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Dell for Startups

Dell is a name synonymous with Austin and Texas Innovation.  While our startup scenes are booming, now, the history and experience in this part of the world with technology, in entrepreneurship, is astounding –  Texas Instruments invented the calculator here back in the ’60s, the integrated circuit (which led to microchips), and did you know, 3D printed is a Texas invention?  Thanks to a UT Grad Student who invented laser sintering in the 80s.

It was about 20 *years* ago that Dell did far more than usher in the personal computer and ecommerce, Dell was an early adopter of online media, and technologies we refer to in “digital transformation” (a company evolving from being more traditional to being largely internet based in their operations).  I was at Yahoo! when it was Dell that drew attention to Austin and Texas’ potential, as Dell was then ahead of the times, investing in Comparison Shopping data and interactive ad formats. 

Developing the startup ecosystem here, as I have been and as MediaTech Ventures does, Dell held a special place in my heart and my vision for the future of innovation.

Dell is Entrepreneurs

Originally called PC’s Limited, the company was founded in 1984 then University of Texas at Austin student Michael Dell. Dell started out upgrading Personal Computers to provide customized computers; this, all done from his dorm room. The startup validated, Dell dropped out of college and in 1985 released the Turbo PC, the first computer featuring Dell’s own design.

The problem addressed (considering it still startup), was that consumers had distinct desires from early personal computers whether that was for gaming, work, or other personal interests such as word processing, found it’s niche in creating and selling those custom designs directly to consumers; while the company initially sold through advertisements and mail-order catalogs, and most of us attribute ebay and Amazon to the early says of eCommerce, Dell was right there with them, ushering both the PC and online shopping. Dell provided high-quality computers, always reasonably priced, by looking ahead from the traditional retail, in-store shopping experience. And “the moat” (as we refer to a competitive advantage with entrepreneurs today)? The moat was more than customization and innovative commerce, before Zappo’s famous impact in customer service, Dell led the way – investing in customer support, sending computer professionals to help with problems, and hosting a policy of risk-free returns.

From startup to company, Dell Computer Corporation (then named), went public in 1988.

The 316LT, Dell first laptop, found its way to the market in 1989 and the subsequent years were noted by advancements in Dell’s mobile technology. In 1991 Dell’s first color notebook computer went on sale, and in 1994 Dell was the first company to offer longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries. It was ’96 when that shift from catalog to online took place as the company launched dell.com used the site for customer support. Online sales helped Dell overtake Compaq in 1999 as the largest seller of PCs in the U.S. and it was then that I found my way from my own dorm room to Yahoo!

In the early 21st century Dell into televisions, digital cameras, and a wide variety of computer-related products in the era of technology when brands expanded well beyond their core. Dell finally became “Dell,” in name, in 2003 as the company purposefully expanded into the broader consumer electronics market, with a name more distinct as a consumer brand. A decade later, the company returned to private ownership in 2013, when Michael Dell and the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners purchased the outstanding publicly owned shares for $25 billion, and in 2016 the company EMC, signaling a shift beyond consumer into more enterprise technology and data (both VMware and Pivotal, now part of Dell as well, were part of EMC though operating independently). The merger, valued at approximately $60 billion, was the largest technology deal at the time.

Dell’s Work for Entrepreneurs

In 2015, Dell released the Precision m3800 with a print ad incorporating AR

Print ad via designer Nancy Hanover

Snapping the innovative print ad with the Actable AR app, consumers were shown the capabilities of the then thinnest laptop yet; and embracing the omnimedia we’ve come to expect, users found a preview for Game of Thrones and other shows from Pixomondo Studios.

Dell in Media

Credit: Drew Geraci @Drewgiggity

Dell’s work in Media & Entertainment remains leading edge, and one of the foremost reasons we uncovered MediaTech Ventures by way of Austin, TX

Their entrepreneurial spirit, innovations pushed forward, and impact on the Austin and Texas region of technology and innovation, holds keys to the future and for other entrepreneurs.  Before developing MediaTech Ventures, we had our eye on Dell’s advertising work, their pivots and acquisitions, and an occasional conversation with what was Dell Ventures (now Dell Technologies Capital), certain that our collective future depended on great companies and Corporate Venture involvement.

Dell is investing in startups today.  Were excited to announce that they’re the latest partner, among incredible supporters, in MediaTech Ventures and our work with startups.  And our community and work is for you, so with that, Dell’s IT consultation, Financial Services, and advisors are here for us, as well as sweet deals on the tech you need for your venture.  Get connected with Dell here: https://dell.com/mediatechventures

Get to know Dell better

In media, we have mentors and advisors from Dell working with us, if you’d like to work together, join us here at MediaTech Ventures

Paul O'Brien

Silicon Valley technology and startup veteran, Paul O'Brien is affectionately known as SEO'Brien for an extensive past in the search industry. Today as CEO and Founder of MediaTech Ventures, O'Brien works in Venture Capital Economic Development, serving the investment and venture capital economies directly, through thought leadership, consulting, and startup development. More, a regional Director of the Founder Institute incubator and mentor in DivInc, Galvanize, and various startup Accelerators.

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