here to help
It's a trying time for the world, and Houston small businesses and startups have been put in a difficult spot. From having to work remotely or being forced to close or scale back operations due to mandates from the government, entrepreneurs are having to figure out their new normals.
However, organizations have leapt at the chance to help their fellow Houstonians, and a number of resources have appeared to provide aid to startups, from advice and resources to grants.
Editor's note: This article originally ran March 25, 2020, but has been updated and republished with more resources.
The Cannon's CERT Program
The Cannon released information about their Cannon Emergency Response Team Program, and Houston startups can apply online. The multi-week program is intended to provide aid and support for startups and small businesses experiencing a crisis caused by external forces — namely COVID-19 and its repercussions, but also natural disasters, market disruption, legislative actions, civil unrest, fraud, or theft.
The Ion's resource center
The Ion has also rounded up resources for its members and the greater Houston innovation ecosystem. It's available online, and has everything from links to national and local resources and financial assistance information to virtual events.
"While we all try and adjust to this new way of life, The Ion will continue to be a resource to our entrepreneurial community the best way we know how, by connecting our community and providing you with opportunities that you need to be resilient during these unstable times. ... We hope this page serves you well and we promise to keep you all up to date on everything innovation taking place in our community," writes Gaby Rowe, executive director of The Ion.
Rowe has also started a video series of interviews with Houston startups — the videos are also available on the webpage.
Houston Exponential's virtual event calendar
Houston Exponential worked quickly to turn their online calendar featuring events across the innovation ecosystem in Houston to helpful virtual events. Anyone can submit an event for consideration.
To find InnovationMap's curated list of events for April, click here.
The GHP's Greater Houston Business Recovery Center
The Greater Houston Partnership has released a one-stop shop for business help for companies large and small. The amalgamation combines several national and local options, including relevant information about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
"We know many Houston companies are hurting and do not have the resources to sustain themselves for weeks without help," said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Partnership. "The funds provided through the CARES Act are essential to ensure Houston businesses can meet payroll and cover other expenses during this difficult time. "
Fat Finger's procedure app
In an effort to help businesses organize their response, Houston-based tech company Fat Finger has released a procedure app that is available for free. It offers employee agreements, important protocol checklists, and more.
"Our intention is to help teams of all types operate as safe and effective as possible to overcome what we are all going through," writes James McDonough, founder and CEO of the company.
Houston PR firm to offer free services
Houston-based Paige PR is offering up $5,000 worth of its services to help out a company affected by COVID-19., which includes media relations, influencer relations, media training, employee communication, content development, social media management, corporate event planning, campaign measurement, brand management, community engagement and crisis communication, according to a news release.
"Paige PR's mission is to empower and help businesses tell their unique stories and amplify their messages," says Paige Donnell, Paige PR's founder and CEO, in the release. "Our team wanted to give back and honor a company making a positive difference, despite these uncertain times. Now is not the time to halt your company's marketing and communication efforts. However, we understand that this may be the only option for some businesses. We're in this together, and all of us at Paige PR look forward to offering our services free of charge to one deserving company."
Gener8tor's free 1-week response program
Just like most accelerator programs, cohort schedules and plans have been affected by COVID-19, but one new-to-Houston program is making some lemonade out of the lemons they were served. Gener8tor, along with the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, announced a partnership for one week of virtual programming for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. It's free and an extension of the gBETA program, which launched in Houston in January.
Interested entrepreneurs must apply to be enrolled by Friday, May 27. The week of virtual assistence begins March 30 and goes until April 3. Participants will have access to virtual office hours with experts.
"We have seen firsthand the impact that entrepreneurs have on a community and we hope to call on our network of mentors, investors, and partners to support these new Emergency Response Programs," says Joe Kirgues, Co-Founder of gener8tor, in a news release.
Hello Alice's business center
Houston-based Hello Alice is a great digital resource for startups locally and beyond. The organization recently announced its grant program that will focus on funding minority-founded startups and quickly snapped into action to create a COVID-19 Business Center free for entrepreneurs to use.
Alice is offering emergency grants to businesses affected by COVID-19 and has also gathered other resources like mental health information, tips for running a remote workforce, and more.
The Small Business Administration's webinars and disaster loans
Startups, nonprofits, and small businesses can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loans for up to $2 million. For small businesses, the interest rate is 3.75 percent, and for nonprofits, the interest rate is 2.75 percent. The SBA's Houston chapter is available for help as well.
Impact Hub Houston's comprehensive list
If this list here isn't exhaustive enough, Impact Hub Houston has gone the extra mile on their blog, creating a comprehensive and updated list of resources for small businesses and startups, as well as for people in general. There is everything from information on small business financial help and online education to tips for parents and health-related resources.