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

 
 

Drs. Maria Elena Bottazzi and Peter Hotez got the green light to distribute their low-cost COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia. Photo courtesy

A Houston-born COVID-19 vaccine has gotten the go-ahead to be produced and distributed in Indonesia.

PT Bio Farma, which oversees government-owned pharmaceutical manufacturers in Indonesia, says it’s prepared to make 20 million doses of the IndoVac COVID-19 vaccine this year and 100 million doses a year by 2024. This comes after the vaccine received authorization from the Indonesian Food and Drug Authority for emergency use in adults.

With more than 275 million residents, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country.

IndoVac was created by the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and Baylor College of Medicine. Drs. Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Bottazzi lead the vaccine project. Bio Farma is licensing IndoVac from BCM Ventures, the commercial group at the Baylor College of Medicine.

“Access to vaccines in the developing world is critical to the eradication of this virus,” Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, says in a news release.

Aside from distributing the vaccine in Indonesia, Bio Farma plans to introduce it to various international markets.

“The need for a safe, effective, low-cost vaccine for middle- to low-income countries is central to the world’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Bottazzi, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor.

“Without widespread inoculation of populations in the developing world, which must include safe, effective booster doses, additional [COVID-19] variants will develop, hindering the progress achieved by currently available vaccines in the United States and other Western countries.”

Bio Farma says it has completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials for IndoVac and is wrapping up a Phase 3 trial.

IndoVac is a version of the patent-free, low-cost Corbevax vaccine, developed in Houston and dubbed “The World’s COVID-19 Vaccine.” The vaccine formula can be licensed by a vaccine producer in any low- or middle-income country, which then can take ownership of it, produce it, name it, and work with government officials to distribute it, Hotez told The Texas Tribune in February.

Among donors that have pitched in money for development of the vaccine are the Houston-based MD Anderson and John S. Dunn foundations, the San Antonio-based Kleberg Foundation, and Austin-based Tito’s Vodka.

“During 2022, we hope to partner with the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies to vaccinate the world. We believe that global vaccine equity is finally at hand and that it is the only thing that can bring the COVID pandemic to an end,” Hotez and Bottazzi wrote in a December 2021 article for Scientific American.

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