‘Y’All Aboard’: Dallas‑Fort Worth’s VC Activity Gaining Steam

The focus was on the Dallas region for the final leg of the Texas Startups Roadshow. Here's a rundown.

“The Land of Y’All has arrived.”

Those words by Dave Copps kicked off Thursday’s iteration of the Texas Startups Roadshow, presented by Cisco. Where Austin/San Antonio were the roadshow’s focus on Tuesday, and Houston was the focus Wednesday, the Dallas region was the focus Thursday.

Leading off guest speakers Thursday was Copps, CEO of Worlds Inc., one of three artificial-intelligence driven companies that he’s launched from Dallas with Chris Rhode, going back decades.

Copps, co-founder of BrainSpace—a machine learning platform for digital investigations that sold as part of a $2.8 billion deal with Cyxtera in 2017 — said venture capital has taken off in Texas. Where before, it might have been a challenge to raise $10 million in Series A funding, he easily raised that earlier this year, and could have even attracted $20 million.

“The first $8 million came from Texas,” Copps said.

Just as venture capital investment activity has increased, universities and colleges in the Dallas region have increasingly graduated innovation-minded and problem-solving students, he said.

Aside from speaking about the Worlds collaboration with Texas A&M to develop a one-minute test for Covid-19, Copps mentioned Worlds’ work with helping improve safety at Chevron.

“Our artificial intelligence understands what’s happening” from a safety perspective, he said. “If there’s an unsafe situation, it notifies people,” making the environment safer.

Copps added that Worlds software and technology is even being used by casinos in Las Vegas to spot potential fraud at card tables.

Esports

At the eSports breakout session, Complexity Gaming COO Kyle Bautista said — in a written response to attendees — that their industry saw an uptick in spectators due to Covid.

“Most esports have seen some level of increased viewership in their games, tapering off as traditional sports got started again,” he wrote. “With that being said, the strong correlation between viewership and revenue has lagged, as we’ve worked to adapt to the new circumstances.”

FinTech Breakout
Payments Geek’s Bruce Parker said capital funding opportunities have grown in the Dallas region substantially over the last decade.

“It was what people used to love to complain about 10 years ago,” he said. “It’s much easier to get attention today.”

Now, he said, Dallas is approaching Atlanta in the niche of tech that facilitates electronic payments, wealth management, and insurance. A few of the North Texas companies mentioned include RealPage, Capital One, and Charles Schwab.

VC Reverse Pitch

In this breakout session, Daniel Kleinmann of the Adi Family Office — said the Dallas region’s strong retail and commercial roots make it fertile ground for the development of enterprise software innovation.

“The traditional entrepreneur and investor looks at the coasts for capital, but you come to the middle of the country for customers,” Kleinmann said. “With AT&T, American Airlines, and Pepsico — and McKesson just moved here — you have tons and tons of executives who are going to move the needles for the survival of your company.

“Having relationships with those folks, being able to go for lunch, or meet at happy hours, that is huge and invaluable,” he said. “Having that concentration, and Capital Factory facilitating that ecosystem, has just made Dallas a must-stop for any entrepreneur.”

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