Here's what you missed at Houston House at SXSW. Photos courtesy

SXSW has descended on Austin, and while the two-week conference and festival is still going strong, the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston-focused activation has wrapped for 2022.

Houston House, which first originated last year in digital form in 2021, took place Sunday, March 13, and Monday, March 14. The nine panels and two nights of networking covered topics from energy transition and med tech to diversity in venture capital and innovation in aerospace.

For SXSW badge holders, some of the Houston House discussions are available online. However if you’re not out and about at SX and you missed these incredible panels, I spoke to four Houstonians after their discussions to dig a little deeper into some key points from the panels.

Here are the Houston Innovators I spoke with at SXSW:

  • Denise Hamilton, CEO of WatchHerWork
  • Kevin Coker, president and CEO, Proxima
  • Grace Chan, investment associate at bp Ventures
  • Dale Winger, managing director of Halliburton Labs

Listen to these conversations below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes, which will return to interview-style conversations featuring Houston guests next Wednesday.

Three Houston innovators discussed the strides the city is making in terms of equitable funding opportunities. Photos courtesy

SXSW panel: What Houston needs to do to develop as an equitable tech ecosystem

houston house

Houston has consistently been recognized as one of the most diverse cities in the country — but is that translating into equitable funding opportunities for diverse founders? A panel at SXSW this year discussed whether or not Houston's playing field is level for people of color within the innovation ecosystem.

"People do business with who they know — and who they like," says Felix Chevalier, co-founder of Urban Capital Network, when the panel was asked where the disconnect is with funding diverse founders. "I think it boils down to a lack of exposure and a lack of relationships."

Chevalier was joined by Jesse Martinez of Resolved Ventures and VamosVentures and Denise Hamilton of WatchHerWork, who moderated the discussion, which was hosted in the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston House on Sunday, March 13, at SXSW in Austin.

"We have to look at the pipeline — what the existing ecosystem looks like," says Martinez, who leads the LatinX Alliance, an organization that's relocating its operations to Houston. "We have new funds, new diverse GPs, and we have more investors — and we're building talent. ... We are making great strides, but we still need more of us to be funding our diverse founders."

The key to the equation, the panelists agreed, is education and programming — both for potential investors, like UCN does with its hands-on support for its diverse investor base, and for founders of color who might be more hesitant to plunge by starting a company.

"The way you start to dissolve that fear for folks, for example, who may be in a corporate space but may want to spread their entrepreneur wings, is to just get involved with the ecosystem," Chevalier says. "What ends up happening is you bump into someone you know or someone who is from the same talent you are originally — all you have to do is immerse yourself in the environment."

"The opportunities are out there, but it is incumbent upon in those who want it to put themselves in a position to meet people who are in the environments that are going to help facilitate whatever your objectives are," he continues.

Hamilton explained her experience raising money as a Black woman — investors didn't want to bet on her. It's a chicken and an egg situation, she says, and support for diverse founders in terms of programming and investors focused specifically on underserved communities are going to help break the cycle. It's not about charity, but equitable opportunities.

"I don't want any charity – I don't want an overabundance of kindness. Scaffold me like you scaffolded Mark Zuckerberg," Hamilton says, giving Facebook as an example of a company that was supported in a way she never had. "If you are going to be in a nascent ecosystem, you need to have structures that explain why your pitch deck has to be efficient, why you need a team. We've got to not focus just on the money piece, but on this whole psychosocial aspect."

With Hamilton's call to Houston's development as an equitable tech ecosystem, the conversation turned to discuss whether or not Houston is ready to provide this support to startups and rise to being the global innovation hub the city wants to be.

"We've got to find our tribe. We have all the pieces," Martinez says. "It's going to take time, and we have to be very intentional. ... It's really about thinking of Houston as a startup itself. How do we act as a team, and bring in partners and investors to make it a thriving ecosystem over time."

It takes commitment, Hamilton says, and that's happening in the Bayou City.

"Everything is not figured out right now — but there's a commitment to figuring it out," she says. "It's not going to be Silicon Valley overnight — it will never be Silicon Valley. Because this is Houston."

Here's everything you should attend at SXSW this year. Photo courtesy of SXSW

Houston innovators: Here's what not to miss at SXSW

Where to be

Headed to SXSW this year and hoping to make meaningful Houston tech and innovation connections and hear from thought leaders? Look no further than these key events and panels.

From meetups to fireside chats, here's everything you need to know about tapping into the Houston innovation ecosystem by way of the Austin festival.

Missing something? Shoot an email to natalie@innovationmap.com for event consideration.

Friday, March 11

ZenBusiness Startup Crawl

Capital Factory is bringing back its Startup Crawl. One hundred startups and partners set up tables to demo their products and talk to thousands of potential customers, investors, and employees who can be found walking from table to table with their beverage of choice. Grab a group of your friends, hit up the Public Lounge presented by Cisco, and find out what happens when the hottest startups come together at the same time and in the same place. The event begins at 5 pm. Click here to learn more.

Saturday, March 12

SXSW Pitch

The 14th annual SXSW Pitch will take place at the Hilton Austin Downtown on Saturday, March 12, and Sunday, March 13. A live audience, as well as a panel of expert judges, will discover advancements in various sectors of emerging technology. The best part – product demonstrations by the most ambitious talents in the world with the creative new ideas to change it. Catch a glimpse of the industry’s future, with a guided tour by our emcees and judges.

Houston-based Case CTRL will pitch within the Enterprise & Smart Data Technology category on Saturday at 11:30 am. For more information, click here.

Sunday, March 13

Houston House

The Greater Houston Partnership's Houston House begins Sunday at 10 am. The line-up of programming, which is available to badge holders at The Line Hotel, is as follows:

  • 10 am: Funding the Next Generation of Diverse Founders — speakers include:
    • Felix Chevalier, Co-Founder, Urban Capital Network
    • Denise Hamilton, Work Futurist and CEO, WatchHerWork
    • Jesse Martinez, Investment Partner/Venture Partner, Resolved Ventures/VamosVentures
  • 11:30 am: Game Changers - The Rise of Sports Tech — speakers include:
    • David Gow, CEO, Gow Media & SportsMap Tech Acquisition Corp.
    • Chris Buckner, CEO, Mainline
    • Lori Burgess, Chief Operating Officer, Beasley Esports
    • Ashley Dewalt, Managing Director, DivInc
  • 1 pm: The commercial Space Age is Here — speakers include:
    • Dr. Douglas Terrier, Associate Director for Vision and Strategy, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
    • R. Matthew Ondler, CTO, Axiom Space
    • Timothy Crain, Chief Technology Officer, Intuitive Machines
    • Arturo Machuca, Director, Ellington Airport and Houston Spaceport
  • 2:30 pm: Accelerating Solutions in Medtech — speakers include:
    • Joanna Nathan, Manager, New Ventures, Johnsons & Johnson Center for Device Innovation
    • James Andrew Reinstein, President & CEO, Saranas Inc.
    • Kevin Coker, President & CEO, Proxima
  • 4 pm: Paradigm Shift - Breakthroughs in Cell Technology
    • Jason Bock, VP, Biologics Development, MD Anderson
    • Michael A Curran, Associate Professor / Founder, The UT MD Anderson Cancer Center / ImmunoGenesis, Inc.
    • Larry Hope, New Ventures and Business Development, MD Anderson
  • 5:30 pm: Networking reception
For more information on Houston House, click here.

Founded in Texas

Project W, Artemis Fund, HearstLab, and Beam have teamed up at SXSW to present the second Founded in Texas, a showcase of female founders of seed stage B2B and B2B2C technology companies located in Texas. Founded in Texas will feature 12 founders selected by application and will be an opportunity for investors from across the country to get a glimpse of the innovation and creativity at work in the growing Texas startup ecosystem.

The event begins at 9 am at Relay Coworking (Springdale General) with investor feedback. A brunch follows at 11:30 am. For more information, click here.

SXSW Official 3D Printing Hangout

Houston-based re:3D invites you to celebrate the Texas 3D Printing community with some bomb brews and primo prints at the Draught House Pub & Brewery during SXSW. Connect with fellow 3D printing enthusiasts and innovators, and bring your 3D printers and 3D prints and share what you've been up to.

The event begins at noon and runs until 3 pm. Click here for more information.

Monday, March 14

Houston House

Monday is day two of the GHP's Houston House, and the programming also begins at 10 am for badge holders at The Line Hotel.

  • 10 am: Funding the Global Energy Transition — speakers include:
    • Hossam Elbadawy, Managing Director and Technology Partner, SCF Partners
    • Shawn Cumberland, Managing Partner, EnCap Investments L.P.
    • Grace Chan, Investment Associate, bp Ventures
    • Vidisha Prasad, Managing Partner, Adya Partners
  • 11:30 am: Dream Team - Corporates and Startups in Climatetech — speakers include:
    • Andrea Course, Venture Principal, Shell Ventures
    • Dale Winger, Managing Director, Halliburton Labs
    • Michael Wheeler, Senior Investment Manager, Equinor Ventures
    • Dawn James, Director, Global Industry Strategy- Energy & Sustainability, Microsoft Corp
  • 1 pm: Tech Powering the Global Energy Transition — speakers include:
    • Trevor Best, CEO, Syzygy Plasmonics
    • Moji Karimi, CEO, Cemvita Factory Inc.
    • Federico Marques, Founder & CEO, Moonflower Technologies
    • Jane Stricker, SVP, Energy Transition, Executive Director Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), Greater Houston Partnership
  • 2:30 pm: Roadmap to an Equitable Energy Transition
    • John Hall, President and CEO, Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC)
    • Dana Harmon, Executive Advisor, Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute(TEPRI)
    • Jane Stricker, SVP, Energy Transition, Executive Director Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), Greater Houston Partnership
  • 4 pm: Transition on Tap, hosted by Lara Cottingham, Chief of Staff, Greentown Labs
  • 5:30 pm: Networking reception

Shell House at SXSW 2022

Shell House at SXSW activation in Antone’s in downtown Austin will share how business, government and society can collaborate to achieve net zero. Guests can sit in on talks, ask experts energy questions, relax in the Recharge & Refuel Lounge and participate in an interactive experience that highlights how decisions about home and travel can impact the US reaching net zero by 2050.

Some notable Houstonians involved in this activation include:

  • Katie Mehnert, founder and CEO of ALLY Energy is moderating the "Wake Up Call: Women in Tech & Innovation" panel at 9:30 am on Monday.
  • Sidd Gupta, CEO of Nesh, and Tim Marx, president of Topl and Venture Partner at Baird Capital, will join the panel "What I Wish I Had Known: The Start-Up’s Tale of Working with Big Companies" at 4 pm on Monday.

Baker Botts: How Innovation is Confronting Global Challenges

Join Baker Botts and several thought leaders for an afternoon discussing today’s emerging & disruptive technologies and the current investment landscape at our third annual SXSW event. The fireside chat begins at 3 pm, with a panel discussion at 4 pm. The event wraps up with a networking reception at 5 pm. A badge is not required to attend.

The event will be at Hotel Van Zandt (605 Davis St.) For more information, click here.

Tuesday, March 15

Shell House at SXSW 2022

Shell House continues at Antone's Tuesday. Some must-see Houston innovators include:

  • Lara Cottingham, chief of staff at Greentown Labs, and Siddhartha Sachdeva, founder & CEO of Innowatts will be on the "Net-Zero Heroes: How Entrepreneurs Will Lead the Way in Decarbonization" panel.

Meet Houston's Top Tech Founders

Want to know how Houston is setting itself up to be the next hub for tech innovation? This networking event will shine a spotlight on the amazing innovation coming out of Houston by bringing in a number of founders from Houston's fastest-growing startups together with several great VCs around the nation to participate in a joint conversation about founding tech startups.

The event will take place at 11:30 am to 12:30 pm at Hilton Austin Downtown, Room 408. The meetup is hosted by Sandy Guitar, managing director of HX Venture Fund, and Trevor Best, CEO of Syzygy Plasmonics. Click here for more information.

The Greater Houston Partnership's Susan Davenport shares details on Houston House at SXSW. Photo via houston.org

GHP introduces in-person Houston House for SXSW 2022

Q&A

Texas is just about two weeks away from SXSW's return to in-person activations and events since pre-pandemic times. The two-week conference includes conversations and activities within music, film, education, tech, and more. And this year, the Greater Houston Partnership is shining a spotlight on the Bayou City at the festival.

"With the return of the conference in person for the first time since 2019, we are thrilled to build on that momentum and host Houston House — a two-day activation featuring programming and networking opportunities for guests attending the conference," says Susan Davenport, chief economic development officer for the GHP.

Houston House, which first originated last year in digital form, will be held in Austin on Sunday, March 13, and Monday, March 14. Davenport shares more details on the activation in a Q&A with InnovationMap.

InnovationMap: Why did the Greater Houston Partnership decide to have a presence at SXSW this year?

Susan Davenport: As one of the premier tech conferences in the U.S., SXSW provides an incredible platform to promote Houston’s position as the most prominent emerging innovation hub in the country.

Houston was a featured partner at last year’s SXSW Online Conference, where the Partnership rallied innovative leaders from across the region for a series of virtual programming. With the return of the conference in person for the first time since 2019, we are thrilled to build on that momentum and host Houston House – a two-day activation featuring programming and networking opportunities for guests attending the conference.

With an expected attendance of 45,000 bright minds from around the globe, it’s the perfect venue to showcase Houston’s tech leadership and cultivate relationships that support the growth of our ecosystem.

IM: What can attendees expect from Houston House?

SD: This year’s activation will be held at the Line Hotel, an established SXSW venue in the heart of the action. Consistent with what attendees have come to expect from South by, Houston House will offer thought leadership programming featuring industry leaders and startup founders in a series of panel discussions on today’s most prominent topics in tech.

In addition to main stage programming, Houston House will also offer a lounge space that will serve as a landing pad for stakeholders and attendees to cultivate relationships. Each day of programming will conclude with a networking reception.

IM: The programming is geared around a few topics — what are some of these themes and how do they pertain to Houston innovation?

SD: On Sunday, March 13, our programming will be focus on topics like commercial aerospace, medical device innovation, cell therapy, and investment for diverse entrepreneurs. These panel sessions will showcase Houston’s leadership through the incredible work taking place at the Ion, Houston Spaceport, Johnson Space Center, and the Texas Medical Center.

On Monday, March 14, our programming will kick off the start of the SXSW Climate Change track and focus primarily on how Houston is leveraging its energy leadership to accelerate solutions for a low-carbon future. Topics will include VC investment in climate tech, corporate and startup partnerships, emerging low-carbon energy technologies, and ensuring an equitable energy transition.

Our full lineup of Houston House programming and speakers can be found online, along with an overview of the 2022 SXSW Conference.

IM: Who should stop by Houston House at SXSW?

SD: Anyone who is interested in technology, commercial aerospace, life sciences, and how DEI traverses with these industries will find value in our rockstar lineup of industry leaders, investors, and startup founders. We hope to see young professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, and executives.

For fellow Houstonians attending the conference, Houston House will serve as a home base to kick off your SXSW experience. For those who are not currently involved in our tech ecosystem, this will be the perfect opportunity to dive in and learn more about the amazing things taking place in our great region.

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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The city's top power players within Houston's energy innovation ecosystem joined virtual SXSW to discuss Houston's life science innovation scene and developing an inclusive ecosystem. Photos courtesy

Overheard: Houston's innovation leaders weigh in on the city's developing ecosystem at SXSW

EAVESDROPPING ONLINE

Another day of SXSW 2021 has concluded, and just like the first day, Houston innovators logged on to discuss technology and innovation that's taking off in town.

The second of the two days of programming focused on the development of the Houston innovation ecosystem — including how the city is factoring in diversity and inclusion into development — with interviews hosted by me, Natalie Harms, editor of InnovationMap. Missed out on the fun? Catch up with a few overheard moments from Houston House or stream the full interviews below.

"“We have to be true to ourselves of what works for Houston. Making sure the DEI is interwoven and in our DNA of our ecosystem so that we don’t make the same mistakes as other cities." — Ashley DeWalt, managing director of DivInc Houston

Video courtesy of the Greater Houston Partnership

Houston has an advantage in developing its innovation ecosystem because it can do so by learning from established ecosystems on the coasts. Locally, that means making diversity and inclusion a top priority. At a virtual SXSW Houston House panel, Ashley DeWalt, managing director of DivInc Houston, and Jan Odegard, interim executive director of The Ion, discuss the importance of prioritizing inclusion in developing Houston's innovation ecosystem. Click here to watch the full interview.

“This pandemic has really highlighted a lot of the health care disparities that are present within our systems. … Houston is in a unique position to address that.” — Fiona Mack, head of JLABS @ TMC

Video courtesy of the Greater Houston Partnership

The Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world with over 10 million patients coming in annually — and JLABS @ TMC is right in the middle of that. With this access to patients and clinical trials, Houston has a lot of potential to attract new innovative companies solving the world's biggest health care problems. At a virtual SXSW Houston House HOU Talk, Fiona Mack, head of JLABS @TMC, discusses the momentum behind health tech innovation in Houston. Click here to watch the full interview.

“Whatever the training is, you have to actually create bias disruptors and points of friction and processes that change behavior. If we don’t have a way to implement what we learn, it doesn’t really change culture.” — LaTanya Flix, senior vice president at the GHP

Video courtesy of the Greater Houston Partnership

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, corporations of all shapes and sizes were inspired to look inward to address inequity within their workforce — from training to shifts in workplace culture. At a virtual SXSW Houston House HOU Talk, LaTanya Flix, senior vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at the Greater Houston Partnership, shares how she's on a mission to spread mindful DEI initiatives across all of the GHP's member organizations. Click here to watch the full interview.

“I see a world where I’m sitting in a boardroom, and I’m not the only woman anymore.” — Samantha Lewis, principal at Mercury Fund

Video courtesy of the Greater Houston Partnership

Women in venture capital are used to being the only women in the room and are fighting for that not to be the case for future generations. At a virtual SXSW Houston House panel, Sandy Guitar, managing director of the HX Venture Fund moderates a discussion with fellow women in VC, Paige Pitcher, director of innovation at Hines, and Samantha Lewis, principal at Mercury Fund. Click here to watch the full interview.

“There’s an incredible number of innovations that have popped up in Houston, but a lot of them have been centered around solving engineering-type problems at industrial scale — and that still exists, but doesn’t get as much coverage as consumer-facing technologies.” — Josh Pherigo, director of research and data analytics at GHP

Video courtesy of the Greater Houston Partnership

When tracking any sort of progress or growth, business look to their numbers and data. Houston's innovation system is no different. At a virtual SXSW Houston House HOU Talk, Josh Pherigo, director of research and data analytics at the Greater Houston Partnership, dives in deep with the facts and figures of Houston's burgeoning innovation ecosystem by following the venture dollars coming into local startups. Click here to watch the full interview.

“If you look at the density in Houston, being the energy capital of the United States, there are probably few places in the world where you can walk 15 minutes in either direction and talk to about 100 companies that would potentially be customers.” — Matthew Costello, CEO and co-founder of Voyager Portal

Video courtesy of the Greater Houston Partnership

A good startup idea comes from necessity and a way to apply technology to solve problems and shorten business delivery times, and the maritime shipping industry has a lot of opportunities for these types of innovations. At a virtual SXSW Houston House HOU Talk, Matthew Costello, CEO and co-founder of Voyager Portal, sets sail on a conversation about the maritime shipping industry — and how it was ripe with disruption. Click here to watch the full interview.

“You have institutions of exception in Houston where innovation flows from. The question isn’t that it’s not there, it’s how have we been tapping it.” — David Schubert, president of Magnolia Tejas Corp.

Video courtesy of the Greater Houston Partnership

Houston has a burgeoning life science innovation scene — but what's that next step for its development? At a virtual SXSW Houston House HOU Talk, David Schubert, president of Magnolia Tejas Corp. discusses the potential of Houston's world-class oncologists and biotech innovators have to make the city a hub for cancer innovation. Click here to watch the full interview.

HOU Talk: How Houston can be the next hub for oncology innovation

sxsw houston house

Editor's note: For SXSW 2021, the Greater Houston Partnership produced two days of interviews and panels hosted by me — Natalie Harms, editor of InnovationMap — and focused on Houston innovation. One focused on how Houston is leading the energy transition and the other highlighted Houston's progress on creating a thriving and inclusive innovation ecosystem.

In this video, David Schubert, president of Magnolia Tejas Corp. discusses the potential of Houston's world-class oncologists and biotech innovators have to make the city a hub for cancer innovation. Visit our SXSW Houston House special section to watch them all.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston startups raise funding, secure partnerships across space, health, and sports tech

short stories

It's been a new month and a few Houston startup wrapped up November with news you may have missed.

In this roundup of short stories within Houston startups and tech, three Houston startups across health care, space, and sports tech have some news they announced recently.

Houston digital health company launches new collaboration

Koda Health has a new partner. Image via kodahealthcare.com

Houston-based Koda Health announced a new partnership with data analytics company, CareJourney.

"This collaboration will aim to develop benchmarking data for advance care planning and end-of-life metrics," the company wrote on LinkedIn. "Koda will provide clinical and practice-based expertise to guide the construction of toolkits, dashboards, and benchmarks that improve ACP programs and end-of-life outcomes."

Koda Health announced the partnership in November..

“Beyond the checkbox of a billing code or completed advance directive, it’s important to build and measure a process that promotes thoughtful planning among patients, their care team, and their loved ones,” says Desh Mohan, MD, Koda's chief medical officer, in the post.

CareJourney was founded in 2014 in Arlington, Virginia.

"I'm hopeful next-generation quality measures will honor the patient’s voice in defining what it means to deliver high quality care, and our commitment is to measure progress on that important endeavor," noted Aneesh Chopra, CareJourney's co-founder and president.

Sports tech startup raises $500,000 pre-seed investment

BeONE Sports has created a technology to enhance athletic training. Photo via beonesports.com

Houston-founded BeONE Sports, an athlete training technology company, announced last month that it closed an oversubscribed round of pre-seed funding. The company announced the raise on its social media pages that the round included $500,000 invested.

Earlier in November, BeONE Sports completed its participation in CodeLaunch DFW 2022. The company was one of six finalists in the program, which concluded with a pitch event on November 16.

Space tech company snags government contracts

Graphic via cognitive space.com

The U.S. Air Force has extended Houston-based Cognitive Space’s contract under a new TACFI, Tactical Funding Increase, award. According to the release, the contract "builds on Cognitive Space’s work to develop a tailored version of CNTIENT for AFRL to achieve ultimate responsiveness and optimized dynamic satellite scheduling via a cloud-based API.

The $1.2 million award follows a $1.5 million U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research award that the company won in 2020 to integrate CNTIENT with commercial ground station providers in support of AFRL’s Hybrid Architecture Demonstration program.

“The TACFI award allows Cognitive Space to continue supporting AFRL’s vitally important HAD program to help deliver commercial space data to the warfighter,” says Guy de Carufel, the company’s founder and CEO, in the releasee. “CNTIENT’s tailored analytics platform will enable HAD and the GLUE platform to integrate modern statistical approaches to optimize mission planning, data collection, and latency estimation.”

Houston airport powers up new gaming lounge for bored and weary travelers

game on and wheels down

Local gamers now have a new option to while away those flight delays and passenger pickup waits at Hobby Airport.

Houston's William P. Hobby Airport is now one the first airports in the country to offer what's dubbed as the "ultimate gaming experience for travelers." The airport has launched a premium video game lounge inside the international terminal called Gameway.

That means weary, bored, or early travelers can chill in the lounge and plug into15 top-of-the-line, luxury gaming stations: six Xbox stations, five Playstation stations, four PC stations, all with the newest games on each platform. Aficionados will surely appreciate the Razer's Iskur Gaming Chairs and Kraken Headsets, along with dedicated high speed internet at each PC station.

The Gameway lounge pays homage to gaming characters, with wall accents that hark to motherboard circuits Crucial for any real gamer: plenty of sweet and savory snacks are available for purchase to fuel up on those fantasy, battle, or sporting endeavors. As for the gaming console stations, players can expect high definition screens, comfortable seating, and plenty of space for belongings.

Make video games a part of your pre-flight ritual. Photo courtesy of Gameway

This gaming addition comes just in time for the holiday rush, when travelers can expect long lines, delays, and are already planning for extended time for trips. As CultureMap previously reported, Hobby will see a big boost in travelers this season — the largest since 2019. Now, those on a long journey can plug in, decompress, and venture on virtual journeys of their own.

Texan travelers may be familiar with Gameway; the company opened its first two locations at Dallas Fort-Worth Airport. The buzzy lounge an industry wave of acclaim: Gameway was awarded Best Traveler Amenity in 2019 at the ACI-NA Awards and in 2020, voted “Most Innovative Customer Experience” at the Airport Experience Traveler Awards, per press materials.

Two new locations followed in 2021: LAX Terminal 6 and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The first of Gameway's Ultra lounge brand opened in September at Delta's Terminal 3 in LAX.

Gaming culture is a way of life in the Bayou City , which hosts Comicpalooza, the largest pop culture festival in Texas, and is home to several e-sports teams, including the pro esports squad, the Houston Outlaws.

A delayed flight never seemed so ideal for gamers flying out of Hobby. Photo courtesy of Gameway

“Gameway is the real reason to get to the airport early,” said Co-Founder Jordan Walbridge in a statement. “Our mission is to upgrade the typical wait-at-the-gate experience with a new stimulating, entertaining option for travelers of all ages.”

Here's guessing Hobby might just see an increase in missed or late flight arrivals — as travelers simply must beat those big bosses, solve puzzles, or win sports matches in the lounge.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.