Innovation is changing Fort Worth. Start ups and a spirit of entrepreneurship are transforming the city known for Cowboys and Culture into a hub for innovative ideas and businesses. Innovate Fort Worth shares the stories of the city’s leading innovators, entrepreneurs and investors —and highlights the resources available to bring ideas to market. Powered by UNT Health Science Center.
Episode #1 Marco Johnson: Cowboys, Culture and Innovation
Fort Worth is the City of Cowboys and Culture. But for the country’s 13th-largest city to compete in today’s economy, it must also become a City of Innovation. Marco Johnson spent years sparking innovation in faraway places like East Africa. Now he’s at UNT Health Science Center connecting Fort Worth entrepreneurs with the right resources for their startups.
Episode #34 Mia Moss: The Eastside is Brewing
Mia Moss is more than the owner of Black Coffee in Fort Worth, 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.
Episode #33 Dylan Jones: Military Tech for Animals
From veteran to entrepreneur, Dylan Jones is working to monitor animal health through technology. Animal Cloud Device Connectivity is a cloud-based technology, licensed from the US Air Force that is monitoring the health of service animals that work in the field. Animal Cloud tracks the health of dogs, horses and cows in real time, transferring information to a database available for caregivers and veterinarians to review digitally.
Episode #32 Jeff Rattikin: Serving Solutions for Attorneys
You’ve been served…coffee? The Legal Cafe is the brand new coworking space and cafe for lawyers just a few blocks from the Tarrant County courthouses in Downtown Fort Worth. Co-Founder Jeff Rattikin aims to provide essential legal services to attorneys who need a home base near the courthouse and a private location for lawyers and clients to meet. The Legal Cafe also provides services like marketing, web development and they even have a room for video and podcast recording! While serving the legal profession, Rattikin also wants to make law more accessible to people through his website getlegal.com and connect people to the right legal expert for their need.
Episode #31 Mayor Betsy Price: The “Price” Perspective on Innovation
After a 10 year tenure as a public leader in Fort Worth, Mayor Betsy Price is passing the torch. But before she left office, Innovate Fort Worth had the honor to sit down and discuss all things entrepreneurial in our city. Reflecting upon the great innovators throughout the years that helped make Fort Worth what it is today, Mayor Price shares why Fort Worth is still a great city for startups and small businesses. As a final goodbye, the Innovate Fort Worth team thanks Mayor Price for her dedication to Fort Worth and wishes her well as she spends time with family.
Episode #29 & #30 Farukh Aslam: The Hotel of the Future
From the podcast room in The Sinclair Hotel in Downtown Fort Worth, meet the engineer turned hospitality leader. Farukh Aslam is changing hotels by using low voltage power over ethernet, making The Sinclair 30% more efficient than other hotels. He is using smart sensors and dc powered LED lighting to reduce electricity usage in this century old art deco building. But The Sinclair is only the beginning, Aslam wants to take the technologies he’s developed here in Fort Worth to the world.
Episode #28 Nathan Butorac: Reinventing Snail Mail
In today’s world of fast-paced technology, Pinatagrams is changing how we approach “snail mail.” Nathan Butorac always knew he was an entrepreneur at heart, he just needed to find his big idea. On this episode, he shares his past experiences with starting different companies, how he found success in the middle of a pandemic, and how something “Better Than A Letter” can really spice up your marketing campaigns.
Episode #27 Dennis Hoang: From Returns to Profit
A family business that inspired a trio of brothers to change how we see product return and support sustainability efforts through re-commerce in retail. Dennis Hoang is the co-founder of Patturn, a company that is creating retail sustainability for small businesses by managing returned items to prevent landfill waste. Hear the story of how these UTA grads transformed their parent’s resale computer shop into a digital platform to resell returns rather than being thrown away.
Episode #26 Dr. Nitin Joshi: The Salty Scientist
CAGEBio is developing deep eutectic ionic liquids for use in dermatology. Dr. Nitin Joshi shares his experience in the biotech industry, the impact of ionic liquids as an anti-COVID sanitizer and about moving his company from Silicon Valley to Fort Worth, Texas.
Episode #25 Dr. Vanessa Bouche: Essential Employment
When Dr. Vanessa Bouche was challenged to provide meaningful employment for survivors of sexual explotation 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, the challenges she faced in applying for B Corp certification and how to “Live Well, Do Good” for her customers and employees.
Episode #24 Tamara Payne: The Coworking Candidate
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.
Episode #23 Elyse Dickerson: Ear Space
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.
Episode #22 Kevin Henry: Simplifying HIPPA
For companies operating in healthcare or for any company that works with healthcare, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a requirement. Many companies aren’t sure how to navigate this complex federal law and non-compliance can bring steep fines and penalties. Kevin Henry, Founder and CEO of Accountable HQ has solved that problem, providing online training for employees in any industry. Their path to market included participation in the Techstars Austin accelerator program, making them the only Fort Worth-based startup to have Techstars backing.
Episode #20 & #21 Dr. Sid O’Bryant: The 45 Million Dollar Man, Part 1 and Part 2
Dr. Sid O’Bryant is leading the charge to use blood biomarkers to bring the first-ever primary care blood test to market for America’s seniors. His work runs counter to the areas of focus of many other researchers, but his discoveries could pave the way for significant advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. He just received a $45 million grant to continue to study the ways that Alzheimer’s Disease impacts people of different ethnicities and his work could hold the keys to understanding these complex diseases.
Episode #19 E.J. Carrion: The Force Multiplier
Meet EJ Carrion, the founder of The Student Success Agency, author of How to Create a Future and Stand Out When College is Not Enough, and now co-host of The 817, a podcast of all things Fort Worth. His company serves as a force multiplier for high school guidance counselors to help students increase their chances for success and get into college. Carrion explains what it means to pick a city with opportunities to build your startup and connecting with the younger crowd by sharing the pulse points of news, politics, trends, and culture in Fort Worth.
Episode #18 The Wellman Project: The Wellies
Meet the innovative minds that are repurposing surplus materials to “fill a classroom, not a landfill.” Vanessa and Taylor 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.
Episode #17 Brad Hunstable: Electrifying Funkytown
A father and son tinkering in their garage led to an invention that will reduce global energy consumption, all based on the same principles that power the windmills that dot the Texas prairies. Brad Hunstable, co-founder of Linear Labs, wants to make Fort Worth the “Electrification Capital of the World.” His plan to build a smarter energy company is one that will change the way we power the world, all from their home base here in “Fort Worth/Dallas.”
Episode #16 Jakayla Dixon: Show Me the Color
Growing up, Jakayla Dixon saw 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.
Episode #15 Hunter Ferrell: A Linux Guru
In the quickly growing digital landscape of cloud-based systems, Linux Academy was training coders and developers through self-paced courses to stay on the cutting edge of digital technology. Meet Hunter Ferrell, former CFO of Linux Academy, a tech startup all about “putting students and learning above everything else”. They approached teaching students by “learning through doing” and eventually had 1.5 million users of expert cloud engineers and trailblazing tech skills.
Episode #14 Melissa Ice: A Worthy Net
“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.
Episode #13 Kari Crowe: Selling Happiness
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 three locations across DFW and specializes in custom, craft ice cream flavors.
Episode #12 Goran Krndija and Gabe Deale: Movin on Up
We’ve all done it. You buy something at a big box store and you realize you can’t get your new purchase home in your car. Gozova was created to solve this problem and serve customers who need to move anything, anywhere. Their services include a fleet of vehicles that can handle any move and the labor that can get your heavy or bulky items to their destination, simply and safely. Gozova is now scaling throughout Texas and is planning its next move to take the country by storm.
Episode #11 Sheryle Gillihan: Force for Good
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.
Episode #10 Tyler Sickels: Greenhouse of the Future
Plants grow best under red and blue light. What if you could convert sunlight from all colors of the spectrum into red and blue to decrease harvest time, increase crop yields and improve plant quality? Tyler Sickels’ company SolGro licensed technology from the University of Texas at Arlington to help farmers do exactly that through a special greenhouse material that uses nanoparticles to transform sunlight.
Episode #9 Albert “Ab” Deweese: Coronavirus Problem Solver
When COVID-19 struck, one local entrepreneur pivoted to creating solutions that fill gaps in our healthcare system. Among three companies created by Albert “Ab” Deweese are Hepius Equipment, which makes microwave-sized medical devices that sterilize N-95 masks, and a fractional Chief Medical Officer company to help small businesses reopen safely.
Episode #8 Jamey Ice: The Millennial
How did Jamey Ice, the long-haired, tattooed Millennial guitarist from Green River Ordinance, arrive at the center of Fort Worth’s entrepreneurship scene? By innovating everything from coffeehouses to how people buy, sell and rehabilitate homes — and now he’s helping other local entrepreneurs tell their original stories.
Episode #7 Patricia Zilliox: An Eye for Innovation
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.
Episode #6 Miguel Harth-Bedoya: Arts and Garbage
Miguel Harth-Bedoya loves music and hates waste. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra conductor was so discouraged by how much compostable food waste goes into the landfill that he followed a garbage truck one day to see where it went. Soon he launched Cowboy Compost, an innovative business that helps residents, businesses and event venues reduce their environmental impact.
Episode #5 John Adams: The Story Behind Mr. Mucus
Who does not know Mr. Mucus? The slimy green character representing a head cold is the face of Mucinex ads. But the man who brought the cold remedy medicine to market and created a $2.3 billion North Texas company is John Adams, who shares the inside story of how a former Kansas pharmaceutical salesman turned a cold remedy into a household name.
Episode #4 Les Kreis: Pitch Like a Pro
Meet Les Kreis, one of the few venture capitalists in Fort Worth. The managing partner and co-founder of Bios Partners hears hundreds of startup pitches from entrepreneurs every year. He spills the secrets on what makes a successful pitch – and the surefire way to leave empty handed.
Episode #3 Veena Somareddy: Transforming Lives
Veena Somareddy was a PhD student when she met businessman Bruce Conti. A tragedy had 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.
Episode #2 Cam Sadler: From Fort Worth to Silicon Valley
Cam Sadler was a teacher at Dunbar High School with big ideas. One summer break, he cashed in his retirement savings and started a company that helps job seekers get offers from tech businesses. Soon he was in Silicon Valley, the first Fort Worth entrepreneur accepted into Y Combinator, the startup funder of AirBnb and DropBox.