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Denton Startup Crawl supports local creative economy

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Article Originally Published by Kaitlynn Hutchins on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Kaitlynn Hutchins on North Texas Daily

Stoke, a coworking, meeting and office space, can be found in Downtown Denton filled with entrepreneurs and freelancers on any given day.

Stoke hosted its Denton Startup Crawl on Friday, which featured 12 locations in honor of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a week designed to connect people with tools and resources necessary to transform ideas into success.

Stoke is a public-private partnership with the City of Denton, working with the development department. It aims to support the Denton community by hosting events such as a startup crawl and AccelerateHer, an incubator for women-led startups in partnership with Texas Woman’s University.

Stoke Executive Director Heather Gregory moved to Denton eight years ago because she loved the culture of Denton, then in 2017, she opened Stoke.

“Our purpose here is to support the economy and culture of Denton, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to do the startup crawl, creative edition and showcase the creative businesses in Denton,” Gregory said.

Gregory described a startup as a new business that is working to get off the ground. Although this year’s startup crawl was the first to focus on Denton’s creative economy, it was not the first — Stoke has previously held tech-based crawls, such as a virtual startup crawl in 2020.

During the crawl, entrepreneurs were brought to 12 businesses across Denton to learn about the town’s creative community.

The UNT CoLab was one of 12 businesses that participated in this year’s startup crawl, as it is a mixed-use venue with a boutique, gallery and event space that also functions as a student learning lab for the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism.

“We are the bridge from downtown and the community back to campus, so any opportunity that we have to collaborate with the Denton community at large and to showcase different aspects of UNT within the Denton community, we try to participate in,” director of the CoLab Kristen Kendrick Bigley said.

The CoLab serves as a vendor space for community members.  Salted Sanctuary Soap owner Kimberly Bien had a booth at the CoLab during and said the venue supports the handmade community and helps bring in customers.

Thistle Creative Reuse, located near TWU, also participated in the startup crawl and is part of the AccelerateHER program. Thistle co-founder and owner Kari Meyercord-Westerman said the program helps new businesses.

“We have weekly workshops and calls, and [AccelerateHER] is basically a space to help women grow their business,” Meyercord-Westerman said.

Robin Huttash, artist and owner of A Creative Art Studio which is located just off of the Square on West Oak Street, said the most beneficial part of the startup crawl was the extra exposure her business gained.

“I wasn’t sure how [successful] the startup would be with it being so spread out, but the first person who came in bought a few things and said, ‘I’ve never been in here,’ and that’s always a good thing, when someone finds us that has never been in here before,” Huttash said.

More information about Stoke and its programming can be found at stokedenton.com.

Featured Image: The Denton Startup Crawl passport with a stamp for the UNT CoLab is held in front of the Denton courthouse on Nov. 12, 2021. Photo by John Anderson

Source: North Texas Daily

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