In my last column about tapping into Houston's venture capital ecosystem, I identified the 31 venture capitalists in Houston. By most measures Houston is around 0.5 to 1 percent of US venture capital activity, and that low volume is reflected in the limited number of venture capitalists locally.
But outside of venture capital funds, founders often pull money from other places including angel investors, seed funds and corporate venture capital arms as well as cross-over investors. I got asked this morning by a founder at the Ion, where’s the rest of the list?
Houston has five active corporate venture capital funds, or CVCs, with at least one senior investment professional in Houston with and one with headquarters here (Chevron). A short list of the key investment professionals in the group includes:
- Chevron Technology Ventures: Jim Gable, Luis Alcoser, Kemal Anbarci
- Aramco Ventures: Jim Sledzik, Chris Haase
- Shell Ventures: Andrea Course
- BP Ventures: Chad Bown, Grace Chan, Chris Spears
- United Ventures: Andrew Chang
There are maybe half a dozen other corporates In Houston that organize around a fund structure and governance of some type, and have been actively investing in venture capital rounds with professionals in Houston. Equinor, a long time corporate investor, Baker Hughes which relaunched a CVC effort in 2021, Mitsubishi has investment professionals in Houston, and Williams which launched a new CVC effort in 2022, as well as Occidental, BHP, and Waste Management which had active CVC efforts in the past that have gone a bit on ice, as did ConocoPhillips, P66 and Schlumberger. Two larger private equity funds Ara Partners and Quantum are active in venture capital deals, but in a more mixed model. This universe would probably add another 30 to 40 Houston based active investment professionals.
The city also has around 10 angel networks, pre-seed funds, pre-seed investors, and accelerators that write checks, typically in the $100K to $1 million range, but either without committed venture funds in an acceleration model, at varying degrees of active, scale, model, and type.
Layering them in no particular order the Houston universe expands by another dozen full time or mostly full time professionals, and a few dozen angels. I’ve included their main contacts below:
- Goose Capital: Andrew Nicholson. Goose publishes its list of 20 or so angel investors, and invests as a group.
- Softeq Venture Studio: Chris Howard, Payal Patel. Softeq runs a venture studio for SaaS startups from around, and invests out of its seed fund to back its portfolio.
- Houston Angel Network: Samia Ahsan. The Houston Angel Network is a long running investment network with a regular pitch process, and members invest individually or occiasionally via a Special Purpose Vehicle.
- Halo Fund: Kyra Doolan, David Steakley, Kevin King, Bob Tucci. Halo Fund is an annual cohort based fund created from HAN a number of years ago, and managed as a cohort of rolling seed funds.
- Another half a dozen seed investors are active in the city, including Golden Section: Dougal Cameron; Valhalla Investment Group: Jimmy Winningham; Cougar Fund: Kala Marathi; Climate Impact Capital: Alex Rozenfeld; TIE Houston: Ram Shenoy; and Integr8d Capital: JR Reale.
These are certainly not large numbers for a city our size, and commensurate with the size of the Houston startup market. But while the cupboard may be a bit bare, it’s not empty. As a founder chasing money, that’s about 75 to 100 names to go chase, with probably double that in active or semi-active angel investors investing through these pools.
Neal Dikeman is a venture capitalist and seven-time startup co-founder investing out of Energy Transition Ventures.