eavesdropping in Houston

Overheard: 4 Houston BIPOC startup founders share their advice ahead of InnovationMap Awards

The four finalists in the BIPOC-Founded Business category for the inaugural InnovationMap Awards share their best advice for their fellow founders. Photos courtesy

Houston is often lauded as one of the most diverse cities in America, and that diversity is seen across its business communities as well, which includes its innovation ecosystem.

The InnovationMap Awards presented by Techwave announced its finalists across eight categories last week, and the winners will be celebrated at a hybrid event on September 8. Click here to register for the livestream.

The four finalists in the BIPOC-Founded Business category were asked to share their best advice to their fellow Black, Indigenous, and People of Color entrepreneurs. Here's what they had to say.

"Don't be afraid to network!"

Photo courtesy of LAMIK Beauty

— Kim Roxie, founder and CEO of LAMIK Beauty.

"Search for support within your community," Roxie continues. "There's always someone that knows someone who can introduce you to a potential buyer/investor/business opportunity."

Be "a sponge that soaks up all the knowledge as one moved forward in being a startup founder regardless of race."

Photo courtesy of Allotrope Medical

— Albert Huang, founder and CEO of Allotrope Medical.

Huang continues, saying: "This is the same mentorship that I've passed on to other BIPOC innovators and entrepreneurs that I've had the pleasure of working with."

"The road is long, and the wins are fewer than the losses at first. Celebrate each win, as much as you can."

Houston software startup to use fresh funds to become 'unquestionably the best' for the electricity industry

Photo courtesy of Molecule Software

— Sameer Soleja, founder and CEO of Molecule Software.

"Find your advocate. It is sometimes harder to prove yourself as a woman or minority, but a trusted advocate can build so much credibility for you."

Carolyn Rodz, CEO of Hello Alice

Photo via helloalice.com

— Carolyn Rodz, founder of Hello Alice.


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Building Houston

 
 

With this new joint effort, Syzygy is one step closer to commercial scale of its decarbonization technology. Photo courtesy of Syzygy

A Houston tech company has joined forces with a nonprofit to test a new sustainable fuel production process.

The project is a joint effort from Houston-based Syzygy Plasmonics and nonprofit research institute RTI International and sponsored by Equinor Ventures and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas. Based in the RTI facility in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, the six-month pilot is testing a way to convert two potent greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) — into low-carbon-intensity fuels, which have the potential to replace petroleum-based jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline.

"This demonstration will be the first of its kind and represents a disruptive step in carbon utilization. The sustainable fuels produced are expected to quickly achieve cost parity with today's fossil fuels," says Syzygy CEO Trevor Best in a news release. "Integrating our technology with RTI's Fischer-Tropsch synthesis system has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon intensity of shipping, trucking, and aviation without requiring major fleet modifications."

According to Syzygy, the pilot is a step toward being able to scale the process to a commercial-ready Syzygy e-fuels plant.

"By making minor adjustments in the process, we also expect to produce sustainable methanol using the same technology," Best continues.

An independent research institute, RTI International's focus is on improving the human condition. The multidisciplinary nonprofit seeks to support science-based solutions like Syzygy's technology, which has already proven its scale-up capabilities in earlier testing.

Through the partnership, RTI will assist Syzygy with process design and systems integration for the pilot-scale demonstration. Once it reaches commercial scale, the technology is expected to turn millions of tons of CO2 per year to produce sustainable fuels.

"We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Syzygy to test and assist in the scale-up of this promising technology," says Sameer Parvathikar, Ph.D., the director of the Renewable Energy and Energy Storage program in RTI's Technology Advancement and Commercialization business unit. "This work aligns with our capabilities, our goals of helping de-risk and commercialize novel technologies, and our vision to address the world's most critical problems with science-based solutions."

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