Believe it or not, the last South by Southwest was almost six months ago, and lineups are starting to roll out. Photo by Jessica Pages

The beauty of South by Southwest is that attendees make their own lineups, even on the conference side. Still, there’s so much to look at every day, it helps that the festival chooses featured speakers to narrow things down.

On Tuesday, August 30, the storied Austin festival revealed a cast of 13 featured speakers for 2023, featuring personalities and experts in sports, business, music, food, and more.

The conference events — less talked about than the flashy music and film festival events, which are technically all under the former umbrella — include more business and information sharing than entertainment, in several formats. Keynotes are presentations in the form of conversations with a wide range of recognizable guests, often visiting to perform at some other time. Panels are slightly different, more topic based, and are mostly picked by the community. Workshops, mentor sessions, and meetups are more personally involved.

This leaves featured sessions, which the conference sets aside for industry leaders. Following 25 tracks including huge topics like civic engagement and niche ones like psychedelics, these presentations are all about finding the zeitgeist, and likely interrupting it with innovative questions and lenses.

Featured speakers (by individual) and sessions (by topic) include:

  • Kyle Andrew, Allyson Felix, and Gloria Riviera: Andrew, chief brand officer at Athleta will talk with track and field Olympian Felix, who also works in athletic wear, and reporter Riviera, who podcasts about childcare. About what? It’s anyone’s guess with this eclectic group.
  • Amy Gallo: Gallo is the woman you want on your side at work. Along with contributing to the Harvard Business Review and co-hosting its Women At Work podcast, she has her own book coming out soon called Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People).
  • Sophia Roe: James Beard Award-winning chef Sophia Roe hosts Counter Space, a Vice TV series that examines the world through food; not just culture but innovation and climate change. Her explorations are mainly in the name of inclusivity, sustainability, and food equity.
  • “2050: Digital Identity is a Human Right”: Working from home, staying in touch with friends, or even just using a site that requires a log-in, everyone who uses computers and smartphones has a digital identity, and Unstoppable Domains senior Vice President Sandy Carter wants that ubiquity acknowledged.
  • “Data Privacy After Roe v. Wade”: The last thing many U.S. citizens want right now is to leave a record that they may become pregnant…and not deliver. Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, Alexandra Reeve Givens of the Center for Democracy & Technology, and Nabiha Syed The Markup talk protections.
  • “RTR 2023: The Neuroscience of Self-Renewal”: Resilience has been a trending topic for a long time, but in this talk by Chief Technology Officer of Everbridge John Maeda, it’s narrowed down to self-renewal. Can trusting that process help people overcome upheaval?

The rest of the featured speakers announced in a press release containing the above developments are Ian Beacraft, Rohit Bhargava, Henry Coutinho-Mason, Bryony Cole, Alex Naghavi, Chris Hyams, Daniel Lubetzky, Guy Moot, Douglas Rushkoff, Joost Van Druenen, Amy Webb, and Molly White. It also details a featured session called “Design for a Better Future.”

The 2023 South by Southwest conference will take place March 10-19. Current selection processes include music and film submissions, and pitch entries. Registration to attend (starting at $595) is open at sxsw.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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

Podcast: Houston innovators discuss energy transition, diversity, and health tech at SXSW

Houston innovators podcast episode 125

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."

Make your SXSW plan — SXSW starts today. SXSW/Instagram

Everything you need to know about SXSW’s anticipated in-person return to Austin

know before you go

SXSW starts this week, and it’s the first in-person event since 2019, which had more than 400,000 people attend.

The Austin Convention Center will play host to SXSW EDU through Thursday, March 10; SXSW Film Fest runs from Friday, March 11-Saturday, March 19; SXSW Music Fest runs from Monday, March 14-Sunday, March 20, Interactive runs from Friday, March 11-Saturday, March 19, and Flatstock 77 runs from Thursday, March 17- Saturday, March 19. At the Palmer Events Center, the SXSW Wellness Expo will be held from Saturday, March 12-Sunday, March 13.

Click here for your guide to connecting with Houston innovators this year at SXSW.

If you’re one of the many people attending, here are some things you should know before you go.

First things first: COVID-19 protocols. Austin is now in Stage 2 of its COVID-19 risk-based guidelines, and SXSW has made the decision to keep its existing guidelines in place. That means anyone who is attending needs to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID-19 test in order to pick up credentials.

Speaking of credentials, they can only be issued to, picked up by, and used by the participant named in the registration. All badge types can be picked up at Exhibit Hall 1 of the Austin Convention Center through March 19. For a list of the SXSW credential pickup dates and times, click here. Don’t forget to bring a government-issued photo ID and verification of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test.

As for getting around, you can catch a free ride on one of the circulating festival shuttles. You can also use pedicabs or public transit, or you can park close by and do some walking. Most of the venues are walkable and within a few minutes of the Austin Convention Center. For a look at road closures and commuting options, click here.

One way to help organize your time is by downloading the SXSW GO app. From the app, you can link your badge, RSVP for events, build your schedule, and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss those things you really want to see.

SXSW is a huge festival featuring events for many different genres, including music, film, television, gaming, and more. It will be difficult to attend everything you want.

Here’s some advice from Jim Kolmar, consulting film programmer for SXSW, and long-time attendee.

“I always tell people pick out three things you really want to do and make sure you do those,” he says. “Everything else, just have a plan, but leave it open to serendipity because your plan is going to fall apart at some point. There’s just no way to do everything exactly the way you want to. And I think that’s the best way to experience it, too. Just be in the moment.”

For those who don’t want to spend money but still want a SXSW experience, you can subscribe to free events here.

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Continue reading this story and watch the video on KVUE.

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.

Here's your one-stop shop for innovation events in Houston this month. Photo via Getty Images

10+ can't-miss Houston business and innovation events for March

Where to be

Saddle up, y'all. March might be the city of Houston's busiest month. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has kicked off, as has Houston Tech Rodeo. Plus, Houston innovators have CERAWeek to look forward to, as well as Houston-focused activations in Austin at SXSW. Here's a rundown of what all to throw on your calendar this month.

This article will be updated as more business and tech events are announced.


February 27-March 5 — Houston Tech Rodeo

Houston Exponential returns with its 3rd annual Houston Tech Rodeo, a week of events showcasing and connecting Houston's innovation and tech ecosystem. The majority of the programming is taking place downtown, and all events are free to attend. Click here to browse this year's events upon registration.

Click here for five can't-miss HTR events.

Click here to learn more about HTR.

March 2 — Building a Startup Ecosystem to Support Asian American Entrepreneurs

FilKor Capital's mission is to empower resilient Asian Americans to build enduring companies. We are focused on underserved communities to build deep and systemic impact, starting with Filipino American and Korean Americans. This event will launch a listening tour with a diverse mix of stakeholders (entrepreneurs, funders, government, chambers, corporates, universities, community, etc.) to understand needs, opportunities and ways to engage.

The event is Wednesday, March 2, from noon to 2 pm at Impact Hub Houston (1801 Main St.). Click here to register.

March 2 — Beyond the Pitch Deck

Pitching successfully is more than just creating a deck. Founders get a lot of advice on how to put slides together — but how do investors actually approach the process of determining what companies they want to invest in? In this moderated panel, founders can hear directly from investors to understand their perspectives.

The event is Wednesday, March 2, from 1 to 3 pm at Cannon West Houston (1334 Brittmoore Road). Click here to register.

March 3 — Ignite Healthcare Network’s 5th Annual Fire Pitch Competition 

The Fire Pitch Competition is the culmination of Ignite Healthcare Network's annual accelerator program created to encourage innovation in emerging women-led healthcare companies. The accelerator provides opportunities for women entrepreneurs to engage with advisors, potential customers, and investors to accelerate the growth of their companies.

The event is Thursday, March 3, from 5 to 8:30 pm at Texas Medical Center Innovation (2450 Holcombe Blvd.). Click here to register.

March 4 — 3rd Annual Houston Business Matchmaker

Hosted by the SBA, this annual Business Matchmaking event serves as a powerful means to help small businesses grow by meeting with multiple buyers from large businesses, colleges & universities, local, state, and federal agencies. The optimal outcome is a contract, but at minimum the small business will establish a relationship with an important buyer for future business.

The event is Friday, March 4, from 8:45 am to 3:30 pm, and virtual. Click here to register.

March 7-10 — Agora at CERAWeek

The 40th annual CERAWeek, a week-long event that aims to connect and convene the energy industry, returns to in-person programming this year in downtown Houston. The conference's innovation track, called Agora, has four days of panels, presentations, and networking. Note: InnovationMap has a guide to tapping into Houston innovation at CERAWeek ahead of this year's conference. Click here to read it.

The Agora sessions begin Monday, March 7, and conclude Thursday, March 10. All programming will take place at Hilton Americas-Houston (1600 Lamar St.). Click here to register.

March 8 — Transition on Tap

Transition On Tap is Greentown Labs’ monthly networking event devoted to fostering conversations and connections among the climate and energy transition ecosystem in Houston and beyond, and this one is focused on female founders. Entrepreneurs, investors, students, and friends of climatetech are invited to attend, meet colleagues, discuss solutions, and engage with our growing community.

The event is Tuesday, March 8, at 5 pm at Greentown Houston (4200 San Jacinto St.). Click here to register.

March 10 — Rise to the Top

The Greater Houston Partnership’s Women’s Business Alliance invites you to be part of an energizing conversation featuring outstanding female executives and thought leaders that leave the audience inspired and uplifted at the 11th annual Rise to the Top celebrating International Women's Day. To honor this year's International Women's day theme, #BreakTheBias, a panel of esteemed female leaders will discuss how we can work together to foster diversity, equity and inclusivity in our professional and personal lives. We will also talk mentors and mantras that helped these women rise to the top in their careers.

The event is Thursday, March 10, from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm at Marriott Marquis (1777 Walker St.). Click here to register.

March 10 — MarMo Pitch Competition

The Cannon's MarMo Pitch Competition is a life sciences/biotech-based pitch competition. Five teams will pitch an original tech-centered business idea to a panel of business experts and an audience of entrepreneurs, small business owners, potential investors, students, business and community leaders.

The event is Thursday, March 10, from 4 to 7 pm at The Cannon @ MarMo (2121 Market St.). Click here to register.

March 11-20 — SXSW (in Austin)

After two years of virtual conferences, SXSW is gearing up for in-person programming in Austin this year. The conference traverses film, music, education, and more, including tech and innovation. Plenty of Houston innovators will make the trek west to participate in the activations and networking opportunities. InnovationMap has a guide to tapping into Houston innovation at SXSW ahead of this year's conference. Click here to read it.

SXSW begins Friday, March 11, and conclude Sunday, March 20. All programming will take place in downtown Austin. Click here to register.

March 24 — Future Focus - Sportstech

In partnership with InnovationMap, alliantgroup invites you to an exciting panel discussion on the sportstech industry, where technology is transforming the world of sports. Our conversation will focus on four areas, where multi-billion dollar businesses are emerging seemingly overnight:

  • E-sports
  • Gambling
  • Health/performance
  • Fan engagement

Across these categories, technology is enabling interconnectedness, social interaction, new communities, improved health, subscriber-based business models, software as a service, and new revenue streams.

The event is Thursday, March 24, from 6 to 8 pm at alliantgroup (3009 Post Oak Blvd. Suite 2000.). Click here to register.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston-based virtual reality startup raises $3.2M in first outside capital round

fresh funding

HTX Labs, a Houston-based company that designs extended reality training for military and business purposes, announced last week that it has raised its first outside capital.

The company has received a $3.2 million investment from Cypress Growth Capital. Founded in 2017, HTX Labs — developer of the EMPACT Immersive Learning Platform — has been granted funding from the Department of Defense as well as grown its client base of commercial Enterprises. The platform uses virtual and extended reality that "enables organizations to rapidly create, deploy, measure, and sustain cost-effective, secure, and centralized immersive training programs, all within engaging, fully interactive virtual environments," per a news release.

“We have been looking to secure outside capital to accelerate the growth of our EMPACT platform and customer base but we hadn’t found the right partner who provided an investment vehicle that matched our needs,“ says HTX Labs CEO Scott Schneider in the release. “We found everything we were looking for in Cypress Growth Capital. They have a non-dilutive funding model that aligns with our capital expectations and have the level of experience that really makes this smart money.

"Cypress has a decade-long track record of success in helping emerging software and services companies achieve scale," he continues. "It is clear that the team’s collective entrepreneurial and operating experience will be of tremendous benefit to us as we focus on expanding our customer base in a very intentional way.”

The fresh funding will go toward growing and scaling the company's operations — both within the current Department of Defense and expansion opportunities into key commercial markets, like heavy industry, manufacturing, and higher education. Additionally, the funding will support increased customer adoption.

“Scott and his team have built an exceptional business that is poised for dramatic growth,” says Cypress Partner Pat McCaffrey in the release. “HTX Labs’ modern, immersive training solution provides clients with a force multiplier for modernizing training and an unmatched ROI.”

Houston's biggest benefactors gift massive $50M to pivotal Rice University institute

big money

Houston’s most generous couple has once again gifted a massive sum to a local institution. Rich and Nancy Kinder’s Kinder Foundation has donated $50 million to Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the organization announced.

The Kinder's generous grant will assist the institute’s focus on what it dubs “inclusive prosperity” — that is, “ensuring that everyone can contribute to Houston's success and share in its opportunities.”

This new grant follows the approximately $30 million he Kinder Foundation previously gifted Rice’s Kinder Institute and its affiliates to facilitate its headquarters.

“Over the past decade, the Kinder Institute has played an integral role in shaping Houston,” said Rich Kinder, chairman of the Kinder Foundation. “However, we can do more to inform and more directly address the challenges our communities face, particularly in the areas of housing, education, economic mobility, health and population research.”

To that end, the Kinders’ funds will ensure the institute can assist its partners regardless of their ability to pay for research. Funds will also help the institute respond to community research needs quickly during times of crisis — such as a catastrophic storm or pandemic — when funds aren’t readily available.

Kinder Institute director Ruth López Turley calls the grant “a gift to all of Houston,” speaking to the institute’s work to improve lives through data, research, engagement and action.

“Inclusive prosperity doesn’t just happen spontaneously,” she noted in a statement. “It requires an explicit effort informed by research. Lots of organizations are working hard to make things better, but most of them have very limited research capacity, and that’s what the Kinder Institute is primed to do.”

Founded in 2010, the institute has evolved into a leader in research, data, and policy analysis of critical issues such as housing, transportation, and education. The institute also releases the familiar Kinder Houston Area Survey, which charts significant changes in the way area residents perceive and understand Houston’s ongoing challenges and opportunities.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Expert: Building Hispanic wealth means investing in Houston

Guest column

Every year at this time ― Hispanic Heritage Month ― we collectively celebrate the economic, cultural, and social contributions of the Hispanic-Latino community to our nation. We honor the work of past generations which have allowed children and future generations to benefit from more opportunities.

As diverse a community as is the world, we strive to build a future where there are no barriers for success, and at Bank of America, we do our part to make an impact by helping build Hispanic-Latino wealth in Houston.

The numbers are clear: The 2020 Census revealed that the Hispanic-Latino population in the United States rose to 62.1 million, making up 18.7 percent of the total U.S. population and accounting for slightly more than half (51.1 percent) of the population growth between 2010 and 2020. Hispanic-Latinos now open more small businesses than any other group in the country and are also the fastest-growing demographic of small business owners across the nation. It is not surprising that Hispanic-Latino economic power continues to rise year after year. According to Nielsen Scarborough, the number of Houston Hispanic businesses have increased 85 percent since 2013.

Investing in business

Investing in Hispanic-Latino wealth means supporting entrepreneurs so they are set up for success. Early-stage funding is critical for the growth of a new business, especially when Hispanic-Latino entrepreneurs are still faced with gaps in financial literacy and business education, funding, and networking opportunities.

According to data from Crunchbase, Latino-founded startups accounted for only 2.1 percent of venture investments in the U.S. last year. This is unjustifiable.

As part of our commitment to advancing racial equality and economic opportunity, we have dedicated $350 million in minority- and women-led companies through capital investment by mission-focused venture funds. Of the funds we have in our portfolio, one in every four are led by Hispanic-Latino managers, providing capital that will help entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their businesses, create jobs, and improve financial stability.

An important element to creating opportunities for Hispanic-Latinos to build wealth, whether as a business owner or an employee, is ensuring that young people recognize higher education as a pathway to achieve success. That means partnering with colleges and universities and investing in job creation, skills-building, and support services for students to do so. Locally, we do this with EMERGE Fellowship and with the University of Houston College of Medicine. When we invest in students, we are investing in future professionals and business leaders who will build Hispanic-Latino wealth and contribute to Houston’s economy and culture. This is something we can celebrate together for years to come.

Investing in sustainable homeownership

Sustainable homeownership provides a lasting investment for future generations and cycles capital into the community. The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) recently released data showing an increase in Latino homeownership, from 47.5 percent in 2019 to 48.4 percent in 2021, the highest level since the mid-2000s. Through the Community Homeownership Commitment, which provides low down payment loans and closing cost grants, families can take their savings and turn them into lasting legacies. It is a pillar for families to build wealth.

Here in Houston, we also support organizations that assist with homeownership, like Tejano Center, Avenue CDC, and Houston Habitat for Humanity. Building Hispanic-Latino home equity increases the amount of capital families can use now or in the future helping build our Houston economy.

During the past decade, the rate of Hispanic-Latino economic development has far outpaced rates among non-Hispanics. Supporting and honoring our Hispanic-Latino clients is not just a month-long initiative, it is a long-term, generational investment in America and we are proud to be investing in a stronger economy for Houston now and for years to come.

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Rick Jaramillo is the market executive for Bank of America Houston.