The Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Woman’s University and Stoke Coworking launched the AccelerateHER, an incubator program for women-owned startups last fall. The program — the first of its kind in Denton — takes a hands-on approach that involves managers, mentors and partner networks to help early-stage companies develop and test ideas and grow their businesses.

The six winners received rigorous business development training and mentorship, as well as networking opportunities. They met twice weekly with program managers to identify business needs. Cohort entrepreneurs also learned from other participants in the program and had one-on-one meetings with one another. A strong bond was formed between the women in the cohort, which included:

Leslie Brenner, founder of Cooks Without Borders. Founded in 2015, Cooks Without Borders was inspired by Brenner’s experiences cooking and eating around the world. The website provides stories, recipes and cookbook reviews while connecting the world.

Kandace Anderson, founder and CEO of Departmynt. Departmynt is designed like a dating app but for clothing. The site helps shoppers alleviate frustration by connecting women to clothing picked just for them.

Julie James, co-founder and managing director of Playable Media. Playable Media is an online learning and game design company based in Denton. Its goal is to increase engagement for business and connect employees, customers and new audiences.

Michelle Schodowski, CEO and founder of Radda. Radda’s mission is to facilitate the seeking and giving of advice for musicians to grow in their craft. Radda allows people to network worldwide and connect with fellow musicians while building a community of members who are invested in helping one another.

Ernanda White, founder and CXO of Black Girls Drone. Founded in 2020, Black Girls Drone is taking flight to pursue STEM equality, education and visibility for women and girls of undeserved communities as they become FAA certified UAV aeronautic drone pilots.

Lillie Whittington, owner and head content creator of the D. Diaries. The D. Diaries is billed as Denton’s No. 1 influencer space, complete with lifestyle and fashion blog posts, as well as Denton hotspots and features.

AccelerateHER was designed to help early-stage companies develop and test their ideas and grow their business with a hands-on focus by program managers, mentors and partner networks. The program equips women with tools, education, coaching and mentorship that enable them to successfully develop their products and services, take them to market and secure funding or investments as needed.

The six entrepreneurs from the cohort will pitch their businesses to an audience of potential investors, clients and partners. Friends, family and supporters of women-owned businesses are invited to the virtual event at 5 p.m. Thursday. To register, visit

The AccelerateHER program was such a success that Stoke and the Center for Women Entrepreneurs will partner again to offer this program to women later in the year.

TRACY IRBY is the director for the Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Woman’s University. She can be reached at For more information regarding the center, visit The center is part of TWU’s Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership.

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