12th Largest City and No Accelerators?

In our last post, we discussed the difference between accelerators and incubators and which program is best suited to your needs. Now that we’re informed on the differences, let’s take a look at our local Fort Worth entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Both accelerators and incubators are great resources for entrepreneurs and you might consider joining one here in Fort Worth. But here’s the problem… we only have one incubator (Tech Fort Worth) and no accelerators. In fact, Fort Worth is the largest city in the United States without an accelerator.

Tom Chapman, an experienced and successful entrepreneur, founder, and advisor, has a rule of thumb when it comes to how many accelerators and incubators a city needs: 125,000 people per entity. In other words, Cowtown should have at least 7 or 8.

While having an accelerator in your city doesn’t magically create a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, it is a good start. Accelerators are an indicator that a community values entrepreneurship. Simply put, Fort Worth needs accelerators and incubators that help startups get off the ground and blossom into thriving companies. Having one incubator and no accelerators is like building a house with one hammer and no nails – it’s possible to build the house, but you’re going to have to figure out alternative ways to build it that are going to take much longer. Having both incubators and accelerators is an important part of every high functioning entrepreneurial ecosystem.

What does Fort Worth need to do?

So what can we do about this lack of programs for our entrepreneurial ecosystem? One strategy that has worked elsewhere is to focus on an industry that your area already excels in, or has the framework to excel, and then start an accelerator in that industry. For Fort Worth, that area might just be physical therapy. There are a few advanced clinics innovating advanced therapies like NeurokinetixNeurological Recovery Center, and NeuroRehab VR.  UNTHSC has a physical therapy school and research labs to support innovation in movement and physical medicine. The building blocks are already in place. The money is here (albeit invested in other areas). The spirit of entrepreneurship is strong. So what are we waiting for?

Other areas where Fort Worth and Tarrant County have an established niche of talent and resources could be aerospace, due to the presence of Lockheed Martin, Bell and American Airlines. And don’t forget about oil and gas. Remember that hydraulic fracturing was invented here, one of the most transformative innovations of the last few decades in that industry. Most of these companies do their innovation elsewhere and run similar programs in other cities. Lockheed’s space accelerator with TechStars in Los Angeles is one example of this.

What other industry areas do you see as a possibility for Fort Worth? Where can our local innovators and entrepreneurs shake up an industry and bring disruption to propel our city forward? Let us know in the comments below.

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