Category Archives: Blog

TAX SEASON

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.

From-Molly-UPDATED

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.

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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. 

From-Molly-UPDATED

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.

 

Disclaimer: This is not the typical, generic internship.

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Interns-Wanted

Disclaimer: This is not the typical, generic internship.

If you are looking for an internship that’s only about making copies and do coffee errands, this is not for you.

But…if you’re a badass and think you can keep up with us, take initiative, pitch ideas or dive in wherever needed (we’re an “all in” kinda team around here), then keep reading.

As the #1 B2B technology accelerator in the nation, Tech Wildcatters invests in startups from all over the world, then we invite them to move in with us at our HQ in Dallas and take them through an intensive program.  Needless to say, it’s a fast-paced, energetic and hard-working atmosphere.

Our favorite part? No day is ever the same. Some days we’ll have 80 people in the building watching our startups pitch (think Shark Tank), other days we’re in College Station blowing things up with explosives or touring NASA, and then of course, there are days when our team and our interns are working closely with and helping our startups in the many tasks their required to complete while with us. This internship is like no other, and from our executive team all the way down to our interns, we insist on working with individuals who walk confidently, embrace new ideas and can pivot on a dime. As our culture generally is, the more trustworthy and capable you are, the more things you get to work on…your self doubts are your only limits here.

Right now we’re on the hunt for interns who have a passion in startups, technology, communications or general business and possess a wild desire and curiosity to learn a little bit about everything during their internship with us. We’re not gonna lie, our interns of COURSE have some of those dreaded internship duties, but you’ll also walk away with a killer resume having gotten to tackle things like:

  • Market research
  • Pitching and then executing your own project
  • Event planning and logistics
  • Supporting TW executive team, startups, alumni and mentors
  • Attending and networking at events around town and at HQ
  • Serving as an ambassador of Tech Wildcatters and living our culture!

We accept applications on a rolling basis. Internships schedule:

  • Summer: May to August 2016
  • Fall: September to December 2016
  • Spring: January to April 2017

Think you’re the perfect fit? Fill this form out and tell us why. If we like what you have to say, you’ll hear from us with next steps.

Questions? Then Stephanie is your go-to person. (We like interns that can figure things out, so that’s why we didn’t put her email address right there for you)

 

 

Why We’re Thankful This Year…

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 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.
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Where There Are Startups, There’s Opportunity

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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.

EFNT

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

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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.

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

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— 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.

Hey, You! Wanna Intern?

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Interns-WantedUPDATE: All intern positions have been filled.

This is a job listing for a fall internship at Tech Wildcatters. Your first task is to read this all the way through. If you like what you’re hearing, email us at info@techwildcatters.com and wow us.

Here we go…

At Tech Wildcatters, we put on killer events, execute the nation’s #5 startup program (at least that’s what Inc. Magazine and Forbes tells us) and plug into our world famous network to help ambitious startups become multi-million dollar businesses.

It takes a crazy, hard-working, all-in kind of team to make that stuff happen. Some days we work really late, other days we drive to NASA, sometimes we’re in San Francisco and all the time we’re working together to make sh*t happen in a beautifully chaotic and masterful way. Frankly, that’s how we (and the startups that graduate with us) have become nationally-recognized.

There’s absolutely no way we could make things happen around here with our staff. But there’s even less chance we could do it without another group of VIPs…our interns.

That’s where you come in.

WHAT: 

We’re looking for our next batch of interns to join us this fall. We have four positions available.

WHO: 

You’re a self-starter (meaning, you look around you to see what needs to be done), you’re kind of obsessed with learning, you’re curious about startups, you want to learn from a bunch of badasses, you can work in a fast-paced (sometimes ambiguous) environment, you can pivot and work on something else immediately. And you’re fun to be around.

WHY:

You’re really interested in learning, doing, shadowing, executing stuff like this (but not limited to):

  • Blogging/Video Blogging/Social Media’ing and other communications support.
  • Planning events and helping execute events at TW.
  • Manage your own special “project” (which you’ll select within the first few weeks).
  • Plug into the startup community in Dallas by attending networking events around town.
  • Being curious and helping us problem solve, or come up with something new!
  • Research — really, this could be anything.
  • Supporting TW staff and alum startups with special projects as needed.
  • Project management, planning, curriculum development and other business-related tasks.
  • Typical internship stuff (taking out trash, printing things, yadda yadda…it’s not THAT much)

It’s hard to fully define what you’ll be working on this fall — You’ll get a sneak peek into our 2016 year and get to know everyone in our community. We think it’s a pretty sweet internship. If you agree, send us a note.

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