Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Dallas’ rising startups from last quarter here.
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The Dallas–Fort Worth tech scene has significantly grown over the years. The metroplex has attracted the headquarters of U.S. and global companies and others are opening new offices in the area hoping to tap into our local talent.
While these bigger companies often steal the spotlight, there are several local startups innovating the DFW tech scene. From e-commerce and edtech platforms to HR software, Built In compiled a list of five up-and-coming startups that might just be working on the next big thing in tech.
BUILT IN’S FUTURE 5 UP-AND-COMING DALLAS–FORT WORTH STARTUPS, Q2 2022
- Afloat (E-Commerce)
- Fêtefully (Events)
- On Touch Go (Marketing Tech)
- Preciate (HR Tech/Software)
- Rhithm (Edtech)
Afloat is an e-commerce app that helps people find and send meaningful gifts. Users are connected to local businesses to find the best, curated gifts, and afloat offers same-day shipping alongside a handwritten card for the recipient, making the process of gift-buying easy.
“Our big value is connecting people who want to gift thoughtfully with local stores who have creativity, curation and experience with their communities in spades. They just don’t always have the access to digital or delivery,” afloat CEO and founder Sarah-Allen Preston said.
Following a soft launch in December, afloat currently operates in Dallas and Kansas City. Future plans for the startup include launching into new markets and adding additional tech capabilities to its platform, such as digital thank you cards or video messages.
Between finding a venue, working with an array of vendors and sticking to a budget, wedding planning can be stressful. GiGi McDowell experienced this challenge first-hand when she ran her own wedding and event planning business. After coming across a stressed-out bride who wanted her dream wedding but couldn’t afford it, McDowell set out to find a solution.
She launched Fêtefully in 2018. The Dallas-based startup is two-fold. It helps cost-conscious couples plan their wedding and also provides extra income for wedding planners. The online platform pairs couples with wedding planners to virtually set a budget, pick a venue, find vendors within said budget and manage a guest list.
“We have the expertise that meets couples where they are at any stage in their planning,” McDowell said. “From celebrity event planners to event experts, we have a community of industry experts to meet every event need.”
Fêtefully, which raised a $1.3 million seed round in June, plans to finish developing its software, hire additional planners and expand into new markets.
Dallas-based On Touch Go is an advertising platform that helps local businesses reach consumers while they ride in the backseat of an Uber or Lyft. On Touch Go gives rideshare drivers a tablet to put in their car and local businesses pay to showcase their offerings or products on the tablet.
Since launching in 2019, the startup has worked with 200 advertisers in Dallas, including Klyde Warren Park and Hyatt Regency.
“There are estimated to be between 3 to 4 million gig economy drivers in the rideshare space. Roughly one-third of the consumer base of the U.S. engages in rideshare,” said Bo Sijuade, On Touch Go CEO and founder. “A large percentage of the U.S. base is going to be exposed, potentially, to On Touch Go on a monthly, maybe even daily basis depending on how much [they’re] using rideshare. So the ability to influence commerce and influence consumer behavior is something we’re very interested in and excited for.”
On Touch Go plans to launch its platform in 24 markets later this year, including cities like Chicago, Miami, Pheonix, Seattle and Los Angeles.
With the goal of building more authentic connections between employees, Preciate offers an intuitive way for businesses and employees to host virtual meetings and events.
Preciate’s solution aims to replicate in-person gatherings by allowing users to move between digital, customizable “rooms,” each with its own furniture, backgrounds and even music.
“Companies like Johnson & Johnson have held large recruiting events as a meet and greet using Preciate, and they say it’s just like being in-person,” Preciate founder and CEO Ed Stevens said. “Overall, the feedback we get from our customers is that Preciate helps them build better connections, which also helps them accelerate business.”
Preciate has worked with over 3,300 businesses since its founding founded in 2017.
Fort Worth-based Rhithm aims to help schools evaluate and manage mental health in the classroom. Founded in 2019 by childhood friends Josh Knutson and Jake Gannon, the startup asks students and teachers wellness-related questions that can be answered with a written message or emojis. These results are evaluated and used to help classrooms, schools and districts gain an inside look at how they rank compared to others.
“We launched with one campus and then by the end of the semester, we were serving six or seven campuses in that district,” Gannon said. “And I hadn’t even reached out to those other campuses — it had just grown organically from teachers and counselors and admins sharing it.”
Rhithm now serves 27 states and was recently acquired by California-based Securly.