Love Your Life

Popular Houston coworking space hosts event that's all about the hustle

Networking and collaboration are encouraged at WeWork. Photo courtesy of WeWork

If you have a side hustle — and these days, who doesn't? — you won't want to miss this event. WeWork and the Houston Rockets are hosting a party and panel discussion about the art of the side hustle and creating a life you love.

On February 27 from 6-8 pm at the WeWork in the Jones Building (708 Main St.), you can sip, snack, and listen as the panelists offer up their advice.

Set to share are CJ Paul, Chris Paul's brother and manager; Mario Elie, Houston Rockets legend and three-time NBA champion; Gretchen Sheirr, chief revenue officer for the Houston Rockets; David Gow, CEO of Gow Media, InnovationMap's parent company; and Roniel Bencosme, WeWork Houston's community director.

All attendees will be entered for a chance to win a basketball signed by the Houston Rockets players.

Paul is president of CP3, LLC, a nonprofit corporation founded in 2005 that strives to positively impact individuals and families by leveling the playing field in education, sports, and life. The foundation's emphasis on community involvement has won it the NBA's Community Assist Award three times in Chris Paul's 10-year career. The foundation partners with Feed the Children, Make-A-Wish, Salvation Army, B&G Clubs, LA's Best Afterschool programs, Leapz & Bounds, and a number of other organizations. Paul is also managing partner of Ohh Dip!!! Productions and oversees CP3 Basketball Academy.

Elie was drafted in 1985 by the Milwaukee Bucks and played 11 seasons before retiring. He won two NBA championships with the Houston Rockets in 1994 and '95, and then another with the San Antonio Spurs in '99. In 2007, Elie was inducted in the New York Basketball Hall of Fame, and was named one of the top 10 players in Houston Rockets history. That same year, Elie began his coaching career with the Dallas Mavericks and currently works as an assistant coach for the Orlando Magic.

Now in her 18th season with the Houston Rockets, and her third as CRO, Sheirr is responsible for the sales, service, and overall revenue strategy for the organization. In 2017, Sheirr was named one of Sports Business Journal's Forty Under 40, which annually recognizes the top young professionals in sports business. She is also a founding board member of WISE Houston, serves on the board of Target Hunger, and is a member of the Executive Women's Partnership.

Not only is Gow head of InnovationMap's parent company, but he also oversees CultureMap, SportsMap, and GiftingMap, and he owns the highest-rated sports radio station in Houston, ESPN 97.5FM, and SB Nation Radio, one of the country's largest national sports radio networks. Prior to entering the media business, Gow was first CFO and ultimately the CEO of Ashford.com, a company that grew from $1.2 million up to over $50 million in revenue. As CFO, Gow managed a successful IPO, raising over $75 million with Goldman Sachs as the lead underwriter. As CEO, Gow grew a profitable corporate gifts business to complement the company's e-tailing business. Ashford.com was sold to GSI Commerce in 2002.

Come early or stick around to check out this WeWork location, which is housed in a building full of history. The Great Jones Building originally housed offices for Texaco when it first opened in 1908, but now, more than a century later, WeWork claimed it as its first Houston location.

A modern layout gets a few Art Deco touches — a nod to the JP Morgan Chase building next door — along with an impressive collection of local artwork. Incredible views, cozy coffee corners, a new-mothers' room, and micro-roast coffee, fresh fruit water, and draught craft beer are just a few of the awesome amenities that WeWork members can enjoy.

Reserve your free Side Hustle tickets here.

Florida startup Fit:Match chose Houston for its first location of its AI-enabled retail store. Photo via shopfitmatch.com

In November, on the first floor of Friendswood's Baybrook Mall, wedged between the Abercrombie & Fitch and the Apple Store, a small studio popped up. At the window, a bubblegum assortment of balloons replaced the usual spruced-up manakin, and the shop is sparse for racks of clothing.

That's because the Fit:Match studio isn't really trying to sell clothes — it's trying to help you buy them online. By fusing artificial intelligence with retail shopping, Fit:Match makes ordering clothes online more trustworthy. The writing on the walls promised to revolutionize the way that people could: "Shop what fits. Not what doesn't," reads a neon sign. The tech might not only reduce long waits for the dressing room — it could abolish it altogether.

"You never have to try on clothes again," says Haniff Brown, founder of the Florida-native startup.

The store does have a fitting room, but Brown says it's not really for trying on clothes — it's for preparing to "get fitched," the process through which the imaging tech measures a customer's body.

It's fitting that the pop-up sits next to the iPhone giant. Fit:Match uses the same 3D imaging tech as Apple's FaceID, Brown says, which blasts infrared light at thousands of dots at a user's face. Where the light bounces off, the AI technology images the person's face. The sensors at the Fit:Match studio in Baybrook Mall expand this to the rest of the body. In 10 seconds, the AI sensor lets people sketches a customer's shape through 150 measurements.

Those measurements become indicators of how well a piece of clothing will fit the wearer. In the initial phase of the project, Brown's team fitched thousands of women — wanting to keep things neat, the company hasn't ventured into men's fashion yet — and compared the scores of the AI's algorithm with how the women scored their own clothes.

Now, once a customer has been fitched at the Baybrook studio, she can log online through an app or the company site and sift through thousands of clothes that will likely fit her. Each clothing item — mostly smaller brands that range from eclectic pieces and dresses to athleisure right now, Brown says, although he's already working to partner with better-known labels — is rated with a percentage of how well it's likely to fit the individual customer, based on her measurements and on how snug or loose she likes her wear. From the array of brands, she'll get specific matches — clothes that have a 90 percent chance or higher of fitting — that might look completely different from a friend's. Over time, the app will also update her on the latest matches.

"You're going to have this personalized wallet," Brown says, adding that this will also decrease a store's rate of return. "You will see a completely truncated assortment of clothes that are meant to fit you."

The Baybrook Mall hosts Fit:Match's first location. Brown says he chose the Houston area for its size and demographics, calling it a "hotbed to test new ideas, to get traction, to get customer feedback," and is even considering expanding to the Woodlands Mall and other places around Texas, too. It's also not far from the Austin-based Capital Factory, which brought Fit:Match under its wing late last year to help the startup raise $5 million.

In the meantime, the five-member management team at Fit:Match is focused on getting more Houstonians fitched. In the first month of operations, the studio measured more than 1,200 mallgoers, and Brown says the company could fitch a quarter million in the next two or three years.

"We think that the opportunity here is immense," Brown says.