Two of the largest local facilitators of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in North Texas are joining forces to unite the region: Dallas Startup Week (DSW) and Global Entrepreneurship Week Fort Worth (GEW FW).
In an effort to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs throughout the greater Dallas-Fort Worth, GEW FW and DSW plan to share assets for each organization’s yearly anchor showcase. The goal is to “make an even bigger splash with events in 2020 and beyond.”
“This partnership links academia, the community, and resources within our region to our local entrepreneurs to help them launch, grow, and get connected,” Meghan Wright, a Texas Wesleyan University professor of management and co-lead organizer of GEW FW, said in a statement. “Entrepreneurs have the ideas and the drive to get things done, but it takes the proverbial village to help them be successful. GEW helps build and connect that village.”
Dallas Startup Week is in its sixth year and Global Entrepreneurship Week in its third.
The announcement comes on the heels of The DEC Network announcing that its flagship Dallas Startup Week is going completely virtual for the first time. The free week-long event connects startups, founders, corporate and social innovators, investors, and community leaders through a series of virtual learning, mentoring, and networking. Last year, more than 10,000 people attended.
The founders of GEW FW, Texas Wesleyan University and The University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC), and its community partners have formally partnered with The DEC and its leadership team and volunteer network.
The combined team will help host DSW20 from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, before turning its attention to GEW FW from Nov. 16 to Nov. 20. In addition to staff, the duo will share resources, speakers, sponsorships, marketing, and more.
Overall, the organizations say combining will create synergies, making the Dallas-Fort Worth startup scene stronger and more connected.
“We feel like we have a lot to learn from each other. This is definitely going to be a one plus one equals three,” Bill Chinn, CEO of The DEC Network, said in a statement. “But don’t worry, GEW FW will still retain that Fort Worth flair and feel that people have come to expect.”
GEW FW said that The DEC will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the partnership, and it’s excited to welcome the organization to the family.
After a five-year hiatus, the Fort Worth event returned in 2018, with 17 events and more than 1,000 attendees. Last year made a big splash: GEW FW in 2019 featured 54 in-person and virtual events at 35 locations throughout Tarrant County, attracting more than 2,200 participants.
“We were totally blown away by the success of GEW in 2019—it exceeded all of our expectations in every way,” Marco Johnson, GEW’s co-lead organizer and Sparkyard Network Builder, said in a statement. “We made a call to our community and they responded in a big way, either by planning events or by participating in them.”
Global Entrepreneurship Week is a worldwide event that launched in 2008. It aims to be a “celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and improve human welfare.” Held a week in November in locations around the world, GEW is a platform for self-starters to connect and engage while understanding the importance of entrepreneurship in communities.
According to a statement, GEW FW organizers haven’t made any decisions yet on what the week will look like. If public health from COVID-19 is still a concern come November, virtual attendance will be considered. No matter the format, organizers plan to hone in on the social and economic challenges brought on by this year’s global plights.
“There will be a strong emphasis on how entrepreneurship can help lift people out of poverty, including in minority and underserved communities, and that is an especially salient conversation to have right now,” Cameron Cushman, director of Innovation Ecosystems at the UNT Health Science Center, said in a statement. “In a strange way, an economic downturn is really good for entrepreneurship rates. We hope GEW FW can help the next generation of new companies start and grow out of the ashes of our current economic crisis.”
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