A new group is looking to create a more robust community of entrepreneurs and innovators.
The Fort Worth Innovation Council will provide speakers, panel discussions, job fairs and hackathons in hopes to build up a community.
Edward Ipser, managing partner at Coactify and founder of the Fort Worth Innovation Council, said the group will focus on startups, corporate innovators and how university corporations can collaborate.
Ipser, who graduated from Texas Christian University in 1984, recently moved back to Fort Worth from Silicon Valley. A member of the investment network Cowtown Angels, Ipser said he hasn’t run across many company pitches that originate from Fort Worth.
“I’m told there’s a lot of activity here that’s kind of under the radar,” Ipser said. “And that’s one thing I’m trying to do with this group is to pull them together and have some events.”
Ipser said many universities in the area, including TCU, the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of North Texas struggle to commercialize research. He hopes the new council can help make that easier.
“There’s a lot … of universities, they’re patenting things that are done at the university,” Ipser said. “And then the patent just sits on the shelf and collects dust.”
The first speaker will be Jose Alfaro, CEO of Co.Starters, which helps entrepreneurs build and grow businesses. Alfaro will speak about customer discovery, an element of business planning that often is overlooked.
If you go: Fort Worth Innovation Council
When: Noon to 1 p.m., March 10
Where: HSC Next, 550 Bailey Avenue #510 in Fort Worth
What: The event will feature Jose Alfaro, CEO of Co.Starters. Alfaro will speak about customer discovery when planning a business. More information here.
Thinking through customer discovery is a way for aspiring business owners or those who want to pivot their business models, he said.
“Just to say, ‘Hey, are there any legs to what I’m thinking? Do people want what I have, will they pay for what I have, and how much will they pay?’” Alfaro said. “Really validating that model before they go out and get investment or funding for their idea.”
There are many organizations that support entrepreneurship in Fort Worth, but they tend to work in silos, Alfaro said. That’s one reason why he thinks this kind of group is needed.
“Entrepreneurs have to figure out how to bring all these resources together on their own, instead of having the organizations come together and find ways for collaboration and making sure that the entrepreneurs have what they need,” he said.
HSC Next, a small business incubator at the UNT Health Science Center, is a venue sponsor of the innovation council.
Marco Johnson, network builder at Sparkyard, which is part of HSC Next, said he thinks Fort Worth needs the council and appreciates Ipser’s effort. Ipser talked to dozens of people in the community to figure out the needs of the community and thinks he will continue to adapt the council to serve people’s needs.
“He figured out where there was a gap, and now he’s trying to address it,” Johnson said.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @sbodine120.
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