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Here's what Dallas Startup Week events Houston entrepreneurs should attend

Dallas Startup Week has pivoted to online panels and chats. Here's which ones Houston innovators shouldn't miss. Getty Images

While a 4-hour trip up Interstate 45 might, in years prior, could have caused Houston entrepreneurs pause from attending the annual Dallas Startup Week, this year there's no excuse.

DSW is taking place online this year, and there are more than a couple virtual events Houston entrepreneurs need to attend. Here's which virtual events Houstonians should log on to.

Monday - The State of Fundraising in Texas

A panel of Texas-based venture experts will discuss the state of fundraising in Dallas and Texas as a whole. The panel includes:

  • Bryan Chambers, vice president of Accelerator & Investment Fund at Capital Factory
  • Cindy Revol, principal at Perot Jain
  • Laura Baldwin, managing director at Golden Seeds
  • Mike Marcantonio, principal at Live Oak Venture Partners

The virtual panel is at 9 am on Monday, August 31. More information.

Monday - Women Investing in Women

Two Houston women — Leslie Goldman, co-founder and general partner of The Artemis Fund, and Kim Raath, co-founder and CEO of Topl — are taking the virtual stage to discuss women in investing.

The virtual fireside chat is at 11 am on Monday, August 31. More information.

Monday - Innovating in co-working in a COVID-19 world

Trey Bowles and Delanie Majors from The DEC Network will host CEO and founder of Common Desk, Nick Clark, for a discussion on how COVID-19 affected co-working spaces and the entrepreneurs that used to work out of them.

The virtual panel is at 11:30 am on Monday, August 31. More information.

Tuesday - The Future of Marketing Post COVID-19

In 2020, the world changed as we know it. Hear from these marketing leaders about how the landscape will continue to change, and how you can be equipped to market your business during and after a pandemic. Panelists include:
  • Ramon Mendez, co-founder of Brand Army
  • Phil Lockhart, partner & chief digital officer of Credera
  • Michael Pratt, founder of Digital Fight Club
  • Laci McKinney, founder of The People's Voice Creative Agency
  • Jennifer Cho, executive vice president and general manager if Weber Shandwick

The virtual fireside chat is at 3:15 pm on Tuesday, September 1. More information.

Wednesday - Do You Really Know Your Customer: Customer Segmentation is Key to Success

Learn to keys to customer success from a panel of seven businesswomen, including:

  • Tracey Altman, principal, Altman Consulting
  • Sophia Johnson, founder & president at Alpha Business Images
  • Anjie Vichayanonda, founder & CEO of Leg Up Legal
  • Karen Jenkins, senior director and regional sales executive of Capital One
  • Kristy Alballero, co-founder & COO, IOOGO
  • Kristy Alballero is the co-founder and COO of IOOGO
  • Marty McDonald, CEO of Boss Women Media

The virtual fireside chat is at 10:15 am on Wednesday, September 2. More information.

Wednesday - How Smalls Can Win Big with Department of Defense

Learning to win government contracts can be a challenging task, yet millions of startups in the United States are thriving because of them. As a founder, entrepreneur, or just a curious individual, check out this session to learn about the keys to success in government contracting. Panelists include:

  • David Shaw, co-founder and chief commercialization officer at Astrapi
  • Steve Guengerich, senior adviser at the University of Texas at Dallas
  • Dave Copps, CEO of Hypergiant Sensory Sciences
  • Sam Riehn, business development at Long Capture & Contract Management

The virtual fireside chat is at 11 am on Wednesday, September 2. More information.

Thursday - The State of Corporate Venture

A panel of experts from some of the largest corporations in the world discuss how their companies work with and invest in startups. They will discuss ways to engage with them, what kinds of companies they look to invest in, and how investing has changed during a tumultuous 2020.

  • Duane Dankesreiter, senior vice president of Research and Innovation of Dallas Regional Chamber
  • Aman Sharma, partner of Capital One Ventures
  • Marisa Bertha, senior director at New Business Development & 7-Ventures, 7-Eleven
  • Jim Adler, founding managing director at Toyota Ventures

The virtual fireside chat is at 1:05 pm on Thursday, September 3. More information.

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Building Houston

 
 

SeekerPitch exists to update the job hiring process in a way that benefits both the job seekers and recruiters. Photo via Getty Images

Companies across the country have been requiring resumes and cover letters from their new hire hopefuls since the World War II era, and it's about time that changed. A startup founded in Houston has risen to the occasion.

Houstonian Samantha Hepler had the idea for SeekerPitch when she was looking for her next move. She felt like she had developed a formidable career in digital transformation and had worked with big name clients from Chevron to Gucci. However, she couldn't even get an interview for a role she felt she would be a shoe-in for.

"I knew if I could just get through the door, a company would see the value in me," Hepler tells InnovationMap. "I wasn't being seen, and I wasn't being heard. I didn't know a way to do that."

And she wasn't alone in this frustration. Hepler says she discovered she was one of the 76 percent of job candidates who get filtered out based on former job titles and keywords. At the same time, Hepler says she discovered that 80 percent of companies reported difficulty finding talent.

Samantha Hepler had the idea for SeekerPitch based on her own ill-fated job hunt experience. Photo courtesy of SeekerPitch

"I was just a symptom of a larger problem companies were facing," Hepler says. "Companies were using algorithms to dilute their talent pool, and then the hires they were making weren't quality because they were looking for people based on what they've done. They weren't looking at people for what they could do."

SeekerPitch, which is in the current cohort of gBETA Houston, allows job seekers to create an account and tell their story — not just their job history. The platform prioritizes video content and quick interviews so that potential hires can get face-to-face with hiring managers.

"We empower companies to hear the candidates' stories," Hepler says. "We're bringing candidates streaming to computer screens. We are the Netflix of recruiting."

Hepler gives an example of a first-generation college graduate who's got "administrative assistant" and "hostess" on her resume — but who has accomplished so much more than that. She put herself through school with no debt and in three years instead of four. SeekerPitch allows for these types of life accomplishments and soft skills into the recruiting process.

SeekerPitch profiles allow job seekers to tell their story — not just their past job experience. Photo courtesy of SeekerPitch

Over the past few years, a trend in hiring has been in equity and diversity, and Hepler says that people have been trying to address this with blurring out people's names and photos.

"Our belief is that connection is the antidote to bias," Hepler says, mentioning a hypothetical job candidate who worked at Walmart because they couldn't afford to take multiple unpaid internships. "They can't come alive on a resume and they won't stand a chance next to another person."

SeekerPitch is always free for job seekers, and, through the end of the year, it's also free for companies posting job positions. Beginning in January 2022, it will cost $10 per day to list a job opening. Also next year — Hepler says she'll be opening a round of pre-seed funding in order to grow her team. So far, the company has been bootstrapped, thanks to re-appropriated funding from Hepler's canceled wedding. (She opted for a cheaper ceremony instead.)

Right now, SeekerPitch sees an opportunity to support growing startups that need to make key hires — and quickly. The company has an ongoing pilot partnership with a Houston startup that is looking to hiring over a dozen positions in a month.

"As a startup, your key hires are going to make or break your company — but you have to hire quickly," Hepler says. "That's the ultimate challenge for startups. ... But if you don't hire well it can cost your company a lot of money or be the demise of your company. It's people who make a company great."

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