With new space for startups, Austin’s Capital Factory plants flag in Dallas

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Austin startup hub Capital Factory announced today that it’ll open a new Dallas location for startups, investors and mentors in the hopes up pumping up the state’s startup success.

Capital Factory will move into Dallas’ Centrum building in Oak Lawn. Its new space in Dallas will open in May. Its original location is in downtown Austin.

The Centrum has gone through a $25 million redo to include new restaurants and trendy office spaces. The 19-story office, residential and retail tower is at the corner of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. It’s attracted other startup and tech tenants, including fashion startup RewardStyle and the Dallas office of San Francisco-based Salesforce.

The new space is another way that Capital Factory hopes to strengthen ties between Texas’ four major cities — Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Capital Factory’s founder and CEO Joshua Baer said he visited each of the cities about a year ago to talk to mentors, startups and investors. He said Dallas jumped out as the city with the most untapped potential.

“Dallas really welcomed us with open arms and encouraged us to get involved and create a presence there,” he said. “In some ways, it’s the biggest opportunity because as much as there’s a lot of great things in Dallas with the startup community, it’s not nearly as good as it could be.”

Baer said Dallas has the ingredients it needs to thrive, such as plenty of wealthy people who could invest in startups and dozens of Fortune 500 companies that could be their initial customers, but it has struggled to connect the dots.

“Really, Dallas should be bigger than Austin,” he said.

With its streak of weird and its annual South by Southwest Festival, Austin is Texas’ best-known city for startups. Austin regularly attracts more venture capital than Dallas and Houston, despite its smaller size. It’s home to a laundry list of startups and has been dubbed the “Silicon Hills.”

Capital Factory was born in 2009. It includes an accelerator and investment fund for early-stage startups. It’s become one of the most active investors in the state, and also a magnet for big-name visitors, including former President Barack Obama in 2013 and Apple CEO Tim Cook last year.

But Baer said competition between Texas cities has gotten in the way of collaboration. In August, he said he’d expand Capital Factory to have a statewide focus. Capital Factory made its first moves in Dallas last fall by sharing office space and hosting events at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit based in the West End.

Capital Factory’s new location in Dallas will have coworking space, an event space for up to 150 people, two classrooms and conference rooms, Baer said. He said he’s been shuttling between Austin and Dallas at least every two weeks. With the new office, he said, that’ll continue or increase.

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