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

 
 

Cemvita reported a successful pilot program on its gold hydrogen project in the Permian Basin. Photo courtesy of Cemvita

Houston-based cleantech startup Cemvita Factory is kicking things into high gear with its Gold Hydrogen product.

After successfully completing a pilot test of Gold Hydrogen in the oil-rich Permian Basin of West Texas, Cemvita has raised an undisclosed amount of funding through its new Gold H2 LLC spin-out. The lead investors are Georgia-based equipment manufacturer Chart Industries and 8090 Industries, an investment consortium with offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

Gold Hydrogen provides carbon-neutral hydrogen obtained from depleted oil and gas wells. This is achieved through bioengineering subsurface microbes in the wells to consume carbon and generate clean hydrogen.

Cemvita says it set up Gold H2 to commercialize the business via licensing, joint ventures, and outright ownership of hydrogen assets.

“We have incredible conviction in next-generation clean hydrogen production methods that leverage the vast and sprawling existing infrastructure and know-how of the oil and gas industry,” Rayyan Islam, co-founder and general partner of 8090 Industries, says in a news release.

Traditional methods of producing hydrogen without greenhouse gas emissions include electrolysis powered by renewable sources like wind, solar or water, according to Cemvita. However, production of green hydrogen through normal avenues eats up a lot of energy and money, the startup says.

By contrast, Cemvita relies on depleted oil and gas wells to cheaply produce carbon-free hydrogen.

“The commercialization and economics of the hydrogen economy will require technologies that produce the hydrogen molecule at a meaningful scale with no carbon emissions. Gold H2 is leading the charge … ,” says Jill Evanko, president and CEO of Chart Industries.

Investors in Cemvita include Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, an investment arm of Houston-based Occidental Petroleum, as well as BHP Group, Mitsubishi, and United Airlines Ventures.

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and United Airlines Ventures are financing Cemvita’s work on sustainable jet fuel. United Airlines operates a hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport Houston.

Founded by brother-and-sister team Moji and Tara Karimi in 2017, Cemvita uses synthetic biology to turn carbon dioxide into chemicals and alternative fuels.

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