Where to be

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

Check out these workshops, networking events, pitch events, and other goings on in Houston this month. Getty Images

After what's felt like ages, 2019 has transitioned into a new month. For some, February means pink and red hearts. For Houstonians, it means the start of Rodeo Houston later this month. But, for entrepreneurs, the month yields a flurry of networking and professional events around town.

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

February 5 - How to Start a Startup with Roberto Moctezuma, founder & CEO of Fractal River

Thinking 2019 is the year you finally turn your business idea into a startup? Station Houston wants to help. It's free to attend this discussion lead by Roberto Moctezuma, the founder and CEO of Houston-based Fractal River, an advisory firm. The talk will focus on identifying problems, determining market needs, learning important metrics, and more.

The event is from 5:30 to 6:30 pm on Tuesday, February 5, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

February 6 - SaaS Lifecycle Phase 3: Mapping Your Customer Journey

If you've got a SaaS-y startup, this is an event you can't miss. Blair Garrou of Mercury Fund will advise you on your company's sales, growth, and customer success. It's $10 to attend.

The event is from 12:30 to 2 pm on Wednesday, February 6, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

February 6 - Fruition Technology Labs Lunch n' Learn: Building Your Best Team

One of the main reasons startups fail is because of the people. Fruition Technology will offer their best advice for creating a solid team behind your startup.

The event is from 11:30 am to 1 pm on Wednesday, February 6, at The Cannon (1336 Brittmoore Road). Learn more here.

February 12 - Women Founders Series: Breaking Free of Impostor Syndrome

Calling all female entrepreneurs, women in business, and allies. Hear from a panel of women about their careers — both the ups and downs — and their advice for navigating the male-driven tech industry.

The event is from 11:30 am to 1 pm on Tuesday, February 12, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

February 12 - Women’s Masters Network Launch Party

Make your goals a reality at this women's professional networking event and launch party. The keynote speaker is Deidre Mathis.

The event is from 6 to 9 pm on Tuesday, February 12, at TXRX Labs (205 Roberts Street). Learn more here.

February 12 - The Global Startup with Innovation Norway

Nine Norwegian startups will pitch potential investors and collaborators at Station Houston's office in order to find for opportunities for international expansion. The Innovation Norway companies that will pitch are: CoreAll, Exebenus, Flapump, Geocap, Hammertech, Oliasoft, Pera, Solution Seeker, and Turbulent Flux.

The event is from 6 to 8 pm on Tuesday, February 12, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

February 13 - BBL Labs Energy Tech Accelerator Launch Party & Drone Demo

BBL Ventures is introducing BBL Labs, an energy tech accelerator program in partnership with Station Houston. Learn about the new program and network with energy tech professionals.

The event is from 6 to 9 pm on Wednesday, February 13, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

February 18 - NRLC Workshop: Pretotyping & Prototyping with Kara Palamountain

Figure out if your startup idea or product is needed and possible before you start investing your money and time in it at this workshop at Rice University. Featured speaker, Kara Palamountain, is a professor at the Kellogg School of Management and the president of the Northwestern Global Health Foundation.

The event is from 4 to 5:30 pm on Monday, February 18, at Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (6100 Main St., Cambridge Office Building, Suite 130) Learn more here.

February 20 - Houston Blockchain Alliance Kickoff

New to the innovation scene, Houston Blockchain Alliance, a networking group of blockchain professionals, is celebrating its launch with a free event and panel discussion.

The kickoff celebration takes place from 5:30 to 8:30 pm on Wednesday, February 20, at the Houston CPA Society (777 Post Oak Blvd #500). Learn more here.

February 20 - InfoFluency Lunch n' Learn: Management Analytics for the Founder

If you're a founder who is evaluating or beginning use of a CRM, this one's for you. You'll get a basic understanding of the use of analytics in startup company management by attending the lunch and learn session.

The event is from 11:30 am to 1 pm on Wednesday, February 20, at The Cannon (1336 Brittmoore Road). Learn more here.

Technology is changing America's pastime, and the Houston Astros have the lead off. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Over the past decade or so, sports franchises have seen a boom in technology integration. The fact of the matter is that both the teams and the players need to tap into tech to have a competitive advantage on the field — and especially when it comes to the business side of things.

"Technologically advanced companies want to do business with technologically advanced companies," says Matt Brand, senior vice president of corporate partnerships and special events at the Houston Astros. "Old cats like me need to realize you have to stay current or else you're just going to get passed up."

Brand was the subject of a live recording of HXTV — the video arm of Houston Exponential — at The Cannon. He addressed several trends in sports technology, and shared how the Astros are approaching each new hot technology.

The Astros are pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, Brand says, and the trick is keeping a pulse on potential game-changing technology far in advance of implementation.

"The things that we're developing now in 2019 and 2020 are the thing that are going to help us in 2024 and 2025," Brand says.

The approach to technology in sports is changing as younger players enter the scene.

"This generation of players want all the technology they can get," Brand says. "They want what's going on up to the day."

From esports to sports betting sites, here's what the hometeam has on its radar, according to brand.

The evolution of pitching technology

One aspect of the game that's been greatly affected by technology is pitching. Brand says that pitching coach, Brent Strom, is better able to do his job nowadays that there's better quality video and monitoring technologies. Brand cited the transformations of former pitcher Charlie Morton and current pitcher Ryan Pressly. Both saw impressive transformations in their pitching ability thanks to Strom and his technology.

"Brent has the ability to take technology and blend it with the craft," Brand says.

The players as industrial machines

One way the franchise thinks about its players is as machines — in the least objectifying way, surely. But Brand compares baseball players to major, expensive oil and gas machines, and in heavy industry, it's very common for a company to drop $30 million or more on a machine. Of course the company would schedule preventative maintenance and service appointments to protect their investments.

"We've got players now who are high performance machines," Brand says, citing players like Justin Verlander. "We want to make sure we have the best technology and the best care around them."

From doctors and nutritionists to the latest and greatest technologies, implementing the best practices is a good way to protect your assets.

Wearables and sleep technology

Another trend within sports is tracking sleep using technology. Wearable devices to track sleep and health are widely used, says Brand, but the Astros weren't comfortable with the constant monitoring.

"They feel like it's an invasion of privacy," Brand says. They feel like the data would be used against them when it came time to negotiate their contracts.

But prioritizing sleep is crucial in a sport where players travel across the country playing 162 games a season. Brand says investing in the players' sleep equipment is something they make sure to do.

Esports

Brand says, somewhat controversial, that esports is pretty low on the franchise's priority list, and there's one reason for that: Money.

"A lot of these sports teams aren't profitable right now," Brand says, noting that he knows that will probably change over the years.

While the teams themselves might not be making money, the number of users of video games makes for a different avenue to revenue.

"The platforms are what we see as profitable," Brand says, explaining how he's seen brands like Nike advertise in gaming apps.

"There's definitely a pathway to profitability, but esports means different things to different people," he says.

Sports marketing and betting

Looking toward the future, Brand says he sees movement coming in marketing and betting within sports.

With mobile devices in the hands of most sports event goers, brands have access to authentic, engaging content.

"Everyone with a phone is a producer of content, and a lot of brands want that content," he says.

Sports betting technologies have seen profitable success in other United States markets that allow it.

"Betting is the next biggest thing in sports," Brand says. "All the major leagues are saddled up with big money there. In Texas, it's illegal still, but it's coming."