HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 21

Houston entrepreneur plans to bring female founders to the forefront of SXSW this year

Reda Hicks, founder of GotSpot — a digital tool that helps connect people with commercial space with people who need it, is looking to advocate for Texas female founders at SXSW. Courtesy of GotSpot

During the past two years of SXSW, Reda Hicks — along with Denise Hamilton, a fellow female founder — observed that the festival isn't optimized for female founders. Whether it's not accessible financially or just not creating programming that women are interested in, Hicks saw an opportunity.

"The two of us had been to SXSW together for the past two years, and we just saw a whole where a lot of female founders were being lost," Hicks says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "We can solve both of those problems by creating an experience where it's an entire day that doesn't cost attendees anything and put together a lot of different content that would be really helpful for women growing their business."

Hicks, founder of GotSpot — a temporary space finding tool, teamed up with Hamilton, founder of WatchHerWork — a professional women's resource, to do just that. They have created an activation at SXSW on March 12 called Texas Female Founders Day, which will feature female founder-focused programming.

Thanks to a partnership with Ford Motors, the group will also be selecting a couple lucky female entrepreneurs to sponsor their stay and passes into SXSW. The process has been exciting to Hicks and indicative that Hicks and Hamilton aren't the only ones who have sought out a female founder focus at SXSW — or across Texas.

"What I hope is that it's the first of many similar collaborations," Hicks says. "We have such amazing power among the women in this state and we need to be working together on these kind of things."

Hicks discusses the partnership and her tips for entrepreneurs making the most of SXSW on the Houston Innovators Podcast. Plus, she shares updates and successes for GotSpot. Listen to the full episode below — or wherever you get your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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Building Houston

 
 

5G could be taking over Texas — and Houston is leading the way. Photo via Getty Images

Based on one key measure, Houston sits at the forefront of a telecom revolution that could spark a regional economic impact of more than $30 billion.

Data published recently by the Texas Comptroller's Office points out that as of last November and December, Houston led all cities in Texas for the number of so-called "small cells." Small cells are a key component in the rollout of ultra-high-speed 5G wireless communication throughout the Houston area and the country.

As the Texas Comptroller's Office explains, small cells are low-powered antennas that communicate wirelessly via radio waves. They're usually installed on existing public infrastructure like street signs or utility poles, instead of the big communication towers that transmit 4G signals.

The comptroller's tally shows Houston had approved 5,455 small-cell sites as of the November-December timeframe. That dwarfs the total number of sites (1,948) for the state's second-ranked city, Dallas.

"Houston is in the vanguard of small cell permitting in Texas, and not just because it's the state's largest city; advocates have lauded its proactive approach to 5G. Other cities, particularly smaller ones, are lagging well behind," the Comptroller's Office notes.

According to CTIA, a trade group for the wireless communications industry, 5G holds the promise to deliver an economic impact of $30.3 billion in the Houston area and create 93,700 jobs. The group says industries such as health care, energy, transportation, e-commerce, and logistics stand to benefit from the emergence of 5G.

"Maintaining world-class communications infrastructure is a requirement for success in a rapidly changing global economy. Small cells and fiber technology are the key foundational components for network densification and robust 5G. Cities like Houston that have embraced the need for this infrastructure will see the benefits of 5G faster than others," Mandy Derr, government affairs director at Houston-based communications infrastructure REIT Crown Castle International Corp. and a member of the Texas 5G Alliance, tells InnovationMap.

Derr says leaders in Houston have embraced the importance of small-cell technology through "reasonable and effective" regulations and processes aimed at boosting 5G capabilities. Three major providers of wireless service — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — offer 5G to customers in the Houston area.

"More small cells and fiber provide greater and faster access for the masses, enabling the connectivity that is essential to our businesses today — whether it's accepting payments on a mobile card reader, completing a sale on the go, or reliably reaching consumers where they are," Derr says.

In a blog post, Netrality Data Centers, which operates a data center in Houston, proclaims that Houston is shaping up to be a hub of 5G innovation.

"Houston has always been on the frontline," Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a 5G roundtable discussion in 2019. "It is who we are. It is in our DNA. We are a leading city. We didn't wait for somebody else to go to the moon. Or to be the energy capital of the world. Or the largest medical center in the world. But you don't stay at the front if you don't continue to lead."

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