who's who

3+ Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Betsy Furler of For All Abilities, Marshall Law and Aaron Knape of Rivalry Tech, and 11 Houston Innovation Awards winners. Photos courtesy

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to over a dozen local innovators across industries — from cognitive tech to mobile ordering — recently making headlines in Houston innovation. That's right it's a special edition of this Monday feature. Scroll to see the 11 honorees from the Houston Innovation Awards Gala.

Betsy Furler, co-founder and CEO of For All Abilities

Betsy Furler, co-founder and CEO of For All Abilities, joins this week's Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo courtesy of For All Abilities

The fact that people's cognitive abilities differ widely is not exactly new information, but with new technologies and information about the subject, communities are able to learn better and more efficient ways of coping with neurodiversity — especially in the workplace. Betsy Furler, founder and CEO of Houston-based For All Abilities, is working on a unique approach to these challenges.

After its initial assessment, For All Abilities, which operates as a subscription software model for businesses, provides employees with curated low or no-cost apps and efficiency tools. While her work is mission-driven, Furler says on the show she was very intentional on starting her organization as a for-profit tech startup.

"It really makes sense from a business perspective to support your employees this way," she says. Click here to read more.

Marshall Law and Aaron Knape of Rivalry Technologies

Rivalry Tech's co-founders — Marshall Law and Aaron Knape — share news of the company's latest round of investment. Photo courtesy of Rivalry Tech

Rivalry Tech, originally founded as sEATz and tackling mobile ordering in sports venues, has raised $3.5 million following expanding with a new product, myEATz, that targets the health care, leisure, and business industries. The round was led by Houston-based Sightcast, with participation from Houston-based Softeq Venture Studio, Rice University’s Valhalla Investment Group, and more.

Co-Founders Aaron Knape, Marshall Law, and Craig Ceccanti launched the company in 2018. The idea came to Law after he missed catching a home run ball in the 2017 World Series because he was stuck in a long line waiting for concessions.

“We have built an amazing mobile ordering platform over the last four years for some of the best teams in professional and collegiate sports. It is exciting to see our success in sports and entertainment translate into opportunities in other industries. People want the best mobile ordering experience no matter where they are. That is exactly what we provide,” says Law. Click here to read more.

Meet the startup founders, mentors, investors, and other innovation leaders honored at the Houston Innovation Awards Gala

The 2022 Houston Innovation Awards revealed its big winners across 11 categories. Photos courtesy

Last Wednesday, InnovationMap and Houston Exponential announced the winners of the 2022 Houston Innovation Awards Gala. Eleven founders, mentors, investors, and more took home wins. Click here to read more.

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houston innovators podcast episode 28

Editor's Picks: 7 favorite Houston interviews of 2022

The ultimate who's who of 2022 — favorite Houston Innovators Podcast guests of last year. Photos courtesy

Editor's note: In 2022, I recorded over 50 episodes of the Houston Innovators Podcast — a weekly discussion with a Houston innovator, startup founder, investor, and more. I've rounded up seven podcast episodes that stood out for me looking back at the year of recordings. Scroll through to see whom I selected and stream their individual episodes, and tune into the last episode of the year where I explain why I selected each guest.



Veronica Wu, founder of First Bight Ventures — Episode 119

Veronica Wu is the founder of First Bight Ventures, a VC firm focused on funding early-stage synthetic biology companies. Wu relocated from Silicon Valley to Houston to start her firm. She’s held tech positions at Apple, Tesla, and Motorola, and she says she’s not afraid to dive headfirst into a new technology she sees as promising — and that’s exactly what she’s doing in the SynBio space now and she’s betting on Houston to be a hub for it. Read more.

Armand Paradis, founder and CEO of ComboCurve — Episode 132

Houston startups saw some major funding rounds this year, and one startup that was in the midst of deploying new capital into their plans of growing and scaling was ComboCurve. Founder Armand Paradis closed a $50 million series B round earlier this year. The company has built a software platform for various verticals within the energy industry, and Paradis describes how he wants his technology to have an impact the energy transition. Read more.

John "JR" Reale, entrepreneur in residence at the Texas Medical Center — Episode 136 and 137

In June, John Reale was a guest on two episodes. He discussed his role at the Texas Medical Center’s innovation institute as well as his own early-stage venture capital firm. Reale has been a major player within the Houston Innovation ecosystem since its early days, and he has a unique perspective on Houston’s early innovation activity, including the founding of Station Houston and the rejection from Amazon for its second HQ. Read more.


Allie Danziger, founder of Ampersand — Episode 126

In March, Allie Danziger dove into the generational divide within the workforce and the Great Resignation. She founded Ampersand, a professional development tech platform that onboards interns, and upskills them on how to be successful in the workplace. Danziger is so passionate about making sure both companies and the future of the workforce are prepared to be on the same page.Read more.

Benjamin Foster, founder of Nursify — Episode 148

Benjamin Foster founded Nursery, a platform that helps connect nurses with the health care facilities that need them. While he is proud of the tool he created to help nurses find work, he strives to make the platform inclusive, educational, and supportive for these health care professionals who are burnt out from the pandemic. Read more.

Joanna Nathan, CEO of Prana Thoracic — Episode 149

Joanna Nathan is an individual who transitioned from supporting startups at Johnson and Johnson's Center for Device Innovation, to leading a startup of her own. She shares how she came to become CEO of Prana Thoracic, a company tackling early-stage lung cancer diagnostics. She also shared her story of her own personal loss — her young son, Lionel — and how this loss drives her every day. Read more.

Natara Branch, CEO of Houston Exponential — Episode 158

Natara Branch, the new CEO of Houston Exponential, joined HX in November and jumped into the role headfirst. She is passionate about Houston, and took it upon herself to meet the Houston innovation community — and to make sure they know we're all in it together. Read more.

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