Serial Entrepreneurship

This Pearland-based CEO explains why his city is the best HQ for small businesses

Courtesy photo

Small businesses often need a supportive home base from which to work, and there’s one Texas city in particular that has worked hard to become that haven for business owners over the years.

Pearland offers assistance and a diverse workforce for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. In fact, 83 percent of businesses in Pearland are locally owned. And when it comes to having an entrepreneurial spirit, no one is more passionate than David Graham, CEO of Pearland’s FranchiCzar.

Graham has been focusing on FranchiCzar, which provides franchise development, consulting, marketing, and vendor networks in a suite of services to help franchisees develop and scale their business.

FranchiCzar joins a collection of life science, energy, and manufacturing companies that have expanded their reach in Pearland: Millar, Inc., Lonza, Merit Medical, Cardiovascular Systems, and Endress+Hauser, to name a few.

One of Graham’s most exciting ventures launching this year is Valhallan, a youth e-sports program. Valhallan was born from the belief that video games can enrich lives and create community for young people and was developed to provide premier e-sports programming while teaching life skills. Twenty Valhallan arenas are opening soon around the country.

Graham’s serial entrepreneurship not only extends to franchise development and e-sports, but to exercise and education.

In the “exercise” category, Graham created the Iron 24 concept to offer a convenient gym experience that's accessible 24/7, all from an app. The Iron 24 app allows members to manage membership details and unlock the gym at any time, day or night, with no staff required on-site. Currently, five locations are opening around the Greater Houston area, including two in Pearland.

Going back to his educational and enrichment roots, Graham hopes to launch Math Reactor in the near future. Math Reactor is a revolutionary, fun-first approach to math that helps children in grades five through eight learn math concepts in an engaging and relevant way. Math Reactor was created from the knowledge that the best way for kids to learn math is to make it fun and practical.

Graham is also the founder and creator of a children's code-learning platform Code Ninjas, which sold just last year.

Most recently, Graham recently acquired Pinot’s Palette, a popular paint and sip franchise with more than 80 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Graham takes pride in being a longtime Pearland resident; other cities throughout the nation have failed in their attempts to poach him from Texas.

During the times when other communities were trying to entice him to leave the city, Graham shares that he was impressed by how the Pearland Economic Development Corporation (PEDC) and local business leaders “stepped up in a big way to ensure Pearland kept me here, by offering us incentives.”

One way PEDC enhances Pearland's innovation entrepreneurship culture is through its Pearland Innovation Hub, which launched in May 2022. The Hub connects the city to local and regional entrepreneurship assistance programs, service providers, and funding sources to help businesses maximize their growth potential and overall success.

Additionally, Graham shares that he appreciates how “PEDC is helping to bring in powerhouse companies every year, and it has really rejuvenated our business community here.” Pearland’s diverse population has long been known as an asset, and in recent years the city has become even more racially and ethnically diverse.

“While there is no lack of diverse opinions and abilities in Pearland, everyone stands together as residents of Pearland and can all rally around making our community a better place to live and work," Graham says.

In 2021, PEDC conducted a survey of all businesses in the community to gain a better understanding of their needs. The survey found that 92 percent of business owners felt that Pearland is a great place to live, work, and operate a business, and more than 80 percent of survey respondents gave excellent or good marks to Pearland as a place to do business — higher than the national comparison.

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Building Houston


Baylor College of Medicine's Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower is set to open in 2026. Rendering courtesy of BCM

Baylor College of Medicine has collected $100 million toward its $150 million fundraising goal for the college’s planned Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower.

The $100 million in gifts include:

  • A total of $30 million from The Cullen Foundation, The Cullen Trust for Health Care, and The Cullen Trust for Higher Education.
  • $12 million from the DeBakey Medical Foundation
  • $10 million from the Huffington Foundation
  • More than $45 million from members of Baylor’s Board of Trustees and other community donors, including the M.D. Anderson Foundation, the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, and The Elkins Foundation.

“The Cullen Trust for Health Care is very honored to support this building along with The Cullen Foundation and The Cullen Trust for Higher Education,” Cullen Geiselman Muse, chair of The Cullen Trust for Health Care, says in a news release. “We cannot wait to see what new beginnings will come from inside the Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower.”

The Baylor campus is next to Texas Medical Center’s Helix Park, a 37-acre project. Rendering courtesy of BCM

The Lillie and Roy Cullen Tower is set to open in 2026. The 503,000-square-foot tower is the first phase of Baylor’s planned Health Sciences Park, an 800,000-square-foot project that will feature medical education and research adjacent to patient care at Baylor Medicine and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center on the McNair Campus.

The Baylor campus is next to Texas Medical Center’s Helix Park, a 37-acre project that will support healthcare, life sciences, and business ventures. Baylor is the anchor tenant in the first building being constructed at Helix Park.

“To really change the future of health, we need a space that facilitates the future,” says Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO, and executive dean of Baylor. “We need to have a great building to recruit great talent. Having a place where our clinical programs are located, where our data scientists are, next to a biotech development center, and having our medical students all integrated into that environment will allow them to be ready in the future for where healthcare is going.”

In the 1940s, Lillie and Roy Cullen and the M.D. Anderson Foundation were instrumental in establishing the Texas Medical Center, which is now the world’s largest medical complex.

“Baylor is the place it is today because of philanthropy,” Klotman says. “The Cullen family, the M.D. Anderson Foundation, and the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation have been some of Baylor’s most devoted champions, which has enabled Baylor to mold generations of exceptional health sciences professionals. It is fitting that history is repeating itself with support for this state-of-the-art education building.”

The Cullen Foundation donated $30 million to the project. Rendering courtesy of BCM

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