new to hou

New venture brings next-generation additive manufacturing to Houston

Two innovators are bringing additive manufacturing opportunities to Houston. Image via Getty Images

Last year, Sean Harkins introduced his friend Brien Beach to the world of additive manufacturing, and together the duo saw a business opportunity not only for themselves — but also for all of Houston.

Harkins had been working in 3D printing and additive manufacturing — the process of creating an object by building it one layer at a time — for the last decade and studied industrial design at the University of Houston. Working together, Harkins and Beach launched AmPd Labs, Houston’s next-generation additive manufacturing facility for industrial design and production.

“I met Brien through a mutual friend and we started discussing this idea of an additive manufacturing center in Houston,” says Harkins, president of AmPd Labs.

AmPD Lab’s focus is to break down traditional engineering design constraints, forcing the question “can this be additively manufactured?” The facility uniquely enables the printing of metals through metal binder jetting technology.

Last week, the company opened its first dedicated space near the Heights that was built to be the production studio as well as a place to bring in potential partners interested in additive manufacturing.

“There is a hill to climb with market acceptance, but we want to be the champions of that and Houston is just a great place to start this because it's the largest industrial city in America and there's so much industry here and there's tons of engineers in this community,” says Beach. “Houston is such a business-forward place. A ‘how can I help you’ type of business place.”

In addition to the launch of the new facility, Beach and Harkins visualize they will soon create a trade-school-type concept of “Digital Craftsmen” for additive manufacturing and offer an educational platform to help build a skilled workforce in this space.

“AM is not a fit for everything, but by working together, we can find those parts and products in which an AM solution can give you an operational or competitive advantage,” says Beach. “We will work with you through the design process, provide samples for testing, work through parts quality and qualification, and eventually find some products that you can permanently implement into your business.”

AmPd Labs will focus its business on these dedicated areas of impact:

  • Manufacturing technology choice
  • Part design
  • Material selection
  • Material performance
  • Assembly and workflow assessment
  • Business model impact
  • Supply chain impact
  • Increased data generation
  • Sales and marketing approach

Sean Harkins and Brien Beach opened AmPd Labs' space in the Heights last week. Images via ampdlabs.llc

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Building Houston

 
 

With Clutch, connecting brands with creators has never been easier and more inclusive. Photo courtesy of Clutch

An app that originally launched on Houston college campuses has announced it's now live nationwide.

Clutch founders Madison Long and Simone May set out to make it easier for the younger generation to earn money with their skill sets. After launching a beta at local universities last fall, Clutch's digital marketplace is now live for others to join in.

The platform connects brands to its network of creators for reliable and authentic work — everything from social media management, video creation, video editing, content creation, graphic design projects, and more. With weekly payments to creators and an inclusive platform for users on both sides of the equation, Clutch aims to make digital collaboration easier and more reliable for everyone.

“We’re thrilled to bring our product to market to make sustainable, authentic lifestyles available to everyone through the creator economy," says May, CTO and co-founder of Clutch. "We’re honored to be part of the thriving innovation community here in Houston and get to bring more on-your-own-terms work opportunities to all creators and businesses through our platform.”

In its beta, Clutch facilitated collaborations for over 200 student creators and 50 brands — such as DIGITS and nama. The company is founded with a mission of "democratizing access to information and technology and elevating the next generation for all people," according to a news release from Clutch. In the beta, 75 percent of the creators were people of color and around half of the businesses were owned by women and people of color.

“As a Clutch Creator, I set my own pricing, schedule and services when collaborating on projects for brands,” says Cathy Syfert, a creator through Clutch. “Clutch Creators embrace the benefits of being a brand ambassador as we create content about the products we love, but do it on behalf of the brands to help the brands grow authentically."

The newly launched product has the following features:

  • Creator profile, where users can share their services, pricing, and skills and review inquiries from brands.
  • Curated matching from the Clutch admin team.
  • Collab initiation, where users can accept or reject incoming collab requests with brands.
  • Collab management — communication, timing, review cycles — all within the platform.
  • In-app payments with a weekly amount selected by the creators themselves.
  • Seamless cancellation for both brands and creators.
Clutch raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Precursor Ventures, Capital Factory, HearstLab, and more. Clutch was originally founded as Campus Concierge in 2021 and has gone through the DivInc Houston program at the Ion.

Madison Long, left, and Simone May co-founded Clutch. Photo courtesy of Clutch

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