It’s true that we talk a lot about the growth of the startup community in Dallas — and for good reason. We have one of the greatest burgeoning startup communities in the country. Each year the Dallas Startup Week feels bigger than the one that came before, and our sheer numbers of tech workers are increasing so quickly that we’re now ranked the fifth fastest-growing high-tech workforce in the country.
However, these brags, while accurate, overall suffer from a lack of specificity. They speak to the overwhelming quantity of startups but do little to clarify the real quality of what we’re producing here. I’d argue we’ve had entrepreneurs and tech innovations that rival the reputation of Silicon Valley, but you’d never know that from the way we talk about our startup scene.
If we’re going to continue to encourage incredible technology development in Dallas, we have to put a keen focus not only on the entrepreneurs that are starting companies and the innovators that are revolutionizing industries, but also on the entrepreneurs that are repeatedly winning and constantly finding success. In our quest to speak to our big numbers, we have to be careful not to overlook our biggest stories.
Success Breeds Success
In my mind, the best story — and in turn the best entrepreneur — is the one that wins over and over again. But these serial entrepreneurs are often missed because they are often so busy starting, building, growing and exiting businesses as opposed to shouting their wins from the mountain tops. There are countless entrepreneurs that epitomize the entrepreneurial DNA of this region and repeat successful entrepreneurs are often the best resources for continued growth of other entrepreneurs as they plug back into the ecosystem with capital, mentorship, and a strong talent pool that is experienced and who can provide benefits to new startups focused on the future.
However, we need to do a better job of prioritize sharing the stories of these entrepreneurial “heroes” and loudly celebrate the serial entrepreneurs. From Mark Cuban (from Broadcast.com to Shark Tank and his large portfolio of startup investments) to Ross Perot Jr (with his work at Hillwood to the Perot Jain fund looking to invest in early stage entrepreneurs in this region) to Lance Crosby (with his sale of Softlayer and his recent launch of Stack Path), we need to talk about the incredible wins coming out of Dallas, especially since these examples are just a small slice of our rich startup history. These entrepreneurs, and the others that succeed again and again, enable Dallas to stay the alpha city that it is. They create sustainable high growth ventures that lead markets and create immense value to the entire ecosystem.
One serial entrepreneur that I want to call special attention at this time is Ben Lamm. Ben isn’t just an entrepreneur in an emerging company, he’s a leader in an emerging industry.
As someone with intimate knowledge of the tech industry, people frequently ask me what the hottest new industries are in town. Industries like AI, Smart Cities, Block Chain and Cyber Security are at the forefront of that list. Then they want to know who are running those businesses. Lately, all of this talk has centered around AI, bringing Ben Lamm’s successes into sharp relief.
Ben Lamm has served as a great example of the serial entrepreneur, repeatedly achieving success on the bleeding edge of markets. He’s created technology companies that became integral to the their industries by being ahead of those industries, whether that be in mobile development with Chaotic Moon or in chatbots through Conversable. Now living in Dallas, he is leading the cutting edge of developing, and more importantly commercializing, the AI space.
We need to be actively talking about entrepreneurs like Ben more often, not just bragging about our general startup stats. The fact is, we don’t do a good enough job of tooting our own horn in Dallas when we have entrepreneurs or companies that are crushing it. Ben’s ventures of Chaotic Moon, Team Chaos, and now Conversable are examples we should be screaming from the mountain tops. Individuals like Ben offer a story of success that is entirely specific to Dallas and emphasize all the best things about our community.
I firmly believe that the entire arch of AI can be seen in the Dallas startup scene. A few years ago, we were saying that the future of AI was coming. With companies like Conversable and HyperGiant and many others that time is now here. Ben hasn’t just built companies that are advancing these technologies; he’s also helping take these technologies mainstream through the partnerships and acquisitions he’s able to create with Fortune 500 brands.
We have to stop obscuring the fact that Dallas entrepreneurs are leading charges like these every day. We need to begin to brag in way that shows our real value and emphasizes that our entrepreneurs are working to create best of breed solutions in the AI space and beyond.
Capital follows success and capital goes where it will see ROI. Ben Lamm has continued to show great returns for his investors and his customers. He will be a shining star in our community of the types of entrepreneurs and companies that capital sources should be looking for. He should also serve as an example what we should expect in Dallas both now and in the future.
Now to the rest of the amazing entrepreneurs in DFW… Let’s Do This!