Fort Worth-based biotech company Eosera, Inc. got its start from competing and winning a pitch competition in Dallas. Elyse Dickerson, co-founder of Eosera, said it played an important part in establishing the company.
Now, the company is creating its own pitch competition for women-led businesses that want to expand quickly in Texas. The winner will receive $10,000.
“We decided we’re now at a stage in our growth where we’d wanted to pay it forward,” Dickerson said.
The EmpowHERment Business Pitch Competition is open to any women-led entrepreneur in Texas with a registered business that is no older than 3 years. Three finalists will pitch to a panel of judges on Nov. 17. The competition is not specific to any industry or geographic area in Texas, Dickerson said.
How to apply for the competition
Applications for the competition are open now and will close Sept. 16. The EmpowHER Pitch Competition is open to any women-led entrepreneur in Texas with a registered business that is no older than 3 years. Three finalists will pitch to a panel of judges on Nov. 17. The competition is not specific to any industry or geographic area in Texas, Dickerson said. See the rules for more information, and apply here.
Initial applications will be judged on the ability of the business to scale.
“We want to be able to see that this company has the ability to make millions of dollars, but anyone can apply,” Dickerson said.
Raising money is a big factor in early businesses that want to expand rapidly. Fort Worth is behind on access to early-stage funding for businesses compared to surrounding cities such as Dallas, according to previous Fort Worth Report reporting. And women founders raised 2% of all venture capital money in 2021, according to reports.
“There are so many amazing ideas and leaders out there that have just not been funded or given a spotlight in order to succeed,” Dickerson said. “And so I’m just personally passionate about developing and helping other women because I’ve had so many amazing mentors (who have) helped me along the way.”
The city of Fort Worth does have a business plan competition, and The Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also hosts a pitch competition. But Dickerson said most entrepreneurs have to go to Dallas or Austin to enter pitch competitions and to be highlighted. Her dream, she said, is to see the Fort Worth community get excited about entrepreneurship.
Simmons Bank is writing the $10,000 check for the winner. There will also be a people’s choice award, which will receive money that comes from the fee to apply to the competition, Dickerson said.
Lori Baldock, president of the Fort Worth Market at Simmons Bank, said having a bank on the company’s side is key.
“There are angel investors who will get involved in early-stage companies that provide that initial capital, but you need the bank by your side throughout the process,” Baldock said.
The competition can be a good learning opportunity, Baldock said. Entrepreneurs can learn about the right way to structure capital so the business can grow, for example. It’s also an opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs. The overall support the competition provides can go a long way, she said.
“Men giving other men a leg up has long been a contributor to the success of new business startups,” Baldock said. “I think for Elyse, as a woman, as a successful women entrepreneur, to help create that same network within a circle of women entrepreneurs, is another way of creating that same energy within the world of female entrepreneurs.”
Editor’s note: The Fort Worth Report is one of the presenters for this event.
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Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.