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5 most popular innovation stories in Houston this week

Top news from Houston's innovation ecosystem included the announcement of the 2022 Houston Innovation Awards finalists, two cohorts revealed, and more. Photo via Pexels

Editor's note:Another week has come and gone, and it's time to round up the top headlines from the past few days. Trending Houston tech and startup news on InnovationMap included innovators to know, the finalists for the 2022 Houston Innovation Awards, and more.


3 Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Craig Ceccanti of T-Minus Solutions, Katie Eick of Rockin' Pets, Rollin' Vets, and Blair Garrou of Mercury. Photos courtesy

In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from venture capital to software — recently making headlines in Houston innovation. Continue reading.

Finalists named ahead of 2022 Houston Innovation Awards Gala

Here's what Houston startups and innovators will be honored at the Houston Innovation Awards Gala on November 9. Graphic via Gow Media

The Houston Innovation Awards Gala is just a few weeks away — and now the city knows who all it will be celebrating on November 9.

Eight judges evaluated over 150 companies and individuals across 11 categories for the 2022 Houston Innovation Awards. The event is a collaboration between InnovationMap and Houston Exponential to showcase the best of technology and innovation in the Bayou City.

This year's judges included Carolyn Rodz, founder and CEO of Hello Alice; Wogbe Ofori, founder of Wrx Companies; Scott Gale, executive director of Halliburton Labs; Ashley Danna, senior manager of regional economic development of Greater Houston Partnership; Kelly McCormick, professor at the University of Houston; Paul Cherukuri, vice president of innovation at Rice University; Lawson Gow, CEO of Houston Exponential; and Natalie Harms, editor of InnovationMap.

All 43 of the finalists will be honored at the gala on November 9, and winners will be named in each category. Additionally, the event will honor the 2022 Trailblazer Award recipient, Blair Garrou of Mercury, who was announced earlier this month. Continue reading,

Early-stage startup accelerator names latest Houston cohort

The latest Houston cohort for gBETA has been announced. Photo courtesy of gBETA

The sixth Houston cohort for global startup accelerator and investor gener8tor's gBETA program is underway, and five Houston early-stage companies have joined the program.

The no-equity program, which is based out of the Downtown Launchpad, kicked off in September and lasts seven weeks. In that time, the startups are connected to a national network of mentors, customers, corporate partners, and investors.

“This gener8tor Houston cohort is among our strongest yet,” says Robert Pieroni, director of Economic Development at Central Houston Inc., in the news release. “We are excited about the caliber of entrepreneurs the Downtown Launchpad is attracting and the entrepreneurial ecosystem being created.” Continue reading.

6 startups join Houston sports tech program

These sports innovation companies have joined Pokatok. Photo via Getty Images

A Houston-based organization focused on advancing sports tech startups has named its latest cohort.

Pokatok Labs announced the addition of six companies to its portfolio as the program — focused on seed and series A startups across health tech, gaming, fan experience, and more — kicks off. Lasting nine weeks and held twice a year, Pokatok's inaugural cohort was announced in May. Participating companies receive access to a network of organizations, advisors, investors, and subject matter experts within sports tech.

"We are pumped to launch our second cohort of all-star companies. If it's possible, this collection of startups may be even more outstanding than the last group," says Lawson Gow, Pokatok's co-founder. "We are eager to immerse them into the Texas market and to otherwise support their growth in any way that we can." Continue reading.

Exclusive: Houston Exponential names new CEO to lead strategy at the evolving organization

Meet Natara Branch — the new CEO of HX. Photo courtesy of Natara Branch

There's a new leader at the helm of an organization dedicated to advancing Houston's innovation ecosystem.

Natara Branch has been named as CEO of Houston Exponential. She started the new role earlier this month and replaces Lawson Gow, who temporarily held the responsibility when his company, Gow Companies, acquired the entity and transitioned it from a nonprofit into a for-profit. While Gow Cos. remains the parent company of HX, the organization will be led independently by its own set of leadership and board, which is in the process of being formed.

In her new role, Branch is focused on establishing the strategy of the evolved organization as well as strengthening and establishing key partnerships within Houston and beyond. Continue reading,

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston innovators podcast episode 167

Houstonian and serial entrepreneur plans to scale nonprofit fintech tool

The sky's the limit for DonateStock, Co-Founder and CEO Steve Latham says. Photo courtesy of DonateStock

Donating stock can be a smart way to offload assets and optimize a donation — but Steve Latham thought it was so cumbersome a process that it didn't even feel worth it.

"It was such a hassle that I never did it again," says Latham on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

That opportunity for innovation stuck with Latham as he advanced his career in AdTech in New York before moving back to Houston a few years ago. A serial entrepreneur, Latham was an early co-founder of the Houston Technology Center.

His latest venture is DonateStock — a tech platform that simplifies stock donation for both the donor and the beneficiary. The early version of Latham's vision was to clear up the lack of communication the original process had — nonprofits receiving stock donations were never notified about who made each donation.

The next phase for the fintech company, as Latham explains on the show, is to scale this idea by way of channel distribution, rather than just directly working between donor and nonprofit. He says he wants DonateStock to be a featured as an "easy button" option wherever donations are accepted online.

"Now that we've proven and shown that our process works," he says, "let's scale that to make that button available to the 20 or so online donation platforms."

In order to accomplish this goal, Latham is preparing to fundraise early this year, but it's a challenging time for fintech amid economic uncertainty, he says. So far, the company has raise $2.25 million from within the company's network along with angel and family office investment.

"We've raised more money to extend our runway, and we're keeping a super tight lid on expenses because your cash is your oxygen," he says. "There are companies going out of business in our industry right now that had really promising businesses but just spent too much money before they could get to the revenue phase."

This is the third time in Latham's career that he's seen this recession activity, so he feels confident he knows the playbook of how to handle what's on the horizon.

Latham shares more about the difference his company is making within the nonprofit sector, as well as his passion for Houston and its local tech ecosystem — which he's seen grow up from afar — on the podcast episode. Stream the episode below, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.


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