Q+A: Five Questions With Alyce Alston

As she wraps up her first six months as head of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, we ask CEO Alyce Alston to give us the view from her office.

“To me, it’s about innovation and that’s what startups bring. That’s what I’ve been able to bring throughout my career to the organizations at which I’ve worked with and led.”

Alyce Alston had big plans when Dallas Innovates interviewed her back in June 2018 as she was taking the helm at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center.

Before joining the DEC team as CEO, she had a diverse resume of top positions: President of the Reader’s Digest Association, CEO of CultureMap, and CEO of Dallas-based nonprofit Relationships First.

We caught up with Alston to check in on what she’s bringing to her new role, what a North Texas breakout moment might look like, and what advice she has for those just entering the startup sphere.

Why do you believe that now is the time for Dallas-Fort Worth’s breakout moment?

DFW has been delivering for decades. We are by far one of the most entrepreneurial, innovative, and growing communities in the country. The exciting thing about where we are now is that we are finally at a point where we are taking the data/statistics/evidence of why DFW is great and connecting it to the emerging companies being launched here. Now we are going to connect the historical proof of our city to create a brand for this region as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Now is the time when we bring together all the potential and opportunity with the reality of what is happening around entrepreneurship.

What’s a recent breakthrough you’re privy to or some cool tech that’s underway that you’re excited about?

The breakthrough in DFW isn’t about a single industry or vertical but rather an emergence of multiple industries that continue to innovate and develop solutions that will be the future. Whether that is blockchain, AI, cybersecurity, real estate technology, health care, or Smart Cities, DFW is a hub for innovation of all types. It is the breadth and depth of our businesses, innovations, and opportunities that I’m excited about.

What advice do you have for someone who is trying to break through in tech right now?

Surround yourself with a good team, good mentors, good board members, and strategic investors. The key to success in tech is putting together a package, a narrative, and a plan that is both sustainable and scalable.

Looking back on the last six months, what are you most proud of?

I am most proud of taking the success of the DEC and solidifying that in mission and vision in the community while also developing a strong plan for the future. By focusing on building a strong early-stage community, we continue to enlarge the funnel of entrepreneurs who are trying to start companies while also helping those entrepreneurs launch and grow those businesses. We are also focusing on supporting and growing the companies that have found some traction and are developing effective programming, access to capital, and mentorship to take them to the next level.

Looking forward to 2019, what’s planned for the DEC?

We will continue the work we have been doing the past five years while also expanding our focus on women entrepreneurs, minority entrepreneurs, and a concerted plan to support companies at the Series A and Series B levels.

A version of this Q+A was first published in Dallas Innovates 2019—The Magazine.

Read it online

Dallas Innovates 2019—The Magazine explores the region as a rising tech hub that will shape the future of innovation. The theme of our second annual print publication, “A Breakout Moment,” explores why now is the time for the region to grab its place in the tech universe.

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