ICYMI: What’s New in Augmented Reality, Social Impact Making Headlines, Women in Tech, and What We’re Reading

From awards and accolades (Locavore, Health Wildcatters) to our weekly Top 10 (a tour of Facebook's Fort Worth data center) to our favorite read (ShangriLlama), here's your briefing on innovation, ideas, and impact in North Texas.

The Groove Jones team worked with the Dallas Mavericks CMO, Jerome Elenez on the development for the season opener.  The Mavs are the first team to “do something this big” with augmented reality, Elenez said in a Groove Jones blog post.
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Dallas Innovates’ weekly mix of business, culture, and technology in Dallas-Fort Worth.  

Interested in augmented reality at scale? Head downtown and check out the Dallas Mavericks installation on the back of the Downtown YMCA at 601 N. Akard. The 68’ x 193’ mural, created by Groove Jones, featuring Dennis Smith Jr. was put up last Saturday for the Mavs home opener, and is visible from the Field Street/Ross Avenue intersection. While the mural itself is pretty cool, for the full AR experience, you have to visit Mavs.com/AR to access a Facebook filter that will animate Smith completing a larger-than-life slam dunk. The wallscape will be active through December and the Mavs are encouraging fans to share their AR experiences on social media using the #mavsAR hashtag.

“We want our fans to be proud that we’re the first team to do something this big with augmented reality,” said Jerome Elenez, Mavs CMO, in a team website post.

In AR-related Facebook news, TechCrunch reported that the social media giant’s Building 8 hardware lab is most likely planning on (and maybe already is) developing AR glasses. To quote Facebook head of augmented reality, Ficus Kirkpatrick, “We’re building hardware products. We’re going forward on this … We want to see those glasses come into reality, and I think we want to play our part in helping to bring them there.” Facebook already has a patent application for AR glasses.

So, this recent news really begs the question: How will augmented reality continue to shape our world?

AR on the rise

The Dallas Innovates “Design with a Big D” series recently highlighted a number of area companies active in AR, including: 7-11 ongoing AR campaigns within its branded app, tech company Spacee, tech-centric creative agency 900lbs, and Cinemark’s take on virtual reality (they call it hyper-reality) to augment the movie-going experience.

AR gained widespread notice with the launch of Pokémon Go in the summer of 2016. The mobile game’s popularity brought augmented reality technology to the general public and essentially created a blueprint on how brands and businesses could effectively combine smartphones with AR tech to drive engagement.

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The Mavs aren’t the only sports-related large-scale AR/VR activation in the area.

Esports Stadium Arlington announced its opening on Thanksgiving weekend, and along with a $10 million, 100,000-square-foot esports facility in Arlington’s entertainment district, the project includes a to-scale virtual replica of the stadium created by VR company Sansar. Coincidentally (or maybe not), Populous, the architecture and design firm behind the physical stadium, announced opening a Dallas office earlier this month.

Next May, the DreamHack Festival is coming to Dallas, and will include an esports element with its DreamHack Masters concept that will bring together 16 of the best Counter Strike: Global Offensive teams for a $250,000 arena tournament to be held in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Arena. The 2019 three-day DreamHack is going to be huge — the international digital entertainment company said it’s going to be the biggest North American event yet. If you can’t wait for 2019 to cosplay, game, LAN, or downright celebrate, check out the photo tour of various DreamHacks around the world. 

And, lastly, in a LinkedIn post, William Webb, CEO of Jackpot Rising, announced the company is introducing “real money” tournament virtual arcades, starting with Jackpot Alley — a skeeball game — on its platform.

Social impact in the news

This week, Dallas Innovates published a three-part roundtable discussion, “Collective Impact: Destination Dallas-Fort Worth,” moderated by Salah Boukadoum. Boukadoum (an entrepreneur and co-founder of Good Returns) talked with 8 thought leaders about Dallas’ role as a regional hub for impact, discussed areas ripe for opportunity, and asked what we need more of. The talk was frank, and our panel’s passion for the subject was evident.

“Everybody has said what needs to be said,” EarthX panelist Matt Myers said. “We talked about the boards of directors, we talked about focusing on the impact you’re having — and measuring that — so you can get more money, and we talked about taking care of your team. Because everybody knows when you work for a nonprofit it’s twice as hard, for half the pay. And, we talked about ego.” 

The Dallas Business Journal recently profiled Boukadoum’s Good Returns and its “the cycle” process, which connects impact organizations with corporate capital. Last week, Dallas Innovates reported that Good Returns and asset management firm Inverdale Capital Management announced raising more than $10 million for their Guarantee-Investment-Values Strategies, or GIVS, with a philanthropic model offering investors a way to allocate capital for local and global impact while capping the risk of how that money is spent.

Impact dollars

This week, bigBANG! 2018: Dallas Deals and Dreams, Driving Resilience & Economic Mobility kicked off. Per the Dallas Morning News, the event included an announcement that PepsiCo — its Plano-based Frito Lay subsidiary — and the PepsiCo Foundation are joining the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas for an initiative on early childhood development, nutrition, and college readiness in South Dallas called Southern Dallas Thrives. It will be funded in part through a $600,000 PepsiCo Foundation grant over three years and $1.5 million in employee giving and corporate matches from the two companies.

Also, Impact Shares, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit exchange-traded fund (ETF), received a $1 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation earmarked for expanding partnerships with other nonprofits and transforming its social values into products for investment. The rise of impact investing and the growth of ETFs “opens doors” for groups to generate awareness about their causes and create revenue streams to fuel their social missions said Impact Shares CEO Ethan Powell in a release.

Keeping with the social impact theme, CultureMap Dallas published an extensive list of local health-related charities and nonprofits. 

The Dallas Observer profiled Unlocking Doors, a Dallas nonprofit that helps ex-convicts transition into a second chance at life by connecting them with agencies and organizations that help smooth that process such as clothing donation centers, food pantries and transitional homes. Also in that space is Cornbread Hustle, a social enterprise focused on positive transformation for former inmates in the DFW area through education and employment.

Dallas’ Patriot Paws Service Dogs, a group that trains and provides dogs to veterans at no cost, uses inmates in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from three prisons to train its dogs. The group received donations from the Dallas Builders Association, TAMKO Building Products of Joplin, MO, and other manufacturers and contractors to build a two-bedroom, two-bath house where vets can stay while training and being paired with their dogs. The group broke ground on a guest house in Rockwell this July.

Dallas is also the headquarters of a new company with a mission to bring social impact to the marketing, design, branding, and strategy space. MAG Impact Collective (the “MAG” stands for magnify, accelerate, and generate) is challenging the traditional agency model with its member consultants with a goal of driving social impact through its services.

Promoting women in tech

The sixth Diverse by Design Dallas conference was held this week hosted by Per Scholas and the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) with discussions about engaging women in tech and building a stronger, more diverse, and inclusive workforce. Speakers included a keynote fireside chat with AT&T’s Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Corey Anthony, and session remarks from Congresswoman Eddie Bernice and Faith Johnson, Vice President of Human Resources at TEKsystems. The event agenda involved highlighting ways private initiatives and public-private partnerships are creating talent pipelines for women. Conference sponsors include AT&T, CompTIA, TEKsystems, and Capital One.

READ NEXT ICYMI: Dallas VC Funding Report, Delivery Bots Are Coming, Infrastructure Week & What We’re Reading

“Our partnership with Per Scholas has been so important in how we’ve approached and created opportunities to increase diversity in the workplace and increase the pool of IT talent in our communities,” Faith Johnson said in a statement. “Being able to share my own story and the story of how we’ve worked together to bring those opportunities to life and watch as people change the trajectory of their own lives when given the chance is both personally moving and motivating.”

Also, Lauren Hasson’s DevelopHer online career development platform for women recently reached its one-year anniversary. Hasson took the time to participate in a Q&A with Dallas Innovates to talk about lessons learned while helping women in tech earn what they’re worth, where DevelopHer is heading, and what she has been up to in her not-so-spare time.

And a final news item that might have slipped your attention this week: On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved a plan that will transfer oversight of Fair Park to Fair Park First, a nonprofit, which will then give the management and operations duties for the Dallas landmark to Spectra, a Philadelphia-based venue and hospitality company. The city’s deal with Fair Park First runs for 20 years.

Awards and accolades

Dallas has been winning this week, with entities across the region coming out on top in various competitions.

For starters, Locavore, a hub for foodie entrepreneurs, beat out three other finalists on Thursday in the Fort Worth Business Plan Competition, a four-month program of the City of Fort Worth’s Office of Small Business and presented by Capital One. Second place went to Fort Worth-based Aspen Tyke, a maker of patented diaper bags designed to make parenting easier and more fun. And Cache, a Fort Worth startup coming in 2019 that provides direct access to purchase wholesale tax-foreclosed properties from any device, took third.

Locavore owners Cortney Gumbleton and Carlo Capua said they plan to give back to the food community with the $10,000 prize, potentially creating a “Food Business Boot Camp” in the spring. Stay tuned.

Additionally, for the third year in a row, Dallas-based seed accelerator Health Wildcatters has been ranked among the top accelerators in the nation by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Richmond, and Rice University.

“We’re elated to be ranked again, and we feel it validates the effectiveness of our 12-week accelerator program for startups in the healthcare industry,” Health Wildcatters CEO Hubert Zajicek, MD, MBA, said. “To our knowledge, we’re the only Texas-based health accelerator to be included in the SARP three consecutive years.”

What we’re reading


Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation to receive HHSC mental health grant
The grant will be used to provide mental health training in 12 North Texas counties — Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, and Wise.

City offers $100K grant for Plano-based business analytics firm to bring jobs to Windhaven Parkway
A grant for $100,000 was approved for Visual BI Solutions to bring at least 100 jobs to a roughly 20,000-square-foot office space at the intersection of Parkwood Boulevard and Windhaven Parkway in west Plano. The company would invest $4.5M in the property, according to Community Impact.


TREC: Neighborhoods Want A Say in How Development Happens
Two recent grants will be used by The Real Estate Council, in partnership with several community groups, to fund programs aimed at jump-starting innovative development initiatives in the under-served southern sector of Dallas.

Proposed Regulations for Opportunity Zone Program Released by IRS and Treasury
The Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have released proposed regulations on Opportunity Zones. Earlier this year, state governors were allowed to identify 25 percent of their states’ low-income tracts as Qualified Opportunity Zones, a program under which investors can receive significant tax benefits.

How North Texas is a big part of this multibillion-dollar company’s transformation
Jeff Miller — the president of Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance Systems, a segment of L3 Technologies — thinks his company can grow into a defense contractor powerhouse here in Dallas-Fort Worth. The company moved into a new building in Plano in February, and has been expanding quickly since then. “Come back in five years, and that grass lot will be a 14-story L3 building with all L3 employees in it,” he told the Dallas Business Journal.


Nature Center Receives $200k Grant to Enhance Trails
After suffering from severe storm damage in 2014 and 2015, a Nature Center in North Texas is getting a little help from their friends — literally. The group is actually called the “Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center,” and the $200,000 grant awarded will go toward enhancing the trails at the center.

Plano receives $750K in funding to add new trail along future Cotton Belt line
The Cotton Belt is getting a next-door neighbor — a new trail, to be exact. The the $8.2 million expenditure, recently granted by a regional transportation council, will be used for the engineering of the trail from Shiloh Road station in Plano to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Funding is in Place for the Fort Worth to Dallas Hike and Bike Trail
If you’ve ever had a hankering to hike or bike from Dallas to Benbrook (or the other way around) it may become a reality. That’s because funding is in place for a 64-mile hike and bike trail connecting Fort Worth to Dallas, a project that David Creek with the city of Fort Worth calls “a milestone.” Already-approved bonds would cover the nearly $40 million cost, along with federal transportation funds. And, now that we told you the funding is in place: here’s the map.


Crowdfunded Series THE CHOSEN Gets Green-Light, Selects Texas to Film in November
The Chosen, the first original scripted series from Utah company VidAngel, has been given the green light to start filming outside of Dallas with a director whose first name is also Dallas. Ha. That’s Dallas Jenkins, who said he couldn’t wait to get to Texas. VidAngel is an entertainment company that offers technology to allow parents to skip and mute unacceptable content from Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV. The Chosen is the first multi-season series about the life of Jesus, has the distinction of being the #3 most-funded project in crowdfunding history, according to Broadway World.


All-you-can-fly Surf Air now sells single tickets
Frequent flyer? Surf Air has launched its all-you-can-fly membership package, starting at $1,950 a month, and serving Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Midland. Last year, Surf Air purchased Dallas-based Rise to create a combined company that allows members to reserve seats on business aircrafts. Surf Air, which faced a lawsuit and tax liens this summer, is running a crowdsourcing campaign with Indiegogo to help fund a program allowing customers to buy per-flight tickets, reports IMT Online.


UTD undergrads win Bright Business Ideas for Texas
Konan Mirza, Brian Hoang, and Tina Dimitrova, three undergraduate students at the University of Texas at Dallas have been selected by the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation to each receive $15,000 scholarships that recognize leadership and entrepreneurial spirit. Funds were donated by the Mitchell Family Foundation.


Dallas Orchestra Debuts Interactive Program Notes
Silence your cellphones…or, don’t? The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has announced that it will now incorporate LiveNote, a mobile app that will allow guests to interact with live concerts during its 2018-19 season.

Uber Plans To Launch Food-Delivery Drones
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope — it’s just your dinner. By 2021, the Wall Street Journal reported that Uber has plans to launch food-delivery drones — although the company itself isn’t really talking about it. But, you might recall an event in Dallas back in 2016 that featured flying drones delivering food to hungry guests, so the verdict is still out.

Dallas police hope to be flying drones by 2019 — and here’s why they say you shouldn’t be afraid of that
Afraid Big Brother is watching? Don’t worry. The Dallas Police Department says they want to use drones specifically to fight crime, and they wouldn’t go into the air without a specific mission. But first, they have to get approved by City Council.


Dallas Fed’s Rob Kaplan weighs in on cryptocurrencies and AI
What does the future look like for cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence? During a recent panel, CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Rob Kaplan gave his two cents — “he’s skeptical about cryptocurrencies in their current form, [but] he’s much more certain that emerging technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence will transform industries and put pressure on the workforce,” reports Danielle Abril.

Mobiliya, a QuEST Global Company, Launches ThirdEye, an AI-Based Vision-Analytics Platform
Time to channel your third eye. Dallas-headquartered Mobiliya, a QuEST Global company, has launched an innovative AI-drive blueprint solution to improve operational intelligence and enhance the decision-making process. Basically, to learn actionable insights, Mobiliya ThirdEye uses intelligent video analytics.


Macy’s stores in Dallas, Frisco among first in U.S. to undergo makeovers
Shop ’till you drop — and do it in Dallas or Frisco. Macy’s has announced that it’s making over its NorthPark and Stonebriar Centre locations, adding upgrades like new technology, cosmetic brands, additional staff, VR, and refreshments.

Texas Wholesaler Parks Coffee Opens Humongous Roastery and First Cafe
Get toasty with a brand new roastery these chilly fall months. Parks Coffee, a roasting operation serving corporate accounts across the country, has expanded into a Carollton 50,000-square-foot facility. The best part? The new digs come up its first-ever retail coffee shop.


Go Inside ShangriLlama, North Texas’ Only Llama Ranch
Two words: llama gifs. Step inside Royse City-based ShangriLlama, the only North Texas llama ranch, where Sharon Brucato has an entire extended family of woolly members. And — OMG — you can even visit.

ShangriLlama is the home of Dalai Llama, Drama Llama, Barack O’Llama, Como T. Llama, Pajama Llama, and Bahama Llama.

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

Top 10
Dallas Innovates most-read stories this week

1. Innovative Spaces: A (Photo) Tour of Facebook’s Fort Worth Data Center

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

3. Collective Impact: Social Innovation in Dallas-Fort Worth PART 1

4. Fort Worth’s First Zero-Waste Salon Will be Featured in ArtsGoggle

5. Efficiency, Sustainability Drive Massive Facebook Fort Worth Data Center

6. Tech Town Ranking: CompTIA Index Plugs Dallas Near the Top

7. Socially Conscious Food Distributor FoodMaven is Expanding to Dallas

8. Artificial Intelligence: Experts Tackle Challenges, Ethics — and What Is It, Anyway?

9. Collective Impact: Making Dallas-Fort Worth a Hub for Social Innovation PART 2

10. Southern Dallas-Based ‘YourDrive’ Launches Vehicle Subscription Service

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

Calendar: Big Ideas in BioTech, Open Media Legal Hackathon, Sh*t Your Lawyer Says, Texas Mobility Summit
From all-day innovation (Capital One Beyond Summit) to anniversary celebrations (Common Desk – Fort Worth), browse our curated selection of events to plan your next week — and beyond. You’ll also find the Force for the Future Conference, the DEC@Redbird Grand Opening, and the VettedHeroes/DOL Luncheon.

Quincy Preston, Lance Murray, and Alex Edwards contributed to this report.

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