safe searching

New Houston website spotlights which local businesses practice COVID-19 protocols

A new site helps Houstonians navigate businesses and their COVID-19 safety protocols. Anvil Bar & Refuge/Facebook

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's dismissal of the mask mandate and reopening of the state on March 10 has left some locals liberated — and some worried about safely venturing out. Those in the latter column can now rely on a new local website to help navigate the new no-mask-required environs.

Space City Safe, a crowd-sourced tool, shares information about COVID protocols at local Houston businesses. Users can hop on and search a business by type, name, or address and learn of its COVID-19 safety measures — if any. Site visitors can also add info on a business, including type of industry, mask and social distancing requirements, and more.

"I was inspired by the Houston blog It's Not Hou It's Me," Chris Haseler, the site's founder, tells CultureMap. (The blog is co-founded by Natalie Harms, editor of InnovationMap.) "They posted a cool crowdsourced Google spreadsheet collecting information about local businesses. I wanted to build that concept into a sustainable tool that people could use easily over the next few months to stay safe."

Haseler reports that user response has been "overwhelmingly positive" thus far, with users thanking him especially for spotlighting restaurants where they can "safely" dine. "Most users are appreciative of what I'm trying to accomplish here and willing to share their experiences at different businesses," he adds.

"A number of business owners have also been thankful for a way to share their COVID safety policies with potential customers."

The site currently boasts more than 500 and shows no signs of slowing. Haseler, a Heights-area engineer, says he'll continue to mask up when out and about. "I'll continue to do so until our scientists and doctors at the CDC say it's safe to do otherwise — and with vaccines becoming more readily available, hopefully that is soon."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Craig Lawrence and Neal Dikeman co-founded a new venture capital firm focused on funding technology as a part of the energy transition. Photos courtesy

Two Texas entrepreneurs recently announced what they say is the first venture fund in Texas exclusively dedicated to investing in energy transition technologies.

Houston-based Energy Transition Ventures — led by Craig Lawrence and Neal Dikeman — officially emerged from stealth mode with anchor investment from two operating companies from the GS Group of Korea. The fund closed its first capital in February this, completed its first investment in March, and looks to close new investors for a total fund size of $75 million, according to a press release.

"In the near future, energy is going to be delivered and used completely differently. Marginal and average energy and CO2e prices are now on a long term deflationary trend," says Dikeman in the release. "There are 500 multi-billion dollar energy companies globally, and massive portions of global GDP, that are going to get disrupted in the energy transition, from energy & power, transport, real estate, industrial to consumer to agriculture."

Dikeman, who is the managing partner at Old Growth Ventures, a family office investor, also chairs the board at nonprofit cleantech accelerator Cleantech.org, virtual research institute. In 2001, he co-founded San Francisco based cleantech investment firm Jane Capital in 2001.

"We've been successful being highly selective as investors, and using our deep networks and understanding of energy and technology to avoid pitfalls other investors faced. It is exciting to be off the bench to do it again," he continues.

Lawrence, who's also been a part of the cleantech revolution for a chunk of his career, previously started and led the cleantech investing effort at Accel Partners and was previously vice president of product at software company Treverity. The duo chose the Energy Capital of the World to headquarter ETV.

"Texas is the energy capital of the world, and outside of corporate venture capital, there are not many venture funds in the state," says Lawrence. "So it makes sense to start an energy transition focused fund here as the latest wave of clean technology investing accelerates."

ETV will fund from seed to series B with select late-stage opportunities, according to the release, and will colocate a Silicon Valley office with GS Futures, the Silicon Valley-based corporate venture capital arm of energy, construction, and retail conglomerate GS Group of Korea.

"We're excited to be investing in ETV and in the future of energy," says Tae Huh, managing director of GS Futures, in the release. "Energy Transition Ventures is our first investment from the new GS Futures fund, and we've already run successful pilots in Korea with three US startups even before this fund closed an investment – we are working to accelerate the old model of corporate venture dramatically."

Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of FERC, and Deb Merril, president of EDF Retail and co-founder and former co-CEO of Just Energy, have also joined ETV as advisors. GS Energy executive Q Song moves from Seoul, Korea, to join the Houston ETV investment team, according to the release.

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