Note from Our Partner: Whitley Penn

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It’s that time of the year again! If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance that you and your company are working on taxes. There’s also a good chance you’ve gotten confused or frustrated during the process. Good news, we have word directly from tax experts at Whitley Penn explaining what’s new this year. Here’s what you need to know. 

On Friday, December 18, President Obama signed into the law the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016” including the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015” (“Act”, “law”).  The new law ends months of uncertainty regarding “tax extender” provisions that Congress enacted only on a temporary basis in prior years.  The Act makes several of these provisions permanent and also temporarily extends other provisions for a limited time period.  Note that the effective date of the changes varies for each provision and the expiration period for each temporary provision also varies.

Some of the key provisions that were made permanent by the Act include:

  • Deduction for state and local sales tax.
  • Research and development credit.
  • Increased Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 179 expense limitations.
  • 100% exclusion for gain on qualified small business stock.
  • Reduced built-in gain recognition period for S Corporations.
  • 15-year recovery period for qualified leasehold improvements.
  • 15-year recovery period for qualified restaurant buildings and improvements.
  • 15-year recovery period for qualified retail improvements.
  • Tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans for charitable purposes.
  • Enhanced child tax credit.
  • Enhanced education credits and expenses.

Various income tax, excise tax, and fee provisions that were modified or extended on a temporary basis by the Act include:

  • Bonus depreciation on qualifying property. The applicable recovery percentages are 50% for property placed in service in 2015 through 2017, 40% in 2018, and 30% in 2019.
  • Increased first-year depreciation limitation for automobiles and light trucks.
  • Certain employer tax credits such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit are extended and modified on a temporary basis.
  • Various energy and alternative energy credits and incentives are extended and modified on a temporary basis.
  • The 40% “Cadillac” excise tax on high-cost employer health plans is delayed until tax years beginning after December 31, 2019.
  • The medical device excise tax is delayed and will not apply to sales made in calendar years 2016 and 2017.
  • The annual fee assessed to health insurance providers is delayed one year.

The passage of the new law eliminates much of the uncertainty that taxpayers encountered for several years while trying to develop a long-term tax plan.  We recommend that you contact your Whitley Penn tax advisor to discuss how these new developments impact your tax position and to implement the provisions into your overall tax strategy.


Note From Molly: Go, Go, Go!

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Just yesterday, we brought in some of our key mentors and investors to help us take those precious second and third looks at the hundreds of startups who have applied to be part of the Class of 2016. It’s a fun tradition for us to review applications with people who are smarter than us (and those who will ultimately invest and mentor the upcoming class). We walked away having identified the coveted list of startups that will be invited for Finals, the last step in the application process, which takes place in February.

After that meeting with our investors, I went downstairs to our event space to meet some of our major sponsors for the 2016 program. They were at HQ to attend our first annual Sponsor Luncheon with our Chief Revenue Officer, Clarisa Lindenmeyer. What a pleasure it was to meet everyone in the room — and as they all introduced themselves, it was made very clear why they’re partnered with Tech Wildcatters and why we’ve chosen to do business with them this year. Each brings a level of professional acumen to our program, and ultimately our portfolio of startups, that adds so much value to what we’re doing here. You’ll be meeting each of them throughout the year too, especially if you’re selected into the next class or have graduated from our program in past years.

12544723_10205128417959482_882572845_oNext week, our alums, mentors, sponsors and investors will be joining us for a private New Year’s party to kick off the year and share more about how we’re changing our program in 2016. Events like this are some of my favorite — because it’s when we get the entire TW Family together to talk successes and goals, but also let loose and relax. Because we work hard. Everyone surrounding Tech Wildcatters works hard. And that’s something to celebrate.

Like I said, it’s an exciting time to be around Tech Wildcatters — there’s so much going on. Like the Gauntlet, which you’ll hear more about very soon. Or the changes to our investing structure. And then there’s our precious secret sauce, the Tech Wildcatters program.

I’ll leave you with a big hint about one of the biggest changes we’re making to the program in 2016. Unlike past years, our application is not closed. The opportunity to enter our program in March has passed, but, the next chance to enter Tech Wildcatters is in May.

Until next time, I look forward to hearing from any of you if you have interest in getting involved this year. I assure you, this is the year to do it.


The Year of the Entrepreneur

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“What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.” Molly Cain, Executive Director

Startup companies, and the entrepreneurs that lead them, quickly learn to celebrate successes as they come. Small companies are typically plagued with challenges and problems from day one, and the entrepreneurs at their helm learn to savor the triumphs that are sometimes few and far between.

Of course, these fledgeling companies stand a better chance if the ecosystem they grow in nurtures and supports them. At the State of Entrepreneurship address, held December 9th at the Hilton Anatole, the Dallas startup community gathered to review the data that  has been compiled which indicates the growing robustness of the local startup ecosystem and to celebrate the successes that have come as a result. “This event was created to highlight all of the great work entrepreneurs are doing across North Texas. With more than 850 in attendance, I believe we are all getting the word out about all of the activity going on in our community.” said Trey Bowles, founder of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center. 

Since Tech Wildcatter’s inception in 2009, we’ve seen firsthand the growth and positive changes our community has undergone. Each year we receive a record amount of applications to our 12-week long mentor-driven accelerator program. We’ve been able to raise more capital from investors who are turning from oil and real estate to try their hand at tech. We’ve seen the startups we’ve invested in since 2009 grow, receive additional funding and make profitable exits. 

The successes we’ve seen local startups and entrepreneurs celebrate seemed to be greater and came along more frequently than they have in the past. Here’s to seeing more of what happened in 2015 this upcoming year. But in true entrepreneurial form — rather than hoping for it, we’re working for it. 


Note from Molly: Closing Out 2015 with American Airlines

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“Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” –Vince Lombardi

In this last newsletter of 2015 and on the night of the State of Entrepreneurship, I thought I’d get a bit sentimental and also, share some big news.

As you’ve no doubt seen this year, Tech Wildcatters is in a serious growth spurt. But this is no less true for so much of our startup community right here in our hometown of Dallas, Texas. Some of you may be surprised to know that a bit more than six years ago, Tech Wildcatters was one of only a handful of ambitious entrepreneurial groups embarking upon the mission to turn this state into a major innovative hub. Today, we’re seeing this actually happen!

From this seat, it’s so fun to be part of and watch it unfold before our very eyes. There are others that watched it begin to unfold, and over the past several years, they’ve jumped in head first to build upon the momentum (or the “snowball” effect I reference in the Dallas Morning News this week). Those groups are our external partners. From local media, to the Dallas Entrepreneur Center all the way to our sponsors, they are priceless friends in this process — and they all play a very unique role in our ecosystem here at TW.

American Airlines is one such partner for us. They’ve been with us for awhile now (one of the gutsy early few that saw big promise and potential in getting involved with startups), but this year they decided to up the ante and blew us away with something I’m VERY excited to share with you all today.

If you’re a startup that has applied or is considering applying for Tech Wildcatters, you’ll want to hear this. 

Some background: The last step in our application process, and the last barrier to potentially becoming a member of the Class of 2016, is an in-person pitch. It’s held behind closed doors, but it’s a much-anticipated event each year, open to only our investors and a handful of key mentors. Startups from all over the world fly into Dallas to share their stories with our attendees, and we use their feedback to narrow down and select our class from this elite group.

Here’s the big news: 

This year, the selected few startups invited to pitch us in Dallas in February (there will be up to 40 of you), American Airlines will work with us and award Business Extra points for those startups to use as they wish! This has exceptions, of course which I promised to mention. For instance, international companies will need to have an office in the US before they can receive their points. But we’ll let you know those details when we notify you.

Even better, to the companies that are formally accepted into the Class of 2016, American will be giving you even more Business Extra points as a congratulations!

PS — You have to actually apply to our program to be in the running for this. And you also have to actually have a Business Extra account set up for us to be able to grant points to you, so there’s that. 

It’s corporations and partners like that who recognize what we’re doing and back us up with their resources, that will continue to put Dallas on the map. They’re also the ones that understand the needs our startups have (like the need to get on an airplane to conduct business, while also saving money!) that make them a perfect fit for companies like ours.

We’re so very proud to partner with American and I’m personally thrilled to offer a perk that only a few of the top accelerators are able to provide their finalists.

Where are we going in 2016? The sky’s the limit.


Did you know? We're accepting program applicants on a rolling basis! Next deadline is April 13th. APPLY NOW