3 Days, 3 Cities, 40 Investors, 80 Startups: The Inaugural Texas Startups Roadshow
The whirlwind tour stopped in Dallas, Houston and Austin to connect innovative startups with venture capital investors.
Texas boasts a strong economy and a talent base of innovative thinkers, making the business-friendly state a prime spot for startups—and investors have taken note. According to Pitchbook, businesses in the state received a record $3 billion of venture investments in 2018.
To help further connect Texas entrepreneurs with investment partners, J.P. Morgan’s Technology and Disruptive Commerce (TDC) group—represented by Melissa Smith, Alton McDowell, Frank Medrano and Ben Halliday—joined forces with tech incubator Capital Factory’s founder and CEO, Josh Baer, for the first Texas Startups Roadshow.
From June 4-6, the tour’s branded buses took 40 venture capital investors to three cities across the Lone Star State to meet with stakeholders from more than 80 of the fastest-growing Texas companies and learn about each city’s unique economy. To enhance the experience, each stop featured keynote speakers, lunch and learns, panel discussions and visits to local attractions.
Day 1: Dallas
The road show kicked off in Dallas, where real estate developer Harlan Crow hosted a discussion with local innovation leaders on family-office investing and the city’s future. After that, the group stopped at Capital Factory’s new Dallas space to learn about blockchain investing and meet one-on-one with early-stage founders. The day concluded with a tour of the Star in Frisco, home to the Dallas Cowboys practice facility and the GameStop Performance Center, an esports training facility and the headquarters of Complexity Gaming.
Day 2: Houston
The road show’s second day started with meetings between founders, venture firms, incubators and mentors at WeWork in Chase Tower. Then, the group toured NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where guides explained the challenges of space exploration and discussed how investment from the bus tour group could help NASA get back to the moon. To end the day, more than 20 startups convened for dinner, networking and one-minute pitches at the Texas Medical Center.
Day 3: Austin
On the final morning of the tour, Capital Factory’s Austin location played host to the group. First, Kendra Scott of her own jewelry line, Hugh Forest of South by Southwest, and Leon Chen of Tiff’s Treats spoke about Austin’s booming consumer packaged goods sector and the need for increased investment. The final round of investor-company meetings was next, followed by a visit to Army Futures Command’s headquarters to learn about the role of startups in solving problems faced by the US government. There, Baer, McDowell and J.P. Morgan Military Pathways Associate and retired Army officer Cody Huggins judged a pitch competition that awarded $100,000 to one of the five most exciting Texas defense startups. The winner was ZPEG, the developer of a visual preprocessor designed to reduce video delivery costs without sacrificing quality.
The evening—and the Texas Startups Roadshow—concluded with a party back at Capital Factory’s Austin location, where more than 1,500 local innovators spread across three floors to relax and network.
"The road show highlighted our firm's focus on the innovation economy and allowed us to introduce the founder community to our platform, specific solutions and industry expertise," McDowell said. "It was exciting to talk to them about the ways we can help them grow into the company they want to become."
About Capital Factory
Capital Factory is the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Texas, the number one startup state in the U.S. Last year more than 200,000 entrepreneurs, programmers and designers gathered day and night, in-person and online for meetups, classes and coworking. With boots on the ground in Austin, Dallas and Houston, we meet the best entrepreneurs in Texas and introduce them to their first investors, employees, mentors and customers. According to Pitchbook, Capital Factory has been the most active investor in Texas since 2013.