HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 215
HX revamps, rebrands annual innovation week to attract a wider range of entrepreneurs
For three years, Houston Exponential has hosted a week-long event showcasing and connecting Houston's tech and innovation community, but next year it might look a little different.
Houston Tech Rodeo, which originated in 2020, has been rebranded to H-Town Roundup, but the week of innovation and entrepreneurship still has the same goal of providing programming and events that connect and educate Houstonians. And, for the ease of transition, the organization is still conveniently referring to the event as HTR.
Natara Branch, CEO of Houston Exponential, says the change is meant to make for a more inclusive experience for entrepreneurs of small businesses, something she's seen a need for since she took on her role last year.
"This year, we've had the better part of a year to think about what can be different and how can we serve the founder," she says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.
Branch explains that some members of the Houston community confused the event for being associated with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo or for being only for true tech people. Branch says the wanted to open the door a little wider to entrepreneurs who are innovative without necessarily working in technology.
"That's not what we wanted — to exclude anyone," she says. "H-Town Roundup is going to allow us to be more inclusive."
CodeLaunch, a Plano-based accelerator that produces high-energy startup pitch events, is returning to HTR for 2024. Last year, the Houston winner, which was Energy360, went on to win overall, Branch says.
On the show, Branch says in general 2024 should be a better year for Houston's innovation ecosystem. In light of 2023's challenges and uncertainty, the year has not been a good one for anyone within the startup and tech value chain.
"We took a step back to take a step forward," Branch says, "and that's across the board — whether you're an investor, an organization, an entrepreneur — because there was so much uncertainty."
"Let's revisit the playbook," she adds. "We're facing a big game, and we can't use yesterday's tools to get there."