Denton is Getting a New Startup Incubator Exclusively for Female Entrepreneurs » Dallas Innovates

Texas Woman’s University’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs (CWE) 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” from its program managers, mentors and partner networks to helping early-stage companies develop and test ideas and grow their businesses, according to the organizers.

This fall, up to five women-owned companies will be selected for in-depth training on business development, access to funders and mentoring, and networking opportunities, according to a press release. They also get a job at the Denton Coworking Center in Stoke, which serves entrepreneurs. Remote workers, freelancers, small businesses, and tech businesses

The AccelerateHER incubator program will focus on startups in the fields of creativity, education and lifestyle, according to Heather Gregory, Executive Director of Stoke.

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

Coworking at Stoke [Image: Stoke]

The partnership with Stoke “underscores the responsibility” of TWU’s CWE in promoting economic growth for women in Texas, said Shannon Mantaro, senior director of operations and entrepreneurial leadership for the JNIWL.

“In times of uncertainty, we are particularly excited to help beneficiaries of this program accelerate the success and sustainability of their business,” she said.

The CWE, together with the university’s Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership (JNIWL), is helping “women develop leadership skills and entrepreneurial experience through business consulting, grant finance and education,” said Mantaro.

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

“To us, success looks like the pilot companies are achieving key launch goals, be it securing funding, landing their first customer, developing an MVP, launching their website, or initiating a marketing campaign,” said Gregory .

Companies selected to participate in the program will participate in education and mentoring, and set goals to achieve milestone growth. CWE and Stoke will help prepare early-stage founders to generate income or secure funding, according to the organizers.

With weekly workshops on topics such as business planning, financing options, branding and investor pitching, entrepreneurs have access to tools that lay the foundation for success. Startups will regularly check in with a program administrator, members of the cohort, and their mentors.

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

How to apply to AccelerateHER

To be eligible, companies must demonstrate that at least 51% of the company is owned by a woman.

You can find detailed information and applications here. The application deadline is September 14th at 5 p.m. The program, which begins October 1st, runs through February 2021.

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