Out of sight from the casual observer the startup presses on. The day may be occupied with meeting people — clients, partners, investors, or maybe journalists. Or, it may involve doing time in a self contained bunker, plugging away on new code, fixing problems, or simply trying to figure out what must be done next to make your enterprise a success.
Our big idea constantly morphs from a heroic fairy-tale, where you as the protagonist slays the dragons (problems) and saves the day; to an orphaned existential crises wherein survival seems bleak. Between this chasm dwells the typical startup life.
The ethos of Dallas startup life I imagine is similar in most places across the U.S. Except for the unicorn farm known as Silicon Valley, were we all know the Sand Hill Road Midas men anoint the future torch bearers of tech royalty. While we may currently be the David to their Goliath, something tells me we’re on the brink of crossing a chasm.
Dallas, is full of ideas, risk takers, and has the audacity to challenge any incumbents. I believe we are at a very critical stage of maturation within the tech community. Dallas, can be the next beacon of entrepreneurial incubators. What makes me think this? The murmurs of the thinkers, creators, and ecosystem taking shape behind the scenes.
What I do know is we have great people, and we are taking massive action. We can’t be ignored for long. Already, a migration, and new growth of venture capital is making its way to the metroplex. LiveOak Venture Partners, Deep Space Ventures, Sumo Ventures, Aristos Ventures, and SteelBridge — just to name a few.
Recently, I was invited to contribute to a panel, along with a few other Dallas Startups, regarding the merits of SXSW. We had a lively discussion about the pros and cons of the mega-event held in Austin, but the biggest takeaway for me did not include any particular nugget of info about that subject.
The interesting thing about the meetup was the overall vibe among the startups and attendees. There was something missing. The missing pieces mentioned revolved around the following:
Now, while I agree to a certain extent here, I really heard a deeper underlying issue. Do you see the commonality among the 4 pieces?
It’s the silo effect. We all succumb to this. We are literally drowning in a sea of people all around us, especially in urban areas. Yet, many of us are guilty of keeping to ourselves, whilst the anonymous masses bypass us to our left and right every day. We create silos.
It’s a huge problem. Even within corporate America. We get our job, make a few work friends, and build our cozy silos within the organization. It is a large enough problem to warrant the investment in office spaces that nudge interactions among employees (Apple, Google, & Yahoo have created ‘serendipity” friendly office parks). At the same time we complain because we can’t find “the right person.”
We are all looking for somebody, and we run around, trying to solve the riddle. Why are the people we need so elusive?
How can we undue the silo effects? We need a stronger focus on cross-pollination of networks. We need to cross the chasm. We need the startup community to engage with the world outside startups, while at the same time doubling up the efforts within. Over time the false barriers of these communities will dissolve into a less rigid integration.
This has been the vision and driving force behind our app Nawkr. We asked, ‘how can we engage with the unknown network of people around us?’ If it’s true that everybody is looking for somebody, then it follows that a tool to explore people outside of our current network would be wildly beneficial. Think the Tinder for everything else.
Will we be able to make the serendipitous connections necessary to align the forces of growth? I bet we will. I’m betting that the budding ecosystem in DFW will transform into something amazing.