A Year-End Message From Our Executive Director: Hayden Blackburn

To you, the supporters of innovation and entrepreneurship,

At the close of 2018, the focus shifts to looking back, looking ahead and celebrating the present. Reflection, forecasting and contemplation. TechFW started 20 years ago, one month after the incorporation of Google in 1998. Not a bad time to have begun investing more into supporting inventors and entrepreneurs as they gave birth to innovative ideas. 

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There are two sides to our mission, two halves to the whole.

The business of people and the business of innovation; it's all centered around the power of people. I can say without hesitation that there are a ton of innovative people that call our region home.

At TechFW, we empower entrepreneurs. We develop inventors into founders, founders into leaders, and leaders into the role models for the next inventors. We are a hub that connects the players of the entrepreneur ecosystem. The service providers, the investors, mentors, media, government, universities, corporations, and every category of support organizations come together, as Brad Feld says, to “feed” the entrepreneur and the hunger to create. Activating this network is how TechFW amplifies the value creation for entrepreneurs and welcomes all with the give-before-you-get mindset to join in our mission. 

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TechFW serves as coach and connector for entrepreneurs, as facilitator for investors, as partner for universities, as ecosystem builder for the community, and catalyst for innovation. Our people love what we do, and we are pretty darn excited about where it is headed.

Twenty years of operations brings many wins (Encore VisionZS Pharma; the launch ofCowtown Angels; the Impact Showcase and Awards Luncheon), many lessons learned (lowest attendance time = 7:30 am; wasps will infest the building faster than you think) and the acceptance that you cannot control much but you can control how you react (power outage 30 minutes prior to the start of the 2018 Impact Awards.) 

Pictured: All lights on and all smiles

Pictured: All lights on and all smiles

There were some big moments at TechFW during 2018.

  • The Impact Showcase moved to The 4 Eleven with the help of Comerica Bank, our sponsors, 36 startups and exhibitors, and you. Thank you to the 375 attendees for a celebration to remember.

  • More than 40 TCU students gained experience as they interned with TechFW startups in the Spring, Summer and Fall! First time for three cycles in one year since the partnership started back in 2003.

  • TechFW was one of nine locations in Fort Worth’s first Startup Crawl back in May. Great team of organizers!

  • And there is a new website! Definitely influenced by Sandy joining the team. 

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TechFW clients went big in 2018 too.

Eosera launched new product lines for kids and pets. Nuvothera launched its Prosoria product line on Amazon and walked away with the Entrepreneur of the Year title from the Fort Worth Business PressNanoScope Technologies received two grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling $4 million dollars for technologies that could bring sight to those with damaged retina cells.

Our graduate, OncoNano, announced the completion of its Phase 1a clinical trialSolgro got into pilot testing with their technology commercialized from UTAAspen Tyke Traveler took second in the Fort Worth Business Plan Competition continuing the long history of TechFW clients placing in the finals of the competition, and CompuMatrice repeated on the Inc. 5000 list for the second year in a row. Proud doesn’t even start to describe the feelings of growth and success.

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2018 was just a taste of what is to come. 2019 holds the type of potential that invigorates me:

  • Our ThinkLab accelerator program is now open to all tech companies and applications are live for the first cohort (10 companies to be accepted). RememberEncore Vision? Its founder, Bill Burns, went through ThinkLab and invested into the foundations of his technology venture and skill development as an entrepreneur long before its $465 million exit.

  • The IMPACT Showcase will be bigger, bringing more innovators and tech companies together for the community to connect, explore and celebrate innovation in one place. In addition, there will be a live pitch room during the showcase.

  • Cowtown Angels is producing two mini-boot camps in March and August for those new to angel investing, those sharpening their skills and looking to add new tools as an investor, and for those looking to pass on knowledge and lessons learned while building a portfolio. Come learn to be smarter investors during two SmartVest events in 2019.

  • Mentors! TechFW loves mentors, and it is bringing more on for the M-Crew program. M-Crew increases the pathways for engagement and fulfillment for those driven like us to help entrepreneurs. 

That’s just a scratch of the surface of TechFW's work as an entrepreneur support organization. 

I would like to extend a final thank you to our clients, board of directors, volunteers, sponsors, partners and the community that makes this all happen.

Our drive has not slowed. We are tirelessly pursuing our mission and I invite you to become an innovation partner with us as we help entrepreneurs commercialize innovative technologies. Be a part of the entrepreneurial fabric of our community and join in the journey with us and the entrepreneurs that are already shaping our tomorrow. 

With thanks,

Hayden Blackburn