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Start Up Waco Staff

Jon Passavant

Start Up Waco

Jon Passavant attended Grove City College in western Pennsylvania receiving a bachelor’s degree in
Business Communication, and during school began a modeling career appearing for Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Christian Dior, and many others.

In 2005, Jon was signed as the first male spokesmodel for Estée Lauder, in a landmark deal which
was the first contract of its kind ever offered to a male model. He went on to consistently work with the industry’s most renowned photographers, and in 2006 Jon co-founded the Model Home Project, a non-profit focused on activating the fashion industry around national service projects.

Jon was an early investor in multiple techonology start ups based in New York, and in 2012 he co-founded Passavant and Lee, a luxury men’s accessories brand which was one of the first digital native luxury brands brought to market.

In August 2019 Jon took the role of CEO of Start Up Waco.

Start Up Waco Staff

Jillian Ohriner

Manager of Operations,
Hustle Co-Working

Jillian Ohriner attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas  receiving a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, and during school began working for various startups learning the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and digital marketing. She also took a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship focused on building a collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystem in Downtown Las Vegas. She worked for a few different startups and discovered her passion for helping small businesses.

After graduating, Jillian moved to Indianapolis where she worked as a Marketing Coordinator for a local ticket reseller. She developed a comprehensive marketing strategy and honed her skills in graphic design, social media marketing, blogging, SEO, and event coordination.

Jillian decided to move to Waco in February of 2019. Her favorite thing about Waco is the supportive tight-knit community. When she's not at work you will probably find her at a networking event, community event, or in line at Waco Cha.


Start Up Waco Staff

Carole Fergusson

Manager of Events and Programs,
Start Up Waco

Carole is a high-energy and community-oriented event planner and community collaborator. Being involved with the launching several locally-owned businesses in town, she has excelled at identifying the communities needs and desires while delivering on area events benefiting these businesses. As a heart-centered leader, she brings strategic direction and cultivating creative efforts to simply getting things done.

Carole has a heart for the Waco community and supporting locally-owned businesses. Through creative strategies she has developed and launched Waco's first-ever and uniquely of its kind, Waco Restaurant Week. This one-week, community-wide event elevated and highlighted over 65 locally-owned businesses and was a catalyst of over 25 area events within 9 days. This was the first time the city of Waco collaborated and celebrated its vibrant food scene while simultaneously donated to Caritas of Waco, a nonprofit fighting to end hunger and poverty in the community. Through grassroots efforts she launched this program single-handedly and worked closely with local sponsors who played a vital role in the entire project. She continues to create a city that strives to collaborate, celebrate and support Waco's entrepreneurs.
In her free time she enjoys cycling, hiking at Cameron Park, photography, cooking at home, gardening and being with her husband and daughter.