Why We’re Thankful This Year…

By | Blog | No Comments
 As we run full speed into Thanksgiving week and move toward the holidays, it’s the perfect time to look back on the year. More specifically, look back on the year from a human perspective. It’s true we can shout the many wins of our startups, the dollars raised and the customers acquired from the rooftops (and that we surely do often), but it’s ever so important to remember that none of it would be possible without the people that make up our TW Network.
If you’re reading this, you are part of it. 
  • Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the mentors and investors that make Tech Wildcatters what it is today. It’s your belief in our mission for the last six years, your help in selecting the startups for our program and most importantly, the time that you dedicate to this organization, that truly makes us a top five program in the country. Thank you will never feel like enough, so we’ll just keep building onto this world-famous program to make you proud.
  • Thank you to the startups from the Class of 2015 and EMERGE for making this such an exceptional year. While it’s true entrepreneurship is full of extreme and exciting “ups” with occasional and voluminous “lows,” you taught me (and our team) so much about human character and ambition this year. Only a rare few share the understanding that this journey is a tough one, and your fledgling fight to pursue your businesses was amazing to watch. Thank you for letting us be and to continue to be part of that journey.
  • To our alums. For serving as ambassadors of Tech Wildcatters all over the world, for showing everyone what scaling really looks like, for coming back to HQ and sharing your stories and for giving me a warm welcome when I joined the family…thank you. Regardless of where you and your business are right now, you’re shining examples of hard work and one of the most special and important elements to this organization.
  • To our partners and sponsors. Thank you — truly. The value you bring our startups is unmatched. Without you, our program wouldn’t be as robust as it is. You’re helping to build us as we grow, and you’re helping us be better everyday.
  • To our community, an enormous thanks. For all who recommend our program to potential applicants, for those of you who attended any of our many events and even the hundreds of you who have “liked” just one post on our social media, you’ve helped us spread our message and contributed to helping us bring great startups from around the world and ultimately, great business to the Dallas economy.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
2015 DDCF - EVENTBRITE - logos

Where There Are Startups, There’s Opportunity

By | Blog | No Comments
Earlier this year, the team at Tech Wildcatters sat down to determine what might make a great impact to economic growth in the Dallas area. One thought kept coming up — the need to find and place great talent. So we decided to do just that.
For the second time this year, we’ve broken records and held the largest startup career fair in the city. After the Career Fair on October 22, we’ve now invited more than 600 people in our doors to help introduce them to their next potential dream job. Numerous startups and corporations have been introduced to great talent they wouldn’t have found otherwise — and we think that’s success.

The monsoon that passed through Dallas last week didn’t dampen the entrepreneurial spirits of those attending the Downtown Dallas Career Fair. Hundreds of job seekers came through Tech Wildcatters’ doors to network with 22 rapidly growing companies, some of which are based right here in downtown Dallas.

If you stopped by, you saw first hand that the Downtown Dallas Career Fair differs greatly from the typical career fair at a college or university. Not only were large corporations present but also startup companies who’ve just recently graduated from our accelerator. This was a rare opportunity to join the team of a company that could very well be “the next big thing.”

The Downtown Dallas Career Fair is an excellent example of the economic health of downtown Dallas, growing more robust each day. There’s a wealth of skilled individuals looking for work and plenty companies who are ready to snap them up and add to their staff. Our partnership with Downtown Dallas Inc. has allowed us to strengthen our ties to our neighbors downtown, and add fresh faces to the startup ecosystem. Dallas is already known as a real estate and oil hub, and it looks like technology will soon be added to that shortlist.

We’d like to thank our Downtown Dallas Career Fair partners and sponsors: Downtown Dallas Inc., Touch Titans, The Iron YardSMU Continuing and Professional Education, NEED, Research Now, The Dallas Stars, and Brainspace. Without them, hundreds of job-seekers would not have had the opportunity to network with some of Dallas’ hottest companies.

Any questions or want us to send your resume along? Email info@techwildcatters.com.


Volunteering on 9/11: EFNT, Carry the Load, Equest

By | Blog | No Comments

Last Friday, September 11th 2015, the TW Staff had the opportunity and pleasure of partnering with EFNT (Entrepreneurs for North Texas), Carry the Load and Equest to honor U.S. troops past and present. The goal that day was to improve and make the Equest Horse Park facilities more handicap accessible while remembering the troops we’ve lost in conflict.

Equest offers many therapeutic services for veterans and their family through equine assisted activities and events. Carry the Load programs provide an interactive way for Americans to honor, remember and celebrate those lives lost protecting the US and it’s citizens.

We gathered in the main arena and at 8:46am shared in a minute of silence during the time that the first plane struck the North World Trade Center Tower. This was followed by the Marine Corps presenting the colors, and the 400+ volunteers joining together to sing the national anthem and say the pledge of allegiance. As I looked out on the hugely diverse crowd of people, I felt an overwhelming sense of unity and reverence.

Clint Bruce, Co-founder of Carry the Load and former Navy Seal, introduced himself and spoke about his time in the military and why he founded the organization. As he referenced the large cardboard sheets depicting photos and biographies of U.S. solders who have lost their lives, he emphasized that each made the ultimate sacrifice for the U.S. and we must share the responsibility of “carrying the load” of honoring their memories. He said the best way of doing this was joining together to volunteer, and improve the livelihoods of those in our community. He ended by saying “They believed we were worth it. So let’s be worth it.”

After the emotional opening ceremony we split into groups, each designated to a certain work project. Some were building wheelchair-accessble ramps, others were clearing debris from the riding trails. Veterans wearing red shirts, Dallas PD and FD joined in the efforts, and were stopped every few minutes to shake hands with someone thanking them for their service.

For a brief respite from the hot Texas sun, volunteers were welcomed into the stables at Equest to meet the four-legged ambassadors and feed them apple and carrot slices. I attended the “Horsemanship 101” course, which is offered to every new volunteer and participant at Equest. I entered a corral with 20 or so fellow volunteers and learned the ABC’s of horses and the various services and programs Equest offers to the disabled and veterans. This astounding facility and herd of 47 horses is located just 15 minutes from Downtown Dallas!

While the work was physically straining, and the heat relentless, the camaraderie and positivity shared by all served as ample motivation. The amount of work completed in only a few hours was remarkable, and as Freedom Day 2015 came to a close the organizers remarked how all goals and expectations for the day were vastly exceeded.

As for me, I left feeling greatly touched and proud of my community, and reminded of the extraordinary good that can be done when we come together.


How This Dallas Startup (And TW Grad) Built A $100M Company

By | Blog | No Comments

— Blog by Laura Reed

Startup accelerator Tech Wildcatters hosted a lively speaker series on Wednesday, August 12 starring their alumni company, FanPrint.

The TW office space downtown quickly began to fill with faces both new and familiar. The socializing began early and seats filled quickly. The speakers and TW executive director Molly Cain took the stage and it was suddenly silent. The spotlighted speakers included founder and CEO TK Stohlman, three time Dallas Cowboy Super Bowl Champion (and VP of Partnerships) Darren Woodson, and advisor and investor Gil Marmol. They were joined with Rachel and Mike, two other important members of the team, to explain the road to their success.

Molly began by asking TK about his humble beginnings and the conversation slowly transitioned into an in depth analysis of the importance of passion for what you do. TK was a member of the Tech Wildcatters 2012 class, and admitted he did not have the concept for FanPrint finalized at the end of the process, but that did not hinder his efforts. FanPrint is an e-commerce platform for passionate sports fans, but selling officially licensed products did not come without its trials.

TK owned the room when he spoke. His passion and energy was contagious. When asked about how to deal with his biggest company let downs, TK responded,

“It’s about relentless perseverance, no matter what happens. We will fight and get the deal no matter what.”

Darren Woodson recognized the intense drive that TK had when they met. Darren was quick to praise TK and the FanPrint team for their hunger for success. Darren said that when he heard about the idea and talked to TK, he instantly knew he was going to be an investor. When Darren spoke, he related his experience with FanPrint to his experience in the NFL. He stressed the significance of perseverance, teamwork, passion, and hard work, and no, he wasn’t talking about football. He recognized the drive that TK had and knew he wouldn’t stop when trials came his way. He said,

“It’s not always the most talented team that wins, but the team that works the hardest is always the best.”

Molly sat next to and (reluctantly and jokingly) shared her microphone with FanPrint investor Gil Marmol. They laughed throughout the series about this, and Gil’s humor shone through his many stories. Gil had wisdom and advice for TK about financials throughout FanPrint’s beginnings. He spoke of TK’s entrepreneurial expertise by saying,

“In the investment community, people have energy, high energy, and then there’s TK.”

(Cue the laughter) Gil also had praise for VP of Licensing, Rachel Duitch. Gil claimed that when Rachel shoots, she doesn’t miss. He talked of how she had gone on all of the ‘non glamorous’ trips to gain licensing deals. Rachel then told a story about how FanPrint landed one of their biggest licenses, the CLC, by using the ‘whatever it takes’ attitude that is their core culture.

The story began with a big ‘No’ from the CLC on recommending FanPrint to colleges, but TK doesn’t take no for an answer. FanPrint’s competitor was the only company being showcased at an upcoming expo in Miami with all of the CLC officials in one place. TK and his FanPrint team just happened to plan a trip to Miami on the same day of this event. When CLC officials got a whiff of what was happening, they agreed to recommend FanPrint as long as they didn’t show up in Miami that weekend. Long story short, the go get ‘em tactic worked and their perseverance, per usual, paid off.

Don’t tell TK that anything is impossible. His words of wisdom throughout the night were all substantial pieces of advice for anyone who wants to be successful. FanPrint didn’t always have big name athlete Darren Woodson to spark networking wildfire. He stressed that if you can make your business model work with smaller names, then you can do so much more when you secure the big ones. He said,

“At the beginning, people don’t have confidence in you. You have to build it up… As a founder, it’s not about the glory, it’s about doing whatever it takes for the team to succeed.”

The ‘Whatever It Takes’ mentality was a theme throughout the night. It was obvious that the determination of the team was what drove the company to its huge accomplishments.

The audience was eager to ask questions near the end. The common thread in the Q&A was simply, “How did this happen?” This was when TK said what every investor is terrified to hear,

“Burn your boats. We’re gonna be a success and there’s no turning back.”

TK sends out an investor update email every Friday for the past three years to keep in touch with those who helped him rise to success. The relentless attitude of TK and his team was apparent throughout the speaker series. The team stressed that you have to hire passionate people, and you can’t teach passion. The wrong people can kill a culture, and the culture at FanPrint is one to be envied. 

As the speaker series drew to an end, the mingling had just begun, as is so with the startup community. Many audience members eagerly walked up to introduce themselves to the speakers before they could even step off of the stage. An energy filled room of entrepreneurs talked with one another and networking ensued. Don’t miss Tech Wildcatters next big event next Thursday, August 20, Demo Day.