dd:IMPACT - Thought leaders shaping Dallas' digital landscape

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You don’t need to look too far to find extraordinary, diverse talent in Dallas. We asked the city’s brightest minds to share who in the area challenged their thinking about the digital space this year or executed a noteworthy solution/campaign, and the top picks are revealed below.

From revolutionizing the fashion industry to founding innovative businesses to leveraging technology for social good (and much more!), this city is a hotbed for individuals driving change in the digital space.


John Backes

Founder, Motive Real Estate Technology Accelerator

Jason Story took a really bold step as a partner with Hanger Ventures. He is a model example of smart community reinvestment. Also, Nick Kennedy, founder and CEO at Rise is a prime example of the type of entrepreneurship Dallas is known for: high-service, boutique, and passionate. He reminds me of this quote from Dallas entrepreneur Conrad Hilton, who said:

"The Art of Living: 1) Find your own particular talent 2) Be Big. Think Big. Act Big. Dream Big. 3) Be honest 4) Live with enthusiasm 5) Don't let your possessions possess you 6) Don’t worry about your problems 7) Don’t cling to the past. 8) Look up to people when you can – down to no one 9) Assume your full share of responsibility for the world in which you live."

Ryan Bischoff

Sr. Account Director, RadiumOne

The continual innovation exhibited by those at The Richards Group, from implementing cross-channel solutions to driving ROI/ROAS, puts medium to large brands at the forefront of digital technology, without going to large NYC, Chicago, or LA-based agency powerhouses.


Jim David

Founder, Leapfrawg

Jackie Bese, owner of Atomic Design, always brings the conversation back to the need to provide clients measurable improvements in whatever goals have been set by any campaign.


Patrick Derdeyn

Director of Sales, Specific Media

I thought the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) campaign was extremely well done this year. Their marketing team used a great mix of OOH, highly targeted mobile, and high-impact display to drive awareness that DART can take you to all of the best things the city of Dallas has to offer.


Cameron Gawley

CEO & Co-Founder, BuzzShift

There are so many people in Dallas doing extraordinary things in the digital space. One of the areas I feel we can all do a better job of is building our personal brand and thought leadership. Shama Hyder sets the bar for all of us when it comes to personal branding, PR, and thought leadership. If you are looking at becoming more of a thought leader in your respected area of expertise, then I would suggest taking a page or two from Shama. She is the ultimate connector and one of the hardest working networkers in our industry. Shama is on Forbes 30-under-30, a best-selling author and an international keynote speaker.


Kyle Hartman

Business Development, Zeta Interactive

Stuart Watson, SVP of Emerging Media and Technology at Camelot Communications, has constantly pushed my understanding of the digital landscape.


Lauren Hasson

Founder & CEO, LH & Co.

Michael Sitarzewski, co-founder and CEO of Epic Playground, has been one of the critical, driving forces uniting the segmented digital and start-up communities in Dallas. He has been integral in bringing attention to all that the Dallas start-up community has to offer.


Kyle Taylor

Front-end Drupal Developer, LevelTen Interactive; President, TechMill Denton

I've never someone more passionate about cultivating a city of inclusiveness and innovation than Michael Sitarzewski. He has his hands on many initiatives, but the most important thing is that he sees them through. Of all the events he's put on, such as Dallas New Tech and a continuing Big D Open Coffee Club, I think Michael leading the group to pull off Dallas Startup Week, which drew 2,500 attendees to downtown Dallas and showcased our start-up/tech community definitely takes the cake. Michael is an inspiration to me and all I do for the DFW start-up community, and is an incredible role model for anyone who wants to participate in doing that.

* Congratulations to Michael for making this list twice!


Jeremy Johnson

Director of User Experience, projekt202

Over the back half of the year, I'd like to recognize Richard Brevig. He's created a new business around a TV show that showcases both design and UX talent here in Dallas as well as start-ups. It's a great platform to see Dallas innovation in action and is done so in an entertaining way that hopefully helps start-ups build better products. View Richard's start-up show Expose UX.


Randy Krum

Founder, President and Chief Designer, InfoNewt

Skip Howard, CEO and founder of Spacee and his team are doing phenomenal things with spatial augmented reality and touch-enabled car experiences!


Mike Lyon

Founder & CEO, Calamity Gym

Front Door Fashion comes to mind, co-founded by Nina Lowe. She helped me be cognizant of wowing customers via curated fashion. It’s cool for Dallas to have a style offering in the digital space.


Grant Moise

SVP, Business Development and Niche Products, The Dallas Morning News

Baxter and Amber Box have built an outstanding digital company at rewardStyle. The way they have monetized the fashion blogging space is impressive and shows that Dallas-based companies can achieve great results.


Michael Sitarzewski

Publisher, LAUNCH DFW; CEO, Epic Playground

Picking one person would be unfair as many individuals did great things. This includes the Tech Wildcatters team for launching Emerge; Trey Bowles, the CEO and co-founder of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC), who spearheaded the Smarter Cities initiative with the Dallas Innovation Alliance; as well as the team at Dallas Startup Week for the impact they had on raising entrepreneurial awareness for the region. And there are many, many more. Lots of people contributed this year.


Dan Sturdivant

Dir, Speakeasy Digital Marketing; Past Chairman and President, DFW Search Engine Marketing Association

Rob Garner, Head of Growth at 3Q Digital, is truly a digital marketing trail blazer. As one of the founders of the DFW SEM and author of the book Search and Social: The Definitive Guide to Real-Time Content Marketing, he continues to innovate by founding the Digital Career Center, a non-profit organization that helps veterans and victims of domestic abuse gain knowledge in the area of digital marketing. The Digital Career Center believes that training people in the line of digital careers not only gives them a skill but a career they can build on.


Kevin Vela

Founder, DAN Fund/Dallas Angel Network; Managing Partner, Vela Keller

Daniel Black, the CEO and founder of Glass Media, is revolutionizing the way that retail and commercial businesses talk to customers in a really cool and appealing fashion.


If you don't see someone here you think is deserving recognition for their work in 2016, Submit them here


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  • I didn’t know Dallas had something like this, which is pretty neat. Thanks for sharing this one with me! I am also curious to know who and how the pool of people that are asked to nominate individuals is created, how many people are in the nominating pool and who decides who should be asked to nominate someone? Then is the final individual picked based off the most amount of “picks”?