Growing the Fort Worth Startup Community: What’s Going On in Cowtown

Start small. THINK BIG.

In July, Hayden Blackburn, founder and director at IDEA Works FW, held a workshop introducing attendees to the Ft. Worth Startup community. The goal was to provide information on the resources and opportunities available in the Ft. Worth area — and there are many.

According to June reports from TRACER, private companies with less that 99 employees provide jobs for 35% of the Ft. Worth-Arlington area.

Those are companies that need support and resources for continued growth.

It’s worthwhile to start with IDEA Works FW, which houses an incubator program providing “emerging businesses with nurturing relationships, state-of-the-art tools, an attractive and secure work environment, best practices and access to global resources to sustain and scale their enterprises.”

IDEA Works FW is at 600 E. Rosedale, the former James E. Guinn Elementary School. It’s part of a three-building complex that includes the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center (BAC) and Tech Fort Worth.

“The City of Fort Worth understands that we simply must help emerging businesses by providing tools to expand and grow jobs,” said Mayor Betsy Price, in an interview earlier this year. “IDEA Works FW is proof of our commitment and a complement to what the Business Assistance Center and Tech Fort Worth are accomplishing at the Guinn Complex.”

There are a number of other support organizations and spaces that provide resources for the Ft. Worth community.

Backlot, a collaborative working community for creatives, has studio space and coworking opportunities available for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses.

Tech Fort Worth, which is set up on the same campus as IDEA Works and the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, houses a technology incubation program and an accelerator program, depending on which stage your tech startup is at.

TECH Fort Worth has had numerous successes in its 16 years of operation. One of TECH Fort Worth’s graduates, ZS Pharma, raised over $70 million in venture capital financing and closed their initial public offering in June.

“We helped them when their product was just an idea and we are so proud of how far they have come,” said Darlene Boudreaux, executive director of Tech Fort Worth in a recent interview.

There are a number of competitions, hackathons, and meetups in the area, for those looking to build out a business plan or collaborate on a project. The Fort Worth Business Plan Competition, for instance, is already underway, and finalists will be announced in October. The competition awards winners with business consulting, free ad space in local press, and cash.

And this November, Texas Christian University will be hosting Startup Weekend Fort Worth. The event begins Friday, November 21 — further details can be found here!

One particular area where there is still opportunity for growth is the investor community in Fort Worth. Cowtown Angels of Fort Worth helps to create those opportunities by connecting entrepreneurs looking for early-stage funding with local investors.

Cowtown Angels is a program of TECH Fort Worth, and is also a member of the Angel Capital Association and the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks. “Cowtown Angels is not a fund and does not invest as a group. Members collaborate throughout the investment process, but make individual investment decisions,” reports the website.

This is just an overview of what’s going on in Fort Worth — new programs, workshops, and experiences are being created in our metroplex constantly, and it’s only going to gain more traction. We’re looking forward to seeing even more growth and opportunity!


(Editor’s note: Thanks so much to Hayden Blackburn, for your insight and information.)

Rachel Winstead

Rachel is a freelance writer and works at Soap Hope in downtown Dallas. She hates the term "disrupt," tweets about startups, and appreciates a well-crafted hashtag.