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Tech Wildcatters' Gabriella Draney Aims To Make North Texas The Next Innovation Hub

In the startup world, accelerators and incubators are a hot topic. Pioneers Y Combinator and TechStars have mastered the formula: Seed blue-chip teams with five-to six-figure investments, and provide heavyweight mentors and investor hookups. But a new generation of copycats are stumbling. Insiders weigh in.

Photo by matthew mahon

Gabriella Draney

Cofounder And Managing Partner / Tech Wildcatters / Dallas

Resume: Tech Wildcatters ranks among the top accelerators in the country, thanks to the two-year-old program's vertical specialization in B2B startups. Draney aims to make North Texas a top-three innovation hub within the next 15 years.

"What really gives us a leg up is our focus on the enterprise. Dallas has the largest concentration of corporate headquarters in the world. Within weeks, our guys are closing deals with companies like 7-Eleven or Frito-Lay or American Airlines. You're sure not going to find that in Boulder, or even Palo Alto. Somebody even told me this week that they were looking into different top-tier accelerators, and actually contacted some of the mentors listed on the sites. Those mentors were like, 'I'm not really involved, but my picture is still there.' That's cheap. I've seen accelerators where the executive director has no skin in the game—no equity. I'm like, you know what? I invest in our fund every year. That's my son's college fund on the line, so I'm going to work damn hard to make sure it monetizes very well."

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A version of this article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.