Fort Worth is full of innovation and innovators. The Innovate Fort Worth podcast was launched in 2019 to provide a platform for those local innovators to tell their stories and share their latest projects with our community. At the end of each episode the host, Cameron Cushman, asks each guest who their favorite innovator is in Fort Worth. We compiled a list of our guests’ favorite local innovators. Be sure to check out the favorite innovators in our previous posts here.
Favorite Fort Worth Innovator: Fort Worth Education Sector
“Where I see the most ambition around innovation and around making this happen is in the Education Sector. I’ve been really impressed that it’s not just one campus or one college, it’s all of them. They are all coming at it from different angles all based on what their focus or key disciplines are. But they are all looking in terms of, “How do we make this happen?” It’s just been very impressive to see this group of deans or college presidents that are very active and want to see this happen.”
Favorite Fort Worth Innovator: Kari Crowe, Melt Ice Creams
“I’m very biased because Melt helped me through my four years at TCU and beyond. I’m a huge fan and it’s also so cool to see how she built this company and brand and how much it means to Fort Worth. Now she’s partnering with Whole Foods and moving beyond just Fort Worth and that is very fascinating to see and I’m very excited for her and her new store.”
“Some innovators that I’m really excited for that I’ve been able to see in programs at TechFW or a Mastermind Group is Dr. Allison Silveus. I think they are going to be an incredible founder to watch. Elyse Dickerson, she is just so incredible. Both of those people have reached out to us and said, ‘Hey if you need any guidance, we’re here for anything you need.’ They are just two I think of.”
Episode 43: Dr. Michael Williams is the president of the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. Williams uses his knowledge and position to transform Fort Worth into a hub of entrepreneurial activity.
Note: Since the recording of this episode, Dr. Williams is now the Chancellor of UNT Systems.
Favorite Fort Worth Innovator: Ryan Huff, Qualified Apparel
“Ryan is a young guy, very innovative. He’s one of the most incredible optimists I’ve ever met. He happens to be a fitness trainer that I work with at Zyn22. He launched a company a few years ago called Qualified Apparel and the business has gotten very successful now. What I love about it is that he started it from scratch. He began coming up with shirts that had very positive messages on them and then he added additional faith-based shirts. He’s had such good success now that the latest on their website is that they take proceeds and feed families. Ryan is an amazing guy and to me he embodies what Fort Worth innovation could become.”
Favorite Fort Worth Innovator: Megan Henderson
“Megan Henderson is just bringing all kinds of new creativity to solve problems and to do something new. The biggest mural in Fort Worth is now in the Near Southside and it’s through partnerships and the Art South Program. If I had to put a name, I’d say Megan.”
Favorite Fort Worth Innovator: Miles Harrison, Galderma
“He was head of the US for Delderma before deciding that he really wanted to do something truly innovative. He’s taken a whole array of aesthetic products through the markets in the US and wants to try and solve some of the problems he sees with those products in a new company. We’ve been working with him to try and identify places in the aesthetic market where we can effectively build a company and form something interesting. He has been a big company his whole life and to see him be able to translate that into a true start up role has been a real testament to his character, leadership, and entrepreneurship spirit.”
Episode 46: Jimmy Sweeney is the owner of the Grand Berry Theater and co-host of the 817 Podcast and works towards revitalizing the Foundry District through an independent theater.
Note: Since the recording of this episode, The Grand Berry Theater has closed. Stay tuned for Jimmy Sweeney’s next adventure…will it be another theater?
Favorite Fort Worth Innovator: Tina Howard, Leaves Book & Tea Shop
“I just really appreciate people in Fort Worth that are striving to offer an experience that is unique to the city or even putting a spin on how we perceive their industry. She provides a space that for a long time didn’t have wifi, and she’s creating an incredible community around what they are doing and highlighting local authors in the city. You can order books online through them, offer writers workshops, bring writers in, and have done a lot of really cool events.”
Favorite Fort Worth Innovator: Brad Hunstable, Linear Labs
“Brad used to work at Hillwood in his early career. He’s a veteran and I’ve followed the growth of Linear Labs. The reason he’s my favorite is that I know him better than others and I love his energy. He’s a big thinker, he’s got infectious energy, and he’s very positive. His vision, which is similar to ours, is to be the center of electrification for Fort Worth. Anyone who has that sort of passion and drive, you gotta admire somebody like that.”
Favorite Fort Worth Innovator: Opal Lee
“I love that woman and I love her persistence. When you think about being an entrepreneur and having to wake up every day and hit it and hit it over and over, there’s nobody better than Opal Lee. She got up every day and walked 2.5 miles from Fort Worth to Washington DC to make sure that Juneteenth got on the calendar as a Federal Holiday.”
Episode 49: Brian Dixon is the creator of startups such as Gide, SimplyPsych, and Forward Together all working together to innovate the psychiatry industry with a vision that everyone should be able to access mental health care.
“I like him because he is so ridiculously humble. I don’t know how fame hasn’t ruined that spirit and he seems very even keeled. I also like the fact that he’s going into different arenas. He was in the direct services space, cutting hair, and then he’s gone into media and content creation and then real estate, and I love that spirit. I think I’m going to speak for him, but the key is don’t try to own everything. When we share ideas, we all benefit.”
“I had a chance to connect with him sometime last year and he is such an infectious guy. I love what he’s doing, inspiring young kids and youth. Cheryl went from being an intern all the way to being an owner of the company and bought it from the original CEO. What she’s been able to do and the clients she’s been able to work with has just been amazing.”
About the Author
Faith Emmitte is a student intern for the Next department at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. Faith will be a first-year student at Texas A&M University, pursuing a BA in Business Administration. Gig ‘Em Ags! All thoughts and opinions are her own and in no way reflect the thoughts and opinions of the HSC.