About Us

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Our Mission

Startup Waco is a 501(c)(3) organization formed via cross-sector partnerships that aspire to lead the entrepreneurial support efforts of Central Texas and elevate it as a hub for business innovation.

We believe in the power of a thriving culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in our region, to foster new economic development and impact the individuals and families in our community today. As the preeminent entrepreneurial hub in central Texas we aim to be a national leader that is recognized for our effectiveness, both in harnessing the power of entrepreneurship and also confronting its exclusiveness. We will create new structures for high-growth businesses to start, develop and scale, while also relentlessly focusing on serving entrepreneurs from historically excluded neighborhoods and demographics. We will work alongside organizations, businesses and ESOs in our community to help connect and focus all the resources of our community. We believe in the dignity that every person possesses inherently and that by giving we receive, and that central Texas will be transformed as a shining example of opportunity, inclusiveness and integrity.

What does this look like?


Startup Waco has made a commitment to support our business community. We are dedicated to engaging the Waco community to embrace a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and new thinking by empowering entrepreneurs and innovators to build and grow successful businesses. We accomplish this through events, virtual resources, and mentorship.


Located in Woolworth Suites in the heart of Downtown Waco, 605 Austin Avenue offers so much more than coworking space. As the base of operations from Startup Waco, our space serves as the physical hub and connection point for entrepreneurs and businesses across the country. It’s here that we host events, hold meetings, foster relationships and provide the tools businesses need to succeed.

the Team

Our team is eager to meet you and find out how we can better serve you.

Jon Passavant


Michelle Bui

Director of Operations

Rebekah Hagman

Program Director, Incubatex254

Karla Bautista

Operations Associate
Habla Español


April Leman

Marketing & Communications Partner

Elaine Botello

Human Resources Partner

Haley Cash

Graphic Designer, The Starving Artist

Our Board of Directors

Ashley Allison

Ashley Allison is the Executive Director of Waco Foundation, where she manages all aspects of a $95 million community foundation with the mission of improving the quality of life in McLennan County.

Weldon Ratliff

Weldon Ratliff is a local businessman and philanthropist with an interest in business development and entrepreneurship.

Fernando Arroyo

Fernando Arroyo is a founder of Arroyo Consulting and Education Strategies and currently a master of business administration candidate at Baylor University.

Mark Reynolds

Mark Reynolds is the North Regional President of Extraco Banks and served as the 2017 Chairman of the Board for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.

Sherman Ayres

Sherman Ayres is a retired Mars, Inc. corporate executive and currently the CEO of S.R. Ayres & Associates, a private business consultancy.

Sarah Roberts

Sarah Roberts is the president of KSR Capital, which specializes in incentive negotiation and development consulting to corporate clients.

Andrea Barefield

Andrea Barefield is the Waco City Council member representing District 1. Andrea also serves as the Executive Director of the Texas Brazos Trail Region.

Alfred Solano

Alfred Solano is the Executive Director of the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Kris Collins

Kris Collins is SVP of Economic Development at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and a certified Business Retention and Expansion Project Coordinator.

Leah Teague

Leah Teague is the Associate Dean for Baylor Law School and teaches Taxation Principles and Leadership Development.

LaDainian Tomlinson

LaDainian Tomlinson is a retired NFL player and currently devotes his time to Tomlinson’s Touching Lives Foundation, Tomlinson Center for Leadership and the S.O.A.R. to Success Program.

Rachel Pate

Rachel Pate is the Director of Public Relations at the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce and the Coordinator for Esther’s Closet, an initiative that helps unemployed women find success in the workplace.

Jeremy Vickers

Jeremy Vickers is Baylor’s Associate Vice President for External Affairs and previously served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UT Dallas.