2021 in review
Here are Houston's top social impact innovation stories of the year
Editor's note: As 2021 comes to a close, InnovationMap is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston innovation. When it came to impact innovation — from diversifying startup support and game-changing startups — in Houston, five stories trended among readers.
Jesse Martinez, founder of the LatinX Startup Alliance, joins InnovationMap for a Q&A on why he's relocating his nonprofit to Houston. Photo courtesy of LSA
Jesse Martinez was working in Silicon Valley before it was Silicon Valley. He took his years of experience within that tech ecosystem and launched the LatinX Startup Alliance to support his fellow Hispanic entrepreneurs — and now he's bringing that support to his hometown.
The LatinX Startup Alliance will move its headquarters into The Ion in 2022, Martinez tells InnovationMap. He's excited to finally make his professional return to Houston and to help support the diverse ecosystem — one that has been created with diversity at the forefront, unlike Silicon Valley and other coastal tech hubs.
"We're on the ground floor. We're helping to build that foundation. It's not an afterthought. It's not something that now we're trying to go back and think of diversity," Martinez tells InnovationMap. "I think that's the beautiful thing about Houston and everyone that I've met is that it's been so diverse and inclusive. That spirit is already there. So, how do we just maximize that?" Click here to read the full article.
Bevy co-founders and working moms Carissa Janeway (left) and Lynda Attaway wanted to create a service for helping busy families keep things moving smoothly. Photo courtesy of Bevy
So much to do and so little time? We feel you. In a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 60 percent of U.S. adults said they sometimes felt too busy to enjoy life. Bevy, an organization company serving greater Houston, is helping the overwhelmed and active do it all.
"Bevy was actually born from our-real life experiences," explains Lynda Attaway, co-founder and CEO of Bevy.
As the former co-founder and chief strategy officer of Sunnova Energy, she led a complex schedule until the demands of doing it all got to her. While climbing the corporate ladder for 18 years, she would "do whatever it took and stay as late as it took," to succeed.
While trying to raise her three children and balance a large role, she soon realized that many of her male colleagues had a stay-at-home wife who managed the at-home projects that can take so much time.
"I finally came to the realization that I could not be everything to everybody, which is a very common kind of syndrome that we tend to have as women," she shares. "Something needed to change." Click here to read the full article.
Grace Rodriguez, CEO and executive director of Impact Hub Houston, and Jeff Reichman, founder of Sketch City, have announced a partnership between their organizations. Photos courtesy
Two Houston organizations that have partnered for three years to provide a platform for innovation and ideation have announced a more formalized partnership.
Impact Hub Houston, a global impact innovation incubator, and Sketch City, a nonprofit focused on advancing technology and data in public decision making and social good, have announced the merger of Sketch City into a new initiative under Impact Hub Houston: Code for Houston.
"We're honored to continue Sketch City's work of connecting Houston's tech talent with civic innovation opportunities through Code for Houston," says Grace Rodriguez, CEO and executive director of Impact Hub Houston, in a news release. "From our response and recovery collaboration after Hurricane Harvey to our ongoing events that help diverse do-gooders and developers collaborate on and create impactful solutions for Houston, we have established a strong track record of effective #Tech4Good initiatives." Click here to continue reading.
Houston entrepreneur, Allie Danziger, wanted to create a program for young professionals looking to gain experience in unprecedented times. Photo courtesy of Ampersand
Last March, school districts abruptly closed as the threat of the coronavirus grew. In-person classes were cancelled, graduation ceremonies were held virtually, and the future career plans of new graduates were suspended in uncertainty. Through the incertitude, a Houston-based company formed to offer a path forward for young professionals impacted by a newly changed world.
In the early weeks of the pandemic, Allie Danziger sat down with her husband and tried to imagine what she would tell her children to do if they were graduating college. The University of Texas graduate relished her college experience before founding Integrate, an award-winning marketing firm in Houston.
"I wouldn't want them to go to virtual college and not have the same type of experience we were all fortunate to have," she explains.
Simultaneously, Danziger's email began to overflow with young people looking for advice on how to move forward or questioning a gap year. "I've always loved coaching and mentoring young professionals right out of college," she says. Click here to read the full article.
HTXelerator, which is launching in September, is aimed at supporting future leaders and connecting them with the city's burgeoning tech scene. Photo via HoustonTX.gov
A new nonprofit program dedicated to preparing the future leaders of the city of Houston's is launching with the city's burgeoning innovation ecosystem in mind.
HTXelerator is a three-month program that trains its group of aspiring politicians on the nuts and bolts of city government. The program — designed to be similar to a tech accelerator — will launch out of The Cannon Downtown and The Ion in September. The idea to link the program with the startup and innovation community is intentional, says Randy Romman, executive director. Co-located with The Cannon and The Ion, Romman says he hopes the accelerator provides an opportunity for collisions between politics and innovation.
"Houston, in particular, needs more tech dollars and more people aware of tech dollars," he tells InnovationMap. "That's why we wanted this in The Cannon and The Ion — so that those people can sit in on these classes and participate. Our topics range from land use to economic development, transportation, and more. And hopefully these future leaders can learn something from the tech world." Click here to read the full article.