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Houston coworking space to give away a free year of workspace to a worthy startup

Houston-based WorkLodge announced its annual contest to give away a year of free work. Getty Images

WorkLodge, a Houston-based coworking space franchise, is again offering up a chance for a free year of space for a lucky startup in town.

IGNITE by WorkLodge, an annual program, launched on March 14 and closes on April 7. Applicants can enter for free at ignitebyworklodge.com. The form asks for business ownership details, marketing, basic financial information, and entrepreneurial vision questions, per the website.

If selected as a finalist, the startup founder will pitch their business at a judging panel on April 11 at 6:30 p.m. at WorkLodge's Woodland location located at 25700 I-45 Suite 400. It's at this event where a winner will be selected.

"During our previous IGNITE By WorkLodge for nonprofits office giveaway, we saw an astonishing turnout of individuals with incredible business concepts and no central office to help their dreams become reality," says WorkLodge CEO Mike Thakur in a release. "Through IGNITE By WorkLodge, our goal is to serve as the invisible supporters, knowledgeable mentors, and loudest cheerleaders for our community's startups. We're happy to give one lucky business the freedom to focus on their meaningful work in an environment designed for growth."

IGNITE by WorkLodge also has a contest for nonprofits, which begins accepting applications on October 1. Last year's nonprofit winner was Mythiquer Pickett, founder of The Woodlands-based nonprofit, We See Abilities.

"Winning IGNITE By WorkLodge has greatly impacted We See Abilities — finally a place we can call home," Pickett says on the program's website. "Businesses, family, and friends can see we have an established imprint in the community with this brand-new office by WorkLodge."

WorkLodge was founded in 2015 in Houston. The company has two locations in Houston — one in The Woodlands and one in Vintage Park. Dallas has two locations, Fort Worth has one, and St. Petersburg, Florida, is sixth location and only office outside of Texas.

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Building Houston

 
 

Unlike past awards programs hosted by Ignite Healthcare Network, the Ignite Madness winners accepted their awards via video call. Photo courtesy of Ignite

From the comfort of their own homes, several female entrepreneurs accepted investment and pitch prizes at the finals of an inaugural awards program created by a Houston-based, woman-focused health organization.

Ahead of the Ignite Madness finals on Thursday, October 29, Houston-based Ignite Healthcare Network named nine finalists that then pitched for three investment prizes. The finalists included:

  • Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Abilitech Medical — medical device company that creates assistive devices to aid those with upper-limb neuromuscular conditions or injuries.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana-based Chosen Diagnostics — a biotech company focusing on custom treatment. First, Chosen is focused on creating two novel biomarker diagnostic kits — one for gastrointestinal disease in premature infants.
  • San Francisco, California-based Ejenta — which uses NASA tech and artificial intelligence to enhance connected care.
  • Highland, Maryland-based Emergency Medical Innovation — a company focused on emergency medicine like Bleed Freeze, a novel device for more efficiently treating nosebleeds.
  • Columbia, Missouri-based Healium — an app to quickly reduce burnout, self-manage anxiety, and stress.
  • Farmington, Connecticut-based Nest Collaborative — digital lactation solutions and support.
  • Palo Alto, California-based Nyquist Data — a smart search engine to enable medical device companies to get FDA approvals faster.
  • New Orleans-Louisiana based Obatala Sciences — a biotech startup working with research institutions across the globe to advance tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
  • Perth, Australia-based OncoRes — a company that's developing a technology to provide surgeons with real-time assessment of tissue microstructure.
The inaugural event that mixed health care and basketball — two vastly different industries with strong connections to women — attracted support from partners and sponsors, such as Intel, Accenture, Morgan Lewis, Houston Methodist, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and more, according to Ayse McCracken, founder and board chair of Ignite.

"Our partners and sponsors are an integral part of our organization" says McCracken. "Without each and every one of them, the networks, resources, and commitment to advancing women leaders, we would not have grown so rapidly in just four years and our IGNITE Madness event would not enjoy this vibrant ecosystem that now surrounds female entrepreneurs."

First up in selecting their winner for their investment was Texas Halo Fund. Chosen Diagnostics took home the $50,000 investment.

"While we were impressed by everyone who pitched tonight, one company stood out to us," says Kyra Doolan, managing partner. "[Chosen Diagnostics] exemplifies what we are looking for: an innovative solution, a strong CEO, and a real addressable market."

The second monetary award was presented by Tom Luby, director of TMC Innovation. The award was an $100,000 investment from the TMC Venture Fund, as well as admission to TMCx. The recipient of the investment was OncoRes.

"We are absolutely blown away," says Katharine Giles, founder of Onco. "We've already got a great link to Texas and looking forward to more."

The largest monetary award that was on the table was presented by Wavemaker Three-Sixty Health, a leading Southern-California based, early stage venture capital firm, for $150,000. However, at the time of the announcement, Managing Partner Jay Goss decided to award four startups an undisclosed amount of investment. Goss says he and his team will meet with each company to establish an investment.
The companies that were recognized by Wavemaker were: Healium, Ejenta, Emergency Medical Innovation, and Nest Collaborative.
Lastly, Ignite itself had $27,500 cash awards to give out to the pitch competition winners. The funds will be distributed between the winners. OncoRes took first place, Abilitech came in second place, and Obatala Sciences took third place.

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