Denton is Getting a New Startup Incubator Exclusively for Female Entrepreneurs

The AccelerateHER incubator program reflects Denton's culture with a focus on creative, education, and lifestyle early-stage startups.

The Center for Women Entrepreneurs (CWE) at Texas Woman’s University and coworking company Stoke have launched AccelerateHER, a new incubator program for women-owned startups.

The program—the first of its kind in Denton—will take a “hands-on approach” by its program manager, mentors, and partner networks to help early-stage companies develop and test ideas and grow their businesses, according to organizers.

This fall, up to five women-owned businesses will be selected to receive intensive business development training, access to funders, and mentorship, as well as networking opportunities, according to a news release. They also will receive workspace at Denton coworking center Stoke, which serves entrepreneurs. remote workers, freelancers, small businesses, and tech-enabled companies

The AccelerateHER incubator program will focus on creative, education, and lifestyle startups, according to Stoke Executive Director Heather Gregory.

“Denton has a strong creative culture, successful lifestyle brands, and burgeoning education technology cluster, she said in a statement. Gregory thinks companies with “strong business models that focus on one or more of these areas will have clear pathways to success through strong support systems and a growing network of mentors and peers to call on.”

Coworking at Stoke [Image: Stoke]

The partnership with Stoke “underscores the charge” of TWU’s CWE, which is to facilitate the economic development growth of women in Texas, Shannon Mantaro, Senior Director of Operations, and Entrepreneurial Leadership for the JNIWL said.

“During these times of uncertainty, we are especially pleased to be able to help the recipients of this program accelerate the success and sustainability of their businesses,” she said.

The CWE, together with the university’s Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership (JNIWL), helps “women advance leadership skills and entrepreneurial experience through business advisement, grant funding, and education,” Mantaro said.

For Stoke’s Gregory, having a positive impact on the culture and economy of Denton is a key driver. The program with TWU can provide women entrepreneurs with tangible tools and connections to partners, customers, and funders, she said.

“To us, success would look like the companies in the pilot program accomplishing major startup goals, whether that be securing funding, landing their first customer, developing an MVP, launching their website, or initiating a marketing campaign,” Gregory said.

Businesses picked to participate in the program will take part in education and mentorship and set goals to hit milestones growth. The CWE and Stoke will help prepare early-stage founders to generate revenue or secure funding, according to the organizers.

With weekly workshops on subjects ranging from business planning, funding options, building a brand, and pitching investors, entrepreneurs have access to tools that lay the groundwork for success. Startups will have regular check-ins with a program administrator, members of the cohort, and their mentors, too.

Like most accelerators, the program will culminate in a live pitch event. The startups will have a chance to pitch their ideas and plans for growth to an audience that includes community stakeholders, bankers, and investors.

How to apply for AccelerateHER

To be eligible, businesses must prove a minimum of 51% of the business is owned by a woman.

For detailed information and applications, go here.  Applications will close on Sept. 14  at 5 p.m. The program, which starts on Oct. 1, will run through February 2021.

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