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Houston tech company names 5 startups to its new venture studio

A Houston software company has announced the five early-stage startups it will be supporting through its new venture studio. Photo via Getty Images

A Houston-based technology consultancy with a portfolio of Fortune 500 clients has announced the five companies it will be supporting in its new startup studio.

Softeq Development Corporation announced its inaugural cohort for the Softeq Venture Studio. The program, which will be offered quarterly for four to six startups each cohort, is geared at helping its resident startups quickly develop their technology and build their businesses.

"Historically, most tech startups had a founder with development skills. However, we're now seeing more and more business people, doctors, and other professionals start companies, and they need a strong engineering partner to develop their products," says Christopher A. Howard, Softeq founder and CEO, in a news release. "We take it several steps further with the Venture Studio providing technology business consulting, development services, and much-needed cash. We're a vested partner, so we also help secure follow-on funding for continued growth."

Christopher A. Howard is the founder and CEO of Softeq. Photo courtesy of Softeq

The group of startups are from the Bay Area, New York, Boston, and Houston and represents several industries, including sports tech, med-tech, and lifestyle tech. The founders of all five of the early-stage startups will work in Houston from October through December in their provided office space at FUSE in CITYCENTRE near the Softeq corporate headquarters in the Energy Corridor. Participating companies each receive $100,000 in cash and development services in exchange for a small piece of equity in their company, per the release. Serial entrepreneur Billy Grandy will lead the program.

"Most early-stage accelerators focus on the business aspects of a startup," says Grandy. "Adding the enterprise-focused development resources of Softeq helps startups de-risk the effort and puts future investors at ease. Furthermore, Houston's rapidly growing innovation ecosystem and access to an active investment community and tech-forward business leaders make this city a perfect venue for startups."

The companies selected for the fall cohort are:

  • Atlas Coaching is a marketplace to connect female sports celebrities, pros, and coaches with fans looking to improve their game and receive digital training.
  • FitLift improves strength training techniques and reduces injuries through a mobile app and wearable device that tracks precise motion and provides feedback.
  • GetScouted aims to provide a verifiable source of athletes' performance and statistics to coaches and scouts using biometric analysis and analytics.
  • Home Outside is democratizing landscape design by making it simple, affordable, automated, easy to visualize, and integrated through AI and 1-click ordering.
  • Orcana is a medical technology startup utilizing augmented reality and AI to provide 24/7 remote support for operating rooms to reps, surgeons, and surgical teams.

The applications are already open for the winter cohort, which will be held mid-January through March of 2022. Companies can apply until December 11, 2021, at www.softeq.com/venture-studio.

Softeq also announced its Innovation Lab last year. The lab is in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Integrated Design and Management program and Massachusetts-based Boundless Technology and is directed at helping enterprise companies collaborate on the technologies of tomorrow.

Howard recently discussed with InnovationMap his passion for cultivating technology innovation in Houston on a recent episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. Listen to it below.


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Building Houston

 
 

After working with thousands of interns, Allie Danziger of Ampersand Professionals says she's now got a product to upskill and train new hires for employers. Photo courtesy of Ampersand

After seeing success with her internship training and matchmaking platform, Allie Danziger, founder and CEO of Ampersand Professionals, has expanded the concept to include a new hire training service that allows employers to better optimize the onboarding process and have a well-trained new staff member from day one.

In just over a year, Ampersand has worked with over 7,000 professionals through its original concept of upskilling and matching young professionals to internship programs. A few months ago, Danziger and her team expanded to include career development training for students first entering the workforce with the City of Houston's Hire Houston Youth program. Danziger says it was developing out the platform for this program that proved there was a need for this type of training.

"While we have focused on matching professionals with businesses for paid internships, we recognized a further gap with employers that have their own recruiting/talent acquisition teams, or just their own preferred way of bringing on entry-level talent, and didn’t have a need for our matching platform," Danziger tells InnovationMap. "But, they recognized the benefit of our proven training platform that pre-vets and de-risks their hires, and still wanted access to the training for their own hires."

The new program has evolved from training interns to new hires, so parts of the program that focuses on interviewing or applying for a job have been removed. Instead, the 8.5 hours of training focuses on networking, best practices for working with a manager and team, performance reviews, common software training, and more.

Danziger says usually new hires need the most experienced mentor or manager, but they don't usually get that support — especially when it comes to businesses that don't have their own built-out mentorship or training program.

"Ampersand’s new training product fills that gap — it gives employers of any size any easy solution to provide basic job readiness training to employees, access to our team of dedicated coaches, and a detailed report at the end of their training summarizing how their new hire did in the training and any trends recognized and tips for managing this employee based on what the platform uncovered," she says. "Businesses can also sign up for additional coaching sessions and customize training materials, as an add-on if interested."

The program costs the employer $100 per new employee, and checkout online takes less than a minute. Through both this program and the original internship program, Ampersand is constantly evolving its training content.

"These professionals are going through the same training experience that we have proven out over the last year, and we are constantly adding to based on data we see in the user experience," Danziger says.

Danziger recently joined the Houston Innovators Podcast discuss some of the benchmarks she's met with Ampersand, as well as the importance of investing in Gen Z hires. Listen to that episode below.


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