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Sep 24 / Nizam Sayeed

Crouching Dallas, Hidden Startups

Bradley Joyce over at 3#Labs wrote a nice piece about a problem facing the startup scene in the Dallas-area: We have have a lot of tech talent in Dallas, just not startup talent.

I’d like to point out another problem in our area. We have a bunch of startups that operate under the radar and don’t even engage with the local startup scene in any way!

I know because I used to work for just such a startup. They are a well funded startup (still alive and kicking) in the financial services business. They are funded by the likes of Idealab, Kleiner Perkins, Flybridge and many others. I think they had raised a series E round the last time I heard.

I worked for these guys from 2004 – 2008. During that time, I didn’t see or hear the founders engaging with the local startup community in any shape or form. In fact, the company wasn’t run like a startup at all. It was run more like a big corporation. We had a dress code, a lot of internal politics, top heavy management and much more. All the hallmarks of a bureaucratic company.

I’m sure these guys aren’t the only ones in Dallas who have quietly started a company, gotten a lot of funding and have even made a successful exit. All under the radar!

It really goes back to the culture of the founders at these startups. If they came from a corporate background, which is very likely if they are from the DFW area, then they may run their startups in the same way.

If they don’t have a culture of sharing and giving back – the pay it forward culture – as they say, then the entire scene suffers as a result.

  • http://about.me/bradleyjoyce bradleyjoyce

    Nizam, I 100% agree with this! There are actually quite have been quite a few successful tech startups over the years (Broadcast.com, Match.com, Woot.com, etc, etc) and it’s is extremely rare to see the founders of those companies actively engaged in the current startup community.

    I think there are two things that can change this. 

    (1) Current Dallas founders end up leaving to more fertile grounds (SFO, SV, NYC) make it big, exit and end up coming back to Dallas to invest in and advise local companies.

    (2) At least 1-2 startups currently active in the local scene enjoy a big exit, and start re-investing their money and knowledge into the community.

    Without at least 1 of these happening in the next couple years, I fear the Dallas scene will end up fizzling out as people move out to the valley and stay put.

    • Anonymous

      I’m hoping to be in the second bucket myself. :)

      I’d like nothing more than to give back and support the community. The DFW startup scene is the most active I’ve seen in years. I think there is a lot of potential. It’s now or never.