Get All Access for $5/mo

Hot Startups Born in Dallas Entrepreneur is hosting our annual Growth Conference in the Big D today. Here's a look at what some local hot entrepreneurs are up to.

By Catherine Clifford

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


We're in Dallas today for Entrepreneur magazine's 5th annual Growth Conference and scoping the local entrepreneurship scene here.

The Metroplex is home to a range of corporate giants, including Exxon Mobil, American Airlines, Texas Instruments, JCPenney and Frito Lay. The city is popular for headquarters for its central location midway between the East and West Coasts and its international airports. An inland port, the city is a distribution center and transfer point for goods and services. Because it's home to so many corporations, its economy is bolstered by an array of accounting firms and firms and other business-services companies. What's more, the presence of Texas Instruments has made the city a hub for technology companies.

With so many large employers, the city draws a talented labor force. And eventually, those smart people venture out on their own. "There is a joke that TI stands for Training Institute," says Jeremy Vickers, the director of innovation at the Dallas Regional Chamber. Vickers, who once worked with startups at a seed-stage venture-capital firm, says that nearly half of the startups he's encountered have a Texas Instrument expatriate engineer.

If you're looking for inspiration to launch or grow a business, consider this group of upstarts fostered in the Big D's unique business cluster and born in its sprawling startup community.

A consumer using the Traxo application to track and organize their travel.


Founded: 2008

What it does: Traxo automatically compiles into one dashboard all your travel information -- including itineraries, travel miles, reward points and flight status -- from nearly 200 travel-related businesses and organizations. Frequent travelers can organize their travel life and also save about 10 percent on reservations, according to the company.

Entrepreneurs: Co-founded by Andres Fabris, former vice president of business development at, and Andy Chen, formerly with both Travelocity and Sabre Travel Network, whose parent had been spun off American Airlines.

Funding: $1.25 million from angel investors, including several travel-industry executives

Annual revenue: Not disclosed.

Annual profit: Not disclosed.

Employees: 6 full time, 6 part time

What's next: Soon Traxo will release an app for iPhones and iPads.

For every consumer who buys a meal with the TangoTab app, the company donates a meal to a person in need.


Founded: 2011

What it does: Restaurants bring in customers by enticing them with discounts on meals offered on the TangoTab website. Every time a consumer uses TangoTab's service, the startup donates a meal to local food banks, the company says.

Entrepreneurs: Andre Angel, founder and CEO, was a vice president of global sales at Nortel.

Funding: $2 million, including savings of the TangoTab executives and funds from the North Texas Angel Network

Annual revenue: Not disclosed.

Annual profit: Not disclosed.

Employees: 12 full time and 2 part time at HQ and 19 salespeople nationally

What's next: Expand across the U.S. in 2013.

GENBAND headquarters in Frisco, Texas, just outside of Dallas.


Founded: 1999

What it does: GENBAND, based in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas, develops technology that enables service providers, such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, to deliver voice and video over the internet. GENBAND does not sell its service directly to consumers. Rather, its customers are large telecommunications companies. More recently, GENBAND in some cases provides its service directly to some smaller businesses as well.

Entrepreneur: The company has been led by Charlie Vogt, president and CEO, for the past nine years. Vogt has been in the telecommunications business for more than two decades including working for IBM, Motorola and Ascent Communications. GENBAND's initial startup co-founders were Paul Carew, Ron Lutz, Steve Raich and Brendon Mills.

Funding: The company received more than $500 million in funding. One Equity Partners, the private-equity arm of J.P. Morgan Chase, provided $400 million of that sum. The rest has come from venture-capital firms like Sevin Rosen Funds, Oak Investment Partners and

Annual revenue: $711 million in 2011

Annual profit: Not disclosed.

Employees: 1,700 employees

What's next: GENBAND is focused on developing the technology so that every phone call you make from either a landline or a mobile line can be a video call if you want it to be.

A look at the BookShout! web site.


Founded: 2010

What it does: The technology company BookShout! is expanding the horizons of e-books for publishers, authors, brands and readers. The BookShout! social and group reading technology allows readers to buy, interact with and share as they read. The company is based in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas.

Entrepreneurs: Co-founder Jason Illian is a serial entrepreneur and the former CEO of Big Jump Media, which includes the Christian content site Co-founder Rick Chatham previously founded app-maker Tasteful Works and web-based church-management software publisher Fellowship Technologies.

Funding: $750,000 in angel investment and $2 million in venture capital.

Annual revenue: Not disclosed.

Annual profit: Not disclosed.

Employees: 12 full time

What's next: Going forward, Bookshout! will be expanding its business with branded content and increased collaboration to grow the number of readers, authors and publishers in its network.

MODX employees at an August 2012 meeting in Dallas.


Founded: 2004

What it does: MODX develops content-management platforms that allow its users to create websites.

Entrepreneurs: Ryan Thrash, who started one advertising and magazine prepress company, Jason Coward, who worked at several technology and web-software companies; and Raymond Irving, a software developer.

Funding: About $3 million, bootstrapped and angel investment.

Annual revenue: Not disclosed.

Annual profit: Not disclosed.

Employees: 12 full time in the U.S., Canada, England and the Netherlands, and a team of 11 project-based part-timers when need arises.

What's next: Grow by focusing on small and midsize business customers.

A consumer using the ShopSavvy application.


Founded: 2008

What it does: ShopSavvy is a smartphone application that allows consumers to scan a product barcode and search for the best possible deal on the item. Currently there are more than 40 million users, according to co-founder Alexander Muser.

Entrepreneurs: Serial entrepreneur Alexander Muse launched and sold technology-infrastructure company Layer One and social video and audio service Fancast and started cloud-computing consulting company Architel. Co-founder Rylan Barnes had the idea for the company, according to Muse, and previously worked at Hewlett-Packard, Software Architects and a virtual ticketing startup, Veritix.

Funding: Savings and $7 million in venture capital raised in 2010 from Brazilian internet entrepreneur and investor Eduardo Saverin, a co-founder of Facebook.

Annual revenue: Not disclosed.

Annual profit: Not disclosed.

Employees: 25 full time

What's next: Have users' shopping experience directed by online social-profile information. For example, the application might remind you of a friend's birthday, then recommend gifts based on what similar users like, according to Muse.

PayTap allows multiple consumers to pay for one item online.


Founded: 2009

What it does: PayTap allows consumers to split the cost of a shared online purchase. They can select who to share the payments with from their social network and track the payment process. Also, a consumer does not need to sign up for an account to use PayTap. Instead, it is a payment option at the time of checkout.

Entrepreneurs: Co-founder Sean-Michael Daley is also the founder of the digital consulting firm Rumble Group. And co-founder Chip Oxendine has previously worked for the online game company ZoodleZone and fuel-delivery inventory management system QT Technologies.

Funding: The Dallas-based accelerator TechWildcatters contributed $20,000 (in addition to mentoring and coaching). PayTap also received a $500,000 investment from the private equity group Precept Capital Management.

Annual revenue: The company is "prerevenue."

Employees: 3 full time, 2 part time

What's next: Currently, it costs $1 to use the premium service for PayTap. The startup is aiming to make this transaction free and aims to have that update available in February, says Daley.

This is a glimpse of NetSocket's software providing complete Internet network service visibility.


Founded: 2007

What it does: NetSocket is a cloud-based, real-time monitoring system for finding problems in Internet networks. With its ability to anticipate and identify the source of an Internet-network problem efficiently, NetSocket claims it will reduce businesses' problem-resolution time by 70 percent. It is based in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas.

Entrepreneurs: Ken Lewis was president and CEO of Richardson, Texas-based Chiaro Networks, a startup that developed and marketed high-volume Internet routers.

Funding: $25 million in venture capital from Sevin Rosen Funds, Silver Creek Ventures and Trailblazer Capital.

Annual revenue: Not disclosed.

Annual profit: Not disclosed.

Employees: Not disclosed.

What's next: NetSocket is working to grow its customer base in coming years, selling its software to more enterprises and network service providers.

The Kroupon app being used on a smartphone.

Koupon Media

Founded: 2011

What it does: Koupon Media's digital campaign management system helps retailers create, distribute, redeem and analyze online coupons. It's based in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas.

Entrepreneurs: Co-founder TJ Person, a serial entrepreneur, previously co-founded Mango Mobile, a mobile-marketing company acquired by Omnicom Group. Co-founder Scott Hutchinson, Mango's first developer, has been a lead web and mobile application developer for brands including Pepsi, Levi's, Slurpee,, MTV, VH-1 and "Gossip Girl."

Funding: $6.5 million from venture-capital firms DFJ Mercury and Trailblazer Capital and private-equity firm Matthew Pritzker Co.

Annual revenue: Not disclosed.

Annual profit: Not disclosed.

Employees: 20 full time

What's next: Acquire more customers and hire more employees to grow the business.

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

Apple Reportedly Isn't Paying OpenAI to Use ChatGPT in iPhones

The next big iPhone update brings ChatGPT directly to Apple devices.

Business News

Sony Pictures Entertainment Purchases Struggling, Cult-Favorite Movie Theater Chain

Alamo Drafthouse originally emerged from bankruptcy in June 2021.


Are Your Business's Local Listings Accurate and Up-to-Date? Here Are the Consequences You Could Face If Not.

Why accurate local listings are crucial for business success — and how to avoid the pitfalls of outdated information.

Growing a Business

He Immigrated to the U.S. and Got a Job at McDonald's — Then His Aversion to Being 'Too Comfortable' Led to a Fast-Growing Company That's Hard to Miss

Voyo Popovic launched his moving and storage company in 2018 — and he's been innovating in the industry ever since.

Money & Finance

Day Traders Often Ignore This One Topic At Their Peril

Boring things — like taxes — can sometimes be highly profitable.


Want to Be More Productive Than Ever? Treat Your Personal Life Like a Work Project.

It pays to emphasize efficiency and efficacy when managing personal time.