc., which acquired SC Autosports in 2018, already has an established powersports dealer network intact. “With the synergy of electric expertise and an established dealer network, we believe Kandi will be a household brand in powersports,” said Johnny Tai, CEO of Kandi America, in a statement. Kandi says its first products to market include electric ATVs and electric bikes, along with a selection of gas-powered models as the “consumer demand for electric continues to grow.” The EV maker recently announced two new “daily driver” EVs—neighborhood electric vehicles, or NEVs—priced at under $22,500. Kandi America will relocate its corporate HQ and showroom from Garland to Dallas.
POWERING UP: Last week we told you about Irving-based RumbleOn’s announcement of a merger with the country’s largest powersports retailer. That deal, valued at $575.4 million, will combine RumbleOn, an e-commerce platform for new and pre-owned motorcycles, with powersports retail giant RideNow to create a first-of-its-kind omnichannel platform in the sector. It’s a more than $100 billion industry in North America.
Images: TuSimple and Kandi via the companies, vaccination via iStock
Tuesday, March 23
⓵ INNOVATIVE SPACES: The historic restoration of one of Dallas’ oldest buildings, The Continental Gin Building in Deep Ellum, is now complete. Built in 1888, the landmark was once the largest cotton processing equipment manufacturing operation in the U.S. and an epicenter for the innovation of its time. More recently, the 133-year-old building served as space for artists. Now known as “The Gin,” it’s been reimagined as a hospitality-focused, mixed-use destination that can once again serve as a hub of innovation, according to project partners August Real Estate Co. and Common Desk. Take a look inside.
⓶ ENERGY ALTERNATIVES: Plano-based Toyota is funding a broadcast that tells the story of how hydrogen fuel cell technology is powering the nation. The technology “is one way the transportation sector can offer drivers a zero-emission vehicle that meets their needs,” said Lisa Materazzo, group vice president of Toyota marketing, in a statement. The company’s “portfolio approach” includes hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles that can “help put more people in cleaner vehicles across North America and have the greatest near-term impact on total carbon emissions,” she says. Toyota noted a renewed focus on the environment. With that focus, it says, can come the “ingenuity and science” as many organizations band together to recognize the value of technology—not just as an alternative to vehicles, but also as a possible energy source for buildings, communities, homes, and cities, according to the company. The program “Powering the Nation: Hydrogen Fuel Cells—the Clean Transportation Alternative” will be simulcast Friday at 6 p.m. on Science Channel and MotorTrend TV. It also airs Saturday at 8 a.m. on Discovery.
⓷ PUBLIC MARKETS: Charles Schwab, which officially relocated its headquarters to North Texas in January, announced an underwritten public offering of depository shares.
⟫ ECOSYSTEM BUILDERS: Do you have diverse experience across corporate and startup organizations? The DEC Network is looking for new members for its Associate Board to “take entrepreneurship to the next level.” Young professionals (age 21 to 45) can get exposure to innovative ventures, gain mentorship, and maximize their own networks and more. Applications close April 25.
⟫ FEMALE F&B: PepsiCo wants to expand partnerships with women-led food businesses that are committed to doing good. In March, the company brought together two initiatives (Food for Good X WomanMade) in honor of National Nutrition Month and Women’s History Month. Female-founded businesses can apply to become a registered supplier of healthy products and nutritious meal packages that are delivered to kids in need across the country. Women owners can also join PepsiCo’s WomanMade community, which currently has more than 3,800 members, and offers access to tools, funding, and mentorship from food industry experts.
⟫ LAST CALL: The deadline for Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators has been extended to March 26. Companies are evaluated for their cultures that empower employees at all levels to improve processes, create new products, or invent new ways of doing business. Those chosen will appear in the publication’s September 2021 issue and online.
Monday, March 22
⓵ STARTUP SPACE: Fast-growing Dottid, a commercial real estate tech firm that was recently featured in Business Insider’s list of the 31 hottest PropTech companies, is moving its HQ to Preston Center. The Dallas-based startup, which doubled its team in the pandemic, is now doubling its space with a 5,500-square-foot lease. Founded in 2016 by Kyle Waldrep (above), the firm uses tech to streamline deals and alleviate problems property owners face. Waldrop has seen a surge in business with the rise of e-commerce and logistics, launching a first-of-its-type industrial market-focused tool earlier this year.
⓶ BUILD TO RENT: Dallas-based Westdale Real Estate Investment, which may be best known for its mixed-use Epic project in Deep Ellum, has teamed up with Canadian developer Great Gulf Group to build thousands of rental home neighborhoods across the country, reports the Dallas Morning News. The “like-minded partners” plan to capitalize on the “demand for new purpose-built single-family housing communities,” says Ilias Konstantopoulos, CEO of Great Golf Group, in a statement. The build-to-rent sector lacks in supply, and the company expects to see demand “continue to experience unprecedented growth particularly in the U.S. Sunbelt,” he adds.
⓷ Fabletics, an innovative active lifestyle brand that was co-founded by actress-style icon Kate Hudson in 2013, is coming to Tarrant County this year, per Fort Worth Culturemap. The store joins some 50 U.S. stores, including one at Legacy West in DFW. The brand, known for high style at an accessible price point and interactive experiences, plans to grow to 74 locations by the end of the year. The celeb-founded retailer recently launched an at-home fitness app that has workouts, meditations, and incentives such as apparel discounts for meeting fitness challenges to incorporate the shopping experience.
⟫ DoorDash has partnered with EverlyWell and Vault Health to deliver same-day, at-home COVID-19 tests in Dallas and other cities, per the Dallas Morning News.
⟫ No two clients are alike when it comes to uber-high net worth families. One common denominator: They are busy. And the families “want to transact and grow their wealth rather than just protect it,” says Matt Ogle in D CEO. That’s where his wealth management firm with a difference, Legacy Knight, comes in. Ogle and former Mark Cuban Cos. exec Abe Minkara co-founded the firm that aims to reinvent the family office game with an “entrepreneurial endowment model.” The families don’t have the time for drawn-out pitches and endless research: Legacy Knight, which researches and frames up opportunities in “shorter conversations,” has “found a way to thread the investment needle for wealthy families between an autonomous yet cumbersome family office and the anonymity and lack of control of an investment bank.” per the publication. The firm, which amped up its presence last year, also has an arm of the business that invests in charitable and nonprofit organizations. Read more in D CEO.
Photo via D CEO by Sean Berry and courtesy of OURA.
Friday, March 19
⓵ Three Google Career Certificate Programs Are Now Available in Texas to Help Job Seekers
⓶ Inc. Magazine Ranking: 100 of the Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Texas Are in Dallas-Fort Worth
⓷ Can Restaurants Revolutionize the Juvenile Justice System? This Dallas Chef Turned Nonprofit Leader Is Betting On It
⓸ ActivePure Technologies Names Former White House Coronavirus Coordinator as Chief Advisor
⓹ Toyota Launches All-Inclusive Car Subscriptions With Purdy Mobility
⓺ A ‘Swiss Army Knife’ in the Sky: This Fort Worth Company Develops Next-Gen Equipment for Aerial Firefighting
⓻ DI People: COMSovereign, Capital One, Comerica Bank, Riveron, and More Make Moves
⓽ How These Married Dallas Physicians Launched a First-of-its-Kind Medical Education Platform and Podcast
⓾ 7T: Here’s Why Big-Name Companies Use This Dallas Firm to Lead Their Digital Transformation
⓵ VENTURE FUND: Dallas-based Night Media, the six-year-old multimedia talent management company that represents MrBeast and other top YouTube superstars, has a new venture fund backed by creators. According to Tech Crunch, the company is closing a debut fund with $20 million in commitments from its family-friendly talent, along with other social media stars. CEO Reed Duchscher plans to write initial checks “of up to $300,000 into three categories: consumer-facing startups; gaming startups, especially those centered around user-generated content; and the creator economy,” the publication reports. Last year, we told you about the talent agency behind some of YouTube’s biggest stars: Read our story here.
⓶ INNOVATIVE SPACES: UT Arlington’s new $76 million school of nursing and social work will create a health sciences hub on the campus. The project unites the School of Social Work and College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s (CONHI) Smart Hospital. When professionals in social work and nursing collaborate, patients have better outcomes,” said Teik Lim, UTA’s interim president, in a statement. The new building will also provide a simulation learning center and research labs, per D CEO.
⓷ COMBO COMPANY: Dallas has a new company with a valuation deal of more than $1 billion—and it looks to go public, reports the Dallas Business Journal. Vaxxinity—a combined company with a “fresh approach to vaccines”—was formed from C19 Corp. (dba COVAXX) and United Neuroscience Ltd., which had a U.S. headquarters in Dallas. It’s being formed to pioneer a new class of synthetic peptide vaccines that can democratize the treatment of chronic diseases, as well as COVID-19 and derivative viruses” per a news release earlier this year. Mei Mei Hu, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of COVAXX and United Neuroscience (above) gave an overview of the combined company, its vaccine platform technology, and its drug pipeline in a webcast at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.
[Images: Night Media by Michael Samples; UTA and Mei Mei Hu are courtesy of the organizations.]
Thursday, March 18
⓵ DATA CENTER: As part of its national $7B Investing in America (IIA) commitment, which will create 10,000 new full-time jobs in the U.S., Google is investing $50M in offices and data center sites across Texas in 2021. In North Texas, the money will go to Google’s Midlothian data center, which officially broke ground in 2019. Now operational in Phase I, the facility will support a range of full-time Google and external supplier careers, with potential for future follow-on expansions—representing a $600M capital infrastructure in the area for the partners and local businesses that benefit from a large-scale data center in the community. The $50M for Texas will also go to its first office in Houston and maintaining its office presence in Austin, according to a news release.
⓶ RENEWABLE ENERGY: Dallas private equity firm Gardner Capital has launched a new Alternative Investments Fund to support the adoption of renewable energy—the fastest-growing energy source in the U.S.—in multifamily housing. The fund will provide grants and soft loans up to $500K for individuals and businesses who support innovative proposals, with funding capped at $25K for each specific proposal. All must focus on how to increase access to renewable energy or related projects, with a preference going to those focused on serving low- to moderate-income families or underserved communities. Submit a proposal on Gardner Capital’s website.
⓷ VACCINE ROLLOUT: Shiftsmart, a Dallas-based online marketplace for workforce management, is using its tech and workers to double the throughput of COVID-19 vaccination registrations in major cities across the U.S. As of mid-March, the CDC says almost 20 percent of the vaccines distributed have not been used. Shiftsmart saw an opportunity to help: In one U.S. market alone, it staffed about 20 vaccine sites and answered more than 1,000 calls an hour, all within two weeks. That provided income for hundreds of workers and helped thousands in scheduling their appointments, the organization says.
Wednesday, March 17
⓵ TURNKEY TECH: Next-gen vertical farming startup Eden Green Technology has broken ground on a new smart greenhouse in a Cleburne opportunity zone. Part of a $12 million strategic expansion, the 1.5-acre facility will produce 500 tons of leafy greens each year with 99% less land and 98% less water than the soil-based equivalent, according to a news release. It’s a prime example of the platform’s capabilities, Eden Green says: The startup’s Greenhouse-as-a-Service model aims to revolutionize agriculture by shortening the food supply chain sustainably. Clients can build a greenhouse and harvest in less than a year using the startup’s patented vertical farming tech. The Cleburne facility is expected to be profitable at the outset, and the company projects another 20 greenhouses around the world by 2024. It “symbolizes a paradigm shift for how capital investment is being leveraged to do the most good where it’s needed,” says CEO Eddy Badrina said in the release.
⓶ SXSW, DAY 1: The 2021 South by Southwest event got off to a roaring (and briefly technically challenged) virtual start yesterday. Austin360 has a rundown of the day’s highlights that includes Stacey Abrams‘ keynote that featured a shoutout to “Supernatural” and a surprise music video after the aforementioned delay. You’ll also find an Austin-enters-the-Matrix AR experience. The online super conference runs through March 20.
⓷ BEYOND CLUBHOUSE: Also at SXSW, Mark Cuban discussed his latest venture, Fireside, an audio platform he calls “podcasting 2.0.” Cuban sees Fireside as “taking the best” of live audio startup Clubhouse together with podcasting in a more controlled environment, according to the Austin American Statesman. The new “socially responsible platform,” which was co-founded with Falon Fatemi, will be recorded, transcribed, and offer creators monetization opportunities. (The Verge has a first look at the app that’s now in beta with a limited number of testers on iOS. To request access or get info, try the FiresideChat website placeholder link.) Cuban, who joined Kendra Scott for an SXSW panel talk on what makes the Lone Star State special for doing business, also has today’s “Last Word.”
[Images: Eden Green Technology, YouTube/SXSW, FiresideChat]
Tuesday, March 16
⓵ TEED UP: Topgolf has appointed a new CEO. Artie Starrs, who most recently served as Yum! Brands’ Global CEO for Pizza Hut, says he has a lifelong love of golf. Effective April 5, he’ll be responsible for the growth and expansion of the entertainment company, fueled by new parent company Callaway Golf. Starrs is already “deeply connected” to the Dallas community. He’s on the boards of The Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, The Tartan Board at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital,and Big Thought’s Creator’s Council, among others.
⓶ NEW CAR SUBSCRIPTION: Toyota has launched a new all-inclusive car subscription with Purdy Mobility. Called Subscribe + Drive, it’s a membership-based alternative to vehicle ownership or leasing. Insurance, maintenance, and even home delivery are part of the package. Designed to be hassle-free and flexible, the program lets members switch vehicles every 60 days—or keep a favorite as they please.
⓷ PEDDLE POWER: North Texas is making another appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank” on March 26 with Aaron Powell, the founder and CEO of Denton-based Bunch Bikes. We first introduced you to Bunch Bikes back in 2019 when the then two-year-old company was first starting to bring its Denmark-inspired cargo bicycles stateside. Designed with families in mind, cargo bikes are an eco-friendly daily way to incorporate cycling while safely transporting children or pets. Now, Powell told Bicycle Retailer that he hopes going on the show will allow him to be an ambassador for a type of lifestyle that doesn’t rely on a car, starting “the ripple in a pond that’s going to become an ocean.”
Monday, March 15
⓵ IPO WATCH: A Dallas biopharma company could raise more than $300 million in its Initial Public Offering. Instil Bio estimates the IPO price between $17 and $19 per share, per a filing with the SEC. A Plano energy company backed by The Blackstone Group, Vine Energy, also plans to raise more than $300 million. Its IPO, managed by Citi/Credit Suisse anticipates a share price between $16 and $19.
⓶ TITLE TECH: Lone Wolf Technologies, which develops solutions to make real estate transactions simpler, collaborated with leading title providers such as First American Title Company to develop Digital Title Orders. Launching today, the tech “will simplify and speed up transactions for every real estate agent in the U.S.,” according to the company. Lone Wolf plans to onboard 80 percent of title companies by the end of the year. Dallas’ Lone Wolf also has head offices in Canada and California.
⓷ ONE-STOP SOLUTION: Another Dallas-based company developing for the real estate industry, Rechat, has a new app that aggregates tasks and tools (like Google, Dropbox, Facebook, DocuSign, Twilio, GIPHY, and more) that agents need in one platform. The startup raised almost $6 million and also grew its base of subscribers by more than 900 percent in 2020, per Candy’s Dirt. Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s CEO, Robbie Briggs, said Rechat’s features have been “game-changers,” according to the publication.
⟫ A local entrepreneur has turned his pastime into profit as a sewing surge fuels interest nationwide. Dallas transplant Chris Tock helps educate people new to sewing by sharing what he’s learned through his YouTube channel, which has garnered over 70,000 subscribers.
⟫ A 5G infrastructure project is eying Dallas and other cities for a node network after the first deployment at UT Austin’s research campus, reports the Austin Business Journal.
Images: iStock, Chris Tock
Friday, March 12
TOP 10 MOST-POPULAR STORIES
⓵ How These Married Dallas Physicians Launched a First-of-its-Kind Medical Education Platform and Podcast
⓶ Dallas Native Returns to Launch Digital Design Co., ‘Not Dev’
⓸ How Allied BioScience’s CMO Blurs a Traditional Work/Life Balance
⓹ Mavenir is Opening the Innovation Pipeline for Better, Faster 5G
⓺ Two DFW Companies Make Fast Company’s Top 50 Most Innovative
⓻ Flexible Labor Platform Ramps Up with Five Leadership Moves
⓼ A ‘Swiss Army Knife’ in the Sky: This Fort Worth Company Develops Next-Gen Equipment for Aerial Firefighting
⓽ Brinks Home Refreshes Brand, Aims to Revolutionize Smart Security
⓾ How a Plano-based Hospitality Tech Firm is Using Innovation to Expand During the Pandemic
⓵ FOLLOW THE MONEY: The previously announced merger between two golf giants, Topgolf and Callaway Golf, has officially been approved by shareholders, valuing Dallas-based Topgolf at more than $1.9 billion. Per the agreement, 90 million shares of Callaway common stock were issued to Topgolf shareholders. According to NBC, they will help to create a “tech-enabled golf company delivering leading golf equipment, apparel and entertainment.” With the merger, Topgolf plans to expand its ball-tracing tech to more courses and driving ranges.
⓶ ROAD TO RECOVERY: As the COVID-19 pandemic hits its one-year mark, the DMN has done a deep dive into Dallas’ job market. “Not many” can match the metro’s recovery, the publication notes: By the end of the year, the Dallas-Plano-Irving metro area had recouped most of the jobs lost during 2020. But, that depends on the industry. Though Dallas-Plano-Irving added over 16,000 jobs in professional, scientific, and technical services—a strong gain in any year, the DMN notes—restaurants, healthcare, and social assistance lost 77,000 jobs. Dallas-based software services company ThinkWhy calls the Dallas metro the current “hottest labor market in the country,” projecting it to be fully recovered by 2022.
⓷ RANKINGS: Among the 500 companies listed on Forbes’ recently published America’s Best Startup Employers 2021 list are some local names including Koddi (No. 316), PestRoutes (No. 336), Orb Health (No. 387), Theatro (No. 430), and Salesboost (No. 435). Most notably, Dallas-headquartered Bestow (CEO and Co-founder Melbourne O’Banion pictured above) landed in the No. 2 spot. Forbes and Statista ranked the companies based on employer reputation, employee satisfaction, and growth.
Three Things Images: Topgolf, Shutterstock, Courtesy Fort Lion Studio
Thursday, March 11
⓵ EXPANSION: Coworking and hospitality company Common Desk has announced it is expanding to McKinney through a partnership with Workplace Hospitality. Common Desk will be taking over the location formerly occupied as the corporate headquarters of game developer Playful Studios to transform it into a coworking, office, and event space. Common Desk will also be serving its own specialty coffee brand Fiction Coffee at the McKinney location. Overall, Common Desk is planning to open seven locations this year.
⓶ TEST TRACK: The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and Neology, Inc. have finished the Neology Transportation Research Center (TRC) at TAMU’s 2,000-acre RELLIS Campus. TRC is an open, scalable, and flexible site that has a one-mile test track, two test gantries, and a state-of-the-art observation center, per a statement. TRC plans to use the grounds to design, develop, and test innovative mobility solutions.
⓷ OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Southwest Transplant Alliance, one of the largest federally designated nonprofit organ procurement organizations in the country, has officially opened its new 77,000-square-foot state-of-the-art corporate campus. In addition to offices and its philanthropic foundation, the site houses a state-of-the-art organ and tissue recovery center called The Legacy Center. There, organ and tissue recovery procedures are performed—STA says it’s the newest facility devoted to organ and tissue recovery in the nation. The HQ was designed around a 100-year-old oak tree that serves as an anchor point for the donor memorial garden and tribute areas. On campus is a designated area for families of organ donors to pay tribute to their loved ones. The opening comes on the heels of STA’s campaign for its stand-alone organ and tissue recovery center. Three Dallas-based foundations (the Harry S. Moss Heart Trust, Hillcrest Foundation, and Hoblitzelle Foundation) made the first public contributions to the center, which, along with another major donation, provided technology and outfitted two highly specialized labs not found in hospitals.
Wednesday, March 10
⓵ APPLY NOW: Dallas’ biennial arts festival Aurora has announced its partnership with PNC Financial Services to provide grants to Dallas-Fort Worth artists who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Five artists will be chosen to receive a $4,000 grant each. PNC is putting a total of $1 billion toward social justice organizations working throughout the U.S. to address systemic racism. Details on applying for the grants can be found here.
⓶ ESPORTS: One of the largest owners of television stations in the country, Gray Television, invested $28.5 million of a $40 million Series C round in Dallas-based Envy Gaming. Gray’s executive chairman and CEO Hilton H. Howell, Jr. says Gray was attracted to the esports company for “pushing the limits of what the future holds for gaming and entertainment”—in the past year, Envy has added Post Malone to its ownership group, won the inaugural Call of Duty League World Championship, and added two of the fastest-growing female streamers. It also announced a partnership with Belong Gaming Arenas to bring multiple gaming centers to North Texas.
⓷ MAKING MOVES: OP2 Labs is moving its headquarters from Grapevine to Fort Worth, reports the Dallas Business Journal. Its new location will be a 18,800-square-foot flex warehouse in Cowtown. The founder and CEO of the nutritional supplement developer and manufacturer, Alexander Kunz, told the DBJ that OP2 has averaged 89 percent growth year-over-year in the U.S. since its founding in 2014. Recently, OP2 collaborated with Amazon to expand its products in the European market through Fulfillment By Amazon. By the end of this year, OP2 plans to have its products available in 12 countries.
Tuesday, March 9
⓵ AND THE WINNER IS…: Piersten Gaines, founder of silk blowout bar Pressed Roots, was recently awarded as the New Venture Competition Winner, Central Region, announced RevTech Ventures. Now, she’ll go on to compete in the HBS New Venture Competition Global semi-final round. She launched Pressed Roots’ first flagship location in Dallas last year. You can learn more about Gaines as she discusses funding along with three other Dallas-area female founders here.
⓶ FOLLOW THE MONEY: Dallas-based Cyber Defense Labs has raised $10 million in 2021 so far and is expecting to land additional funding this year, too, reports the Dallas Business Journal. The cybersecurity company plans to use the money to expand its resources including in sales, marketing, and professional services. The news comes after Cyber received $10 million in funding last year.
⓷ COMING UP: SMU’s Eva Csaky, who wrote a recent op-ed on how “energy efficiency is the forgotten fuel to prepare Texas for climate extremes,” has seen a lot of interest in the topic since its publication in the Houston Chronicle. SMU’s Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity has made the topic the theme of this month’s virtual ImpactNights event happening on Thursday, March 11. ImpactNights, which aims to bring together like-minded people to share experience and knowledge, hosts a monthly discussion group around pressing social issues facing our society. Csaky will join City of Dallas’ Pharr Andrews, green builder Alan Hoffman, and MM Solar Advisory’s Michael Martin for a panel and interactive discussion that offers opportunities to seek solutions using the power of collective action.
Monday, March 8
⓵ OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Flexible co-warehousing and co-working space provider Saltbox has opened a 66,000-square-foot facility in Farmers Branch. The location has 100 private co-warehousing suites and 15 office spaces for startups and entrepreneurs. This is Saltbox’s second and biggest location thus far, with its initial facility being located in Atlanta, Georgia.
⓶ ON THE MOVE: Kandi America, which is a subsidiary of Chinese auto manufacturer Kandi Technologies Group Inc., has announced it’s relocating its headquarters from Garland to Dallas. With a mission to make electric vehicles more accessible, both of Kandi’s EVs are available under $30,000 at retail value. The move will officially happen next month, reports the Dallas Business Journal.
⓷ JOINING HANDS: On International Women’s Day 2021, Huawei is launching the HUAWEI Women Developers (HWD) program to inspire female developers to create applications and tools that can be world-changing. The initiative is part of its commitment to promoting gender equality, per a statement. The Chinese tech company, that has its U.S. headquarters in Plano, now has applications open for the HUAWEI Women Developers program here.
PLUS: MORE FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Four female executives at Sabre Corporation, a Southlake-based software and technology provider to the global travel industry, have made this year’s Top 50 Women in Travel list from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA): Corrie DeCamp, SVP of Program Management for Sabre Travel Solutions; Amy Green, VP of Finance; Traci Mercer, SVP of Product Segment for Sabre Travel Solutions; and Emma Wilson, VP of Marketing for Sabre Travel Solutions. Award recipients from across the industry will be honored today during GBTA’s virtual gala.
Images courtesy of the companies.
Friday, March 5
⓵ ONE TO WATCH: Joe Beard, a former partner at Perot Jain, a Dallas-based venture capital firm, has been noted on Pitchbook’s roundup of 53 investors and founders to watch in 2021 for his latest venture. As one of six Black founders listed in the fintech and blockchain category, Beard is part of a larger group that is “reimagining solutions to everyday challenges, working toward an equitable future, and following their passions day in and day out.” CollateralEdge, in which Beard is a co-founder and managing partner, is a fintech platform that will offer banks an automated solution to bolster a credit profile on individual loans to allow greater underwriting flexibility, while maintaining appropriate risk management. The new company’s website boasts a simple mission: re-envision debt capital delivery. (You can enter your email here to learn more.)
⓶ CRYPTOCURRENCY: In 2019, the Dallas Mavericks were the second team to begin accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment. Now, owner Mark Cuban is following up with an announcement that the team will also begin to accept Dogecoin. This form of cryptocurrency has been considered a “meme” crypto by the cryptocurrency community as it was engineered as a joke in 2013, according to Market Watch. But, Cuban says he views the crypto as an easy way to teach his kid about investing and trading.
⓷ LIGHTING UP THE NIGHT: The West End Square park, which has been under a revitalization project for around two years now, is getting ready to finally welcome visitors on March 26 with a new public art display, thanks to help from Dallas-based AURORA, a public org that takes over the city with light, video, and sound during its biennial exhibition. It will present the square’s inaugural public art project, “ANTIBODIES” by new media artist Daniel Iregui. At the media installation, guests will be able to interact with the LED wall that uses motion capture technology to capture movement and facial expressions. Overall, the work “reflects on the monotony of video calls,” a theme felt through the pandemic.
THE MAGIC OF MAKE-BELIEVE: KidKraft has been a Farmers Branch-based maker of children’s furniture since the 1960s that eventually added playsets and toys to its roster. But after middle-market private equity firm MidOcean Partners acquired the company in 2015, growth began to stall. So they brought 23-year Mattel veteran Geoff Walker onto the team “to get it back on the road of innovation,” according to him. Since bringing him on board, KidKraft has been experiencing growth, is hiring, and has more things on the way for 2022.
To learn more about how Walker was able to turn KidKraft into a growth company, go here.
⓵ The 10X Effect: 15 Minutes with Billionaire Grant Cardone Completely Transformed My Business
⓶ Google for Startups Picks Three Local Founders for Academy Cohort
⓷ AT&T VP Talks about Trust and Transformation in Telecom
⓸ Drive Shack to Bring Its High-Tech Mini Golf Concept to Dallas
⓹ 14 Emerging Tech Trends for 2021
⓺ Stryve ‘Biltong’ Maker Hires CFO, Plans to Go Public in $170M SPAC Deal
⓻ Capital One’s Sanjiv Yajnik Sees Big Business as a Catalyst for Change
⓼ Meet the Innovator: ‘Ultimately, Everyone Will Go to Electronic Delivery,’ Predicted Banking Disruptor Stephen Bohanon
⓽ Real Estate Startup Nada Raises Max Funding on Republic: $1.07M
⓾ North Texas Startup Invents Ag and Energy Solutions That Are Better for Business AND the Environment
Thursday, March 4
⓵ DONE DEAL: Following speculation that DeepGreen Metals Inc. was in talks with Dallas blank-check company Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corporation, the deal has now been confirmed through a joint statement. The combined organization, which will be renamed The Metals Company, is said to have around $570 million in cash with a pro forma equity value of $2.9 billion. It plans to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol TMC. As The Metals Company, it hopes to become the world’s largest developer and producer of electric vehicle battery metals.
⓶ FUTURE OF WORK: What will offices look like in a post-pandemic world? Expect an experience. According to Gensler’s design director, Ian Zapata, COVID has forced landlords and developers of workspaces to completely transform the way they think—companies now need to have the same comfort and appeal as working from home. Bringing people into the office will require what he calls “experience superchargers,” like Amazon pickup locations or spaces to attend virtual doctors’ appointments. It’s all about designing with the future in mind, and putting culture, community, and collaboration at the heart of the space. Trends Zapata notes in D CEO are: outdoor zones, new tech to ease COVID worries (think touchless security), and amenities like gyms and cafés.
⓷ FOLLOW THE MONEY: Richardson surveillance product company Wireless CCTV got a nearly $41.8 million (GBP 30 million) investment from PE firm LDC for a minority stake. Originally founded in the U.K. in 2001, the company established a base in Texas in 2015 and was the first company to have a video product certified by Verizon Wireless in the U.S. for 4G LTE and 3G transmission, according to Crunchbase. Tim Williams, founder and Chairman at WCCTV, says the backing will allow the market leader to scale at pace, further enhance product range, and extend its footprint both in the U.K. (where it has three offices) and overseas.
Wednesday, March 3
⓵ TOP TECH EXECS: DallasCIO unveiled the award winners of its annual CIO of the Year Awards last week in a virtual event. CIOs are leading in unprecedented ways in the pandemic and “enabling the largest work-from-home experiment in history,” says Lourdes Gipson, executive director of the organization in an announcement. Judged by their peers—CIOs who understand how tough the job is, and why leadership matters—the 2021 ORBIE awards recognized leaders in eight categories:
- LEADERSHIP: Zack Hicks, CEO & President of Toyota Connected North America, and CDO & EVP of Toyota Motor North America
- SUPER GLOBAL: Sue-Jean Lin, SVP & CIO of Alcon
- GLOBAL: Gertrude Van Horn, SVP & CIO of NCH Corporation
- LARGE ENTERPRISE: Nimesh Mehta, CIO of National Life Group
- ENTERPRISE: Michele Rodgers, CIO of Exeter Finance LLC
- CORPORATE: Jyoti Lynch, CIO of European Wax Center
- HEALTHCARE: Shane Henderson, CTO of Signify Health
- PUBLIC SECTOR: Jack Kelanic, CTO of Dallas Independent School District
Go here to see all the finalists.
⓶ VIRTUAL TOUR: Zillow has added AI to its 3D home tours to mimic in-person viewing. The company’s computer vision and machine-learning models generate a tour and interactive floor plan, including AI-predicted room dimensions, square footage, and location, according to TechRepublic. The interactive floor plans are available for free in 25 markets, including Dallas.
⓷ AGENCY SPACE: Advertising creatives Rob Baker and Jimmy Bonner are starting a boutique branding shop called Baker & Bonner Creative Emporium. Both are veterans of The Richards Group, leading work for clients such as The Home Depot, Ram Trucks, Spalding, Firestone, and more. The agency launches with five team members, supported by freelance talent, according to Mediapost.
⟫ Walmart will spend $350 billion on products made, grown, or assembled in the U.S., per the DMN.
⟫ Irving-based arts and crafts retailer Michaels has a $5B acquisition deal with a New York PE firm, reports the DBJ.
⟫ Exxon Mobil will invest $3 billion in a low-carbon business line, the same publication reports.
Photos (from top): DallasCIO, Zillow, Baker & Bonner Creative Emporium
Tuesday, March 2
⓵ AI ACQUISITION: Yum! Brands—parent company of Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell—will acquire Plano-based Kvantum. The AI startup, founded in 2012 by CEO Shilpi Sharma and CTO Harpeet Singh, develops algorithms and artificial intelligence models for market insights, per a news release. It’s a market leader in the space, according to Yum! Brands. The giant wants to keep its brands R.E.D. (relevant, easy to access and distinctive). To advance that, Yum! Brands plans to combine Kvantum’s AI/ML “approach to understanding human behavior with the skillsets of anthropologists and sociologists at its consultancy, Collider Lab, the company says. The combined methodologies could yield deeper insights, it says.
⓶ INNOVATION ANCHOR: The SoGood development in the Cedars district of downtown Dallas will include a business incubator in a partnership of Hoque Global and GSV Ventures. GSVLabs will house companies, entrepreneurs, and creatives in the innovation center that will anchor the project. The DEC Chairman Trey Bowles (above) will work on the plans, the DMN reports.
⓷ CONTACTLESS CONCEPT: Dallas Love Field is piloting a new high-tech Amazon store. The retail giant landed its “Just Walk Out” technology at the first location called “Hudson Nonstop.” The store opened last week, and the joint venture concept will roll out across North America this year.
Images (from top): istockphoto, Dallas Innovates file art, Hudson
Monday, March 1
⓵ SENSOR SCIENCE: Woman-owned Max-IR Labs landed $75OK from “America’s Seed Fund,” a grant fund powered by the National Science Foundation. The lab, founded in Dallas in 2017 by Dr. Katy Roodenkko, will field test and develop a prototype of its real-time sensor for monitoring wastewater. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants invest up to $2M and take zero equity in innovative technologies, awarding $200M each year to entrepreneurs. Its focus: high-risk, high-impact tech.
⓶ IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE: After huge success in Europe, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is coming to Dallas. The 360-degree digital art experience puts art lovers into the paintings themselves with VR and room-size projections. Don’t wait: The show arrives this summer, but it’s a hot ticket, selling out in both New York and Atlanta in just hours. Tickets will be released at noon on Wednesday. Go here to sign up.
⓷ TEMPTING TECH: The MIK, a 40,000 square foot culinary innovation center, showcases cooking, beverage, automation, and IoT tech with live demos and training. Recently opened near Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Middleby Innovation Kitchens also features the latest in beverage technologies for brewing and dispensing coffee, craft beer, frozen drinks, and nitrogenated and carbonated beverages. It also offers a chef and a tableside experience.
Photos courtesy of the companies.
Friday, Feb. 26
⓵ NORTH TEXAS NEXTS: The first “class” of the Forbes Next 1000 has arrived. Among the 250 small businesses in this installment, you’ll find five from North Texas:
- You Go Natural, a Dallas-based ethnic haircare brand that reports 500 percent YOY growth in 2020, founded by Monique Little in 2016.
- Zartech, a bootstrapped cybersecurity and advisory services company that counts GameStop and Freeman Company among its clients, founded in Dallas by Abu Sadeq in 2016.
- Invene, another bootstrapped Dallas startup, founded by 23-year-old James Griffin to help companies replace outdated processes in healthcare using expertise in hardware, software, and AI.
- AVACRAFT, a five-year-old Plano cookware company that booked $2 million in revenue for 2020, co-founded by husband-wife duo Vivek and Asha Kangralkar.
- Joy Creative Shop, a Dallas-based e-commerce and wholesale business that originally launched on Etsy as a stationery/paper goods shop, founded by Stephanie Weibring as a senior in college.
The Forbes NEXT list is a year-round initiative. Take your shot: Nominations are still open.
⓶ SECOND-TRY SPAC DEAL: Switchback Energy Acquisition Corp., a Dallas-based special purpose acquisition company will close on a merger with Calif.-based electric charging company ChargePoint Inc. today, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Once complete, the combined company is expected to be valued at about $2.4 billion. Called ChargePoint Holdings Inc., it will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday under the symbol CHPT.
⓷ HIGH-TECH HEALING: Lewisville-based Orthofix, an innovator known for musculoskeletal healing products such as its 3-D printed bone screw, completed the acquisition of a limb-lengthening system called FITBONE. The deal with Wittenstien SE, the Germany-based company that developed the technology, includes $18 million in cash and a manufacturing contract. The system received FDA clearance “making it the only pediatric lengthening nail in the U.S.,” CEO Jon Serbousek announced.
GENE THERAPY PIONEER: In advance of Rare Disease Day on Sunday, we’re spotlighting R.A. Session II, the founder of Taysha Gene Therapies, a fast-growing Dallas biotech that wants to eradicate monogenic disorders of the central nervous system. The company, which rocketed from a UTSW spinout to a $157 million initial public offering last year, launched a #RareAlly initiative on Twitter and LinkedIn to recognize people in the rare disease community who inspire and motivate each other. Read more in our Q&A with Sessions.
The organizers of Rare Disease Day—the European Organization for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS) and the National Organization for Rare Disorders in the U.S. (NORD)—say awareness of rare diseases is important: “One in 20 people will live with a rare disease at some point in their life.” To learn more about RDD, an international patient-led movement, go here.
⓶ 14 Emerging Tech Trends for 2021—and Dallas-Area Companies That Are Innovating for the Future
⓷ Drive Shack Is Bringing Its High-Tech Mini Golf Concept to Dallas This Summer
⓸ ‘The Founder of Envy Gaming Says the Popularity of Esports Is ‘Enormous and Growing’ in a Virtual Pandemic World and Beyond
⓹ Meet AECOM’s Dev Rastogi, the Local Innovator Spearheading Infrastructure Projects That Could Redefine Transportation
⓺ This Fort Worth Couple Brews Small Business Collaborations at Trinity Coffee House—Including a Local CBD Company
⓻ Dallas-Based Spark Biomedical Gets FDA Clearance for its Drug‑Free Solution to Opioid Withdrawal
⓼ Through Roles at UTSW and Pegasus Park, Claire Aldridge Leads Efforts to Make DFW a Key Center for Healthcare Innovation
⓽ Dallas’ Apex Clearing to Go Public Following Merger With Northern Star Investment Corp.
⓾ ‘Highly Selective’ Illumina Accelerator Picks Dallas-Based Doloromics for its Second Funding Cycle
Thursday, Feb. 25
⓵ ROBOTIC INCLUSIVITY: Dallas edtech startup Robokind, which develop robots and curriculum for students with autism, has a new initiative to support its commitment to DEI. Leaders in education “must commit resources to a mission of a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable classroom. And, that’s exactly what we are doing,” the company says. Its new robots, named Carver (after Black scientist George Washington Carver) and Jemi (after Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to visit space), are inspired by the values and commitments of the individuals for whom they are named.
⓶ SPORTS MEDTECH: Texas Health Resources opened its new $12 million sports medicine and fitness facility. The Texas Health Allen complex offers access to surgeons, rehab for injuries, and performance training. Its notable technology includes a 3-D motion lab with capture tech that lets specialists assess athletes’ movements and also see where injuries might occur.
⓷ AI INSIGHTS: Precision Health Informatics, part of Dallas’ Texas Oncology, is collaborating with Chicago-based AI health care startup Tempus on precision-medicine advances. Texas Oncology has played a role in the development of some 100 FDA-approved therapies, or about one-third of all cancer therapies approved to date.
Wednesday, Feb. 24
⓵ SUSTAINABLE SPAC: A Dallas blank-check company is said to be in talks to take DeepGreen Metals public. The SPAC led by CEO Scott Leonard, Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corp., raised $300 million in an IPO in May. It was seeking a target focused on clean energy and green business practices, Bloomberg reports. Based in Canada, DeepGreen Metals Inc. plans to manufacture metals used in electric-vehicle batteries. The deal could value the combined entry at around $2.8 billion.
⓶ MEETING DEMAND: Global clothing company Gap Inc. plans to build a $140 million state-of-the-art distribution center in Longview to support its booming e-commerce business. That could create 1,000 jobs within five years. The new facility is expected to be a “technological wonder.” Gap opened its newest distribution center in Ohio last fall, which has been called a “gold standard,” according to trade publication Retail and Hospitality. Kevin Kuntz, head of Gap’s global logistics fulfillment, said it’s “one of the most automated facilities in the world. As we build other facilities, this is the blueprint.”
⓷ DISTANCED APPROACH: State Farm adjusters are going virtual as more than 34,000 claims roll in for the Texas winter storm, per WFAA. Texas’ largest insurer is using a remote assessment to process a mountain of claims while staying distanced in the pandemic. Customers can use a cell phone to work with an adjuster via video stream, speeding the process.
⟫ Walgreens will launch same-day delivery with partner Instacart. Dallas will be among the five locations for the initial rollout this spring.
⟫ A mobile dentistry startup with “tricked-out vans” that are basically single-chair dental offices on wheels plans to expand in Dallas and four other cities following a $250K investment by Render Capital. The Louisville, KY- based Kare Mobile says the capital will help fuel the development of its schedule optimizer, according to bizjournals.com.
Tuesday, Feb, 23
⓵ COVID TIPPING POINT: Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation estimates Dallas County will reach a “critical tipping point” of Covid-19 herd immunity in late June. That’s based on total case recoveries and vaccinations, according to PCCI. CEO Steve Miff presented the new forecast information today in a press conference with Dallas County and FEMA at Fair Park. PCCI launched a free app (above) for on-demand personal risk assessment based on location in January.
⓶ PLANT-BASED PRODUCTION: The Swedish dairy-alternative drink-making giant, Oatly Inc., is eyeing Fort Worth for a third production facility in the U.S., the DBJ reported last week. The Oprah-backed oat milk company has confidentially filed for a U.S. IPO and could be weighing a $10B valuation, according to Bloomberg.
⓷ IN OTHER IPO NEWS: Plano-based Alkami, the fast-growing fintech that provides cloud-based digital banking solutions for banks and credit unions, is reportedly planning for an initial public offering led by Goldman Sachs. Anonymous sources told Reuters that the IPO could be valued at $3 billion, but Alkami did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment. The move comes on the heels of Alkami closing a $140M funding round in September, putting its total funding upwards of $400 million.
⟫ Meet the Innovator: ‘Ultimately, Everyone Will Go to Electronic Delivery,’ Predicted Banking Disruptor Stephen Bohanon
Bohanon founded fast-growing Alkami. The Plano-based fintech, which was said to be “under the radar” in 2019, has seen that status change rapidly.
Monday, Feb. 22
⓵ SPORTS TECH: Dallas-based nVenue is one of 10 startups picked for the first annual Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech Accelerator. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that sports fans are tech-savvy and hungry for more ‘in-game’ connection,” Kelly Pracht, CEO of nVenue, told us last summer. The startup wants to revolutionize the world of fan engagement with its predictive analytics using AI/ML software for play-by-play insights. The startup, founded in 2018, was selected from more than 1,000 applicants in 70 countries.
⓶ WORK ETHIC: A new report says Texas cities make up nearly half of the top 20 hardest-working cities in America. Irving is the top-ranked Texas city at No. 5. Other North Texas cities in the top 20 include Plano (No. 11), Dallas (No. 13), Fort Worth (No. 16), Garland (No. 18), and Arlington (No. 20). Here’s the list.
⓷ THE NEW CORNER STORE: Chicago startup Foxtrot, with its reimagined, on-demand convenience stores in Chicago and Dallas, has raised $42M in a Series B round led by food-tech venture firm Almanac Insights. Known for a 60-minute delivery guarantee of organic wine and locally made ice cream, the startup plans to double its store count. It plans 10 new stores this year, along with a new location in Washington, D.C.
⟫ McKinney-based Hemisphere Ventures invested in Axiom Space, a private spaceflight company that raised $130M to become the latest space unicorn. The Houston startup, which was founded in 2016, is among the 10 most valuable private U.S. space companies, reports CNBC. The Series B funding round was led by C5 Capital.
Friday, Feb. 19
⓵ This Fort Worth Logistics Startup Is Delivering Free Firewood in DFW Updated
⓶ Signify Health’s IPO Makes its Stock Market Debut
⓷ Riding the Funding Wave: 32 North Texas Startups to Watch
⓸ ‘Highly Selective’ Illumina Accelerator Picks Dallas-Based Doloromics for its Second Funding Cycle
⓹ Founded by PEAK6 and Apex Clearing, This Action-Oriented Fintech Coalition to Fight Systemic Racism Is Led in Dallas
⓺ How Building the World’s Longest-Distance Radio Transmitters Put This Dallas RF Tech Company on the Mission to Mars
⓻ Eye on the Future: Planned Developments Keep DFW On the Forefront of Industry and Livability
⓼ DI People: Perot Museum, Women’s Foodservice Forum, Nicholas Residential, and More Make Moves
⓽ D CEO’s Upcoming Event to Feature Female Tech and Innovation Leaders
⓾ COMSovereign’s Drone Aviation Unit Delivers the First Drone-Deployed LTE Network
⓵ RANKINGS REVEALED: Last night, SMU Cox unveiled its 2020 Dallas 100 rankings in a virtual event. Private equity firm Clavis Capital Partners, which is focused on the hot industrial sector and calls its model unique, took the top spot with more than 1,000 percent growth over the last three years. Scout & Cellar, a direct-to-consumers wine-based beverage producer, ranks at No. 2. The startup launched in 2017 with a pioneering “clean-crafted” wine club. Here’s the full list of the Dallas 100’s fastest-growing entrepreneurial businesses in DFW by rank.
⓶ STEADY HAND IN TOUGH TIMES: USA Today talks with the Dallas Mavericks‘ Cynt Marshall—one of Berkeley’s first Black cheerleaders and now the first Black woman CEO in the NBA—in the sports series 28 Black stories in 28 days. When Mark Cuban contacted Marshall about joining the Mavs three years ago, “I didn’t know who he was,” she told the publication. “I had a big job. I’m raising four kids. I just didn’t know who he was.” Today, Cuban touts Marshall’s “vision, leadership, communication, and business skills.” For her part, the CEO says: “I want to make sure I do a good job, be a good role model and show that it shouldn’t be unusual for a Black woman to be in a job like this.”
⓷ FOLLOW THE MONEY: Plano-based Rent-A-Center has raised $376.7 million in equity from 21 investors, per a public filing. This week, the company closed on its acquisition of fast-growing Acima Holdings, another lease-to-own company. Acima, with a 3-year growth rate of nearly 800 percent, landed on Inc.’s list of fastest-expanding private firms, according to Payments.com. Rent-A-Center CEO Mitch Fadel said Acima’s tech will help accelerate the company’s innovation roadmap. Rent-A-Center also rolled out a new nationwide e-commerce solution in December.
⟫ Developer Mike Hoque is “ready to kick off one of the most ambitious redevelopment projects in Dallas,” the Dallas Morning News reports. The SoGood mixed-use development, located south of I-30, could transform Dallas’ near southside with about nine blocks of apartments, retail, offices, and townhomes. The first phase, a $45 million apartment project, includes repurposing parts of the former Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant on Cesar Chavez Boulevard near downtown Dallas.
Thursday, Feb. 18
⓵ LAB LEADER: Azzur Group is continuing its nationwide expansion with Azzur Labs Dallas. The company says the new analytical lab, which will serve the biopharmaceutical and medical device industries, was established to “specifically meet the needs of the burgeoning life science industry in the Lone Star State.” Senior Director Anita Boye will lead the lab.
⓶ CLOSE CALL: Texas was “seconds [or] minutes” away from catastrophic months-long blackouts, officials from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said today, according to the Fort Worth Business Press.
⓷ TOUCHDOWN: NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars today after traveling more than 300 million miles at around 12,000 mph for seven months. Dallas-based Continental Electronics Corporation tech was along for the ride. Its long-range communication technology helped engineers navigate the trip and drop the robot rover on the red planet under tricky conditions.
Wednesday, Feb. 17
⓵ BIOTECH FUNDING: A Fort Worth biotech has closed $7.2M in oversubscribed Series A funding. The clinical-stage biotech expanded from Silicon Valley to UNTHSC last summer. CAGE Bio—a resident at Johnson & Johnson Innovation—uses a proprietary platform to develop innovative therapeutic products for dermatology, inflammation, and immunology.
⓶ MAKING A POINT: Little Elm-based Retractable Technologies has a new government contract worth more than $54.2M for its dead-space safety syringes. The company, an “upstart” in 1994, was founded by engineer Thomas J. Shaw to reduce the dangers faced by healthcare workers from accidental needle sticks by rethinking the syringe. In December, the company’s valuation was $340 million, with sales jumping 132 percent in the most recent quarter as demand climbs, reported The Motley Fool. The company says its VanishPoint syringes have been called “the gold standard” for retractable needle syringes.
⓷ CUBAN INVESTS: Mark Cuban joined actor Mark Wahlberg, NBA player Kevin Durant, and 15 other investors in a $40M funding round for sports marketplace Goldin Auctions. The New Jersey-based startup auction house for rare sports memorabilia and collectibles, founded in 2012, grossed $800K in its first year and more than $100M in 2020. The Chermin Group led the round.
Here are 6 to know today—and why.
⟫ People management software startup Leadr has named Co-Founder Matt Tresidder as CEO. The position is a first for the startup that relocated to DFW from Seattle in 2019, reflecting its rapid growth. It’s approaching $1M in annual recurring revenue, according to a news release. “The large majority of our customers are in the faith market, but we’ll be branching into other verticals of small- to medium-sized businesses in the quarters ahead,” Tresidder says in the DBJ.
⟫ Plano-based fitness startup OxeFit, which just raised $12.5M in an oversubscribed Series A funding round that included renowned athletes and sports med investors, is deepening its bench of experts. The startup named Hassan Ahmed to its board of directors, who most recently served as the chairman and CEO of Affirmed Networks, which was acquired by Microsoft last year. Pro rock climber Nick Sagar will join the technical advisory board. The connected fitness startup intends to revolutionize strength training.
⟫ Fort Worth-based ECI Software Solutions is making multiple C-suite moves. Trevor Gruenewald, who has completed more than 26 acquisitions since joining the company in 2009, will assume the duties of current CEO Ron Brooks, who will become Chairman of the Board. Sarah Hagan, who was CFO, becomes president and chief operating officer.
⟫ Motorola Solutions has plans to expand staffing in DFW with a new AI-focused central manufacturing hub in Richardson, consolidating smaller facilities in the region. It will also be a center for companies from Motorola’s Video Security & Analytics portfolio, including brands such as WatchGuard and Vigilant Solutions, per the DMN.
⟫ Dallas-based private equity firm Tailwater Capital acquired Houston gas-storage provider NorTex Midstream. Per the WSJ, the PE firm “looks to benefit from the role gas-fired electricity generation plays as a supplement to renewable power.”
⟫ Fort Worth-based Sanara MedTech, a provider of wound and skincare products, announced the closing of a $31.6M public offering.
⟫ A Swedish maker of plant-based, alternative dairy products, Oatly Inc., is eyeing Fort Worth for a third production facility in the U.S., the DBJ reports.
Tuesday, Feb. 16
TOOLBOX: The Extreme Cold Edition
Overnight, Dallas-Fort Worth recorded a new record low (-2 degrees). So far, more than 1.2 million North Texans have lost power in an unprecedented winter storm. Below is a roundup of resources and how to help.
⟫ How to help and get help as the winter storm causes power outages across Texas, via The Texas Tribune.
⟫ Rotating power outages: Common questions answered, via WFAA.
⟫ North Texas counties, cities, others open warming shelters for residents without power, via The Dallas Morning News.
⟫ Coping With Winter Plumbing Emergencies at Work and Home? Tip No. 1 from the Dallas Builders Association: If experiencing or fearing frozen or broken pipes, turn off the water, stat, via D Magazine.
⟫ How to help homeless Dallasites weather the storm, via D Magazine.
⟫ How to help feed people in need during dallas’s winter weather crisis, via Dallas Eater.
⟫ Find Oncor’s interactive outage map here.
D CEO’s virtual multi-platform event, Women Leading Tech and Innovation, features female leaders from Capital One, Samsung, Imprimis Group, and CASPR Group. It’s been rescheduled to Feb. 24, thanks to rolling power outages and a forecast for additional snow.
Friday, Feb. 12
⓵ FOLLOW THE MONEY: Dallas based biotech Dialectic Therapeutics has reported raising $6.35M in equity and options from 27 investors, in an amended filing. About this time last year, the company was one of three North Texas startups to receive a $3 million award from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Dialectic focuses on creating innovative and targeted new technologies to address late-stage difficult cancer diagnoses, Biotech venture investors Dr. David Genecov and John D. Harkey Jr. (above, from left) capitalized the startup in 2018
⓶ SPAC IPO? Bloomberg reports Dallas-based clearing house Apex is in merger talks with a special purposed acquisition company, or SPAC, backed by Jonathan Ledecky, a co-owner of the New York Islanders. A merger with Northern Star Investment Corp. II and Apex could be valued as high as $5 billion, the publication reports. PEAK6-owned Apex helps companies like Stash, SoFi, Firstrade, and Ally Invest deliver stock trading. (As a custody and clearing company, Apex ensures that trade orders are executed, minimizing the risk of theft or loss.) Apex also worked with Robinhood from 2013 to 2018, before Robinhood took its clearing in house, the company previously said. In related news, yesterday we told you about Fintech in Action, a new initiative launched by Apex Clearing and its parent. It aims to advance the hiring and promoting of more Black employees in finance and financial technology.
⓷ CREDENTIALING CONSORTIUM: Texas Woman’s University is one of four winners of the national Blockchain Innovation Challenge from the American Council on Education. TWU will use a $150K grant award to create a consortium of institutions in North Texas that will use a shared credentialing platform for secure, streamlined sharing of educational records between students, schools, and employers. TWU will partner with UT Arlington, Texas A&M University-Commerce, North Central Texas College, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, and Dallas startup GreenLight. If selected for a “phase 2” pilot, TWU could get another $300K.
NEED TO KNOW
Greenlight, a partner in the TWU consortium, develops credentialing technology. The Dallas startup was picked in September to provide its blockchain platform to the Texas College Bridge, a collaboration of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Impact Network, The Commit Partnership, and institutions of higher education in Texas. Greenlight was co-founded in 2018 by Manjov Kutty, who was featured in the 2021 Dallas Innovates Future 50.
NAME THAT RIDE: Starting in March, five self-driving shuttles will be cruising the city and the local on-demand service needs a name. The service falls under the acronym RAPID (rideshare, automation, and payment integration demonstration). It’s a partnership of May Mobility, Via Rideshare, and UT Arlington. Submissions must begin with “M” and be 20 characters or under (including spaces). Deadline is Feb. 17. Go!
CLOSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has named expanding broadband access as an emergency item for the 87th Texas legislative session, per CBSDFW. Connect2Educate, a Texas-based partnership led by Internet service providers, says rural communities in the state don’t have reliable access to the Internet. The digital divide has widened in the pandemic, and “it needs to be fixed right away.” said Sherman-based JJ McGrath, founder of the partnership, in a statement. “The distribution of devices and wifi hotspots is good, but it’s not going to solve this problem for the long term.”
⓵ COMSovereign Aviation Unit Delivers First Drone-Deployed LTE Network
⓶ DI People: Southwest Airlines, Collin County Business Alliance, UTD, and More Makes Moves
⓷ OxeFit Closes $12.5M Series A to Revolutionize Strength Training
⓸ Irving-Based Sow Good Raises $2.5M, Adds CRE Expert to its Board
⓹ Hillwood and Bell Complete a Package Delivery With Unmanned Aircraft
⓺ Frisco-Based Gearbox Acquired by Embracer Group in $1.3B Deal
⓻ Dabble Dallas Wants to Resuscitate the Restaurant Industry
⓼ UTSW Machine Learning Algorithm Finds COVID-19 Cases Significantly Higher Than Reported
⓽ Women Helping Women: Texas Women’s Foundation Honors Seven Trailblazing “Agents of Positive Change”
⓾ Tyler Technologies’ New Corporate Operations Team to Support a Multi-Year Cloud Strategy
Telehealth is trending on Dallas Innovates with recent funding and launches. From Fort Worth-based Timely MD’s telehealth for higher ed to McKinney-based GoLexi Pet Telehealth to Frisco-based Careington’s teledentistry, innovators are pioneering virtual healthcare in DFW.
FORCES FOR GOOD
People and organizations of all kinds are stepping up to help and inspire local communities. Here are highlights from around the region:
⟫ UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Dr. Claire Aldridge (above) will soon be a guest on “Mission Unstoppable,” a CBS show hosted by actress Miranda Cosgrove. The show features women in STEM, such as Aldridge who will discuss the importance of convalescent plasma in treating COVID-19 before the vaccine came along, reports D CEO. Aldridge was infected by coronavirus in March 2019 and donated her plasma to help those impacted by the disease through her antibodies.
⟫ Dallas ISD is partnering with Apple to update the district’s tech for its students. The new tools are expected to to enhance curriculum, coaching, and instruction, per Patch. Along with this, 40 to 45 of the district’s schools will have their libraries and media centers redesigned, with a potential lab feature being a recording booth and sound equipment for student-produced podcasts.
⟫ Dallas-based nonprofit Catch Up & Read recently announced it received over $1.5 million in donations last year, with over $951,000 coming from the Crystal Charity Ball alone. On top of this, the organization, which helps to ensure Dallas and Richardson elementary school students can read on grade-level by 3rd grade, has brought on Karla Stack as its new executive director. Catch Up & Read is currently working with 11 Dallas ISD and one Richardson ISD schools.
⟫ Local filmmaker Rebecca Ugo is launching her debut feature No Strings—complete with a red carpet—today at The Colony. At the age of 23, Ugo’s micro-budget drama will be having multiple screenings throughout the weekend. At the same time, Ugo is also launching DEEP, a multi-platform brand aimed at empowering and impacting Generation Z through stories with diversity at the forefront, according to D Magazine.
Thursday, Feb. 11
⓵ A WIN FOR WOMEN: Texas-based Bumble’s IPO this week has launched SMU grad Whitney Wolfe Herd into a rarefied club as tech’s newest self-made billionaire. The founder of the dating app that lets women initiate the contact “capitalized on an underserved market and built a multibillion-dollar company,” writes the Dallas Morning News. Though women make up about half the population around the world, “self-made women—mostly from Asia—account for less than 5 percent of the world’s biggest fortunes,” the publication reports.
⓶ SOCIAL INNOVATOR: Demetrius Curry is tackling the student loan crisis with a new startup, College Cash, that has a unique model. The Dallas-based startup lets brands “petition users to create photo and video marketing content highlighting their product or service,” writes TechCrunch. The content creators are then paid by the brands via credits that go towards paying down their student loans. Curry has raised $105K, so far, and hope to wrap that into a $1M seed round.
⓷ LEASE TO OWN: Another real estate startup is coming to town. Zerodown makes the rent vs. buy dilemma a moot point. The startup lets homebuyers shop for a home and buy it on their own timeline. Zerodown buys the selected move-in ready home for cash and rents it back to the customer with an option to buy.
Wednesday, Feb. 10
⓵ ELECTRIFYING: Toyota Motor North America says it will debut three new electrified vehicles in the U.S. this year. The company will add two Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Toyota’s research shows the models have similar environmental benefits, but the options offer people at various price points: The PHEV “is much less expensive to buy and own, compared to the BEV,” the company says. Toyota wants to put more people in cleaner vehicles and believes “the fastest way to lower greenhouse gases in the transportation sector is to offer drivers lower carbon choices that meet their needs,” said Gill Pratt, chief scientist of Toyota Motor Corporation and CEO of Toyota Research Institute.
⓶ MARKET MOVERS: After raising $310 million in growth capital last October, an IPO could be in the future for Irving-based Caris Life Sciences, per the DBJ. If so, it would join other DFW healthcare startups such as Lantern Pharma and Taysha Gene Therapies that made a public market move last year. “The size of the company’s scale, our future pipeline—some of those things— are pretty well suited for the public markets,” the biotech’s CFO Thomas Parker said in the publication. “We’re taking a serious look at that this year.” But, he added, “That doesn’t mean we have definite plans.”
⓷ TELEPRESENCE ROBOTS: UT Arlington is using robots to help with remote learning. In the nursing program, the robots allow students and professors tomove freely in a clinical space, virtually and safely. The university is tripling its robotic fleet this year, thanks to funding from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Nursing Innovation Grant Program.
Tuesday, Feb. 9
⓵ INTERACTIVE INVESTMENT: Match Group will acquire Hyperconnect and its high-growth social discovery products for $1.73 billion in cash and stock, the company announced today. South Korea-based Hyperconnect, a leader in live video and audio engagement technology, has two popular flagship apps with traction across Asia: Azar and Hakuna Live. The company’s R&D efforts have led to unique features with high engagement, according to a news release. “Hyperconnect’s engineering team is relentlessly imaginative and creative,” said Shar Dubey, CEO of Match Group, adding that Match will “look to deploy Hyperconnect’s technologies across our existing portfolio and continue to invest in their growth.”
⓶ FLEX BEYOND COWORKING: Granite Properties has a new flexible work option at its properties. The commercial real estate firm launched a new platform called “evolve,” a collection of office and leasing solutions to help companies adapt to changing business needs. Companies can tailor workspaces in conventional, move-in ready, on-demand, short-term, and co-working space, per a news release. The platform lets companies adjust the size, location, lease terms, amenities according to their business need. As part of evolve, tenants can also take advantage of a hub-and-spoke model through Granite’s partnerships with coworking firms Industrious and Common Desk.
⓷ BIGGER D: Dallas has beat out Austin as the favorite Texas city for new residents during the pandemic. A new Redfin report uses data from the real-estate brokerage’s 1 million Redfin users and the U.S. Census Bureau across multiple measures to calculate the 10 metro areas pulling in the most newcomers, per CultureMap.
Monday, Feb. 8
⓵ INSURTECH: Dallas-based Bestow is taking a “big step forward” by partnering with insurance unicorn Lemonade. Through Lemonade’s platform, which was valued at $2 billion in 2020, Bestow could reach a million new customers. Bestow, solely focused on life insurance “for now,” is looking to partner with emerging insurtech companies that can complement the fast-growing startup’s existing offerings with specialization, the DMN reports.
⓶ FDA DESIGNATION NO. 2: Fort Worth biotech AyuVis was granted a Rare Pediatric Disease Drug Designation for its lead drug candidate, AVE-48. That’s on the heels of an Orphan Drug Designation granted by the FDA in January. The drug fights bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease that develops in premature babies leading to long-term disabilities or death. CEO Suchi Acharya co-founded the startup after about 15 years in leadership roles at Fort Worth’s Alcon Labs (then Novartis). Her passion was to “find a solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance to drugs and to target the un-met clinical needs in serious and life-threatening indications,” per the Fort Worth Business Press.
⓷ CROWDFUNDING: Dallas-based startup MyndVR aims to raise up to $1 million with a new equity crowdfunding campaign on Republic Dallas. The provider of virtual reality solutions for older adults in the U.S. is now expanding internationally, it says.
Friday, Feb. 5
⓵ DRC Announces Funding to Elevate Southern Dallas County
⓶ Frisco-Based Careington Launches National Teledentistry Program
⓷ Gearbox Acquired by Embracer Group in $1.3B Merger
⓸ OxeFit Closes $12.5M Series A to Revolutionize Strength Training
⓹ Dallas-Based Automated Stock Trading Marketplace Wins Impact Ventures’ Pitch Competition
⓺ Toyota Expands Online Car Buying Experience to Keep Up With Shifting Retail Patterns
⓻ New Food and Drink Concierge Dabble Dallas Wants to Resuscitate the Restaurant Industry
⓼ Tech Comes of Age in Dallas-Fort Worth
⓽ Meet the Future 50: DFW Innovators and Disruptors You Need to Know
⓾ Dallas Recycling Service Expands to Denton, Makes Food Waste Scraps a Farm and Garden Resource
⓵ BIOTECH EXPANSION: Plano-based Allied BioScience, which got a public health emergency exemption waiver for use of its SurfaceWise2 antimicrobial product in the pandemic, is doubling the company’s footprint with an expansion in the city’s One Legacy Circle building on Dallas Parkway. The 12-year-old biotech firm also announced plans to relocate its R&D labs in Plano. Allied expects to hire more than 100 people across departments to handle growth.
⓶ OPERATION WARP SPEED: A new climatized manufacturing and distribution warehouse is being built in Dallas-Fort Worth for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Fort Worth-based W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. is handling a design/build program “on a fast-track schedule,” reports the Dallas Business Journal. Details, including timeline and location, are scarce, given the planned facility’s status as a high-security site.
⓷ FUTURE READINESS: Dallas College has been awarded $10 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Labor for a grant project called “Innovative Strategies, One Workforce.” The college is one of only five higher-ed institutions in the country picked for a $145 million program of workforce training in key sectors. The college will focus on training in cybersecurity, IT, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and transportation, per NBC DFW.
⟫ “NEW COLLAR” JOBS: Dallas College also announced a partnership with Amazon to train students in emerging technology. Its Eastfield campus in Mesquite is working with the global giant to train students in mechatronics technology. The “smart manufacturing” field combines several types of engineering—mechanical, computer, and electrical—with robotics. The “unique apprenticeship” is aligned with industry needs, says Chancellor Joe May. It’s a “high-growth area.”
⟫ OPEN MARKET: Office innovator Vari, formerly known as Varidesk, is expanding to the Atlanta market. The company opened showrooms in six markets in 2020 and plans to expand into four additional markets in 2021.
FORCES FOR GOOD
People and organizations of all kinds are stepping up to help and inspire local communities. Here are highlights from around Dallas-Fort Worth:
⟫ “MAVS MAJOR”: The Dallas Mavericks will fund a new bachelor’s program in leadership and sports management at Paul Quinn College. The partnership with its $500,000 grant was spawned from a “meeting of the minds” that involved PCQ President Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall, and team owner Mark Cuban, the Dallas Morning News reports.
⟫ The Dallas Foundation has provided fellow Dallas-based organization Child Poverty Action Lab (CPAL) with a $750,000 grant—the largest grant in the organization’s history. The grant will support CPAL’s mission to reduce childhood poverty in Dallas by 50 percent within a single generation. Specifically, the grant will allow CPAL to launch a dedicated “Birth to 3 Care Team,” a program supporting children from birth to three years old, and continue to educate North Texans on poverty-related issues.
⟫ The Dallas-based American Heart Association has awarded $60,000 to community health entrepreneurs at the conclusion of its fourth annual National EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator program. This year’s winners received funding for their innovative business solutions to health inequities with both aiming to prevent unnecessary deaths caused by lack of funding, training, or resources in medical emergencies through their products.
Thursday, Feb. 4
⓵ SPACE PIONEER: Firehawk Aerospace wants to revolutionize rocketry, and it’s moving to Dallas to join the space race. The new startup, which develops industrial-scale 3D printers to make rocket fuel, recently got $1.2 million in investment funding from Dallas-based Harlow Capital Management and CEO Colby Harlow, the DMN reports. The rocket engine startup is seeking space for its main research facility in the region.
⓶ STREAMLINING SALE: After acquiring Rosetta Stone last year, Dallas-based Cambium Learning Group is now selling it to IXL Learning. Cambium acquired the tech-based language brand, along with Lexia Learning in October 2020. The company says the divestiture strengthens its focus on K-12 digital education solutions. It will retain Lexia Learning, a leader in the literacy space.
⓷ NEW MEDIA: A new nonprofit, online-only publication is launching in Fort Worth. The publication, Fort Worth Report, will focus in-depth coverage of local government, schools, and civic matters. New publisher/CEO Chris Cobler plans to hire three reporters and a managing editor by the end of March, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes.
Wednesday, Feb. 3
⓵ STARTUP: LaunchBio and TechFW have announced their first cohort of startups for the ThinkLab Accelerator in Dallas. The program will offer eight Dallas biotech and life science companies free business training with the hope that they will one day locate their companies to Pegasus Park, a mixed-use social purpose project near the Dallas Design District and the Southwestern Medical District.
⓶ RENT TO OWN: Divvy Homes has raised a $110 million Series C funding round, per Crunchbase News. The rent-to-own startup operates in 16 cities, including Dallas. Divvy works with customers to help them find a house, purchases it on their behalf, then the customers rent until they decide to buy the home. According to Crunchbase data, the Series C is the largest venture round raised by a real estate startup in the past month.
⓷ NEW HIRES: Amidst GameStop being in the news recently due to its shares skyrocketing in value last week, the video-game retailer has announced three new hires. Matt Francis, a former Amazon Web Services team member, has joined the team in its newly created position of chief technology officer, reports the Dallas Morning News. Kelli Durkin and Josh Krueger have also been hired on as senior vice president of customer care and vice president of fulfillment, respectively.
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is looking to improve community health through an innovation challenge. Up to $1 million in prizes will be up for grabs based on solutions created to increase access to preventive health care and mental health resources.
Tuesday, Feb. 2
⓵ MEET MILO: A New RoboKind robot is improving remote learning for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Dallas-based education and robotics company has expanded its social-emotional education program to assist students with autism in learning more efficiently in remote settings.
⓶ MOVING TO MCKINNEY: Security operations platform and SaaS startup Contraforce is the latest company announcing it’s relocating thanks to the McKinney Economic Development Corporation’s innovation fund. Contraforce has accepted a grant from the fund and in return, the startup is bringing 20 new high-tech jobs and with an average salary of $100,000 to the area. Over 11 tech headquarters, along with startup relocations and expansions, have made their move to McKinney due to the innovation fund. Among the companies that have landed in the DFW city are EnginSoft, Blockit, and CourMed.
⓷ AND THE WINNER IS…: The American Heart Association has awarded $60,000 to community health entrepreneurs. This year’s AHA Business Accelerator program winners received funding for their innovative business solutions to health inequities. Both aim to prevent unnecessary deaths caused by lack of funding, training, or resources in medical emergencies with their products.
⟫ Sam Brukhman, the founder and artistic director of Verdigris Ensemble, says the digital art space in blockchain is exploding right now. The founder of the Dallas choral group thinks its “new music could draw big bucks in the crypto-art world,” according to the Texas Standard. A new version of the group’s successful recording, “Betty’s Notebook,” can transform it into a “one-of-a-kind digital sound installation” using blockchain to create and fund the project. The music tells the IRL story of Betty Klenck who claimed to have heard Amelia Earhart’s distress signals on her family’s radio in 1937.
⟫ Find out what Dallas innovators are reading. Here are the books recommended by Toyota’s Zack Hicks, DZS’ Charlie Vogt, EarthX Trammell S. Crow, The Container Store’s Melissa Reiff, Vari’s Jason McCann, CECO’s Chasity Wilson Henry, and the Bush Center’s Ken Hersh.
Monday, Feb. 1
⓵ RANKINGS: Nine North Texas organizations made Fortune’s newest list of the world’s most admired companies. From North Texas, Southwest Airlines, AT&T, D.R. Horton, Jacobs Engineering Group, Kimberly-Clark, McKesson, and Texas Instruments ranked in the top 300 All-Star companies.
⓶ LGBTQ FRIENDLY: The number of North Texas companies that have become more inclusive to support the LGBTQ community in the workplace has grown tremendously, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. More than 20 local companies earned a perfect score on the foundation’s corporate equality index for this year, which analyzes companies based on their policies and outreach for those who identify as LGBTQ. That accounted for 61 percent of all perfect scores in Texas. To put it into perspective, only four local companies got a perfect score in 2014, according to the DBJ.
⓷ BUSINESS LAUNCH: A Dallas government tech leader is helping organizations bring their business processes online through its new company. Kofile, a Dallas-headquartered leader in government technology, has announced the launch of GovOS, which has been created to meet a growing demand for digital access to government services.
Friday, Jan. 29
HERE ARE THE MOST POPULAR STORIES ON DALLAS INNOVATES THIS WEEK
⓵ Fort Worth-Based M2G Ventures and Austin-Based Pennybacker Buy Tuesday Morning’s Entire Industrial Portfolio
⓷ Meet the Future 50: Dallas-Fort Worth Innovators and Disruptors You Need to Know in 2021
⓸ This New Addison-Based PPE Supplier Is Manufacturing and Sourcing From the U.S.
⓹ Veritex Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas Award $750K to Create Affordable Housing for the Local LGBTQ Community
⓺ DI People: United Way Dallas, North Dallas Bank & Trust, Texan by Nature, and More Make Moves
⓻ Impact Ventures is Hosting a Virtual Startup Showcase and $50K Pitch Competition This Weekend
⓼ Fort Worth-Based TimelyMD Raises $60M to Grow Its Telehealth for Higher Education
⓽ Dallas-Based PE Firm Partners With Two Aerospace Companies to Form New Missile and Space Platform
⓾ Tech Comes of Age in Dallas-Fort Worth
⓵ NEW FUND: Lydia Partners raised more than $26 million of a $30 million proposed fund, per an SEC filing. Led by Managing Director Mohammed “Rab” Shanableh (above), the Frisco-based VC firm makes early-stage investments in consumer tech, biomedical, and healthcare startups. The company’s portfolio includes OxeFit, a Plano sports science and AI startup, and Allied BioScience, a Dallas-based biotech. Last summer, Allied BioScience’s antimicrobial surface coating became the first approved by the EPA to continuously protect against COVID-19. Shanableh co-founded OxeFit and serves on the board of Allied BioScience.
⓶ MOVIEMAKERS: As the Sundance Film Festival shows at Texas Theatre and Denton kicks off the virtual Black Film Festival, Dallas is “reeling in a new creative accolade”—as a top city for moviemaking, per CultureMap. In MovieMaker magazine’s annual list of “best places to live and work as a moviemaker,” Dallas ranked No. 12 on the “big cities” list. That’s partly thanks to Texas’ tax incentives, but also a cost of living that’s lower than the national average. Here, filmmakers have the chance “to not only survive financially, but thrive.”
⓷ WILD WEEK: Robinhood, which opened a new office in Southlake last year, raised $1 billion in emergency funds from investors this week amid a trading frenzy of stocks including Grapevine-based GameStop and AMC Theaters. The surge of trading on the platform “was driven largely by a group of retail traders on the Reddit forum WallStreetBets,” which helped drive up the share prices of several stocks that were short squeeze targets throughout the week, per Business Insider. Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the trading activity caused an “unprecedented increase in Robinhood’s deposit requirements.”
PLUS: Mark Cuban says the Reddit WallStreetBets crowd could have positive, long-lasting trading effects. But “now it’s just a flex,” he said during an appearance Thursday on CNBC’s Squak, per the Dallas Morning News. Earlier this week, the billionaire tweeted, “I got to say I LOVE LOVE what is going on with #wallstreetbets.” Cuban’s 11-year-old even got into the trading action, he says.
FORCES FOR GOOD
People and organizations of all kinds are stepping up to help and inspire local communities. Here are highlights from around Dallas-Fort Worth:
⟫ Although the State Fair of Texas was a reimagined experience for 2020, Big Tex Urban Farms, which is located nearby, has kept on growing its produce and has major goals for 2021. Last year, the greenhouse was able to produce 26,000 pounds of food for nine South Dallas charities, per NBC DFW. Now, it has a goal of donating 1 million servings with help from its largest fundraiser of the state fair itself.
⟫ The Dallas-based Nexus Recovery Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary through its Nexus 50 for 50 Anniversary Campaign. The nonprofit will be raising funds for three different essential pillars of its services of community, dignity, and security. Nexus hopes to raise at least 50 gifts of $50K each. The nonprofit provides specialized substance use disorder treatment services for DFW women.
⟫ The American Heart Association has committed over $230 million to support equitable health. The unprecedented pledge from the Dallas-based organization is intended to improve the health of all communities, no matter their location. It will invest $100 million in scientific research, with a minimum of $100 million in community-led solutions and collaborate with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address a major source of poor cardiovascular health.
Thursday, Jan. 28
⓵ ROBOTIC RETAIL: Walmart plans to build a “huge e-commerce project” in Lancaster that could create more than 1,300 jobs. It’s an $800 million project that will support e-commerce with two facilities on 454 acres, the Dallas Morning News reports. The retail giant also plans to put automated fulfillment centers inside its stores with robots that fetch groceries for pickup.
⓶ RACIAL JUSTICE COMMITMENT: ServiceNow is investing $100 million in Black communities in 10 U.S. metros where it has a presence, including Dallas. The Racial Equity Fund, available on Feb. 1, will increase local banks’ lending capacity by buying smaller community loans, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal. The fund is intended to support homeownership, entrepreneurship, and neighborhood revitalization efforts.
⓷ PUBLIC MEETING: The North Central Texas Council of Governments is hosting virtual meetings to discuss high-speed transportation next week on Wed. (12 p.m.) and Thursday (6 p.m.). The options include traditional high-speed rail, hyperloop technology, magnetic levitation trains.
Wednesday, Jan. 27
⓵ IMMERSIVE TECH: A new Dallas-based company has created DomeX, an immersive 65-foot tall half-dome LED construction, per the Dallas Morning News. The experiential tech company is called Cosm and is backed by RealPage founder and CEO Steve Winn. After acquiring major virtual reality and IMAX screen providers last year, Cosm is set to expand beyond science and education to sports and entertainment. Before the company went private, it recorded $27 million in sales in 2019. DomeX is located in Cosm’s massive research & development facility in the University of Utah’s research park in Salt Lake City. DomeX, an 8K immersive LED dome, is the only one of its kind in the world. Completed in late 2020, it demonstrates what Cosm calls “the power of the possible”: Cosm’s tech capabilities. By the numbers, the center boasts more than 5,000 square feet of 8K display, 29.5 million pixels, and about 4.5 miles of CAT6 Data cable.
⓶ MAKING UPGRADES: Dallas-based Neiman Marcus is planning to enhance its online shopping business through systems and fulfillment centers, as well as investing in its local Pinnacle Park distribution center, reports the same publication. Along with this, the retailer has brought on two new executives and plans to revamp six stores in the next year and a half, which follows its bankruptcy filing last year.
⓷ HQ MOVE: A Fortune 100 financial corporation has leased office space at Plano’s Legacy Central and, according to the Dallas Business Journal, the new tenant is speculated to be Freddie Mac. The McLean, Virginia-headquartered organization previously had its regional HQ in Carrollton, but the property is now said to be up for lease.
Autonomous driving tech company Waymo is partnering with Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas to help facilitate the organization’s famous cookie program. According to The Trucker, Waymo is currently testing its trucks in Texas, which will also provide Girl Scouts with a practical example of the future of tech. Along with this partnership, GSNETX is also joining Waymo’s Let’s Talk Autonomous Driving initiative as its first STEM-focused education partner.
Tuesday, Jan. 26
⓵ NEW DEAL: Fort Worth-based M2G Ventures and Pennybacker Capital announced their second recent deal in DFW, after their purchase of Tuesday Morning’s entire industrial portfolio. The firms have partnered on an urban industrial redevelopment called PROTO Park, so named as a “prototype of innovation” that will be a home for logistics, consumer distribution, and e-commerce tenants. Expected to complete in fall 2021, the nine-acre site adjacent to Dallas’ Design District is a location “where users truly want to be,” M2G’s Ventures Jessica Miller Essl says.
⓶ EMPLOYEE’S CHOICE: Online job search company Glassdoor recently recognized the global 2021 best places to work in its 13th annual employee choice awards. You’ll find Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (No. 21), Ryan LLC (No. 37), and Texas Instruments (No. 38) in the best 100 workplaces with 1,000 or more employees. In the company’s ranking of small and medium companies, Pariveda made the Top 5. As opposed to other awards, the rankings are based on the input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback via a review in the past year.
⓷ SOCIAL PRESENCE, REMOTELY: Preciate has garnered a $4.6M seed round to scale its virtual social and peer recognition tech. The startup’s flagship product— Preciate Social—a virtual socializing platform for businesses and teams—officially launched in September with nearly 10,000 users from 1,700 companies including AAA, SSI, and National Science Foundation/Emory.
London-based Brand Finance, which has its U.S. base in Dallas, has released the findings of its annual look at the world’s 500 most valuable U.S. brands in the consultancy’s 2021 report. Apple reclaimed the title of the world’s most valuable brand for the first time since 2016, overtaking Amazon and Google. Dallas-based AT&T is No. 9.
Monday, Jan. 25
⓵ CHANGING TIDE: In Trend Micro’s newly released ‘Turning the Tide,’ the Dallas-based cloud security firm found that 41 percent of IT leaders predict AI will take over their role by 2030. Overall, the report looks at cybersecurity predictions for 2021 and how the pandemic has shaped that. But as ZDNet pointed out, the report also showed that many humans expect tech to eventually replace them. The research—compiled from interviews with 500 IT directors, CIOs, and CTOs—showed that 9 percent of people think AI won’t replace their job, and 32 percent predict tech will eventually automate all cybersecurity with little need for human intervention.
⓶ FOLLOW THE MONEY: Dallas-based Post Acute Analytics, which offers healthcare providers and payors solutions that impact the quality of cost and care, has closed on an undisclosed Series B. The funding round was co-led by Concord Health Partners through its AHA Innovation Development Fund and Dorilton Capital. PAA plans to continue developing its proprietary AI platform that improves patient outcomes by enabling real-time decisions and reduced costs.
⓷ MENTORS MATTER: The Dallas Entrepreneur Center’s Fast Start Mentoring program is seeing major success from its members only about a year after founding. Erica Molett, the CEO of a workforce, community, and economic development consulting firm, recently launched her new idea thanks to the help of her mentor in the program, Peter Bartnik. After connecting through the program, Molett used Bartnik’s help to pivot and launch Kandake Tech, an edtech company that aims to change the world, one kid at a time, no matter where they’re from. Up next is the release of Kandake’s education and entertainment platform for teens, which you can read about in the DMN.
Friday, Jan. 22
⓵ Meet the Future 50: Dallas-Fort Worth Innovators and Disruptors You Need to Know in 2021
⓶ Dallas’ First Test Bed for Smart‑City Transit Tech Receives Funding Through $4M Federal Grant
⓷ Mayor Eric Johnson Names the 15 Members of His Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
⓸ M2G Ventures and Austin-Based Pennybacker Buy Tuesday Morning’s Entire Industrial Portfolio
⓺ Dallas Jewelry Brand Grows $100 Investment to $1M+ Revenue—In About a Year
⓻ Eye on the Future: Planned Developments Keep DFW On the Forefront of Industry and Livability
⓼ DI People: GameStop, Vari, MediaKind and More Make Moves
⓽ Southern Dallas County’s IPTMA Appoints an Executive Director
⓾ Pitchbook Forecasts 8 Venture Capital Trends for 2021
⓵ STREAMING TECH: A new “Beacon” videoconferencing platform allows seamless, instant transfers of live video calls from one device to another. Years in the making, Dallas-based Mass Luminosity has a new patent for its technology that allows media transfers between devices. CEO Angel Munoz says “for the first time, a person participating in a videoconference, will be able to seamlessly transfer it from a desktop computer to a smartphone or tablet PC with the touch of a button.”
⓶ FOLLOW THE MONEY: New Age Capital raised $50 million, per an SEC filing. The Dallas-based seed-stage VC firm, which specializes in tech startups, was founded in 2016 by Black and Latino entrepreneurs. Ivan Alo and LaDante McMillon were recognized in 2020 in Forbes 30 under 30 for their work. “We believe in creating and supporting a world where people of all races, ethnicities, cultures, lifestyles, and environments are exposed to new ideas, democratized information, and boundless opportunities through the use of technology,” McMillon said in Forbes.
⓷ OENOPHILIA: “Dallas has been a polestar of entrepreneurial spirit in nearly every industry you can name, including winemaking, writes the DMN. The publication highlights three Texas vintners who were born in Dallas or got here as fast as they could: Stressed Vines, Calais, and even Pedernales Cellars all got a start in North Texas.
Winners Revealed: D CEO and Dallas Innovates Innovation Awards 2021
Last night, D CEO and Dallas Innovates celebrated the individuals and companies shaping the future of DFW. Together, we recognized our 13 Innovation Awards winners across individual and industry categories at our second annual awards event.
FORCES FOR GOOD
People and organizations of all kinds are stepping up to help and inspire local communities. Here are highlights from around Dallas-Fort Worth:
⟫ Dallas-headquartered Smoothie King is partnering with the North Texas Food Bank on a fundraiser at all of its retail locations throughout the metro. Until Jan. 31, guests can donate $1 or $5 to support the food bank, with the hope to raise enough funds to feed the hungry into 2021. Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim (pictured above) is on the food banks board, and kicked off the partnership with a $50K donation. The effort also aims to raise awareness around hunger and food insecurity—one in six local people are food insecure.
⟫ In an effort to assist the Dallas homeless population, local convenience store retail giant 7-Eleven has donated 600 bakery items and more than 800 single-serve snack items to the newly established St. Jude Center. Established by Catholic Charities Dallas, the housing center is dedicated to helping those who have been affected by COVID-19. 7-Eleven also donated $5K to ease the food insecurity that Dallas’ homeless community is currently facing.
⟫ Nexstar Media Group and national hunger relief organization Feeding America have announced a multi-year partnership to tackle hunger and food insecurity. Over three years, the Irving-based media group will be donating $2 million in television air-time and financial support. The Nexstar Charitable Foundation will also be donating $50,000 annually through 2023 to support Feeding America.
Thursday, Jan. 21
⓵ OUTSIDE THE BOX: To create affordable housing in Dallas, one architecture firm is using a unique building medium: shipping containers. Merriman Anderson Architects is working with CitySquare Housing to create the Lomax Container Housing Project, per the Dallas Morning News. Each container is expected to be 300-square-feet with 19 one-bedroom units total. There is another container project in the works expected to open in 2022.
⓶ GOING PUBLIC: Dallas-based Signify Health is planning a $100 million initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, reports the same publication. Based on documents filed by Signify with the SEC, it plans to list its stock under the ticker SGFY. The home health company generated $550 million in revenue in 12 months, ending on Sept. 30, 2020.
⓷ STUDY SAYS: A recent report from Self Financial found that North Texas comes in at the No. 9 spot with its percentage of minority-owned startups. The 5,190 minority-owned startups in the area employ 25,714 people and bring in almost $3.4 billion annually, per CultureMap Dallas.
Meet the Finalists: Execs From Alto, Alpine Advanced Materials, and eCarra
The three Innovation in Transportation honorees provide insights on creating a culture of innovation, taking risks, and the clean energy revolution. Winners of The Innovation Awards 2021, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event tonight at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20. To register, click here.
Wednesday, Jan. 20
⓵ WORKING AT A DISTANCE: Dallas-based coworking company and workday wellness provider Common Desk is teaming up with Plano commercial real estate company Granite Properties to give office tenants more flexibility in response to the work-from-home movement. The two have launched G.O. Pass, a subscription-based service that gives Granite tenants access to private offices and communal workspaces at any of the eight Common Desk locations in North Texas, the DBJ reported. With the Pass, a company’s employees (even those who work remotely) are able to explore workspaces that promote collaboration and culture, which Granite is calling a “hub-and-spoke” workplace model. This isn’t the first time the two companies have worked together, though: Common Desk moved its headquarters to Granite Properties’ Factory Six03 in Dallas’ West End in 2019.
⓶ MAKING MOVES: DASAN Zhone Solutions, a global provider of ultra-broadband and 5G platforms that last year moved its headquarters from Oakland to Plano has acquired Canada-based optical networking solution provider Optelian. The move will allow DZS to expand its 5G reach, the DMN reported, by increasing its networking capabilities for top tier service providers and mobile technology product line. The DZS CEO said the acquisition will distinguish the company from “traditional edge access mobile and broadband suppliers”—and accelerate its path with Tier 1 service providers in North America.
⓷ NATIONWIDE MEMORIAL: On Jan. 19, buildings across Dallas-Fort Worth lit up in honor of the American lives that have been lost to COVID-19. Other tributes have been created such as a six-foot garland of roses at Turtle Creek Park and a yellow heart memorial at the Museum of Archives in Irving, which features portraits of those who have lost their lives to the virus.
Meet the Finalists: Talent and Diversity Leaders From NPower Texas, Kanarys, and Work Shield
The three Innovation in Talent and Diversity honorees weigh in on creative partnerships, a new tool that tracks toxicity in the workplace, and startup leadership strategies. Winners of The Innovation Awards 2021, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event on Jan. 21. Tickets are $20. To register, click here.
Alex Edwards and Lauren Hawkins contributed to this report.
Tuesday, Jan. 19
⓵ RECORD-BREAKING: Plano-based Tyler Technologies recently announced a historic deal it has made with the Texas Office of Court Administration, which has been valued at $98 million over five years. The deal marks the firm’s largest in its history and extends a 2012 deal the company had with the state to provide its electronic filing solution to all Texas counties. The latest agreement prolongs the use of Tyler Technologies’ solution through 2027.
⓶ EXPANSION: London-based apprenticeship startup Multiverse, which just raised $44 million in a Series B round, is planning an expansion in the U.S. that includes a regional hub in Dallas. The startup founded by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s son has a strong social mission, reports Crunchbase. “It’s clear that talent is equally distributed but opportunity is not, according to Multiverse’s U.S. general manager Sophie Ruddock,” per the publication. New York will be the U.S. headquarters. Hub cities, along with Dallas, are Chicago and Atlanta.
⓷ COMING TOGETHER: Fort Worth-based Simpli.fi, a pioneer in geolocation-based advertising, has made its first major acquisition of The Advantage Software Company, a provider of enterprise-level software designed for ad agencies and marketing companies. The deal combines the companies’ features and services for the advertising industry to offer customers improved workflow across all media types. Per a statement, the combined company will serve more than 1,000 agencies and media buying organizations.
Meet the Finalists: Leaders From Texas Security Bank, MoneyGram, Zirtue, Payrix, and ImpactXPartners
Here are the five Innovation in Finance honorees, who are sharing their insights on the startup culture in Dallas-Fort Worth, taking risks, and how pursuing one’s strengths leads to success. Winners of The Innovation Awards 2021, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event on Jan. 21. Tickets are $20. To register, click here.
Lauren Hawkins contributed to this report.
Friday, Jan. 15
⓵ Dallas’ First Test Bed for Smart‑City Transit Tech Receives Funding Through $4M Federal Grant
⓶ Dallas Innovates 2021: The Resilience Issue
⓷ Meet the Future 50: Dallas-Fort Worth Innovators and Disruptors You Need to Know in 2021
⓸ Pitchbook Forecasts 8 Venture Capital Trends for 2021
⓹ Lyda Hill Philanthropies Chooses Finalists for $10M Lone Star Prize
⓺ ICYMI: What’s New and Next in Dallas-Fort Worth Innovation
⓻ Dallas’ Parkland Hospital Teams Up With DevSecOps Innovator on Medical Technology Training During COVID-19
⓼ Mayor Eric Johnson Names the 15 Members of His Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
⓽ Experience ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ in AR at AT&T Discovery District
⓾ Every Last Word: The Critical Answer to ‘Are There Quality Ag Deals Out There’ Is a Resounding ‘Yes’
⓵ BIOTECH HUB: UT Southwestern is expanding to the 23-acre Pegasus Park campus near the Dallas Medical District. The 180,000-square-foot lease—one of the largest signed in the region in the last year—is a big win for the redevelopment that was announced last summer. UT Southwestern‘s Office for Technology Development, which commercializes the medical center’s academic research and discoveries, will take six floors in the campus’ 18-story tower, per the Dallas Morning News.
⓶ PARK PLACE: A private donation of land to the Trinity Park Conservancy has completed the boundaries of the Harold Simmons Park. The land will be used for the East Overlook, which is expected to break ground as early as mid-2022. The urban park has now acquired more than 4 acres for the project that could cover more than 200 acres of land when completed, according to Ar t& Seek. The conservancy plans to use the open space for performances and festivals.
⓷ HEALTH PASSPORT: American says it’s the first U.S. airline to introduce a health passport for international travel to the United States from all destinations. Passengers can use the VeriFLY app, a mobile health passport, to confirm testing and other travel requirements starting on Jan. 23.
Meet the Finalists: Real Estate Execs From Dottid, HomematchX, RefineRE, and Roomored
These honorees in the Innovation in Real Estate category share their thoughts on DFW’s startup community, humanizing commercial real estate, and turning failures into wins. Leading up to the second annual Innovation Awards event next week, we’re sharing excerpts from Q&As with the 51 finalists—one category at a time. Winners of The Innovation Awards 2021, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event on Jan. 21. Tickets are $20. To register, click here.
FORCES FOR GOOD
People and organizations of all kinds are stepping up to help and inspire local communities. Here are highlights from around the region:
⟫ Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is partnering with OnCore Golf through their “Everyone Eats” golf ball collaboration to donate $3,000 to the North Texas Food Bank. Elliott will also be donating an additional $10,000 to the hunger-relief organization, which is a nonprofit close to his heart, according to a statement. The food bank and its partners provided over 95 million meals to a 13-county service area in 2020.
⟫ Frisco local Connor Dawson, who is turning 12 years old today, is raising money in lieu of birthday gifts for the third year in a row for Operation Smile. The volunteer-based nonprofit offers cleft surgery and other cleft-related treatments to patients. In 2019, Dawson raised $520 and, in 2020, he raised $1,700 to fund children with cleft conditions receiving new smiles. So far, Dawson has raised $5,370 this year.
⟫ Dallas-based TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation has donated $1.1 million to 10 research hospitals nationwide. Hospitals receiving the grants include Dallas’ UT Southwestern Medical Center, Fort Worth’s Cook Children’s Hospital, and Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. The grants were given to support pediatric research in 2021 and is the largest research grant amount TeamConnor has awarded to date.
Thursday, Jan. 14
⓵ “RADICAL” PLANS: A pharmaceutical company—backed by Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark” Mark Cuban—relocated from Colorado to Deep Ellum last year and now plans to build a factory around 20,000 square feet in the area by 2022, per the Dallas Business Journal. Although the company was originally called Osh’s Affordable Pharmaceuticals, it rebranded to Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co. last year.
⓶ EXPANSION: After launching its first Market by Macy’s concept store in Southlake last year, Macy’s is opening its second rendition in Fort Worth on Jan. 15. Macy’s recently announced it is closing 45 stores, but the retailer says it’s found “a scalable business model” in Market by Macy’s, reports the Dallas Morning News. The 20,000-square-foot boutique store will be located near the Trinity River in the WestBend development.
⓷ ON THE MOVE: Although the ongoing pandemic has resulted in a large amount of people working from home, some decided to change where exactly their home was in 2020. According to a recent LendingTree study, over 85% of people who moved last year decided to stay in the same state, with Texas having the highest percentage of in-state movers. Per Fast Company, the Lone Star State’s relatively low home prices and no state income tax played a part in Texans staying in-state and others relocating here.
Meet the Finalists: Tech Execs From Match Group, Solaris Technologies, K2View, and CrateBind
Contenders in the Innovation in Technology category share their thoughts on taking risks, grit, and “finding a better way.” Here are the four Innovation in Technology honorees. Winners of The Innovation Awards 2021, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event on Jan. 21. Tickets are $20. To register, click here.
Wednesday, Jan. 13
⓵ CAPITAL: Dallas-Fort Worth had a “huge year with venture investments,” attracting $370 million in venture backing in the fourth quarter of 2020 according to CB Insights in conjunction with the Q4 2020 MoneyTree Report. While that’s down from the third quarter ($470 million), the period is four times the size year over year, per the Dallas Business Journal. The number of deals at 20 topped both the third quarter (16) and the year-ago period.
⓶ GROWTH: Dallas’ o9 Solutions, an AI platform that serves businesses through integrated planning and operations management, is planning its global expansion after closing 2020 with explosive growth. Last year, o9 more than doubled both its annual recurring revenue and workforce—and it joined the list of North Texas startups that have achieved unicorn status. COVID-19 was a major factor that fueled the success, with the pandemic showing the need for “real-time, integrated planning,” CEO Chakri Gottemukkala said. As reported by the DMN, o9 is now valued at more than $1B.
⓷ ACQUISITION: Dallas-based Black Box Intelligence, which provides data and analysis for the hospitality industry, has been acquired by Los Angeles-based Diversis Capital Partners, a tech-focused PE firm. Black Box Founders Wallace Blair and Joni Thomas Doolin will stay on as investors, strategic advisors, and board members, according to the DBJ. From here, Black Box (formerly known as TDn2K) plans to use the growth capital and operational expertise to expand into new segments of the broader food-service industry.
Meet the Finalists: Leaders From Children’s Health, Dallas Baptist University, Qentelli, and Istation
Leading up to the second annual Innovation Awards event next week, we’re sharing excerpts from Q&As with the 51 finalists—one category at a time. Here are the four honorees for CIO/CTO of the Year. Winners of The Innovation Awards 2021, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event on Jan. 21. Tickets are $20. To register, click here.
Tuesday, Jan. 12
⓵ BLOCKCHAIN BIZ: Austin-based trade association the Texas Blockchain Council is using Dallas-based distributed ledger platform Hedera Hashgraph to provide better records verification for the Texas Secretary of State. Hedera teamed up with Hyland, a content services provider, to create a proof of concept that leverages blockchain technology for the purpose of securing and verifying government-issued records. It’s the first proof of concept spearheaded by the newly formed Texas Blockchain Council.
⓶ HOME GROWN: Frisco-based professional soccer club FC Dallas has launched a new program that’s dedicated to supporting Black- and minority-owned businesses. Called the Hometown Partner Program, the initiative will give five businesses that fit the criteria a $100K FC Dallas/North Texas SC customized sponsorship package. Local businesses interested in becoming a 2021 Homegrown Partner can apply until Jan. 29.
⓷ VACCINE DISTRIBUTION: Fort Worth healthcare technology company eTrueNorth is playing its part in helping retail pharmacies get COVID-19 vaccines distributed across the country. Using its technology platform, which also enabled COVID-19 testing, eTrueNorth is providing the infrastructure needed for retail pharmacies to overcome vaccine-related obstacles. Its platform allows pharmacies of all sizes to: screen individuals, schedule appointments, complete consents, issue vouchers, send vaccine follow-up appointment reminders, and send info to the CDC Immunization Data Clearinghouse.
Meet the Finalists: Leaders From Illuma Labs, Critical Start, Hacware, and UTD
Leading up to the second annual Innovation Awards event next week, we’re sharing excerpts from Q&As with the 51 finalists—one category at a time. Here are the four honorees for Innovation in Cybersecurity. Winners of The Innovation Awards 2021, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event on Jan. 21. For tickets, click here.
To read more and get our week’s Top 10, head here.
Monday, Jan. 11
⓵ AWARD-WINNING: Self-driving truck company Kodiak Robotics has been recognized as a CES Innovation Award Honoree at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show. The company is based in Mountain View, California, but has its main base for freight testing, operations, and delivery in DFW. Per the Dallas Morning News, the award comes after Kodiak completed two 400-mile roundtrip commercial shipments in the last month that depended solely on the truck’s autonomous driving system.
⓶ PITCH COMPETITION: Cloud security provider Trend Micro announced that the Japanese company with U.S. headquarters in Irving is expanding its annual tech startup pitch competition, the Forward Thinker Award. The competition has typically been held during the Consumer Electronics Show and was open to CES attendees only, but it will be open globally for the first time ever this year. The winner of the Forward Thinker Award will receive $20,000 and the runner-up will win $10,000. Applications for this competition can be found here.
⓷ RANKINGS: The Dallas area came in the third spot for IT job postings for the month of December, according to the CompTIA Tech Jobs Report. The Dallas area had around 9,300 IT job postings for the month. Overall, Texas ranked second only to California for tech job postings in December. “With projections of employer demand for tech talent remaining strong in the year ahead, we hope tech can continue to serve as a catalyst for business and career opportunity,” Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, said in a statement.
Meet the Finalists: Leaders From Dallas Regional Chamber, McKinney Economic Development Corp., and Health Wildcatters
Leading up to the second annual Innovation Awards event next week, we’re sharing excerpts from Q&As with the 51 finalists—one category at a time. Here are the four honorees for the Innovation Advocate of the Year. Winners of The Innovation Awards 2021, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event on Jan. 21. For tickets, click here.
Friday, Jan. 8
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⓷ Future of Office for Financial Services: A Unique Window of Opportunity
⓸ Developments Keep DFW On the Forefront of Industry and Livability
⓹ Pitchbook Forecasts 8 Venture Capital Trends for 2021
⓺ A New Way to Predict Medical Conditions—by a Person’s Walk
⓻ McKesson Begins Distributing Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine
⓼ Hyosung America Moves Into Irving HQ as Parent Co. Plans Korean IPO
⓽ 11 Years in the Making: Dallas-Based Shavelogic Launches S5 Razor
⓾ Meet Night Media: The Dallas Digital Talent Agency Behind Some of the World’s Biggest YouTube Stars
⓵ HIDDEN TECH JOBS: Technology is everywhere, but to get a true picture of its impact and potential in a region, it takes a look behind the scenes, according to analysts Walter Bialas and Evan Stone. The focus is almost always on counting the number of jobs, “which makes sense on the surface,” they write, “but the challenge is identifying exactly what ‘tech’ really means”—and most definitions are too narrow. A more inclusive definition that includes STEM employment and a close look at what they call “foundation industries” shows important tech growth. Here’s their take on tech job growth in DFW and several Texas markets.
⓶ EXPANSION: Dallas-based rideshare and delivery company Alto has completed its first expansion outside of Texas to Los Angeles. The news follows Alto’s first move outside of DFW to Houston in September 2020. The employee-based, on-demand rideshare service will now be providing pre-scheduled and on-demand rides in LA, which includes curbside pickup at LAX. In addition to its growth moves, Alto pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver essential goods and ready-to-cook items from local businesses.
⓷ SHOUT OUT: Fort Worth entrepreneur Jonathan Morris’ Hotel Dryce project has been named to Fodor’s Travel list of ’14 Hotels We Can’t Wait to Visit in 2021,’ per the Fort Worth Business Press. The hotel is best known for being a former dry ice factory that was given a makeover by Morris, a local Barber Shop owner and the star of the Magnolia Network’s Self Employed. Morris was also one of our Future 50 standout North Texans in this year’s Dallas Innovates 2021: The Resilience Issue. You can read the digital edition here.
⟫ HITTING A MILESTONE: January marks National Mentoring Month, and Dallas’ DEC Network is celebrating fittingly. The DEC recently hit a major milestone for its free and virtual Fast Start Mentoring Program, making 200 matches between mentors and mentees since launching on mentoring platform Qooper. The program spun out from the pandemic to connect entrepreneurs and small business owners to experts that could offer advice, counsel, and guidance to keep places open. Mentors interested in getting involved can apply by downloading the Qooper app and using the invite code 55b5c6.
THE INNOVATION AWARDS 2021
Meet the Finalists: Leaders From Balanced Media, PeopleFun, ABIA, Asset Panda, and Phynd Technologies
Winners of The Innovation Awards, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event on Jan. 21.
Thursday, Jan. 7
⓵ THE RESILIENCE ISSUE: Our double issue—Dallas Innovates 2021: The Resilience Issue— features 50 standout North Texans innovating for the future, 12 female funders shaking up startup funding in the region, and much more. Read more in the digital edition.
⓶ ROAD TO RECOVERY: New data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that North Texas was down 96,100 jobs compared to the same month a year ago, per the DMN. Among the industries hardest hit in the pandemic were leisure and hospitality and food services. But, that number is up slightly from the 89,800 jobs the region reported in October. Plus, North Texas shows a 2.5 percent decline, compared to the country’s 6 percent yearly job loss for November.
⓷ VIRUS TESTING: GeneIQ, a Dallas-based molecular diagnostics laboratory, is launching a new drive-thru testing site at its lab on Standridge Drive. There, the company will be offering its newly developed combination PCR test, COVID PLUS, for COVID-19, Flu A, Flu B, and the common cold. The 4-in-1 test is available for symptomatic individuals via a non-invasive nasal swab, and has a turnaround time of 24 hours. You can read about how GeneIQ pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
MEET THE FINALISTS: Leaders From Eosera, Dallas Cowboys, Axxess, and Capital One are among the finalists for Corporate Innovator of the Year, a category of The Innovation Awards, presented by D CEO and Dallas Innovates. The four honorees can be found here alongside excerpts from each of their interview Q&As. Winners of the second annual Innovation Awards will be revealed at an exclusive virtual event on Jan. 21.
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