Room to improve

See where Texas falls among most innovative states in the U.S.

Texas has some room to improve when it comes to being innovative. Getty Images

Texas isn't among the top 10 innovative states in the United States, according to a new study, but it isn't too far off. The Lone Star state ranked as the country's No. 15 most innovative state, as reported by WalletHub.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia were evaluated across 24 metrics two dimensions: human capital and innovation environment. Texas ranked No. 18 for its human capital and No. 14 for its innovation environment.

Texas' star shined bright across a few categories and made it in the top 10 in:

  • Business churn
  • Jobs in new companies
  • Entrepreneurial activity
  • Industry-cluster strength (refers to the level of high employment specialization of a cluster, which is defined by the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project as a "regional concentration of related industries in a particular location")
  • Average internet speed

The state performed the worst in the following categories:

  • Scientific-knowledge output (measures the number of peer-reviewed articles published per $1 Million of Academic S&E research and development)
  • Open roads and skies friendly laws
  • Average annual federal small-business funding per GDP
  • Share of households with internet access
  • Research and development spending per capita
  • Research and development intensity

The U.S. is expected to spend a reported $581 billion on research and development, according to WalletHub, which is more than any other country in the world. Some states, the study found, are better at pulling their weight. Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Colorado make up the top five, in that order, while Tennessee, Iowa, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Mississippi round up the bottom of the list.

While there's much to learn from other innovative ecosystems, copying them is not the best plan, says expert on the study Joseph Tranquillo, Bucknell University professor and author.

"Trying to replicate an innovative ecosystem that has worked somewhere else never seems to turn out well," he says. "Like biological ecosystems, they must be homegrown from the strengths that already lie within."

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Building Houston

 
 

SeekerPitch exists to update the job hiring process in a way that benefits both the job seekers and recruiters. Photo via Getty Images

Companies across the country have been requiring resumes and cover letters from their new hire hopefuls since the World War II era, and it's about time that changed. A startup founded in Houston has risen to the occasion.

Houstonian Samantha Hepler had the idea for SeekerPitch when she was looking for her next move. She felt like she had developed a formidable career in digital transformation and had worked with big name clients from Chevron to Gucci. However, she couldn't even get an interview for a role she felt she would be a shoe-in for.

"I knew if I could just get through the door, a company would see the value in me," Hepler tells InnovationMap. "I wasn't being seen, and I wasn't being heard. I didn't know a way to do that."

And she wasn't alone in this frustration. Hepler says she discovered she was one of the 76 percent of job candidates who get filtered out based on former job titles and keywords. At the same time, Hepler says she discovered that 80 percent of companies reported difficulty finding talent.

Samantha Hepler had the idea for SeekerPitch based on her own ill-fated job hunt experience. Photo courtesy of SeekerPitch

"I was just a symptom of a larger problem companies were facing," Hepler says. "Companies were using algorithms to dilute their talent pool, and then the hires they were making weren't quality because they were looking for people based on what they've done. They weren't looking at people for what they could do."

SeekerPitch, which is in the current cohort of gBETA Houston, allows job seekers to create an account and tell their story — not just their job history. The platform prioritizes video content and quick interviews so that potential hires can get face-to-face with hiring managers.

"We empower companies to hear the candidates' stories," Hepler says. "We're bringing candidates streaming to computer screens. We are the Netflix of recruiting."

Hepler gives an example of a first-generation college graduate who's got "administrative assistant" and "hostess" on her resume — but who has accomplished so much more than that. She put herself through school with no debt and in three years instead of four. SeekerPitch allows for these types of life accomplishments and soft skills into the recruiting process.

SeekerPitch profiles allow job seekers to tell their story — not just their past job experience. Photo courtesy of SeekerPitch

Over the past few years, a trend in hiring has been in equity and diversity, and Hepler says that people have been trying to address this with blurring out people's names and photos.

"Our belief is that connection is the antidote to bias," Hepler says, mentioning a hypothetical job candidate who worked at Walmart because they couldn't afford to take multiple unpaid internships. "They can't come alive on a resume and they won't stand a chance next to another person."

SeekerPitch is always free for job seekers, and, through the end of the year, it's also free for companies posting job positions. Beginning in January 2022, it will cost $10 per day to list a job opening. Also next year — Hepler says she'll be opening a round of pre-seed funding in order to grow her team. So far, the company has been bootstrapped, thanks to re-appropriated funding from Hepler's canceled wedding. (She opted for a cheaper ceremony instead.)

Right now, SeekerPitch sees an opportunity to support growing startups that need to make key hires — and quickly. The company has an ongoing pilot partnership with a Houston startup that is looking to hiring over a dozen positions in a month.

"As a startup, your key hires are going to make or break your company — but you have to hire quickly," Hepler says. "That's the ultimate challenge for startups. ... But if you don't hire well it can cost your company a lot of money or be the demise of your company. It's people who make a company great."

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