Plug and Play Tech Center — a global powerhouse startup accelerator with its headquarters in Silicon Valley — has hired its first boots-on-the-ground team member for its Houston outpost.
Payal Patel, former director of business development at Station Houston, has joined Plug and Play as director of corporate partnerships. Plug and Play already has a handful of corporate partners in Houston, and Patel will be working with those organizations as well as growing the partnerships. These large companies are crucial to Plug and Play's process.
"The way we help startups advance is by helping them get connected to the largest corporations in the world so that they can run pilots with those big companies and eventually get them as customers," Patel tells InnovationMap.
Patel might be the first Houston hire since Plug and Play entered the Houston market, but it won't be the last. According to Patel, the organization will be hiring to fill a venture management-focused person, as well as someone to run operations. The most immediate hire, however, will be for an office manager, as Plug and Play is currently looking for office space. Patel says the organization should make a decision regarding its Houston office space in the coming weeks.
The accelerator program's first batch of startups will launch later this month at a private pitch event on September 17 where Plug and Play companies from around the world will pitch for Houston corporate partners and select guests. The event will act as the launch of the program's first batch, which will continue throughout the rest of the year.
Plug and Play is always evaluating startups for inclusion into their ongoing accelerator programs, Patel says, and Houston companies can express their interest in joining the program via the website.
For Patel, the new position is exciting for her — from what she will be able to accomplish but also for what it means to Houston.
"As I've gotten to know Plug and Play, what I've been most impressed with is the resources and capabilities they have," Patel says. "They've got great Fortune 500 corporate partners, they work and know the best tech startups all over the world, and they have a strong investment capability. I'm excited that those resources and capabilities are coming to Houston."