dd:INTERVIEW: Mike Pratt - Move Over Silicon Valley

dd:DALLAS sat down with Mike Pratt, CEO of Panamplify and founder of Digital Dallas. Mike will also be moderating ourdd:EDUCATE event on July 9th

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Digital Dallas: Can you share with us what's going on with DFW's tech scene?

Mike: Technology and tech companies have always had a home in DFW but in the past few years we have started to see an acceleration of new tech ventures in the DFW scene. A combination of co-working and incubator spaces and early signs of a new attitude toward investing in startups in this area has lead to this new technology community. The are the 2 tell-tale signs technology is growing in DFW:

1. More early stage capital is starting to be employed: There wasn’t a lot of money chasing startups in the past and that’s starting to change. It’s vital for early stage investment capital to be part of the equation in order for any city to be a contender against Silicon Valley (and for it to revitalize itself). This shift is important for startups:

  • Because startups feel they can find capital in their city.
  • Startups are more inclined to stay here when the time comes to seek investment capital.

2. Co-working and incubator spaces are starting to thrive giving new companies a home - This kind of infrastructure is necessary for the tech scene to thrive because it builds a community, and it's a sign that our landscape is maturing. In 5 years, we have had groups such as the Social Media Club Dallas, Tech Wildcatters, The DEC and Startup DFW emerge. Organizations like these are necessary for people to feel part of a community. Without that sense of community, we’re just a disconnected bunch of companies and DFW suffers as a whole. Innovation comes from vibrant, collaborative startup communities, from established academic programs, and innovation comes from established companies. DFW has all three, and all three are thriving in ways they haven’t before, and that leads to innovation.

Digital Dallas: How is DFW building a community of innovation?

Mike: Innovation comes from vibrant, collaborative startup communities, from established academic programs, and innovation comes from established companies. DFW has all three, and all three are thriving in ways they haven’t before and that leads to innovation. We do have a way to go, but...

  • For example, years ago, similar companies felt that they had to compete against each other in order to get part of the DFW market share. Now, companies know that they must work together in order for DFW to advance and for business to come to the area. A rising tide raises all ships.
  • UTD, UTA and SMU are making great strides to produce more programmers, designers and people in technology to join the workforce. As of 5-10 years ago, it was difficult to find programmers in DFW. Now, we know exactly where to go to find them.

Digital Dallas: Why should people get involved (and how)?

Mike: Individuals in the tech scene have a role to play, they need to participate in various meet ups that are becoming part of the DFW landscape. DFW offers a bevy of technology events that it’s starting to become that you have to be selective as to the technology events you can attend (because there are so many) and that didn’t exist years ago. But everyone needs to participate, by either attending or volunteering in an organization. Because, when you participate (in a technology organization) you are helping create the community and shape our tech future. One area that still needs focus: we need to get more technology professionals at the big Dallas brands to become a more engaged part of the technology community.

Digital Dallas: What can we expect from the July 9th event?

Mike: I am very excited about this event for various reasons:

  1. It is extremely difficult to assemble these speakers AND have them speak candidly.
  2. There is so much going on in technology right now - causing the CMO suite to re-think their strategies - which our panelists are privy to and they will be sharing with us.
  3. Our panelists will candidly tell us what is working or not. There’s going to be meaty conversation going on.
  4. And... it's going to be in a badass location: Fossil’s headquarters!

Our new platform will be able to provide for our members very specialized, tailored information... We will completely take the notion of community to a new place, and we are ecstatic about it!

Digital Dallas: What's in store for Digital Dallas this Fall?

Mike: We try to balance showcasing companies, education series, and social events all for community building. We have a great event on travel we’ll be having this fall. And, we will be releasing a new platform built by Digital Dallas itself that will take our organization to a new level, as far as community building, and we’re fired up about that! Our new platform will be able to provide for our members very specialized, tailored information so they don’t have to worry about receiving multiple emails or notifications about events/news they’re not interested in. We will completely take the notion of community to a new place, and we are ecstatic about it!


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