Dallas’s GlobeStart Connects Local Entrepreneurs With Global Peers

8/6/13Follow @angelashah

Accelerators often bring in international startups as part of their slate of budding companies, but rarely do the programs cater entirely to these global entrepreneurs.

Yet, that’s exactly the mission of GlobeStart, which is run by Dallas-based Tech Wildcatters. The program, which is less than a year old, brings six to eight startups to Dallas and then takes them on a two-week entrepreneurial road trip from Texas to Silicon Valley and points in between.

“It helps them broaden their horizons,” says Michaela Lassig, program director for GlobeStart.

For Tech Wildcatters, the effort boosts its goals of creating a global startup community with ties to North Texas. “That’s sort of what we look for when we are picking our companies for Tech Wildcatters,” she added. “These are teams that can scale globally and make a wider impact.”

GlobeStart’s latest class came to Dallas on Aug. 29 for a week of meetings with venture capitalists and prospective mentors as well as some informal networking with local entrepreneurs.

The startups hail from Italy, Chile, and the United Kingdom, in businesses that range from a clearinghouse of online software testers-for-hire, an aggregator of people’s recommendations for fitness instructors, a mobile app for air travelers, and a portal for online grocery shopping and food culture.

Most of the startups have been through an accelerator in their home countries but are still at the early stages, having raised some money, usually an amount under $100,000, including some angel investments.

One company, 20lines, which is an Italian platform for writers to share stories and collaborate, has raised $250,000. Another startup, pick1, stretches the “international” moniker—its Chilean and Italian founders have headquarters in the U.S. but have kept three-fourths of the operation overseas.

The startup, a platform that helps clients with targeted marketing campaigns, has attracted more than $1 million in seed and venture funding.

On Thursday, the companies made their debut at a GlobeStart/Launch DFW Happy Hour at the newly opened Dallas Entrepreneur Center, or DEC, where the entrepreneurs made pitches at the DEC at its first Demo Hour in front of about 175 people.

GlobeStart enhances startup communities in both directions, says Trey Bowles, DEC’s co-founder. “The fact that Tech Wildcatters has even created the GlobeStart program showcases Dallas on a national scale,” he says. “It also brings awareness to local entrepreneurs that Dallas is an international hub for entrepreneurship.”

Yesterday and today, the group is meeting with potential mentors, clients, and funders in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. Tomorrow, they travel to Las Vegas, where they will attend Tech Cocktail Week and SXSW V2V.

GlobeStart originated last year through a program called Global Accelerator Exchange, where teams from Dallas traveled to London and then hosted a British group back in North Texas. Tech Wildcatters started in Dallas in 2010, and works with startups in a 12-week program.

Even in its short life, Lassig says GlobeStart already has a few success stories. Cupenya, a startup based in Amsterdam, has developed software to help businesses better analyze their performance based on customized targets.

Dominic Blattner, its co-founder and CEO, says just being part of the program has opened his eyes to the possibility of Cupenya being able to do business in the U.S. market.

“For a company from Europe, you don’t really think about the U.S. market … you don’t have any contacts, you don’t know how to approach anyone,” he says. “In this program, you feel like all these mentors are really willing to help you.”

Already, Cupenya has leads on two potential clients and investors, Blattner added.

An Argentine startup, Everypost.com—an app that allows users to post multimedia content across social platforms—participated in GlobeStart’s program last year, and, since then, got into Hive Ventures in Miami, and is now launching the company in Florida. Kwelia, a Startup Chile company that crunches real-estate data in real-time for a snapshot of the rental market, relocated to Austin in July.

In some ways, GlobeStart can help to lure the best and brightest of the world’s entrepreneurial ideas to America, Lassig says.

“We have exchange in hopes that they return and bring their business here,” she says. “We want to help create Dallas into this international technology scene. I want it to be Dallas, but anywhere in the U.S. is totally fine.”

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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