feature story INNOVATION grow your business Jeremy Vickers helps run the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, a project that connects business owners with mentors and networks to grow their company. “There was a need for people all over the country to be made aware of the thriving ecosystem in Dallas.” potentially help people from having to go on dialysis. 4G Biometrics, a medical device company, is another success story that was acquired by a much larger company, ActiveCare. Others on the brink of success, Boudreaux says, include Encore Vision, a company working on an eye drop that will treat presbyopia and possibly reverse the need for reading glasses, and Vodik Labs, the first company in the U.S. to have the Department of Transportation approve the movement of their hydrogen cells on the road. “You are creating companies,” Jasper Welch of the NBIA notes when asked about North Texas entrepreneurial success. “Before a job is created, an entrepreneur, a business owner, or a company founder creates or buys a company. Men and women are risking their capital, putting forth tremendous effort and are creating companies that grow.” On the Unending Horizon Gabriella Draney, co-founder of Tech Wildcatters, a business-to-business DFW accelerator program, sees North Texas as a magnet for technology innovation that puts the area squarely in the midst of the key players in the U.S., though it’s often only the savviest who understand that both the money and the know-how exist in these wide open spaces. “We are not good about promoting ourselves – part of that is our culture,” Draney said. “People outside of the area often don’t fully understand what’s going on here. Some of the companies in our program have traveled here to be a part of what we are doing. Some of them choose to stay. They are very excited that they don’t have to pay income tax here.” After a successful launch in the spring of 2010, North Texas’s own Tech Wildcatters has graduated five classes of companies, for a total of 37. Tech Wildcatters chooses to focus on business-to-business companies, is the only B2B-focused accelerator named to the Forbes Top 10 list of accelerators in the U.S., and has been named to the list in back-to-back years. Key Ring and Proxomo are two of the accelerator’s many success stories. The 85 mentors in the Tech Wildcatters program come from a variety of business backgrounds and disciplines, all offering advice and introductions to the full-time business owners who benefit from being involved in Tech Wildcatters. The 12-week program requires them to be full-timers and demands both an open-minded nature and a willingness to commit to the process. Planting Seeds for Success Jeremy Vickers, managing director of innovation for the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, a project of the Dallas Regional Chamber, agrees that the ability to help others grow their companies can be a strong pull on already-successful business owners in North Texas. “I felt the need to serve the community in DFW. Using my own background as a serial entrepreneur to 24 serve other entrepreneurs while giving back to Dallas was important,” Vickers said. Vickers dreamed of the creation of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, along with co-founder and CEO Trey Bowles, as a way to help early stage companies startup, build and grow. “There was a need for people all over the country to be made aware of the thriving ecosystem in Dallas,” Vickers continued. The Dallas Entrepreneur Center provides capital, resources, training and space as it helps connect business owners with mentors and networks that can help them grow their companies, with the objective of helping these companies progress through milestones and ending in cash of some kind. Launched in 2013, the Dallas Entrepreneur Center is currently working with more than 30 companies, with hundreds of applications in the pipeline. Bowles attributes the success to the mentality of those in the North Texas region. “Overall, the North Texas community is coming together to provide resources all along the life cycle of the start-up with a give-before-you-take mentality that helps not only one start-up, but all of the companies in the entire ecosystem.” That’s a breed of innovation for which North Texas is becoming known.