Tilman's Fertitta Entertainment is one of the largest privately owned businesses in America. Photo by J. Thomas Ford

Some Houston-area companies have some major bragging rights. Forbes has released its new list of the country’s largest privately owned companies based on annual revenue, and five local firms land on the list. They are:

  • Car dealership group Gulf States Toyota, No. 45, $8.3 billion in annual revenue.
  • Energy company Calpine, No. 48, $8 billion in annual revenue.
  • Petroleum and petrochemical products marketer Tauber Oil, No. 61, $6.7 billion in annual revenue.
  • Casino, restaurant, and sports conglomerate Fertitta Entertainment, No. 166, $2.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • BMC Software, No. 219, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.

Elsewhere in Texas, San Antonio-based H-E-B ranks fifth on Forbes’ new list of the country’s largest privately owned companies based on annual revenue. According to Forbes, the grocery chain’s annual revenue is $32.8 billion, making it the largest private company in Texas. On its website, H-E-B reports annual sales of $32 billion.

The only other San Antonio company on the Forbes list is construction engineering company Zachry Group. It ranks 225th, with annual revenue of $2 billion.

Nearly all of the other Texas companies in the Forbes ranking are based in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. As well as the five Houston companies, 13 DFW companies companies show up on the list:

  • Grand Prairie-based alcohol and wine distributor Republic National Distributing, No. 25, $11.9 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based conglomerate Sammons Enterprises, No. 70, $5.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • McKinney-based roofing distributor SRS Distribution, No. 80, $5.4 billion in annual revenue.
  • Irving-based arts-and-crafts retailer Michaels, No. 81, $5.3 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, No. 101, $4.7 billion in annual revenue.
  • Irving-based electrical systems and equipment maker Consolidated Electrical Distributors, No. 103, $4.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Fort Worth-based food and beverage distributor Ben E. Keith, No. 107, $4.2 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based oil and gas explorer Hunt Consolidated, No. 113, $4 billion in annual revenue.
  • Frisco-based transportation and logistics software provider Transplace, No. 127, $3.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Addison-based cosmetics retailer Mary Kay, No. 164, $2.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • Plano-based senior healthcare provider Golden Living, No. 178, $2.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based general contractor Austin Industries, No. 217, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based transportation and logistics company Mode Transportation, No. 220, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.

One other company on the Forbes list, New Jersey-based IT company SHI International Corp., has a strong connection to Texas. Austin billionaire Thai Lee, with a net worth estimated at $4.1 billion, is co-founder, president, and CEO of SHI. The company ranks 28th on the Forbes list, with annual revenue of $11.1 billion.

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Richard and Nancy Kinder are among America's most wealthy. Photo by Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group

Richard Kinder and 10 other Houston billionaires cash in on Forbes list of richest Americans

where's the money

Never one to overtly draw attention to himself, Houston pipeline magnate — and Memorial Park benefactorRichard Kinder has landed on a coveted list, as have 10 other Houstonians.

Forbes has released the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans, and Kinder ranks eighth in Texas and 128th nationally with an estimated net worth of $7.1 billion.

Meanwhile, Houston hospitality king and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta ranks 11th in Texas and 158th nationally with an estimated net worth of $6.3 billion.

Houston pipeline heirs Dannine Avara, Scott Duncan, Milane Frantz, and Randa Duncan Williams tie for 12th place in Texas and tie for 161st nationally. Each has an estimated net worth of $6.2 billion.

Software entrepreneur Robert Brockman ranks 19th in Texas and ties for 229th nationally with a net worth of $4.7 billion.

Oil mogul Jeffery Hildebrand ranks 20th in Texas and ties for 240th nationally with a net worth of $4.6 billion.

Toyota mega-dealer Dan Friedkin ranks 24th in Texas and ties for 253rd with an estimated net worth of $4.4 billion.

Houston Texans owner Janice McNair of Houston ranks 26th in Texas and ties for 269th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion.

Finally, local hedge fund honcho John Arnold ties for 30th in Texas and ties for 358th nationally with an estimated net worth of $3.3 billion.

Here's how billionaires from other major metros in Texas fared on the Forbes 400 list.

Austin

No shocker here: Tesla and SpaceX guru Elon Musk ranks No. 2 among the richest Americans and No. 1 among the richest Texans. What is shocking, however, is how much Musk's net worth skyrocketed from 2020 to 2021. Hint: It's more than $100 billion.

This year, the Forbes 400 estimates his net worth stood at $190.5 billion as of September 3. To give that some context, the size of the economy in the state of Kansas exceeds $193 billion.

Last year, Musk's estimated net worth was $68 billion. This means that from 2020 to 2021, his net worth exploded by $122.5 billion, or 180 percent.

Among the richest Americans, only Amazon's Jeff Bezos beats Musk — but not by much. The Forbes 400 pegs Bezos' net worth at $201 billion as of September 3, up from $179 billion at the same time last year.

Forbes lists Musk's residence as Austin, although he has said he spends much of his time in Boca Chica. The Texas Gulf Coast community hosts Starbase, a launch site for SpaceX rockets. Regardless of precisely where he lives, Musk does spend a lot of time in the Austin area, where Tesla is building a $1.1 billion vehicle manufacturing plant. Musk relocated to Texas last year.

Before Musk arrived in the Lone Star State, Walmart heir Alice Walton of Fort Worth ranked as the richest person in Texas. She's now in second place, with a net worth estimated at $67.9 billion. Walton ranks as the 12th richest American and richest American woman on this year's Forbes 400.

Aside from Musk, Austin billionaires who appear on the Forbes 400 are:

  • Michael Dell, founder, chairman, and CEO of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies. Estimated net worth: $50.1 billion. Texas rank: No. 3. U.S. rank: No. 18.
  • Robert Smith, founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. Estimated net worth: $6.7 billion. Texas rank: No. 9. U.S. rank: No. 141.
  • Vodka titan Bert "Tito" Beveridge. Estimated net worth: $4.8 billion. Texas rank: No. 18. U.S. rank: No. 224 (tie).
  • IT entrepreneur Thai Lee. Estimated net worth: $4.1 billion. Texas rank: No. 27 (tie). U.S. rank: No. 273 (tie).
  • Software entrepreneur Joe Liemandt. Estimated net worth: $3 billion. Texas rank: No. 33 (tie). U.S. rank: No. 377 (tie).
  • Jim Bryer, founder and CEO of venture capital firm Bryer Capital. Estimated net worth: $2.9 billion. Texas rank: 35 (tie). U.S. rank: No. 389 (tie).

Dallas-Fort Worth

Banking and real estate mogul Andy Beal of Dallas holds the No. 5 spot in Texas and No. 78 nationally. His estimated net worth is $9.9 billion.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of Dallas sits at No. 7 in Texas and No. 86 nationally with an estimated net worth of $9.1 billion.

Money manager Ken Fisher of Dallas ranks 10th in Texas and 151st nationally with an estimated net worth of $6.4 billion.

Oil and real estate titan Ray Lee Hunt of Dallas ranks 16th in Texas and ties for 188th nationally with an estimated net worth of $5.7 billion.

Oil and investment mogul Robert Bass of Fort Worth ranks 17th in Texas and ties for 212th nationally with an estimated net worth of $5 billion.

Private equity kingpin David Bonderman of Fort Worth ties for 21st in Texas and ties for 247th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion.

Media magnate and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban of Dallas ties for 21st in Texas and ties for 247th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion.

Oil and gas honcho Trevor Rees-Jones of Dallas ties for 21st in Texas and ties for 247th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion.

Hotel and investment guru Robert Rowling of Dallas ranks 25th in Texas and ties for 261st nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.3 billion.

Margot Birmingham Perot of Dallas, widow of tech and real estate entrepreneur H. Ross Perot Sr., ties for 27th in Texas and ties for 273rd nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.1 billion.

Oil and gas tycoon Kelcy Warren of Dallas ranks 29th in Texas and ties for 289th nationally with an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion.

Real estate bigwig H. Ross Perot Jr. of Dallas ranks 32nd in Texas and 363rd nationally with an estimated net worth of $3.2 billion.

Homebuilder Donald Horton and family of Fort Worth tie for 35th in Texas and tie for 389th nationally with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion.

Oil baron W. Herbert Hunt of Dallas ties for 35th in Texas and ties for 389th nationally with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion.

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Forbes has identified 1,000 entrepreneurs as rising stars in the business world. And three of them call Houston home. Photos via Forbes

3 Houston innovators make Forbes list of up-and-coming entrepreneurs

next big things

Three Houston entrepreneurs are basking in the national spotlight.

The trio — Vernee Hines, Carolyn Rodz, and Siddhartha Sachdeva — were just named to Forbes' Next 1000 list of the country's up-and-coming entrepreneurs. They're among the 250 standouts who make up the second installment of this year's Next 1000 class.

Forbes says the year-round Next 1000 initiative "showcases the ambitious sole proprietors, self-funded shops, and pre-revenue startups in every region of the country — all with under $10 million in revenue or funding and infinite drive and hustle."

Forbes accepts nominees for Next 1000, and then "top business minds and entrepreneurial superstars" pick those who make the final cut. Among those minds are LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; baseball legend Alex Rodriguez; Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook; and Carla Harris, managing director of Morgan Stanley.

"Americans are launching new companies at a historic rate, aided by the accelerated shift in the way we live and work and an influx of technological tools that made it easier for anyone to start their own business from anywhere," Maneet Ahuja, senior editor of Forbes, says in a news release. "The latest class of Next 1000 entrepreneurial heroes offer hope for the future as we emerge from the pandemic on the path towards economic recovery."

Hines, Rodz, and Sachdeva are the initiative's three Houston representatives in the summer 2021 group.

Hines co-founded UpBrainery Technologies with Ghazal Qureshi in 2020. UpBrainery operates a tech ecosystem aimed at disrupting educational and classroom norms through the use of proprietary technology, according to Forbes.

UpBrainery's marketplace provides an AI-driven software platform and research-based, results-driven curriculum to students, parents, teachers, and organizations. So far, UpBrainery has helped more than 5,000 students. Clients include Whataburger, Nasdaq, the Houston Rockets, the Girl Scouts of America, and Girls Inc.

"Because I deeply understand curriculum and the theory of education, I understand the biases marginalized students face every day, and I co-founded UpBrainery with the goal of eliminating historical education biases, leveling the playing field for underrepresented students, and providing a technology solution that reaches even the most disconnected student," Hines says on her company's website.

Rodz co-founded Hello Alice with Elizabeth Gore in 2017 as an accelerator for women-owned businesses. Today, the Hello Alice online platform serves as a one-stop shop for all aspiring entrepreneurs, connecting them with funders, services, and professional networks, Forbes explains. To date, it has raised $8.5 million in funding.

"Hello Alice is what I wish I had when I started my first business 15 years ago," Rodz told the Golden Seeds website in 2020. "After a career in investment banking, I made a long, hard, expensive transition into entrepreneurship. It wasn't until I sold that company that I realized how much I learned."

"When I started a second business, I discovered networks and opportunities I didn't know about the first time, and doors opened up," she added. "With Hello Alice, our goal was to put all entrepreneurs on an equal footing, giving them the knowledge, opportunities, and connections they need to thrive from day one."

Sachdeva founded Innowatts in 2014. The company offers an AI-powered SaaS platform that helps electricity providers operate more efficiently and transition toward sustainable energy, Forbes says. Innowatts has raised nearly $27 million in funding.

"The COVID-19 crisis has brought challenges for the energy sector, but there will always be a need for accurate forecasting and real-time intelligence," Sachdeva says in a recent news release. "Innowatts has flourished by using its groundbreaking AI technologies to help customers build resilience and cope with the unprecedented shifts in power consumption caused by the pandemic."

Nancy and Richard Kinder are the richest residents of Houston. Photo by Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group

17 Houstonians cash in on Forbes' 2021 list of world's billionaires

big money

Houston's unofficial benefactor, Richard Kinder, is officially the richest person in the Bayou City, according to Forbes 2021 list of the world's billionaires. Sixteen other uber-wealthy Houston-area residents join Kinder on that list.

But that's not the biggest news, statewide: Eclectic entrepreneur Elon Musk has officially knocked Walmart heiress Alice Walton of Fort Worth off her longtime perch as the richest person in Texas.

On April 6, Forbes released its 2021 list. Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, landed at No. 2 globally with a net worth of $151 billion. He sat at No. 31 in last year's ranking. Forbes lists Musk's place of residence as Austin, although he hasn't confirmed where in Texas he settled last year.

Now at No. 2 in Texas is Walton, whose net worth is $61.8 billion. That puts her at No. 17 on the global list.

Walton is the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton; as of December 2020, the Walton family still reigned as the richest family in the U.S., with Alice Walton's wealth accounting for a little over one-fourth of the family fortune.

The only other Texan who comes close to Musk and Walton in the Forbes ranking is Michael Dell. The chairman and CEO of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies boasts a net worth of $45.1 billion. That places him at No. 30 on the global list and No. 3 in Texas.

In all, the Forbes list features 64 Texas billionaires collectively worth $460.1 billion. (What pandemic?) Among the state's metro areas, Dallas-Fort Worth leads with 27 billionaires, followed by Houston (17), Austin (10), and San Antonio (three).

What follows is a breakdown of Texas billionaires in other cities, including their global ranking, source of wealth, and estimated net worth.

Houston:

  • Richard Kinder, pipelines, No. 369, $7 billion
  • Dannine Avara, pipelines, No. 451, $6 billion
  • Robert Brockman, software, No. 451, $6 billion
  • Scott Duncan, pipelines, No. 451, $6 billion
  • Milane Frantz, pipelines, No. 451, $6 billion
  • Randa Duncan Williams, pipelines, No. 451, $6 billion
  • Tilman Fertitta, Houston Rockets owner/food/entertainment, No. 622, $4.6 billion
  • Dan Friedkin, Toyota dealerships, No. 705, $4.1 billion
  • Janice McNair, Houston Texans owner and energy, No. 705, $4.1 billion
  • John Arnold, hedge funds, No. 925, $3.3 billion
  • Jeffery Hildebrand, oil, No. 1,580, $2 billion
  • Leslie Alexander, former Houston Rockets owner, No. 1,750, $1.8 billion
  • Fayez Sarofim, money management, No. 2,035, $1.5 billion
  • Jim Crane, Houston Astros owner and logistics, No. 2,141, $1.4 billion
  • Wilbur "Ed" Bosarge Jr., high-speed trading, No. 2,674, $1 billion

Two billionaires in the Houston suburbs also show up on the list:

  • Leo Koguan of Sugar Land, information technology services, No. 1,444, $2.2 billion
  • George Bishop of The Woodlands, oil and gas, No. 1,517, $2.1 billion

Fort Worth

  • Robert Bass, oil and investments, No. 550, $5.1 billion
  • David Bonderman, private equity, No. 705, $4.1 billion
  • Sid Bass, oil and investments, No. 1,064 $2.9 billion
  • Donald Horton, homebuilding, No. 1,299, $2.4 billion
  • Edward Bass, oil and investments, No. 1,444, $2.2 billion
  • Lee Bass, oil and investments, No. 1,664, $1.9 billion
  • John Goff, real estate, No. 2,263, $1.3 billion

Mark and Robyn Jones of Westlake, who derive their wealth from the insurance industry, appear at No. 1,249 on the Forbes list with an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion.

Dallas:

  • Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner, No. 264, $8.9 billion
  • Andy Beal, banking and real estate, No. 311, $7.9 billion
  • Mark Cuban, online media and Dallas Mavericks owner, No. 655, $4.4 billion
  • Ray Lee Hunt, oil and real estate, No. 680, $4.2 billion
  • Margot Birmingham Perot, technology and real estate, No. 705, $4.1 billion
  • Trevor Rees-Jones, oil and gas, No. 727, $4 billion
  • Robert Rowling, Omni Hotels and Gold's Gym, No. 752, $3.9 billion
  • Kelcy Warren, pipelines, No. 891, $3.4 billion
  • H. Ross Perot Jr., real estate, No. 1,174, $2.7 billion
  • Gerald Ford, banking, No. 1,249, $2.5 billion
  • Ray Davis, pipelines, No. 1,517, $2.1 billion
  • W. Herbert Hunt, oil, No. 1,580, $2 billion
  • Todd Wagner, online media, No. 1,664, $1.9 billion
  • Stephen Winn, real estate services, No. 1,664, $1.9 billion
  • Kenny Troutt, telecom, No. 2,035, $1.5 billion
  • Darwin Deason, software, No. 2,141, $1.4 billion
  • Timothy Headington, oil and gas/investments, No. 2,141, $1.4 billion
  • A. Jayson Adair, car salvage business, No. 2,674, $1 billion

Austin:

  • Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX, No. 2, $151 billion
  • Michael Dell, technology, No. 30, $45.1 billion
  • Robert F. Smith, private equity, No. 451, $6 billion
  • Bert "Tito" Beveridge, vodka, No. 622, $4.6 billion
  • Thai Lee, information technology, No. 956, $3.2 billion
  • Joe Liemandt, software, No. 1,008, $3 billion
  • John Paul DeJoria, hair care and tequila, No. 1,174, $2.7 billion
  • Jim Breyer, venture capital, No. 1,249, $2.5 billion
  • David Booth, mutual funds, No. 1,750, $1.8 billion
  • Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble dating app, No. 2,263, $1.3 billion

San Antonio:

  • Christopher "Kit" Goldsbury, salsa and private equity, No. 1,833, $1.7 billion
  • James Leininger, medical products, No. 2,035, $1.5 billion
  • Red McCombs, real estate/oil/car dealerships/sports/radio, No. 2,035, $1.5 billion
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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Abbey Donnell of Work & Mother, Blair Garrou of Mercury Fund, and Randa Duncan Williams. Courtesy photos

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: In the first weekly roundup of Houston innovators of 2021, I'm introducing you to three innovators across the city — one of the richest people in Houston, a venture capital expert, and a female founder with big plans for 2021.

Abbey Donnell, founder of Work & Mother

Abbey Donnell is looking forward to growing Work & Mother in 2021. Courtesy of Work & Mother

Abbey Donnell is making sure that when new moms go back to work in downtown Houston in 2021, they'll have a suite of professional, spa-like rooms to pump in. Work & Mother has recently opened its latest location in Three Allen Center and designed it with comfort and safety in mind.

"Pumping at work has always been incredibly hard for mothers. Now, with the pandemic, there are the added complications of germ spread, closed community spaces, and repurposed wellness rooms, which makes pumping at work nearly impossible. Yet, most employers still have a legal obligation to provide a proper space for nursing mothers," says Abbey Donnell, founder and CEO of Work & Mother, in a news release. Click here to read more.

Blair Garrou, managing director of Mercury Fund

Blair Garrou joined the Houston Innovators Podcast this week. Photo via MercuryFund.com

Despite the rollercoaster of a year 2020 has been for venture capital, Blair Garrou says he's never been busier. One thing he's seen increased is an interest in early stage investing — this, he says, is happening as the pandemic has shown a spotlight on the importance of tech and ramped up digitization in business.

"People are realizing that money is in innovation and tech — especially in software," Garrou says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "I can't tell you how many individual investors who call interested in investing in Mercury as a fund or our companies. People are not getting the return they desire from the markets and they are seeing tech companies do great things." Click here to read more and stream the podcast episode.

Randa Duncan Williams, owner of Texas Monthly

One of the four richest people in Houston, Randa Duncan Williams owns Texas Monthly. Photo courtesy of Texas Monthly

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the richest of them all? Nevermind, mirror. Forbes just told us. Houston's Duncan family, with a net worth of $22 billion, who once again appear on the annual Forbes ranking of America's richest families. (The Duncans come in at No. 11 on the Forbes list.)

The four children of pipeline mogul Dan Duncan — Randa Duncan Williams, Milane Frantz, Dannine Duncan Avara, and Scott Duncan — inherited a $10 billion estate from their father when he died in 2010. The net worth of each heir exceeds $5 billion.

Randa enjoys the highest profile among the four Duncan siblings. She is chairwoman of Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners, the pipeline giant founded by her father, and owns Austin-based Texas Monthly magazine. Click here to read more.

Randa Williams Duncan has the highest profile among Houston's richest family. Photo courtesy of Texas Monthly

These 4 Houstonians cash in on Forbes' list of richest American families

family fortune

While 2020 has been a nightmare financially for many, some locals have cashed in. One example is Houston's Duncan family, with a net worth of $22 billion, who once again appear on the annual Forbes ranking of America's richest families. (The Duncans come in at No. 11 on the Forbes list.)

The four children of pipeline mogul Dan Duncan — Randa Duncan Williams, Milane Frantz, Dannine Duncan Avara, and Scott Duncan — inherited a $10 billion estate from their father when he died in 2010. The net worth of each heir exceeds $5 billion.

Randa enjoys the highest profile among the four Duncan siblings. She is chairwoman of Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners, the pipeline giant founded by her father, and owns Austin-based Texas Monthly magazine.

Elsewhere in Texas, The Walton family once again reigns as the richest family in the U.S., according Forbes. Their net worth: $247 billion. In its 2020 budget year, Walmart racked up revenue of $524 billion — and the company continues to rack up riches for heirs of the retail giant's founders.

That $247 billion sum represents close to half of Walmart's annual revenue and is equivalent to the size of Chile's economy.

The net worth of Fort Worth billionaire Alice Walton, the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, accounts for a little over one-fourth of the family fortune. Forbes estimates she's worth about $68 billion, making her the richest resident of Texas and the richest Walton heir. If Alice Walton were a family unto herself, she'd rank as the fourth wealthiest clan in the country.

Descendants of Sam Walton and brother Bud Walton own about half of Walmart's stock. Forbes says the stock generates more than $700 million in annual dividend income for the family.

Alice Walton isn't the only Texan who's a member of the Walton dynasty. Ann Walton Kroenke, one of the two daughters of Bud Walton, lives on a 535,000-acre ranch about 50 miles northwest of Wichita Falls. She is worth about $9.1 billion and is married to sports and entertainment titan Stan Kroenke, who's worth an estimated $8.3 billion.

While all of the Waltons don't live in the Lone Star State, members of four of the country's other wealthiest families do.

At No. 15 among the country's wealthiest families is the Butt family, with a net worth of $17.8 billion. Charles Butt is chairman and CEO of the H-E-B grocery chain, based in San Antonio and parent company of Dallas-based Central Market. Butt, grandson of H-E-B founder Florence Butt, and three relatives — sister Mary Butt Crook and two nephews — own H-E-B. The company's annual sales are around $28 billion.

The Hunt family, whose members are descendants of oil wildcatter H.L. Hunt, sit at No. 18 on the Forbes list with a net worth of $15.5 billion. The richest among them are billionaires Ray Lee Hunt and W. Herbert Hunt, both of Dallas.

Rounding out the Texas contingent on the Forbes list are members of Fort Worth's Bass family. The Basses hold down the No. 30 spot with a net worth of $10.8 billion. The four Bass brothers — Sid, Edward, Robert, and Lee — each inherited $2.8 billion from their oil tycoon uncle Sid Richardson after his death in 1959. Robert is the wealthiest of the foursome.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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New Houston-based specialty pet supply company aims to pamper your pooch

good dog

Considering that Americans will reportedly spend $109.6 billion on pets this year, according to new data, it really pays to be discerning when buying. Now, Houston dog owners can stay local when shopping for their fur babies.

Houstonians Brad Madrid and Bobby Dwyer have launched Fido, a new e-commerce pet wellness brand. Available all over Houston, Texas, and indeed, the nation,

Fido products will initially start with Chill Chews and Clear Ears, both of which are scientifically formulated and aim to provide relief and comfort, per a press release. Products are lab-tested and veterinarian-approved, per the company.

Anxious pups may benefit from Chill Chews, which make training, traveling, and everyday life smoother and are said to help pets relax. The Clear Ears, meanwhile, is composed of natural ingredients such as eucalyptus and aloe and is meant to keep pets’ ears clean and clear of any wax, debris, fungus, and bacteria.

“As a professional dog trainer and breeder, I’ve worked with hundreds of dogs which has allowed me to develop a deep understanding of how dogs think and function,” said Dwyer in a statement. “Through my profession, I’ve discovered a need for products to ensure canines’ health and wellness, and it’s our mission to provide great products to make good boys even better.”

Brad Madrid and Bobby Dwyer have launched Fido, a new e-commerce pet wellness brand. Photo courtesy of Fido

Madrid and Dwyer aren’t just business partners but also brothers-in-law. Bringing science to Fido, Madrid boasts a background in pharmaceuticals, while Dwyer brings canine know-how with his experience as a dog trainer.

Both hope to see their business grow by leaps and bounds. Products are available for purchase on the website and shipping is available nationwide. Plans for products to be sold in local pet stores, as with international shipping available in the future.

If current data is any indication, Madrid and Dwyer are in the right business. A survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners found that 52 percent of respondents said they spend more money on their pets than they do on themselves each year, per GoBankingRates.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston startup shakes up antiquated hiring process for the next generation

new way to hire

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."

How universities can help equip Houston with a skilled cybersecurity workforce

guest column

With an increasing number of data breaches, a high job growth rate, and a persistent skills gap, cybersecurity professionals will be some of the most in-demand workers in 2022. It’s more important than ever to have people that are properly trained to protect individuals, corporations, and communities.

Demand for cybersecurity talent in Texas is high. According to Burning Glass Labor Insights, employers in the Houston metro area have posted over 24,000 cybersecurity jobs since the beginning of 2021. But the pipeline of cybersecurity workers is very low, which means many local and national companies don’t have enough people on the front lines defending against these attacks.

Unfortunately, it looks like the cybersecurity skills gap is far from over. An annual industry report from the Information Systems Security Association shows that the global demand for cybersecurity skills still far exceeds the current supply of traditionally qualified individuals, with 38 percent of cybersecurity roles currently unfilled. This shortage has real-life, real-world consequences that can result in misconfigured systems and improper risk assessment and management.

How can companies help close the cybersecurity skills gap within their own organizations? We believe it will become increasingly important to look beyond “traditionally qualified” candidates and view hands-on experience as the same, or even more important than, the certifications or bachelor degree requirements often found in cybersecurity job descriptions.

The top open cybersecurity roles in the Houston area include analysts, managers, engineers, and developers. Employees in these positions are essential to the everyday monitoring, troubleshooting, testing and analyzing that helps companies protect data and stay one step ahead of hackers. When looking to fill these roles, hiring managers should be looking for candidates with both the knowledge and experience to take on these critical positions.

Fortunately, Houston-based companies looking to establish, grow, or upskill their cybersecurity teams don’t have to go far to find top-tier talent and training programs. More local colleges and universities are offering alternative credential programs, like boot camps, that provide students with the deep understanding and hands-on learning they need to excel in the roles that companies need to fill.

2U, Inc. and Rice University have partnered to power a data-driven, market-responsive cybersecurity boot camp that provides students with hands-on training in networking, systems, web technologies, databases, and defensive and offensive cybersecurity. Over 40 percent of the students didn’t have bachelor degrees prior to enrolling in the program. Since launching in 2019, the program has produced more than 140 graduates, some of whom have gone on to work in cybersecurity roles at local companies such as CenterPoint Energy, Fulcrum Technology Solutions, and Hewlett Packard.

Recognizing programs like university boot camps as local workforce generators not only gives companies a larger talent pool to recruit from, but also increases the opportunity for cybersecurity teams to diversify and include professionals with different experiences and backgrounds. We’re living in a security-first world, and the right mix of cybersecurity talent is essential to keeping us protected wherever we are.

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David Vassar is the dean of Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University. Bret Fund is vice president overseeing cybersecurity programs at 2U.