Featured Network Partners: Microsoft BizSpark

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Featured Network Partner

Company: The DEC
Interviewee: Trey Bowles, Founder and CEO
Web Site: www.thedec.co

The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC, pronounced ‘the deck’) serves entrepreneurs in the Dallas area, providing a location where they can receive training, education, mentorship, promotion and access to capital in order to encourage and equip the entrepreneurial community to start, build and grow their businesses. Facilitating a culture of entrepreneurship and ‘giving before you get,’ the DEC connects new and old entrepreneurs with a vibrant, collaborative environment.

What is The Dallas Entrepreneur Center?

Trey: The Dallas Entrepreneur Center – we call it The DEC - has created a central hub for the entire entrepreneur community to come and receive education, training, incubation, collaborative office space, promotion and access to capital.

Why did you choose Dallas for the location?

Trey: The need existed because there was nothing like this in Dallas. I was involved in the Startup America Partnership and as I traveled I noticed people didn’t realize there were any startups in Dallas. In fact, there are 19,000 new businesses! It’s a burgeoning Startup community but there was no branding and recognition.

We want Dallas to be seen as the leading entrepreneurial hub that it is and there was nothing out there to help them (entrepreneurs) in the city. We’re part of a movement that wants to invest into the startups of the world as a responsibility. And we want corporations to give long-term opportunities to its partners.

What makes Dallas fertile ground for Startups?

Trey: Every major city in Texas has some sort of center that is tech-related. We wanted to be more entrepreneurial and not isolated to any particular industry. The term ‘tech center’ leaves out other industries that still need technical services and assistance. Everyone needs software technologies to run the way their business works, especially for efficiency.

Is that why you partner with BizSpark?

Trey: We want to give startups all the options we can so we use a two-pronged approach. We can advise them which pieces of software can help them. They can then leverage the opportunities as they need them. They typically see a huge business opening to build on the technology from Microsoft because the market is less saturated in that space. The revenue prospect is critical to leverage because the device will become less important than the network that exists.

It’s all about access to data and the information people need – eventually most turn to cloud storage and, more often than not, they will run into Microsoft devices. Loyalty goes a long way and Microsoft already has people in the Startup community. Startups will be loyal to them in turn.

How do Startups work with you?

Trey: We accept any company from any country. We’d love to see more entrepreneurs make world moves to Dallas to start their businesses. It’s a business-friendly city with Texas being the 13th largest economy in the world. In fact, Texas is arguably the number one place in the country to do business; we would like to make Texas the greatest place in the country to start a business.

Startups should choose Dallas because it is the largest geographical entrepreneurial region in the country. Nearly the entire state is involved when you say ‘Dallas’ – it reaches across multiple industries, such as oil and gas to healthcare. Plus, numerous corporations have a major presence here. Being in close proximity to these large companies that can provide opportunities to small businesses is an incredible opportunity.

Any words of advice for Startups in general?

Trey: Oh absolutely! First of all, be fiscally responsible. Why are you buying that solution? Is it cool? Or does it have the basics that you need to get the job done sufficiently? The new Cool is profitability.

Next, focus on the fundamentals: sales, revenue and profitability. The companies that do build and grow are building on real foundations. Make sure you are taking a calculated approach to entrepreneurship. Don’t empty out your entire savings; do your research and perform a full feasibility analysis first. Talk to potential customers, evaluate the marketplace, and make sure there is truly an opportunity before you go diving in head first. Look at entrepreneurship as a pond or body of water … how will you get out once you’re in? If you take the calculated approach to entrepreneurship and “jump right in” you might bruise your tailbone, but if you “dive in” head first you could break your neck.

Always surround yourself with mentors and advisors. Then listen to what they tell you. Being successful has less to do with intellect than experience; these people have run into the wall themselves and discovered how to go around it.

Finally, recognize that you can learn something from every single person. Listen for the pieces you can learn from and create a take-away from. People might not know as much about your business as you do but they do know things.

Don’t be arrogant: You don’t know what you don’t know. It will cost you more money in the long run when you don’t listen.

Contact Trey at The DEC with questions or to apply for their next program. You can follow the DEC on Twitter at @theDECtx and you can follow Trey Bowles at @treybowles.