Mover and shaker

Houston Exponential hires serial entrepreneur and investor as president

Harvin Moore, who has a 20-year career in tech and innovation, has been named as president of Houston Exponential. Courtesy of HX

There's a new leader at the helm of the city's startup and innovation nonprofit — and he has some familiarity with the innovation ecosystem.

Harvin Moore was announced to be the new president of Houston Exponential, replacing Russ Capper, the inaugural executive director of HX. Capper has served since April 2018 and will stay involved with the organization, according to a news release.

Moore, a Houston native, has a 20-year career in tech and startups in Houston. He is a principal at an early-stage investment firm, Frontera Technology Ventures, and before that served as COO for Space Services Holdings Inc.

"We are excited to welcome someone with Harvin's track record to lead Houston Exponential through the next phase of growth in the ecosystem," says Gina Luna, chair of HX, in the release. "The Houston innovation community has made great strides in the last couple of years, and with Harvin's leadership, HX will take our work to the next level."

Moore, who was re-elected three times as Houston Independent School District's Board of Education, is described as an active advisor, mentor, and angel investor for the likes of Houston Angel Network, Capital Factory and Station Houston.

"As someone who has been involved in Houston's digital tech ecosystem since its earliest days, I am inspired by the tremendous momentum generated in just the last few years," Moore says in the release. "We are at an inflection point, and I believe Houston Exponential will continue to be a catalyst driving Houston to become a leading innovation hub within the next two to three years."

Moore joins HX at a pivotal moment as many exciting innovation projects are expected to deliver the next few years, such as MassChallenge Texas' inaugural Houston cohort, the Texas Medical Center's TMC3 campus, Rice Management Co.'s The Ion, the close of the HX Venture Fund and more.

"The pace of the wins and major announcements in our innovation space is rapidly accelerating, and I am pleased that HX has played a role in many of these, including being an enthusiastic champion for the work of many of our partners," Luna says in the release. "In this next phase of work, I expect we will continue to build valuable partnerships and will activate the venture capital firms that are showing tremendous interest in the Houston ecosystem and the startups here."

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Building Houston

 
 

After working with thousands of interns, Allie Danziger of Ampersand Professionals says she's now got a product to upskill and train new hires for employers. Photo courtesy of Ampersand

After seeing success with her internship training and matchmaking platform, Allie Danziger, founder and CEO of Ampersand Professionals, has expanded the concept to include a new hire training service that allows employers to better optimize the onboarding process and have a well-trained new staff member from day one.

In just over a year, Ampersand has worked with over 7,000 professionals through its original concept of upskilling and matching young professionals to internship programs. A few months ago, Danziger and her team expanded to include career development training for students first entering the workforce with the City of Houston's Hire Houston Youth program. Danziger says it was developing out the platform for this program that proved there was a need for this type of training.

"While we have focused on matching professionals with businesses for paid internships, we recognized a further gap with employers that have their own recruiting/talent acquisition teams, or just their own preferred way of bringing on entry-level talent, and didn’t have a need for our matching platform," Danziger tells InnovationMap. "But, they recognized the benefit of our proven training platform that pre-vets and de-risks their hires, and still wanted access to the training for their own hires."

The new program has evolved from training interns to new hires, so parts of the program that focuses on interviewing or applying for a job have been removed. Instead, the 8.5 hours of training focuses on networking, best practices for working with a manager and team, performance reviews, common software training, and more.

Danziger says usually new hires need the most experienced mentor or manager, but they don't usually get that support — especially when it comes to businesses that don't have their own built-out mentorship or training program.

"Ampersand’s new training product fills that gap — it gives employers of any size any easy solution to provide basic job readiness training to employees, access to our team of dedicated coaches, and a detailed report at the end of their training summarizing how their new hire did in the training and any trends recognized and tips for managing this employee based on what the platform uncovered," she says. "Businesses can also sign up for additional coaching sessions and customize training materials, as an add-on if interested."

The program costs the employer $100 per new employee, and checkout online takes less than a minute. Through both this program and the original internship program, Ampersand is constantly evolving its training content.

"These professionals are going through the same training experience that we have proven out over the last year, and we are constantly adding to based on data we see in the user experience," Danziger says.

Danziger recently joined the Houston Innovators Podcast discuss some of the benchmarks she's met with Ampersand, as well as the importance of investing in Gen Z hires. Listen to that episode below.


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