Where to be

10+ can't-miss Houston business and innovation events for March

From startup competitions to thought-provoking panels, here's where you need to be in March. Getty Images

Rodeo has kicked off and spring break is around the corner, which can only mean one thing: March in Houston. The month is chock full of business, entrepreneurial, and innovation-focused events, but we've plucked out over 10 to highlight this month.

If you know of innovation-focused events for February, email me at natalie@innovationmap.com with the details.

March 5 — Unlock Team's Creativity - Innovative Management Tools

Learn new teamwork tools and applications and hear about how companies have changed their organization and manage innovation, creativity, and teamwork.

Details: The event is from 5:30 to 7 pm on Tuesday, March 5, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

March 5 — Women Who Code Houston Launch

Women Who Code is bringing its network and resources to Houston. Celebrate the launch and network with like-minded, tech-savvy women.

Details: The event is from 6 to 8:30 pm on Tuesday, March 5, at AIG Building's Lobby (2727 Allen Pkwy). Learn more here.

March 6 — From ICOs to STOs: The Nuts & Bolts of Security Token Offerings

New to the innovation scene, Houston Blockchain Alliance, a networking group of blockchain professionals, has its first learning event. This STO Primer Course will provide an introduction to STOs, the applicable rules and regulations governing STOs, fundraising options and the process, timeline and estimated costs to launch a compliant STO.

Details: The event is from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesday, March 6, at Ranch Office (1220 Blalock Rd). Learn more here.

March 6 — Case Study: Digital Transformation in Energy Fortune 500

Who's down for pizza, beer, and talking about the digital transformation process of a Fortune 500 company with the Houston Industrial Digital Transformation & Connected Work meetup group? Dimitri Karastamatis, board adviser of operations at PowerIn Energy will lead the discussion.

Details: The meetup is from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesday, March 6, at ChaiOne HQ (9 Greenway Plaza, Suite 850). Learn more here.

March 7 — Entrepreneurship Education Series: Building a Startup Sales Team

Sales can be tough for entrepreneurs and innovators, so getting a good team in place is crucial. Neal Benedict, president and Founder of Silver Brick Sales Solutions, weighs in on the best steps to take when building your sales team.

Details: The event is from noon to 1:30 pm on Thursday, March 7, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

March 7 — French American Innovation Day 2019

Promoting innovation collaboration between the United States and France, the conference is organized by the Office for Science & Technology of the Embassy of France in the United States in collaboration with the TMC Innovation in Houston, the French American Chamber of Commerce in Houston and the French Foreign Trade Advisors.

Details: The event is from 7 am to 7 pm on Thursday, March 7, at TMC Innovation Institute (2450 Holcombe Blvd., Suite X). Learn more here.

March 7 — Selling Innovation and Creative Digital Cities

What can we learn from other digital cities? This discussion lead by three different experts will analyze and ideate new ways of innovation.

Details: The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 7, at Techspace - Houston (2101 CityWest Blvd.) Learn more here.

March 8 — Startup Pains: What I Wish I Knew

This monthly series hosted by the University of Houston lets you learn from someone else's mistakes and successes. This month's speaker is Seamus Curran, Ph.D, who is a professor of physics at UH and the CEO of Integricote.

Details: The event is from 4 to 5 pm on Friday, March 8, at the UH Technology Bridge (Innovation Center, building 4, floor 2, 5000 Gulf Fwy). Learn more here.

March 11 — HATCH Pitch Summit 2019 Livestream

Houston-based HATCH Pitch is headed for Austin with its four finalists focused on startups making the world a better place. Read more about the competition here.

Details: The free stream is from 10 am to noon on Monday, March 11, and available here.

March 12 - Info Session: Techstars Energy Accelerator

Energy acceleration can be tough in the industry, but Audun Abelsnes, managing director of Techstars Energy Accelerator, is at your disposal for all your questions.

    Details: The event is from noon to 2:30 pm on Tuesday, March 12, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

    March 14 — eMan Lunch n' Learn: Boosting Safety & Productivity in O&G by Leveraging IoT

    Every startup can learn from industrial innovation, and eMan works alongside Fortune 500 companies doing just that. Hear from the company's execs about their services, clients, and how they are enabling emerging tech in the industrial space.

    Details: The event is from 11:30 am to 1 pm on Thursday, March 14, at The Cannon (1336 Brittmoore Road). Learn more here.

    March 21 — Visionaries panel: The present is female.

    Forget this "future" stuff. Get ready for b8ta Houston's next Founders Series is all about the ladies in honor of International Women's Month. Four female leaders will take the stage to talk about the challenges they face and obstacles they've overcome.

    Details: The panel is at 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 21, at b8ta Houston in the Galleria (5115 Westheimer Road, #c3575). Learn more here.

    March 26 — WeWork Labs Houston Launch Party

    Houston has a new space for startups to incubate, accelerate, and receive mentorship thanks to WeWork and Alice. Read all about the new WeWork Labs location here. To celebrate, the organization is hosting a little shindig.

    Details: The celebration starts at 6 pm on Tuesday, March 26, at WeWork Downtown Houston (708 Main Street, 10th Floor). Learn more here.

    March 28 — 2019 H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge - Startup Competition

    Ten Rice University-affiliated teams — from students to recent alumni — are competing for $60,000 and other prizes. Click here to learn more about the finalists and the judging panel.

    Details: The event is from 6 to 9 pm on Thursday, March 28, at Rice University (Liu Idea Lab For Innovation & Entrepreneurship — Cambridge Office Building). Learn more here.

    March 28 — Houston Open Innovation Conference

    The third annual Houston Open Innovation Conference is a full day conference where businesses, government entities and academic representatives can collaborate to spark more development, collaboration and dialogue for the city.

    Details: The conference is from 8:30 am to 4 p.m on Thursday, March 28, at Houston Exponential (410 Pierce St.). Learn more.

    Camppedia, a Houston-based startup, can help match kids to summer camps all around town. Educational First Steps/Facebook

    Tudor Palaghita and his sister Ana are both parents and both busy professionals. And both used the same word when it came to finding camps to help their kids pass the long, steamy summer: painful.

    "We're working parents, we're strapped on time, but we want to make sure we give our kids enriching experiences," explains Ana. "One spring, we were going through the [camp search] process, and we talked about how difficult it was. And the next spring, we said, there's something here. We feel this pain, our friends feel this pain, and no one is helping us. Why don't we solve our problem ourselves?"

    And that's exactly what they did. The duo used their business and technology backgrounds — Ana has an MBA from Northwestern University and built a successful career in a major financial institution, and Tudor has his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech — to launch Camppedia.com. The site is intended to be a one-stop shop for parents looking for camps for their children.

    The tool launched in March of 2019, coinciding with spring break. Currently, it offers options throughout central Houston. Parents can select camps for their children based on interests, their ZIP codes, cost or even those that offer extended hours for moms and dads with full-time jobs.

    "We believe the most important aspect to building anything is to understand your users," says Tudor, who left his research and development job at a major oil and gas services company to work full-time on Camppedia. "Before we launched, we did a lot of interviews and talked to a lot of parents, and then hand sketched prototypes to better convey our idea."

    The pair went one step further after that, speaking with camp providers, seeking input about not only their products, but also the issue they faced in terms of marketing or registration. Following that fact-finding mission, they built Camppedia to show as many options as possible for families who want to book activities, as well as giving users the option to build their own calendars, save favorite options and see what camps actually have spots available. When parents select a camp, they are then driven to the individual camp's website to book.

    Development on Camppedia, which is a member company at Station Houston, began last September, when the duo began looking at what to include on the site and finding partners who could assist them in building it.

    "We looked at a bunch of different paths from a technology perspective," says Ana, who works on the site from her home in Virginia. "Because you can build the sort of the fancy, what I'd call destination-technology architecture, or you could build something scrappier, and I think we landed on something scrappy because we are still learning. Chances are [going forward] we'll change quite a bit."

    Camppedia is built on WordPress, and currently features more than 275 camps from large to small. Tudor and Ana have been making improvements ever since, but the response has been enthusiastic. Parents, the pair say, have loved having so much information in one place. And camps have actually come to them, seeking information about how to be listed. That led to the creation of a camp partnership category, where camps can pay to use certain features on Camppedia's site, such as the ability to reach out to interested parents.

    Going forward, the duo look forward to further building Camppedia as a resource. They're looking at adding reviews and experiences from parents, as well as finding ways to take the concept nationwide. But they're really happy with how the site has grown and the response they've had. The business, they insist, is designed to be a service that will support parents as they try to make the best decisions they can for their children.

    "While the road ahead is daunting," says Tudor. "We are super excited about the possibility of building something truly useful for working parents who nowadays are struggling with so many competing priorities and whose needs seem to be somewhat overlooked by the digital reinvention coming out of Silicon Valley."


    Photos courtesy of Camppedia