HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 223
Houston innovator bets on Bayou City to scale fast-growing unicorn tech co.
Last November, Houston-founded logistics tech company Cart.com announced that it would be returning its headquarters to Houston after spending the last two years growing in Austin. But Co-Founder and CEO Omair Tariq says that while the corporate address may have changed, he actually never left.
"I've been in Houston now forever — and I don't think I'm planning on leaving anytime soon. I love Houston — this city has given me everything I have," Tariq says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "I even love the traffic and everything people hate about Houston."
Tariq, who was born in Pakistan and grew up in Dubai before relocating as a teen to Houston, shared his entrepreneurial journey on the show, which included starting a jewelry business and being an early employee at Blinds.com before it was acquired in 2014 by Home Depot.
"For me to build something here was always a priority," Tariq says. He founded Cart.com in 2020.
He explains that the initial HQ relocation to Austin in 2021 was more of a co-location between the two Texas cities that was motivated by an increase in Austin activity for investors and potential customers for Cart.com.
"Austin was doing a really good job of branding itself as being the city in Texas to come to when you think about innovation or technology," Tariq says. "What we learned was that as we were building our own brand of being a technology company and being a company that wanted to gain global and at least national credibility, we thought that if we're closer to the action happening in Austin, we would get there faster."
Since the relocation, Cart.com raised a $60 million series C and grown its customer base to over 6,000 users. After making several acquisitions, the company also operates 14 fulfillment centers nationwide.
"I think Austin served its purpose. It certainly allowed us to be in the limelight in all the right ways, and I'm grateful for it," Tariq says. "But once we got to a point, once we closed our series C round and became a unicorn ... I think we're now at a scale where the infrastructure that Houston provides is probably something that will be more attractive and useful for us in the long term."
And Tariq adds on the show that he feels confident that he knows Houston well, and knows it is the right place to continue Cart.com's growth, which he says hopes includes 10 times the brands supported, a global footprint, and potentially an IPO.