With a transparent approach to hiring and candidate development, you will keep the employer brand intact and maintain recruiting power. Photo via Getty Images

One of the latest HR terms grabbing attention today is “ghost hiring.” This is a practice where businesses post positions online, even interviewing candidates, with no intention to fill them. In fact, the role may already have been filled or it may not exist.

Usually, an applicant applies for the job, yet never hears back. However, they may be contacted by the recruiter, only to learn the offer is revoked or a recruiter ghosts them after a first-round interview.

Applicants who are scouring job sites for the ideal position can become discouraged by ghost hiring. Employers do not usually have any ill intentions of posting ghost jobs and talking with candidates. Employers may have innocently forgotten to take down the listing after filling the position.

Some employers may leave positions up to expand their talent pool. While others who are open to hiring new employees, even if they do not match the role, may practice ghost hiring when they want a pool of applicants to quickly pull from when the need arises. Finally, some employers post job roles to make it look like the company is experiencing growth.

When employers participate in ghost hiring practices, job candidates can become frustrated, hurting the employer brand and, thus, future recruiting efforts. Even with the tight labor market and employee turnover, it is best not to have an evergreen posting if there is no intention to hire respondents.

There are several ways employers can engage candidates and, likewise, build a talent pool without misleading job seekers.

Network

A recruiter at their core is a professional networker. This is a skill that many have honed through the years, and it continues to evolve through social media channels. While many recruiters lean on social media, you should not discount meeting people face-to-face. There is power in promoting your organization at professional meetings, alumni groups and civic organizations. Through these avenues, many potential candidates will elect for you to keep them in mind for future opportunities.

Employee Referrals

When recruiters want to deepen their talent pool, they cannot discount the employee referral. Simply letting employees know and clearly stating the exploratory nature of the conversation can lead to stellar results. Employees understand the organization, its culture and expectations, so they are more likely to refer the company to someone who would be a good fit and reflect highly on them.

Alternative Candidates

In recent years, organizations and recruiters are more dialed into skills-first recruiting practices. Creating job postings that emphasize the skill sets needed rather than the years of experience, specific college degree or previous job titles, can yield a crop of candidates who may be more agile and innovative than others. Fostering relationships with people who fit unique skills needed within the organization can help you develop a deeper bench of candidates.

Contingent Workforce

Part-time workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are a great way to build connections and the talent pool. These workers and their skills are known entities, plus they know the organization, which makes them valuable candidates for open roles. If their expertise is needed on a regular basis, it is easier to have open conversations about a potential expansion of their duties or offer full-time work.

Internal Talent

Human resources and recruiters need to work with managers and leadership to intimately know what kind of talent lies within their own organization. Current employees may have the strengths, skills, and capabilities to fill new positions or roles. Through conversations with employees and their managers, you can identify who can flex different skills, but even more importantly, the ambition to grow within the company.

In every instance, it is crucial for recruiters and hiring managers to be transparent in their intentions. Communicating within your network that you are always looking for great talent to fill future roles sets the tone. When communicating with candidates, whether there is a pressing job opportunity or not, be clear from the onset regarding your intentions for hire. With a transparent approach to hiring and candidate development, you will keep the employer brand intact and maintain recruiting power.

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Jaune Little is a director of recruiting services with Insperity.

There are three topics in particular that business owners should refresh and/or make sure they include in their HR policies and employee handbook. Photo via Getty Images

3 things Houston companies need to freshen up when it comes to their HR practices

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Just as we typically look to freshen up our homes this time of year, the same needs to be done for employee handbooks. Employee handbooks streamline HR operations, mitigate risks and set expectations to protect a business from negative workplace behavior by outlining employee policies and procedures.

There are three topics in particular that business owners should refresh and/or make sure they include in their HR policies and employee handbook: in-office attendance, social media and artificial intelligence (AI).

In-office attendance

When taking a closer look at hybrid workplace policies, the in-office attendance policies should align with your organizational goals. Whether you decide to implement hybrid work permanently or eventually return to being in the office completely, the return-to-office (RTO) policies should reflect those goals.

Clear expectations are especially important when defining office attendance rules. When attendance policies are set, employees respond best when they are fair, accessible and easily understood. Detailed policies outlining the nuances and consequences can help reduce noncompliance while supporting accountability.

Policies need consistent enforcement for them to be effective. Hybrid policies set prior to or during the pandemic may now be loosely enforced. The policies may state for employees to be in the office three days a week, but there may be no accountability for not meeting the mandate. Not enforcing attendance policies can give the impression that it is okay to violate other policies, too. Reviewing your policies allows you to course correct and write a policy reflecting your corporate culture and goals. You’ll then be able to reintroduce the attendance policy and enforce it across the board as intended.

Social media

You are hard pressed to find an employee without a social media account, whether it is TikTok or LinkedIn. If your business does not have a social media policy with guidelines surrounding employees’ online behaviors, now is the time to put one in place. If you do have a policy, social media changes quickly enough to warrant an annual review.

Social media policies should set boundaries between personal and professional use of social media. Employee activity on social media outside of work can influence business, as employees are often seen as reflecting the company. It is also important to note that social media policies should be based on input from senior management, HR, legal and IT, not just marketing.

The social media policy should delineate between an employee’s personal and professional use, establish a code of conduct and outline its use as part of crisis communications. Social media can just as easily elevate your brand, and you can potentially ask employees to share positive work experiences online.

Cybersecurity should also be addressed in social media policies. As it has become more common for hackers to infiltrate personal emails and social media accounts, policies can prohibit employees from storing company documents in their personal social media and email accounts for security purposes.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI seems to be changing the way we do business daily. However, the policies surrounding company use of AI are lacking at many organizations. Research from McKinsey states only one in five employers have established policies governing their employees use of AI.

AI technology has already streamlined many business practices, but it can also present major risks. Inaccuracy can threaten your business if employees use generative AI for assistance in completing writing tasks, for instance, and the system may not generate accurate or original information.

As we learn the evolving and complex nuances of AI, creating a policy needs careful attention. You may consider developing an AI team to write a comprehensive, well-researched AI policy tailored to your organization. This working group should gather insights from leaders within the organization, including frontline managers, to fully understand how employees use, or might use, AI. This team should be charged with considering the ethical aspects of AI’s use and ensuring the policy aligns with company values.

One of the most critical elements of the policy is an accountability process or system. The policy should clearly outline any corrective action or disciplinary steps associated with using AI in a manner that harms the business and/or its clients. Just as important, the policy should outline how to use and how to avoid misusing AI. Since AI continues to evolve month to month, this is a policy that will require more attention and revisioning throughout the year.

Keeping a critical eye on HR policies is an important part of business success. Setting aside time to review, update and even create new policies now – before being faced with an issue – can potentially mitigate costly challenges down the road.

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Karen Leal is performance specialist with Houston-based Insperity, a provider of human resources offering a suite of scalable HR solutions available in the marketplace.

How to prevent micromanaging at your Houston startup, small biz

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A manager’s job is to coach their teams and create opportunities for them to succeed. Yet, as managers rise through the ranks, they are not always trained in how to delegate, trust their teams and let the little things go. If managers lack these skills, their micromanaging can quickly lead to an unhappy work environment and increase employee turnover.

A team can become even more successful when managers do not try to control and monitor everything. Instead of getting caught up in the project’s minutia, managers should focus on the bigger picture. The best approach is to delegate tasks and trust the team to complete their assignments, without interfering with the direct work.

Startups and small businesses are full of people with an entrepreneurial mindset who love to roll up their sleeves and get to work, no matter their job description. Just like frontline managers, founders and leaders need to be mindful not to become micromanagers, by giving their teams both the guidance and autonomy to make the business a success.

To prevent micromanagers from taking root in the organization, follow these tips.

Identify the micromanager

Micromanagement is not always easy for founders to detect. However, recognizing and understanding micromanagement is paramount to well-functioning teams and businesses.

When looking for signs of a micromanager, start by searching for managers who tend not to delegate and, if work is delegated, take over from their teams again and again, even after only a simple and harmless mistake. As a result, most of their time is spent overseeing others, while failing to progress on their own work. This can lead managers to lose focus on larger projects and strategy, unable to see how their daily tasks relate to the larger goals of the organization. Additionally, micromanagers request frequent updates and often find deliverables unsatisfactory.

As leaders, it is important to know the signs of micromanagement in order to prevent employee work dissatisfaction and high turnover, which is detrimental to a small business. The culture of a brand-new startup encourages everyone to do everything, which is exciting and rewarding. Managers may grow accustomed to being deeply ingrained in their employees’ day-to-day work. That said, as business scales and becomes more successful, teams expand, and micromanagement is no longer a sustainable management style.

Establish a process

Implementing a formalized process or workflow can help those who tend to micromanage track team projects. Since some use micromanagement to feel in control of a larger project, a project management system or software can help them focus on the higher-level strategy. When the company has a specific method for recording common tasks, they reduce the risk that managers will check-in too often while still lending structure to the overall projects. Beyond helping micromanagers, project management systems help everyone stay on track and communicate at every step in the process. This can increase self-management and efficiency within the organization.

Provide training

Leadership training provides the tools to improve team management and discuss the company’s expectations of managers, which can prove helpful, no matter the leader’s tenure. Management training often highlights a manager’s current leadership style, encourages self-reflection on their strengths and weaknesses, and provides the tools for growth.

Oftentimes, micromanagers are perfectionists and need to simply set their expectations with team members. These expectations can include preferred communication methods and frequency, how to ensure clarity of the tasks, workflow/project management and alerts surrounding urgent updates/mistakes. Once a manager knows their own expectations and communicates them with the team, they establish a better working environment.

Set objectives and key results

Savvy business leaders know micromanagers want to control the end goal. Setting objectives and key results (OKRs), which are actionable, quantifiable, have a deadline and ambitious, allows managers to practice control by meeting the objectives without feeling the need to control every aspect of the project. OKRs encourage managers to focus on big, impactful objectives that can be accomplished in a set amount of time.

Once the OKRs are set, regular, once a week meetings can give everyone the chance to present their progress and give group feedback on the OKRs. Management is also likelier to look at the bigger picture and allow their teams to thrive independently.

Bottom line

Teams need managers, but they need managers who provide guidance and give them the space to thrive. Addressing micromanagement does not mean managers should eliminate one-on-one check-ins or knowing a few of a project’s details. It does mean managers should trust team members to do their jobs. Mutual trust works wonders for workplace culture and a small business’s retention efforts.

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Jill Chapman is a director of early talent programs with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

Despite the inevitability of bad hires, recruiters equipped with proper tools and training can identify red flags and take preventive measures. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

How to avoid bad hiring decisions when it matters most, according to this Houston expert

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Hiring the right people for the right roles is ideal and can make an organization reach new heights. The reality is every business has made a bad hire.

Finding the wrong fit for a team or organization is not uncommon, but it is important to know what it costs the organization, which can be detrimental to company finances and its workplace culture, especially small businesses and startups where the impact is magnified.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports a bad hire can cost up to 30 percent of the employee’s wage, which would be approximately $18,000 since the average American wage is $60,000. In addition, there are soft costs of managers and leadership time during the hiring and training process, which adds up quickly.

Bad hires explained

A bad hire can simply be someone who is not the best fit for the position or the company. The quality of work may not meet expectations; however, there are behaviors that can point to a bad hiring decision. New hires who were recruited due to specific knowledge or a skillset, but they do not deliver, have a negative attitude, or are disengaged, are all signs of a bad hire.

Even though hiring the best people for the job should be every recruiter’s goal, they are sometimes pressured to quickly fill the role. Once a new hire starts, it does not take long to find out if they are a bad hire. Recruitment is vital to a company’s success, so it is important to know how to identify a bad hire before they join the organization, the red flags, and the lasting impacts to the workplace culture.

Right turns, wrong fit

Business leaders most certainly think they are bringing in the right person for the job, but the wrong fit can significantly impact the organization.

Suffering morale and reduced teamwork: Incompetent employees force team members to cover their work, negatively impacting morale. If these issues persist, it signals to existing employees that suboptimal work is acceptable, which adds stress, distraction and reduced engagement.

Unmet expectations: When a new employee exaggerates their qualifications, they may struggle to meet expectations, resulting in slow or inadequate work product, which can be especially detrimental in a small business setting. This not only impacts the company financially but also demands managers’ time for oversight and performance issue resolution.

Weakened employer reputation: Startups and small businesses depend heavily on their hard-earned reputation and brand. Employees represent a company’s values, and when they fail to embody them, it can negatively influence sales, vendor relationships and recruitment efforts. Actions of employees, both in-person and online, significantly shape public perception.

Client attrition: Poor performance or unprofessional behavior can damage client relationships, leading to business losses. These client experiences may lead to lasting consequences for the company’s reputation, affecting potential clients and key partnerships, and its bottom line.

Recruiting and training challenges: The recruiting process usually spans four to six weeks, involving tasks such as drafting the job description, obtaining approvals, posting ads, resume screening, candidate communication, interviews and offer negotiations. After accepting an offer, new employees, regardless of experience, require time to familiarize themselves with the organization, its processes and job responsibilities. If a poor hiring decision is made, the recruitment process may persist, leading to extended periods of onboarding.

Preventing bad hires

Experienced recruiters can still make bad hires, but certain measures can help mitigate risks:

  • Fine-tune job descriptions. Clear and concise job descriptions aid in identifying suitable candidates and provide a better understanding of position expectations.
  • Take sufficient time. Resist the pressure to fill the role; prioritize finding the right candidate to avoid subsequent costs.
  • Standardize the interview process. Employ set questions for consistency and involve team members in behavioral and peer-to-peer interviews to assess cultural fit.
  • Check references. Verify candidates’ honesty, skills, attitude toward work, and work ethic through thorough reference checks.

Despite the inevitability of bad hires, recruiters equipped with proper tools and training can identify red flags and take preventive measures. This proactive approach ensures better preparation for attracting top talent and minimizes the impact of suboptimal hiring decisions on the company.

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Karen Leal is performance specialist with Houston-based Insperity, a provider of human resources offering a suite of scalable HR solutions available in the marketplace.

Of all employees, managers have faced some of the most significant changes, and their engagement levels paint a sobering picture. Photo via Getty Images

Houston HR expert: Mitigating the manager squeeze

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Middle managers are in a precarious position in today’s workplace as they are caught in the crossfire of conflicting demands from leadership and their teams, also known as the “manager squeeze.”

Of all employees, managers have faced some of the most significant changes, and their engagement levels paint a sobering picture. With only 31 percent of managers engaged, 55 percent looking for new jobs and barely one in five stating their organization cares about their wellbeing (Gallup), employers need to look more closely at their management teams and take action.

A strategic approach and effective communication can help mitigate the manager squeeze and provide a more pleasant work environment.

Provide clear expectations

Even though managers need to meet the expectations of their own supervisors, they should also set clear expectations. By proactively establishing clear and realistic expectations with leadership and their own team members, managers can ensure everyone is aligned from the start so there are not conflicting demands. Expectations can include setting achievable goals, agreeing to schedules and timelines, and communicating any potential changes that may occur.

Set priorities

Managers tend to juggle their most productive hours with people management responsibilities. Knowing the importance of people management, managers should prioritize their own tasks and delegate as appropriate. The act of delegation can lighten the manager’s workload and also empower team members to take on and learn new skills that contribute to the project’s success.

Encourage open communication

Open, transparent communication is a benchmark for many organizations. Encouraging managers to keep communication channels open, going both up and down, is imperative. Managers who can express concerns or challenges, and their team members who can do the same, allow teams to more quickly identify potential challenges and allay misunderstandings.

Offer learning and development opportunities

Not everyone is an innate manager and those who do it well put effort into it. Learning and development (L&D) opportunities are crucial for this group as they need to stay up to date with industry trends, but also it offers time for them to fine tune their leadership techniques and communication skills. Investing in L&D provides valuable returns in the form of a revived manager base, a more engaged workforce and increased productivity overall.

Create a network

Support is an important tool to avoid the manager squeeze. Superiors or mentors can provide guidance when there are issues or conflicting demands, while peer groups can help provide valuable insights into managerial styles and offer constructive feedback. In all situations, creating a network of leaders to lean on and trust can become a crucial element for manager success.

The manager squeeze is bound to happen when there are conflicting priorities. However, when a workplace establishes a culture based on open communication, managers can address the challenges early. Keeping the channels of communication open from top to bottom allows all parties to set expectations, collaborate and provide solutions. When managers are given the leeway to communicate freely and are given the instruction and tools to do so effectively, it lessens burnout, the manager squeeze and establishes a more positive work environment for all.

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Jill Chapman is a director of early talent programs with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

On the precipice of the new year, be sure you're factoring these human resources trends. Photo via Getty Images

Houston expert shares 5 HR trends to expect to see in 2024

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Several catchy names to common workplace issues surfaced in 2023, from “quiet quitting” and “quiet promotions” to “monk mode” and “coffee badging.” What came to the forefront of these conversations was employers need to take care of their people to increase engagement and productivity, which results in happy employees and business success.

On the precipice of the new year, there are HR trends that will carry over and other trends employers may want to consider to create a workplace culture that supports its employees and sets the organization up to meet its goals.

Building Skills to Fill the Labor Shortage

Depending on the industry, business leaders continue to have a hard time finding qualified workers to fill open positions, even though there are 6.3 million unemployed workers in the U.S. labor market. The reason this is difficult, many times, is the need for a specific educational background, exact experience or new skills in technology.

A business on the verge of growth needs to fill roles as quickly as possible, but it can do more harm than good hiring the wrong people. Training current employees whose positions are easier to back-fill to take on a new role and building the specific skills needed in-house can be the ideal solution.

Hiring Based on Experience

Many people are not taking the traditional career path and business leaders must look beyond the degree and standard experiences when hiring. With the tight labor market, it is imperative to look at the entire person and skills that can translate into the role. For example, military veterans were quickly trained in several very technical areas, they can make quick decisions, lead effectively and many are goal oriented. Even though they may not tick the standard boxes, the soft skills they bring to business can make them great hires. With training, they will quickly learn the skills needed for the specific task at hand.

Offering Wellness Programs

Employee benefits took center stage during the pandemic, from extended medical benefits to mental health resources. An even more well-rounded approach to wellness will continue into 2024. Beyond health-related benefits, wellness extends to child and elder care, including flexible schedules, as more employers require in-office days. Additionally, financial wellness programs continue to gain momentum. These benefits take shape with financial education classes/coaching, savings programs, investment opportunities, budgeting tools and credit resources. When employers implement financial wellness benefits, they help reduce employees’ financial stress and boost their financial confidence, which impacts every facet of their lives, including work engagement and productivity.

Creating a Living AI Policy

AI is in the workplace, but it is changing daily. Employers will need to set policies on how AI can be used with their organization if they haven’t done so already. That said, the policy needs to change as the technology evolves. AI is a tool that will change the way we work; however, it is important to know its weaknesses and not lose sight of the human element of business. For example, AI can help streamline administrative tasks for the organization, which frees up staff time to have one-on-one conversations, collaborate more effectively and develop broader strategies to move the business forward.

Offering Frontline Manager Support

Frontline managers are in a precarious position. They have the difficult task of managing remote and hybrid employees, ensuring they are taken care of and meeting expectations, while also managing up to leadership. Frontline managers ensure work gets done and new initiatives are implemented. Many managers were put into the position during the great resignation and others are still struggling with managing today’s evolving workplace structure. Training frontline managers and offering them the support and tools they need to do their jobs well is something employers need to make trend in 2024.

Bottom Line

There are always trends in the workplace, but there is one thing that holds true year after year. Great relationships inspire great performance. These relationships start at the top and require real conversations to take place. When a culture is established where employees know they are heard and there are people within the organization who care about them and their success, business becomes easier to conduct and success follows. Start 2024 by putting intentional effort into relationships. It’s the best decision any leader can make.

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Jill Chapman is a director of early talent programs with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

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Houston ecommerce scale-up company acquires Amazon advertising partner

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A Houston tech company has tapped an Amazon partner in a strategic acquisition and is bringing the company's full team on board.

Cart.com acquired Ohio-based Amify, a company that provides optimization and advertising solutions. The terms of the deal were not disclosed but Cart.com will on board Amify’s entire employee base, including its founder Ethan McAfee, CEO Chris Mehrabi, and COO Christine McCambridge.

As chief delivery officer, Mehrabi will take the helm of Cart.com’s professional services business and McCambridge will lead Cart.com’s marketplace services team as vice president of marketplace services operations.

“I’m happy to welcome the entire Amify team to Cart.com and have industry veterans Chris Mehrabi and Christine McCambridge join our leadership team,” Cart.com Founder and CEO Omair Tariq says in a news release. “Amify has been widely recognized for their expertise and technology and we’re excited to leverage their experience to help our customers maximize their potential across channels.”

Cart.com's membership will have access to Amify's proprietary technology platform, including advertising, creative content, supply chain strategy, and analytics. The company, which was founded in 2011, currently supports over 50 global brands and manages approximately $1 billion in gross merchandise value. According to LinkedIn, Amify has over 50 employees.

“We could not be more excited to join Cart.com and leverage the company’s resources and scale to deliver value to both our customers and employees,” Mehrabi says. “I’m honored to step into the role of Chief Delivery Officer and contribute to Cart.com’s incredible growth story and innovative reputation.”

Founded in Houston in 2020, Cart.com provides comprehensive physical and digital infrastructure for online merchants. The company raised a $60 million series C and grown its customer base to over 6,000 users. After making several acquisitions, the company also operates 14 fulfillment centers nationwide.

Earlier this year, Tariq sat down with the Houston Innovators Podcast to share a bit about how the company is currently in scale-up mode.

Houston health tech innovator collaborates on promising medical device funded by DOD

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The United States Department of Defense has awarded a grant that will allow the Texas Heart Institute and Rice University to continue to break ground on a novel left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that could be an alternative to current devices that prevent heart transplantation and are a long-term option in end-stage heart failure.

The grant is part of the DOD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). It was awarded to Georgia Institute of Technology, one of four collaborators on the project that will be designed and evaluated by the co-investigator Yaxin Wang. Wang is part of O.H. “Bud” Frazier’s team at Texas Heart Institute, where she is director of Innovative Device & Engineering Applications Lab. The other institution working on the new LVAD is North Carolina State University.

The project is funded by a four-year, $7.8 million grant. THI will use about $2.94 million of that to fund its part of the research. As Wang explained to us last year, an LVAD is a minimally invasive device that mechanically pumps a person’s own heart. Frazier claims to have performed more than 900 LVAD implantations, but the devices are far from perfect.

The team working on this new research seeks to minimize near-eventualities like blood clot formation, blood damage, and driveline complications such as infection and limitations in mobility. The four institutions will try to innovate with a device featuring new engineering designs, antithrombotic slippery hydrophilic coatings (SLIC), wireless power transfer systems, and magnetically levitated driving systems.

Wang and her team believe that the non-contact-bearing technology will help to decrease the risk of blood clotting and damage when implanting an LVAD. The IDEA Lab will test the efficacy and safety of the SLIC LVAD developed by the multi-institutional team with a lab-bench-based blood flow loop, but also in preclinical models.

“The Texas Heart Institute continues to be a leading center for innovation in mechanical circulatory support systems,” said Joseph G. Rogers, MD, the president and CEO of THI, in a press release.

“This award will further the development and testing of the SLIC LVAD, a device intended to provide an option for a vulnerable patient population and another tool in the armamentarium of the heart failure teams worldwide.”

If it works as hypothesized, the SLIC LVAD will improve upon current LVAD technology, which will boost quality of life for countless heart patients. But the innovation won’t stop there. Technologies that IDEA Lab is testing include wireless power transfer for medical devices and coatings to reduce blood clotting could find applications in many other technologies that could help patients live longer, healthier lives.

Houston investor on SaaS investing and cracking product-market fit

Houston innovators podcast episode 230

Aziz Gilani's career in tech dates back to when he'd ride his bike from Clear Lake High School to a local tech organization that was digitizing manuals from mission control. After years working on every side of the equation of software technology, he's in the driver's seat at a local venture capital firm deploying funding into innovative software businesses.

As managing director at Mercury, the firm he's been at since 2008, Gilani looks for promising startups within the software-as-a-service space — everything from cloud computing and data science and beyond.

"Once a year at Mercury, we sit down with our partners and talk about the next investment cycle and the focuses we have for what makes companies stand out," Gilani says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "The current software investment cycle is very focused on companies that have truly achieved product-market fit and are showing large customer adoption."



An example of this type of company is Houston-based RepeatMD, which raised a $50 million series A round last November. Mercury's Fund V, which closed at an oversubscribed $160 million, contributed to RepeatMD's round.

"While looking at that investment, it really made me re-calibrate a lot of my thoughts in terms what product-market fit meant," Gilani says. "At RepeatMD, we had customers that were so eager for the service that they were literally buying into products while we were still making them."

Gilani says he's focused on finding more of these high-growth companies to add to Mercury's portfolio amidst what, admittedly, has been a tough time for venture capital. But 2024 has been looking better for those fundraising.

"We've some potential for improvement," Gilani says. "But overall, the environment is constrained, interest rates haven't budged, and we've seen some potential for IPO activity."

Gilani shares more insight into his investment thesis, what areas of tech he's been focused on recently, and how Houston has developed as an ecosystem on the podcast.