After announcing it was making its first foray into Denton with the help of Texas Woman’s University, TechFW is moving forward with the partnership by selecting a group of women entrepreneurs for its startup accelerator and business incubator programs.
The eight woman-owned startups chosen to participate in one of two TechFW programs comprise the first class of the Texas Woman’s University – Center for Women Entrepreneurs Education Award recipients.
This fall, the female founders will begin their designated TechFW program: ThinkLab, a non-seed startup accelerator that assists with identifying a product’s value, potential markets, a launch strategy, and how to communicate the idea to early stakeholders and adopters; and SmartStart, a business incubator that guides the development of a formalized business framework, like engaging early adopters, prototyping, and test marketing.
It was announced in December that Dallas was getting its first-ever ThinkLab program from LaunchBio, which aims to advance the commercialization of biotech, medtech, and digital health technologies.
The first cohort of Dallas-based startups—all “first-time scientist entrepreneurs”—took part in a 12-week virtual intensive training program led by Hayden Blackburn, the executive director of TechFW. ThinkLab, which has educated more than 100 startups since founding, offered the local cohort free business training with the hope that they would one day locate their companies to Pegasus Park.
Overall, the programming aims to prepare women for entrepreneurial success, says Tracy Irby, director at the Center for Women Entrepreneurs. The Center has designated $1,000 and $2,000 awards to boost each woman’s involvement in ThinkLab or SmartStart.
The winners were chosen based on specific criteria put in place by TechFW and TWU. They must be a Texas-based female entrepreneur who is a major shareholder and decision-maker leading a for-profit company. They must also own, have licensed, or be working on proprietary technology, a trade secret, or an innovative way of doing business, according to the organizations.
“Organically, we have created an organization and programs in which female entrepreneurs have thrived,” Blackburn said. “More than 40 percent of our clients are women-led and this partnership with Texas Woman’s University expands the opportunities for women that are ‘building the future.'”
TechFW, a Fort Worth nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs launch first-of-its-kind technology, originally teamed up with TWU in March to offer female business owners access to opportunities that could bring their ideas to the masses. The Center for Women Entrepreneurs, funded in 2015 by the Texas Legislature, is part of TWU’s Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership.
In addition to ThinkLab and SmartStart, the three-pronged partnership involved a Women & Wealth seminar on May 20 and a collaboration with SmartStart, a TechFW incubator dedicated to facilitating an entrepreneur’s path to market.
In partnership with TWU’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs, Cowtown Angels, and Texas Women’s Foundation, TechFW gathered female entrepreneurs and investors at the inaugural Women & Wealth event, which had an overall focus on education, connection, and inspiration.
Attendees shared the key moments, hurdles, and decisions they have had in their careers, with Arlan Hamilton, the founder and managing partner of venture capital firm Backstage Capital, serving as the keynote speaker. You can read about her path to success candidly shared during the event here.
“With new intentions and new alliances,” Blackburn says, “we believe TechFW can be a force for good in reducing barriers and helping level the playing field for female founders of high-growth tech startups.”
Meet the female entrepreneurs
The six award winners who will be part of ThinkLab are:
• Dr. Meena McCullough of Body Spring, which offers PTs products that work to organize and align fascia;
• Dr. Jennifer Galanis of Art to the Power of Gamma, a provider of reactive and interactive art and community art spaces that merge art and science;
• Wendi Alexander of LoneStar Corre Care, a registered nurse-owned correctional health software company;
• Bridget Pervalle, a filmmaker who is using technology to create a multi-use toothbrush made of bamboo wood and charcoal bristles;
• Che’ Jackson of HYPE Math, a provider of educational gaming, virtual learning, and technology tools that help improve the math skills of elementary and middle school students; and
• Ibby (Elizabeth) Roscoe of Allbodies Collective, a weight-neutral healthcare advocacy collective.
• Jennifer Deans of TD products, a provider of easy-to-use, no-tools-needed products that allow homeowners or renters to complete DIY wall repairs; and
• Whitney Robinson of Head to Vegas, a creator of technology that allows Vegas visitors to pay in advance for all aspects of a trip and use an RFID tag while there to be essentially cashless.
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