Sparkyard web platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses launches
By Alex Branch
UNT Health Science Center President Dr. Michael R. Williams today announced the creation of Sparkyard, an innovative new web platform powered by SourceLink®, that connects expert service providers to Fort Worth’s fast-growing business community.
Sparkyard, a free one-stop, collaborative platform to help new and existing Fort Worth companies accelerate their growth, will formally launch Nov. 14. It is funded by UNT Health Science Center, the City of Fort Worth Office of Economic Development and TCU Neeley School of Business.
“Fort Worth is full of innovative and hard-working entrepreneurs, but too often they lack access to the right resource at the right time to make their business a success,” Dr. Williams said. “Sparkyard is a valuable new tool that connects business owners to the resources they need to launch and scale their businesses.”
With more than 40 resource partners participating so far, Sparkyard will help Fort Worth businesses access a wide variety of services: legal counseling, accessing capital and navigating the licensing and permitting process.
Through the Sparkyard platform, business owners can directly contact resource partners for assistance or utilize the website’s automated Resource Navigator, which will help identify the right providers based on need, location, industry, stage of business and additional criteria.
“Entrepreneurs need different kinds of assistance; some need investors, others need counselors,” said Marco Johnson, Sparkyard Network Builder. “Sparkyard exists to help entrepreneurs and business owners navigate the numerous organizations that provide free services.
“It also features a one-stop community calendar with events relevant to business owners as well as a wide variety of web pages providing content from early stage to established companies and information on funding and investment,” Johnson said. “Whatever entrepreneurs need, we help them find it.”
The SourceLink platform on which Sparkyard is built has helped more than 100 communities across the United States, from Seattle to San Juan, build an entrepreneurial infrastructure that sparks, supports and sustains entrepreneurship and innovation. The first step is to define the available resources and make them visible. That mapping then allows service organizations to address the specific needs of the entrepreneurs, make and track referrals to resources, and identify and fill gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“Small- and medium-sized businesses are the economic engines of Fort Worth,” said Robert Sturns, director of Economic Development at the City of Fort Worth. “Sparkyard ensures that these companies can access the right resources at the right time to not only accelerate their own growth, but also that of Fort Worth’s thriving entrepreneurial community.”
Daniel Pullin, the John V. Roach Dean of the TCU Neeley School of Business, said “The TCU Neeley School of Business is renowned for our entrepreneurial partnerships, education and research through our Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. We gladly support Sparkyard to further develop and expand the vital entrepreneurial ecosystem of our city,”
The tool is free to access by business owners and free for resource partners to join. Visit the website at www.sparkyard.coor call the hotline during normal business hours at 682-351-2563.
Not-for-profit service providers interested in joining this powerful network can sign up at www.sparkyard.co/signup.
The official launch party for Sparkyard will coincide with the kickoff party for Global Entrepreneurship Week Fort Worth Nov. 14. The kickoff event will take place at the UNTHSC IREB building and will feature an overview of Sparkyard, details on Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov. 14-22), plus food, drinks and live entertainment. Check the Global Entrepreneurship Week Fort Worth website for details and free tickets (www.gewfortworth.com).
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