The Innovative Women of Fort Worth

Proud Texan Beyonce said it best when she said “Who runs the world? Girls!” The entrepreneurs below are the movers and shakers of Fort Worth. They are active in their communities, in their businesses, and support other women to overcome challenges that women face in industry. For example, did you know that, according to Bloomberg, women founders raised just 2 percent of venture capital funds raised in 2021?   

Learn more about these dynamic innovators below! 

Meet the innovative minds that are repurposing surplus materials to “fill a classroom, not a landfill.” Vanessa Barker and Taylor Willis are life-long best friends that started a non-profit called The Welman Project. Through creativity, they find ways to take the waste output from corporations and adapt it for use in the classroom. The Welman Project were also past winners of the United Way’s KERNEL competition for programs fostering ideas to solve community issues. 

Meet the duo on Innovate Fort Worth 

What started with an overwhelmed insurance office resulted in a productivity tool that changes how we get work done. Yanira Borges created an innovative digital platform called Sidekick Check-ins that helps staff members handle simple tasks all by asking a few simple questions. This fun and refreshing software build positive workplace culture, encourages personal and professional development, and increases revenue for businesses. Yanira talks about the importance of checking in on your coworkers, and about her experience as an #indiehacker in the tech space. 

Yanira is also creating space for “women accelerating other women” through SheDares Collective. SheDares is a group of women looking to connect, collaborate, and support each other’s dreams and goals. She hosts multiple events and has a Facebook group focused on supporting women’s unique business challenges.  

Learn more about Sidekick Checkins on Innovate Fort Worth. 

Visit SheDare Collective to learn more about upcoming events!  

When Dr. Vanessa Bouche was challenged to provide meaningful employment for survivors of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in Delhi, India, she started an essential oils company to put women with few skills to work. Dr. Bouche discusses the challenges she faced in starting Savhera,  applying for B Corp certification and about how to “Live Well, Do Good” for her customers and employees.   

Hear her story on the Innovate Fort Worth podcast 

Linkedin meets for nonprofits? That is what Pam Cannell set out to do with BoardBuild, a platform designed to educate, match and strengthen board members for non-profits. Pam shares her vision for using innovative technology and education to strengthen non-profits in Fort Worth and around the country. 

Learn more about the importance of serving on boards on Innovate Fort Worth’s episode here 

In hard times, people turn to sweet treats for hope. And nobody knows that better than Melt, a local ice cream company that “delivers happiness.” Founder Kari Crowe believes that treats can change a day,­­ and a day can change the world. Melt has four locations across DFW and specializes in custom  ice cream flavors. 

Get a taste of Melt over at Innovate Fort Worth 

This local entrepreneur leveraged a career in fashion and big pharma into a startup that is tackling an unmet medical need with a big potential market – earwax impaction. Their first product, EarWax MD, is now in stores across the country and is relieving the symptoms of earwax buildup for kids, adults and pets. Elyse Dickerson, co-founder and CEO, has also built the company as a practitioner of Conscious Capitalism, setting out to do more for their customers, investors and the environment than just maximize profits. 

Check out Elyse’s story on Innovate Fort Worth podcast 

She was recognized as the Startup Evangelist of the Year in 2021, and that title is well-deserved. Darlisa Diltz is the hardworking entrepreneur and dedicated ecosystem builder that keeps moving Tarrant County forward. From leading 1 Million Cups NE Tarrant, to opening The Center NTX coworking space, and providing educational programs through North Texas Entrepreneurial Education and Training Center, she is a must-know resource in the entrepreneurial community. 

Learn more about Darlisa in her interview on Innovate Fort Worth podcast 

Jakayla Dixon watched her aunt struggle with picking out her clothes due to her visual impairment. So, she started her own company in high school to change the way the visually impaired put fashionable outfits together. Dixon, the founder of Feel the Color, is helping those with visual impairments “see” color through innovative tags to help people feel confident and fashionable. 

Check out the podcast interview with Innovate Fort Worth 

How do you translate a language that has never been written? Or help corporations make better decisions for the planet and their consumers? Could technology be used as a force for good to help improve people’s lives? Sheryle Gilihan is the CEO of CauseLabs, a social enterprise that works with leading changemakers to grow positive impact.  

Check out Sheryle’s story here to learn more!  

Cortney Gumbleton wears many hats. By day, she is the assistant director of TechFW, a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs and startups launch their emerging technologies through coaching, mentorship, and programming. By night, she is the host of The FoundHers Club, the podcast interviewing female founders throughout Texas.  

Check out her podcast wherever you stream your podcasts or check out TechFW to see what they do for entrepreneurs! 

“People need people more than stuff,” says Melissa Ice, founder of two local non-profits, The Net and The Worthy Co. She lives by these words as she serves the homeless and women and children who have been exploited. She empowers people by employing those who cannot find work to provide a stable income for themselves and their families. Relationships are the key to her work that makes a difference in our community. 

Check out Melissa’s story on Innovate Fort Worth 

Rikki Kelley, Founder and CEO of EGO Tequila, shares her story of how she went from wanting to own her own business as a child to launching her own brand of tequila. She shares her experiences in making high quality sipping tequila, launching during a global pandemic and the lessons she learned through starting her own business. 

Check out her story on Innovate Fort Worth! 

Anette Landeros & the primarily female staff at Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are championing entrepreneurs and business owners throughout Fort Worth. The FWHCC hosts multiple events, offers dynamic programming, and several services and resources to the community.  

Anette and her husband, Joseph, also own Casa Azul; a coffee house highlighting the beautiful culture and community in Fort Worth’s northside. They “serve authentic Latin American coffees” (and delicious pasteles!). 

Check out the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to get connected.  

Also, be sure to pick up a cup of coffee at Casa Azul at 300 W. Central Ave., Fort Worth, Texas.

Mia Moss is more than the owner of Black Coffee , she is a driving force for revitalization on the eastside of Fort Worth. She has taken her love of coffee, expertise and skills and poured them back into her community. From connecting with customers about different coffee beans to pivoting in the face of COVID-19, Mia is proving that coffee and culture go hand in hand and can be the key to bringing new life into a local neighborhood. 

Get caffeinated with Mia on the Innovate Fort Worth podcast 

Bringing Fort Worth’s first woman-owned coworking space to fruition was a labor of love for Tamara Payne. She’s turned her career as a newscaster and marketing expert into a creator of community for local startups in the Near Southside and beyond. Up next for Tamara is her work serving the people of Burleson on their City Council. 

Check out Tamara’s story on the Innovate Fort Worth podcast 

Only 25% of Americans with hearing loss use hearing aids.  But three TCU students are working to solve this problem through technology that is changing the way people with hearing loss can hear the world around them. Devan Peplow and Mavis Tang are co-founders of Sounde LLC, a phone application that utilizes the built-in microphone to amplify specific sounds and frequencies. Through cutting edge AI within the app, Sounde transforms how people with hearing loss manage their ear health. 

Check out the Sounde story here 

Veena Somareddy was a PhD student when she met businessman Bruce Conti. A tragedy  left Conti’s son with a brain injury that required advanced treatment. Together, they turned an old Fort Worth furniture store into a state-of-the-art rehab center and founded Neuro Rehab VR, which uses virtual reality to transform the lives of people with brain and spinal injuries. 

Check out Veena’s story over at Innovate Fort Worth 

Patricia Zilliox could have chosen any city as U.S. headquarters for her French biotech startup Eyevensys, which recently raised $30 million to develop eye disease treatments. She chose Fort Worth. That’s because Alcon and the North Texas Eye Research Institute at HSC have turned Cowtown into a world-renowned hotbed of eye research innovation. 

Learn more at Innovate Fort Worth! 

We are proud to celebrate these innovative women solving problems in our community. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more stories of local innovators in Fort Worth.  

Share this post