Dennis Murphree is the Managing Partner of Murphree Venture Partners (venture capital funds); The Southern Funds Group (venture capital and private equity partnerships); and Murphree and Company (commercial real estate development). He got his BA in Economics from Southern Methodist University and his MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been an entrepreneur his entire career. Upon graduation from Wharton, he entered the real estate industry as a commercial broker in May 1971 and started his own firm, The Murphree Company, in December 1972. By 1985, that firm was the 11th largest commercial developer in the U.S. and did $600 million in new construction that year throughout 13 cities.
In 1975, Dennis began doing venture capital deals as well, starting with 8 commercial bank start-ups between 1975 and 1980. He was chairman of the board of three of the banks: The Commonwealth Bank (Houston); Vail National Bank (Colorado); and Avon National Bank (Colorado). In 1982, he did his first high tech start-up, Analytical Engines Inc. By 1986, he had done 23 VC deals including the restaurants Cafe Annie and Cafe Express where he was the largest shareholder. In late 1986, he sold his real estate operations and began VC work full time in January 1987. Over the years, his firm has financed 109 portfolio companies through 7 venture capital funds and over 25 separate partnerships.
In 2013, he re-entered the real estate field with Murphree and Company and is developing numerous commercial projects throughout the Houston region including the 15 story office tower, 1885 St. James Place, which is almost completed. Murphree and Company has two other commercial projects underway as well. He has also backed a MBE developer, Paul Alexander Company, which is doing real estate projects in Houston and Freeport, Bahamas. He continues to do venture capital through The Southern Funds Group with his business partner, John D. White.
Dennis is a 31 year professor and taught "Investment Management" to seniors at the University of St. Thomas for six years. For the last 25 years, he has been on the faculty of the Jones Graduate School at Rice University where he teaches two second year MBA courses: "Creative Entrepreneurship" and "Venture Capital". He also was the founder of The Rice Business Plan Competition in 2001, now the largest, most prestigious MBA competition in the world.
He has served on over 60 corporate boards in his career, both private and public; and has served on numerous civic, charitable and educational boards including Southern Methodist University; the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; The Alley Theatre; Houston Public Media (chairman); Houston Symphony; Texas Institute of Family Psychiatry (chairman); Cancare; and he is the current chairman of the board at Texas A&M University - Galveston.
Dennis coached youth baseball and soccer for 19 years. An active public speaker, Dennis speaks all over the U.S. every month on entrepreneurship and motivational topics to high school, college and MBA students as well as to business and civic groups. His favorite event is as the keynote speaker at Rotary Club of Houston's "Camp Enterprise" each April for high school juniors from around metropolitan Houston. He has done that for the last ten years. His 2014 TED Talk on "The Importance of Persistence" is available online.
Dennis says: "Each of us has a purpose in life. Mine has clearly been to teach, coach, finance, mentor and help young people. It's what I do every single day. I am a lucky manâ€¦I know what my purpose is." He and his wife, Penny, have two children and two grandsons.