3 Houston innovators to know this week

Who's who

From fitness tech and interior design to super thin wearable technology, this week's innovators to know can't be stopped. Courtesy photos

Another week, another set of Houston innovators to keep your eye on. This week's cast of characters are from across industries — from fitness innovation to interior design for tech companies. Scroll through to meet the people behind Houston innovation.

Lizzie DeLacy, founder of DeLacy Wellness

Photo courtesy of DeLacy Wellness

After years of working in fitness, Lizzie DeLacy, founder of DeLacy Wellness, wanted to be able to help more people on their health and wellness journeys. She launched Bodypeace — an app that offers workout sessions, recipes, and tips for a healthier lifestyle — to help people make time for fitness and mindfulness.

"Rather than focusing on really long sessions, though we have a couple in there, we focus on short 5-minute sessions, so anyone can fit movement into their schedule and lifestyle," DeLacy tells InnovationMap. "Additionally, we break it down by body part focus, because oftentimes people don't know necessarily what exact movement or pose or stretch they might need."

Read more about DeLacy and Bodypeace here.

Cunjiang Yu, a Bill D. Cook associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston

Photo courtesy of UH

Cunjiang Yu, a professor and researcher at the University of Houston, is the lead author on a paper that ran as the cover story in Science Advances. In the paper, Yu identifies a wearable technology that can detect health conditions while being so incredibly thin, the wearer might not even notice.

"Everything is very thin, just a few microns thick," says Yu, who also is a principal investigator at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, in a release. "You will not be able to feel it."

Read more about Yu and the technology here.

Amy English, director of interiors for HOK

Photo courtesy of HOK

For most people, the design of an office might be non-consequential. But, for Amy English, director if interiors for HOK, designing the right space can do wonders for your company. English wrote a guest article for InnovationMap that outlines different trends in interior design for tech companies.

"While the next big technological advancement isn't set in stone, one thing is certain: Companies that wish to remain competitive and responsive in the future will need workplaces with the flexibility and personalization that allow their people to gather, connect, innovate, and simply be their best," she writes.

Read English's guest article here.

Lizzie DeLacy, founder of DeLacy Wellness, launched a new platform called Bodypeace offering wellness and exercise tips through the app. Courtesy of DeLacy Wellness

Houston fitness guru takes her expertise mobile with new app

Fit tech

As time spent on mobile devices stretches longer and attention spans get shorter, a Houstonian thinks she has a solution to combine personal technology and a healthy lifestyle.

Lizzie DeLacy, founder of DeLacy Wellness, has launched a new app called Bodypeace that offers workout sessions, recipes, and tips for a healthier lifestyle, but in a different way than consumers might be used to.

"Rather than focusing on really long sessions, though we have a couple in there, we focus on short 5 minute sessions, so anyone can fit movement into their schedule and lifestyle," DeLacy tells InnovationMap. "Additionally, we break it down by body part focus, because oftentimes people don't know necessarily what exact movement or pose or stretch they might need."

DeLacy worked as a private fitness instructor for years before deciding to create the Bodypeace app to make her coaching and practices accessible to more people. Her goal is to help as many people as possible feel better so they can grow to be the best version of themselves, referring to this concept as "Eventual Energy."

The Bodypeace app, which launched on iTunes and Google Play on July 17, allows users to filter by body part, choosing between an all body session, or focus on a specific spot such as hamstrings, hips, back, shoulders, and more.

"In my experience as a yoga instructor, I saw that these are pain points for a lot of people," says DeLacy.

The app tailors content for the user by asking a series of questions about workout habits, and lifestyle. There is a free trial period for users to explore the app, as well as paid options, $17.99 a month or $119.99 a year.

"The busier people get the less they want to spend time in their cars or pay the fees that are associated with gym memberships, and having the ability to do something from the comfort of your own home or on demand that fits your schedule," says DeLacy. "I think it's really appealing to a lot of people, myself included."

DeLacy shares that many fitness apps out there geared towards getting a six pack or losing weight can be intimidating to those that have never worked out before or have an injury that they're recovering from. She designed her app to be accessible for all fitness levels, ages, and genders.

"The content on Bodypeace is really for the athletes and the 'never-evers' alike," DeLacy tells InnovationMap. "There is a whole group of people that are either new to working out or have never considered it before."

DeLacy founded DeLacy Wellness in 2016, a year after she moved to Houston. DeLacy is a certified yoga instructor and holds a health coaching certification. The company, which is privately funded, has two full-time staff, DeLacy and her partner and COO Jack Martin, two advisory board members, two instructors, and one community contributor.

DeLacy tells InnovationMap that on the community portion of the Bodypeace app, there is a lot of free information available for users to test the content. DeLacy and her team hope to connect wellness content creators and contributors with people who are looking for information to feel and live better.

"We're hoping to create a platform where you're doing movement and you're also going to learn about movement, nutrition, mental health, and other topics dealing with wellness," says DeLacy.


Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston financial services firm announces acquisition, plans to grow

M&A radar

A Houston-based financial services company has made a recent strategic acquisition that gives it a new banking status.

LevelField Financial, which is creating a platform that combines traditional banking and digital asset products and services, announced this week that it is acquiring Burling Bank, an FDIC-insured, Illinois state-chartered bank. According to the company, once it receives regulatory approval, "LevelField will be the first full-service bank to offer fully compliant traditional banking and digital asset services."

The financial terms of the deal's transaction, which is expected to close later this year, were not disclosed.

The combined company will be able to provide traditional banking services, as well as LevelField's digital asset management. Burling Bank's senior management team will join LevelField's leadership, per a press release. They will focus on serving the bank's existing clients and growing the banking business nationwide.

"We conducted a broad review of banks in the U.S. to find the ideal institution with both an existing business and a management team who are aligned with our vision; we exceeded our expectations with Burling Bank. With this acquisition, LevelField will become a traditional bank, albeit one serving customers interested in the digital asset class," says Gene A. Grant II, CEO of LevelField Financial, in the release.

"We are thrilled to have the Burling executives join our leadership team, and together we intend to deliver fantastic customer service and well-designed products to customers who have an interest in accessing the digital asset class through a traditional bank," he continues.

Founded in 2018 by former banking executives, LevelField's leadership believes "the future of money is digital and that banks will continue to be a trusted provider of financial services," according to the website. This acquisition comes ahead of the company's plans to expand nationally.

"LevelField's strategic approach presented a tremendous opportunity for the bank to expand beyond our local footprint and serve customers with shared interests across the nation," says Michael J. Busch, Burling Bank president and CEO. "Together, we will continue to provide superior service and demonstrate that we truly understand the expanding and unique needs of our customers. Additionally, through the carefully developed suite of products we can address our customers' interests in digital assets and introduce them to LevelField's safe, simple, and secure platform."

How this Houston innovator's tech is gearing up to impact EV charging, energy transition

houston innovators podcast episode 172

With more and more electric vehicles on the road, existing electrical grid infrastructure needs to be able to keep up. Houston-based Revterra has the technology to help.

"One of the challenges with electric vehicle adoption is we're going to need a lot of charging stations to quickly charge electric cars," Ben Jawdat, CEO and founder of Revterra, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "People are familiar with filling their gas tank in a few minutes, so an experience similar to that is what people are looking for."

To charge an EV in ten minutes is about 350 kilowatts of power, and, as Jawdat explains, if several of these charges are happening at the same time, it puts a tremendous strain on the electric grid. Building the infrastructure needed to support this type of charging would be a huge project, but Jawdat says he thought of a more turnkey solution.

Revterra created a kinetic energy storage system that enables rapid EV charging. The technology pulls from the grid, but at a slower, more manageable pace. Revterra's battery acts as an intermediary to store that energy until the consumer is ready to charge.

"It's an energy accumulator and a high-power energy discharger," Jawdat says, explaining that compared to an electrical chemical battery, which could be used to store energy for EVs, kinetic energy can be used more frequently and for faster charging.

Jawdat, who is a trained physicist with a PhD from the University of Houston and worked as a researcher at Rice University, says some of his challenges were receiving early funding and identifying customers willing to deploy his technology.

Last year, Revterra raised $6 million in a series A funding round. Norway’s Equinor Ventures led the round, with participation from Houston-based SCF Ventures. Previously, Revterra raised nearly $500,000 through a combination of angel investments and a National Science Foundation grant.

The funding has gone toward growing Revterra's team, including onboarding three new engineers with some jobs still open, Jawdat says. Additionally, Revterra is building out its new lab space and launching new pilot programs.

Ultimately, Revterra, an inaugural member of Greentown Houston, hopes to be a major player within the energy transition.

"We really want to be an enabling technology in the renewable energy transition," Jawdat says. "One part of that is facilitating the development of large-scale, high-power, fast-charging networks. But, beyond that, we see this technology as a potential solution in other areas related to the clean energy transition."

He shares more about what's next for Revterra on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


Early-stage accelerator names finalists for its second Houston cohort

ready to grow

A traveling seed-stage accelerator has announced its return to Houston and named its second cohort.

CodeLaunch, produced by Dallas-based constant and software development company Improving and presented by Ohio-based VC network Cyrannus, is returning to Houston. The company's second Houston accelerator event will be held on March 2.

Putting a fresh spin on the seed accelerator model, CodeLaunch combines a startup competition with a tech tradeshow, as well as allows for networking among attendees. Since its inception ten years ago, the touring competition has doled out over $1.4 million in services to its finalists and overall winners.

"CodeLaunch is a startup and rock-n-roll show like nothing you've ever seen before," says CodeLaunch President and Founder Jason W. Taylor in a news release.

The competition pairs six startups with six startup consulting companies. This year's finalists and mentor pairings are as follows:

  • Lake Charles, Louisiana-based GOPHR's consultant mentor is Softeq
  • Port Arthur, Texas-based DrinKicks is paired with BJSS
  • Energy360, based in Houston, has been matched with Honeycomb Software
  • Inpathy, based in Detroit and Tyler, Texas, will work with Contollo
  • Drivingo, led by a student founder from Virginia Tech, is selected to collaborate with Blue People
  • Houston-based AnyShift's consultant mentor is Improving

Houston-based Softeq is returning to the event after working with software startup Codiac.

“CodeLaunch was great. We gained customers, investors, and a lot of local notoriety. It was the best event we had all last year," says Ben Ghazi, founder of Codiac about the event.

ResQ TRX, a Houston startup that provides solutions for the logistics industry, won CodeLaunch HOU 2022. Houston-based Clutch won Judges' Choice in last year's competition.

This year, investment is also on the line. Presenting partner Cyrannus announced that all startup founders who advance to the semifinal round of CodeLaunch will be competing in a $100,000 investment challenge, as well as the $50,000 challenge for impact startups. There would be one or two winners — either a winner for each award or, if a company scores top marks in both categories, one company can take home the entire $150,000.

“Not only will (a winner) get the cash, but also be introduced to a network that will help them refine their idea and get ready for their first big fundraiser," says Lee Mosbacker, founder of Cyrannus, in a news release.

This year's CodeLaunch event will be a part of Houston Tech Rodeo, which is taking place February 27 to March 2 this year. Tech Rodeo, which announced its schedule this week, will conclude its programming with the CodeLaunch event.

"Houston Exponential could not be more excited about our partnership with CodeLaunch Houston," says Houston Exponential CEO Natara Branch in the release. "They are a fantastic ally in Houston’s efforts to serve its growing startup community and CodeLaunch is an incredible fit for the capstone of the 2022 Tech Rodeo. Finishing off Tech Rodeo with CodeLaunch's exciting atmosphere will be a highly anticipated event for the Houston innovation ecosystem after an engaging week of programming."