Fort Worth is working to grow its economy and replace some larger companies that have left town by investing in small business, and right now is the biggest chance of the year for start-up companies to get a boost, through the city's small business plan competition. A past winner and a new company hungry for its shot walked NBC 5 through the unique opportunity.
Meet Carolyn Phillips, owner and “chief alchemist” of Alchemy Pops on the Near Southside.
"When you make up a company you get to make up your title!" Phillips said.
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"Alchemy Pops just started as a side hustle," Phillips explained. "I was just catering a few things, I was making pops nights and weekends on top of my full-time job."
That is until she heard about Fort Worth's Business Plan Competition that helps launch start-ups with an idea, but few resources.
"I said why not and I applied and in 2015 I came in second place," Phillips said.
The top three winners get a cash prize ranging from $2,500 to $8,000, plus extensive in-kind donations like free advertising and business counseling.
"Money is always great but it takes more than just money to get a business going and the network and the people that I got connected to through the process made a huge difference," Phillips said.
Three years later, Phillips opened her own storefront, right on South Main Street.
"We're having a blast!" she said.
Not far away, but on the opposite end of the process, new business partners Cortney Gumbleton and Carlo Capua are applying for this year's competition.
"Locavore is a startup for startups and what we're trying to do is give foodie entrepreneurs, specifically in Fort Worth, a home," Gumbleton said.
"Someone who starts the salsa company out of their kitchen or somebody who wants to make their grandmother's apple pie and wants to sell it to the public," Capua added.
Those start-ups can rent commercial kitchen space at Locavore.
"We have a 10-burner stove here with two ovens and this is our baby, this is our double convection oven gas," Capua said, giving the tour of the place. "You can cook a ton of food in here."
Plus Locavore will have co-working office space and a venue for pop-up events, supper clubs and cooking classes. They’re planning to open up for rentals in July.
"There's just a lot of opportunity and we want to be a part of the economic development boom to get Fort Worth on the map," Gumbleton said.
They’re hoping that applying to the Business Plan Competition is the first step to putting Locavore on the map too.
"If you can dream it, you can do it," said Capua.
Last year, about 45 businesses applied to the competition, ranging from tech companies, to construction, craft breweries to jewelry.
Registration is open through next Friday June 15th. The top 25 will move on and go through training to pitch their business plan.
For more information or to apply, click here.