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TechFW / TWU incubator program selects 6 women-led companies for grants 

Six woman-owned, startup businesses – from a wedding planning outfit to a cybersecurity firm – have been selected to participate in one of two TechFW programs, courtesy of the Texas Woman’s University - Center for Women Entrepreneurs.

The center designated $1,000 and $2,000 Education Awards for female entrepreneurs to participate in TechFW’s ThinkLab startup accelerator or SmartStart business incubator programs.

“The CWE is delighted to partner with TechFW to provide support that enables these women to engage in programs that equip them for a journey of entrepreneurial success,” said Tracy Irby, director of the Center for Women Entrepreneurs. “These awards serve as a bridge to opportunities, nurturing their tech-driven aspirations and pathway to success.”

The winners were chosen based on the following criteria: 1) the founder is a female entrepreneur who is a major shareholder and decision-maker; 2) the founder and business are in the state of Texas; 3) the business is a for-profit company; and 4) the founder must own, have licensed, or be working on proprietary technology, a trade secret, or an innovative way of doing business.

"Getting the opportunity to engage with Tech FW through the TWU scholarship blew the doors off of any and all of my expectations and hopes for this program,” said Mindy Hansen, founder of Sola Gratia and a 2022 grant recipient. “It helped frame the startup road ahead and gave me confidence in moving forward with my idea.”

ThinkLab is a non-seed, startup accelerator that helps entrepreneurs determine whether there is sufficient value to pursue a product or service idea, identify potential markets, develop a path-to-market strategy, and learn how to communicate the value of the idea to early stakeholders and adopters.

The SmartStart business incubator assists leaders in developing a formalized business framework that enables them to work with coaches to take their company to market.

“We are excited to continue this incredible female founders award program with Texas Woman’s University,” said Hayden Blackburn, TechFW’s executive director. "During the past year, as many as 48% of our clients have been women-led, and this partnership has expanded the opportunities for women that are ‘building the future’."

Here are the award winners who will be starting their TechFW program this fall: 

Kristen Bickham - Ordinatus Data
Kristen Bickham - Ordinatus Data

Founder: Kristen J. Bickham (co-founder)​ 

Industry: Cyber-Security​

Product: SaaS company providing CMMC and FOCI compliance-related software for companies in the Defense Industrial Base.

Program: SmartStart ​

Meilin Howard - Texas Dental Innovations
Meilin Howard - Texas Dental Innovations

Texas Dental Innovations, LLC

Founder: Meilin Howard​ 

Industry: Healthcare Tech​

Product: Texas Dental Innovations, LLC., is bringing to market a self-cleaning dental mirror with an automatic wiper design. ​

Program: SmartStart

Dr. Niki Fowler - CognitV Solutions
Dr. Niki Fowler - CognitV Solutions

Founder: Dr. Niki Fowler​ 

Industry: Virtual Reality (VR)​

Product: At CognitV, we are working to develop virtual reality experiences to promote mental wellness. ​

Program: SmartStart

Shawna Murphy & Jacqui Wilson - StyleSmartVA
Shawna Murphy & Jacqui Wilson - StyleSmartVA

Founders:  Jacqueline Wilson and Shawna Murphy​ 

Industry: B2B Virtual Assistance​

Product: By leveraging our platform, entrepreneurs can streamline their operations and receive personalized virtual assistance tailored to the unique demands of their beauty business. ​

Program: SmartStart, 2022 ThinkLab graduates

Jennifer Allen - Just Elope
Jennifer Allen - Just Elope

Founder: Jennifer Allen​ 

Industry:  B2B Service Delivery​

Product: Our app provides couples with real-time availability of vendors and venues, ensuring that they can access up-to-date information on preferred dates and locations.​

Program: ThinkLab

Kanika Pryor - Pak-Tech
Kanika Pryor - Pak-Tech


Founder: Kanika Pryor​ 

Industry: B2B Virtual Engagement​

Product: Creating a virtual workspace that offers clients complete assistance with regard to virtual office software, hardware, and furniture.​

Program: ThinkLab

About TechFW  

TechFW, at 25, is a startup accelerator and incubator. ​​It builds, supports, and educates tech entrepreneurs by bringing together trusted talent and robust resources to equip startups for success.    

The Center for Women Entrepreneurs is part of TWU's Jane Nelson Institute for Women's Leadership. The center provides tools for women-owned businesses to succeed, including business advising, funding, networking and training.  


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