HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 38
Local innovation leader to focus on diversity while standing up new-to-Houston cleantech incubator
As Greentown Labs, a cleantech startup incubator based outside of Boston, enters into the Houston market, it's doing so with diversity and inclusion in mind, says Juliana Garaizar, launch director at Greentown Houston.
Garaizar has been involved in the Houston innovation ecosystem for years from her stints at the Houston Angel Network followed by the Texas Medical Center's venture fund. She's also been involved with Portfolia — a female-focused venture network — and is president at the Business Angel Minority Association, or baMa. She's spent much of her time lately advocating and promoting diversity in investing — something that falls in line with Greentown's priorities as they enter into the most diverse city in the country.
"The latest founding partners that we've had at Greentown Labs when they were considering becoming a partner, they all asked what we are doing in terms of diversity and inclusion," Garaizar says in this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "We are putting together a working group at Greentown for D&I. It's exciting that many of our partners are engaging."
She's referring to the 11 — and counting — corporate founding partners Greentown Houston has announced so far. Greentown's entrance into Houston has been long awaited, and Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, hired Garaizar and her colleague, Jason Ethier, the operations lead for Greentown Houston, to be the boots on the ground during this time.
With COVID-19 affecting so much of the organization's roll out strategy, Garaizar says its actually been a blessing in disguise for the organization.
"I think the silver lining of this COVID-19 experience is that we are much more integrated with the Boston team, and we're learning at a much faster rate," she says. "That's why we decided to also open Houston for virtual memberships before we open our building in Q1 of 2021."
While launching during a pandemic isn't the most ideal, the timing for the new Houston location has been. Garaizer says she's seeing more and more energy companies prioritizing clean energy innovations and new technologies.
"I believe that Greentown Labs is going to be a catalyst for the energy transition here in Houston," she says. "There are several things that are changing in Houston, and I think we're coming in at the right time."
Listen to the full interview with Garaizer below — or wherever you get your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.