06 Nov WeWork Spotlight: The FORT
As our community continues to grow, Launch DFW is on an ongoing mission to introduce you to some of the region’s incredible startups and business innovators. We’ve partnered with Fort Worth-based WeWork ClearFork to spotlight a few of the DFW-based entrepreneurs that call this modern coworking space home.
Kevin Grace, Chairman
Mike Field, Board Member
Dustin Dvorak, Board Member
James Fair, Board Member
The Rising Tide Initiative is a leader and supporter of new ideas, ventures, and creations that ultimately better the lives of those around us. The FORT is a program of this initiative and the name of the physical location.
We collaborate with individuals and organizations to change the world by increasing social and economic prosperity within our local communities. We engage all aspects of the community to build a bridge across the “valley of death” by providing resources, opportunities, and connections enabling the entrepreneur and startup to become successful and scalable.
We’re improving awareness and collaboration by touring important assets in the local ecosystem. Our goal is to make it a little easier to get started and stay started as an entrepreneur. It started as a simple conversation, and now has entrepreneurs, investors, universities, government, corporations and community leaders all working together to improve our community.
The FORT is not a traditional incubator, accelerator, or any other “-ator.”
What was the inspiration to start The FORT?
The inspiration came from our personal experiences as entrepreneurs in the community. We created it explicitly based on the needs we have experienced throughout the last fifteen years.
What services do you provide?
We help companies start and sustain by offering inspiration, coaching, mentoring, office space, proven scaling techniques, and a friendly team.
Challenges lurk for an entrepreneur working to build a future in the current chaotic business environment. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, it’s the same for a start-up.
New businesses demand a community that supports their development. This means that the community itself must understand and act on more of the challenges facing a start-up. In our FORT locations, we are adamant about creating a community-oriented environment. This means giving routinely to the people around you that are conquering the valley with you.
Our cohorts reside in facilities that tightly align with our values. In our experience, WeWork exudes the community values needed for growth. We also think that diversity in perspective is extremely valuable for success.
Succeeding requires courage, resolve, and character. We only admit entrepreneurs that through their life and/or career experience have proven they have an ability to persevere.
The market isn’t concerned about whether entrepreneurs succeed, rather they are concerned that their order is fulfilled.
Commitment is necessary and expected – only apply if you are willing to do what it takes day-in and day-out when the rest of the world is ready to take a break.
Accountability demands humility for personal growth. No matter where you are in life, always strive to have a Paul (teacher), a Timothy (student), and a Barnabas (friend).
Your competitors are better positioned than you. They have a lead in areas that you aren’t even aware of yet. That’s why we are constantly adding to the FORT toolbox so that you have the best available resources. We partner with various companies to provide a full spectrum solution for the valley of death. We couldn’t do it without our community and corporate partners.
Master the fundamentals before raising capital. If you are funded on an ineffective model, that will be a loss for all parties. Crossing the valley is about locking in a proper, economically viable business model. In the early days of a business, when you are exposed to the most risk, you give away the majority of your business for funding. You may be worried that it will be challenging to do what you plan without funding. Instead, focus on creating a business that funds itself. When the time is right, the capital will be there for you.
If we see that there is a fit after these criteria have been met, we will work with our investment partners to see if there is an opportunity.
What innovation does The FORT offer businesses?
One primary innovation is that the offering is for free. All value is passed directly to the entrepreneur with the goal of increasing the odds of success. We don’t take any ownership in the companies that are accepted into the cohort. Beyond that, we use insights driven by good data.
The FORT is an evolution of an accelerator offering – being more involved and engaged in some areas of the business.
Any interesting partnerships or collaborations?
We have over 40 different organizations that actively work with us to add value to the entrepreneurs in the community. These include:
- Securing Life Today – a veteran-owned finance software company designed to help secure your financial future
- Neuro Rehab VR – virtual and augmented reality training exercises for physical therapy leveraging breakthroughs in neuroplasticity
- Rollin’ n Bowlin’ Fresh Foods – a fresh food company started their senior year at Texas Christian University
- Welman Project – a non-profit dedicated to serving teachers by filling classrooms, not landfills.
- Chappell Capital – a digital marketing agency that is trusted by brands, businesses, agencies, and individuals to help drive meaningful engagement.
- Sledge Outfitters – a professional guide service sharing a deep respect for the great outdoors and expertise in fishing and hunting
- Cause Labs – since 2003, Cause Labs has been building award-winning websites, apps, and web platforms to help organizations scale their impact
- Flourish – an app that helps you give to causes every time you swipe your debit or credit card and tracks the impact of your donations
- Crater -the future of local TV – led by creators, made for mobile, and powered by AI
- CMAS Foundation – a catalyst for student-athletes from underserved communities to gain access to higher education through collegiate athletics
- MPG Research – a research firm that is helping people understand peer-to-peer payment networks and the potential for secure, decentralized networks
- Plutus 21 – an investment firm focused on alternative assets such as crypto, venture capital, and real estate
- Homebody – an app that sends highly trusted adults to wait on your behalf when you need someone at home, but can’t be
- Solgro – light converting greenhouse films help commercial crop growers who want to increase productivity
- Fade – an app that helps you book barbers personalized to your unique hair needs
What can we expect from The FORT?
As one of our values states, we value, “Passionate, relentless drive to decisive action.” You can expect a social-value, results-oriented team that is providing as much value as possible in six months. We’re serious about accountability for the business and ourselves. That’s why we track all company progress.
Your thoughts on the DFW business community?
Dallas/Fort Worth is an excellent place to operate. We are happy to be based in one of the best economies in the nation. It’s a simple notion; small businesses can grow to be large with the right fundamentals. Let’s grow businesses that do good in the community first, then make money.
Anything else Launch DFW readers should know about The FORT?
The FORT is not a traditional incubator, accelerator, or any other “-ator.” It’s not a caricature of a movie that you have seen or a book you have read. It’s not Shark Tank, Silicon Valley or Hunger Games (even though we like them as entertainment). It’s a group of real, genuine people helping make dreams come true through entrepreneurship.
Not all entrepreneurs have multi-billion dollar exits. And, frankly, that’s not the priority. Because, for the most part, entrepreneurs run small businesses. And, small businesses account for 60-80% of all jobs in the United States. Entrepreneurship is a force of good for our community, and we are here to help level the playing field.
The FORT is a place where resources are available to cross the “Valley of Death.” In a new business, the “Valley of Death” is the area between business launch and profitability. It can be challenging for a new business to sustain the amount of time it takes to reach profitability. There’s a lot of ground to cover during this time. It is for this reason that the valley needs a particularly strong focus