Gaurab Chakrabarti, the CEO and co-founder of Solugen, shared his entrepreneurial journey on the SXSW stage this year. Photo courtesy of the Greater Houston Partnership

At a fireside chat at SXSW, a Houston founder pulled back the curtain on his entrepreneurial journey that's taken him from an idea of how to make the chemicals industry more sustainable to a company valued at over $2 billion.

Gaurab Chakrabarti, the CEO and co-founder of Solugen, joined the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston House at SXSW on Monday, March 13, for a discussion entitled, "Building a Tech Unicorn." In the conversation with Payal Patel, principal of Softeq Ventures, he share the trials and tribulations from the early days of founding Solugen. The company, which has raised over $600 million since its founding in 2016, has an innovative and carbon negative process of creating plant-derived substitutes for petroleum-based products.

The event, which quickly reached capacity with eager SXSW attendees, allowed Chakrabarti to instill advice on several topics — from early customer acquisition and navigating VC investing to finding the right city to grow in and setting up a strong company culture.

Here are seven pieces of startup advice from Chakrabarti's talk.

1. Don’t be near a black hole.

Chakrabarti began his discussion addressing the good luck he's had standing up Solugen. He's the first to admit that luck is an important element to his success, but he says, as a founder, you can set yourself up for luck in a handful of ways.

“You do make your own luck, but you have to be putting in the work to do it," Chakrabarti says, adding that it's not an easy thing to accomplish. “There are things you can be doing to increase your luck surface area."

One of the principals he notes on is not surrounding yourself with black holes. These are people who don't believe in your idea, or your ability to succeed, Chakrabarti explains, referencing a former dean who said he was wasting his talent on his idea for Solugen.

2. The co-founder dynamic is the most important thing.

Early on, Chakrabarti emphasizes how important having a strong co-founder relationship is, crediting Solugen's co-founder and CTO Sean Hunt for being his "intellectual ping-pong partner."

“If you have a co-founder, that is the thing that’s going to make or break your company,” he says. “It’s not your idea, and it’s not your execution — it’s your relationship with your co-founder.”

Hunt and Chakrabarti have been friends for 12 years, Chakrabarti says, and, that foundation and the fact that they've been passionate about their product since day one, has been integral for Solugen's success.

"We had a conviction that we were building something that could be impactful to the rest of the world," he says.

3. Confirm a market of customers early on.

Chakrabarti says that in the early days of starting his company, he didn't have a concept of startup accelerators or other ways to access funding — he just knew he had to get customers to create revenue as soon as possible.

He learned about the growing float spa industry, and how a huge cost for these businesses was peroxide that was used to sanitize the water in the floating pods. Chakrabarti and Hunt had created a small amount of what they were calling bioperoxide that they could sell at a cheaper cost to these spas and still pocket a profit.

“We ended up owning 80 percent of the float spa market,” Chakrabarti says. “That taught us that, ‘wow, there’s something here.”

While it was unglamourous work to call down Texas float spas, his efforts secured Solugen's first 100 or so customers and identified a path to profitability early on.

“Find your niche market that allows you to justify that your technology or product that has a customer basis,” Chakrabarti says on the lesson he learned through this process.

4. Find city-company fit.

While Chakrabarti has lived in Houston most of his life, the reason Solugen is headquartered in Houston is not due to loyalty of his hometown.

In fact, Chakrabarti shared a story of how a potential seed investor asked Chakrabarti and Hunt to move their company to the Bay Area, and the co-founders refused the offer and the investment.

“There’s no way our business could succeed in the Bay Area," Chakrabarti says. He and Hunt firmly believed this at the time — and still do.

“For our business, if you look at the density of chemical engineers, the density of our potential customers, and the density of people who know how to do enzyme engineering, Houston happened to be that perfect trifecta for us," he explains.

He argues that every company — software, hardware, etc. — has an opportunity to find their ideal city-company fit, something that's important to its success.

5. Prove your ability to execute.

When asked about pivots, Chakrabarti told a little-known story of how Solugen started a commercial cleaning brand. The product line was called Ode to Clean, and it was marketed as eco-friendly peroxide wipes. At the time, Solugen was just three employees, and the scrappy team was fulfilling orders and figuring out consumer marketing for the first time.

He says his network was laughing at the idea of Chakrabarti creating this direct-to-consumer cleaning product, and it was funny to him too, but the sales told another story.

At launch, they sold out $1 million of inventory in one week. But that wasn't it.

“Within three months, we got three acquisition offers," Chakrabarti says.

The move led to a brand acquisition of the product line, with the acquirer being the nation's largest cleaning wipe provider. It meant three years of predictable revenue that de-risked the business for new investors — which were now knocking on Solugen's door with their own investment term sheets.

“It told the market more about us as a company,” he says. “It taught the market that Solugen is a company that is going to survive no matter what. … And we’re a team that can execute.”

What started as a silly idea led to Solugen being one step closer to accomplishing its long-term goals.

“That pivot was one of the most important pivots in the company’s history that accelerated our company’s trajectory by four or five years," Chakrabarti says.

6. Adopt and maintain a miso-management style.

There's one lesson Chakrabarti says he learned the hard way, and that was how to manage his company's growing team. He shares that he "let go of the reins a bit" at the company's $400-$500 million point. He says that, while there's this idea that successful business leaders can hire the best talent that allows them to step back from the day-to-day responsibilities, that was not the right move for him.

“Only founders really understand the pain points of the business," Chakrabarti says. "Because it’s emotionally tied to you, you actually feel it."

Rather than a micro or macro-management style, Chakrabarti's describes his leadership as meso-management — something in between.

The only difference, Chakrabarti says, is how he manages his board. For that group, he micromanages to ensure that they are doing what's best for his vision for Solugen.

7. Your culture should be polarizing.

Chakrabarti wrapped up his story on talking about hiring and setting up a company culture for Solugen. The company's atmosphere is not for everyone, he explains.

“If you’re not polarizing some people, it’s not a culture,” Chakrabarti says, encouraging founders to create a culture that's not one size fits all.

He says he was attracted to early employees who got mad at the same things he did — that passion is what makes his team different from others.

Three Houston startup founders took the stage to talk product/market fit, customer acquisition, funding, and the rest of the startup journey at a panel at SXSW. Photo courtesy of the GHP

Houston founders demystify startup journey on SXSW panel

Houston innovators podcast episode 177

Editor's note: On Monday at Houston House, a SXSW activation put on by the Greater Houston Partnership, I moderated a panel called “Demystifying the Startup Journey.” Panelists included three Houston founders: Ted Gutierrez, co-founder and CEO of SecurityGate.io, Simone May, co-founder and CTO of Clutch, and Gaurav Khandelwal, founder and CEO of Velostics. The three entrepreneurs discussed their journeys and the challenges they face — from product/market fit and hiring to fundraising and customer acquisition. Listen to the full conversation on this week’s episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast below. Thank you to SXSW and GHP for the recording.


At a recent SXSW panel, four Houston energy experts discussed the importance of research, commercialization, and more in Houston to drive the energy transition. Photo via Getty Images

Experts address Houston's energy transition role — from research to commercialization

Houston @ SXSW

Every part of the energy industry is going to have a role in the energy transition — from the universities where the research and development is happening to the startups and the incumbent industry leaders, as a recent SXSW panel discussed.

“We are well known in Houston for being the energy capital of the world," Jane Stricker, executive director of the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, says as moderator of the panel. "The industry typically comes together with stakeholders to think about the solutions and how to solve this dual challenge of continuing to provide more energy to the world but doing it in a way that significantly reduces emissions at the same time.”

The panel, entitled "Ground Zero: Creating Pathways from Research to Scale Deployment," was put on by HETI, an organization under the Greater Houston Partnership, and took place Sunday, March 12, in Austin at SXSW.

“I often say that I believe Houston is ground zero for the transition because we have this unique combination of assets, infrastructure, innovation, research at universities, and a collective understanding of the importance of energy to people’s lives that allows us to tackle this problem in new ways," she continues.

Sticker was joined by Paul Cherukuri, vice president for innovation at Rice University; Juliana Garaizar, chief development and investment officer at Greentown Labs; and Tara Karimi, co-founder and CTO of Cemvita Factory. The panel highlighted the challenges facing Houston as it promises to lead the energy transition.

For Cherukuri, whose innovation-focused position was newly created when he was appointed to it last August, it's a pivotal moment for research institutions.

"It's really an exciting time in Houston because universities are changing," says Cherukuri. "Rice University itself is changing in dramatic ways, and it's a great opportunity to really plug into the energy transition inside of Houston."

The role he plays, as he explains, is to connect Rice innovators to the rest of the city and the world.

"We have to partner through the accelerators as well as with with companies who can catch what we've made and take it to scale," he continues. "That's uniquely something that we can do in Houston. It's not something that a lot of cities can do."

Representing the scaling efforts is Greentown Labs, and Garaizar explains how the Massachusetts-based organization, which has its second outpost in Houston, connects its member companies to corporate partners that can become funders, pilot partners, customers, and more. But scaling can only be accomplished with the right technologies and the proper funding behind them.

"Sixty percent of the technologies that are going to be used to decarbonize the world haven't yet been invented," she says on the panel. "So, there's a huge pull for technology right now. And we see people who are only on the private equity space now finally invested in a lot of earlier series like series A, but there's still some road to to be made there."

Houston-based Cemvita Factory is in the scale phase, and Karimi explains how she's actively working with companies to apply the company's unique biotechnology to convert CO2 to natural resources to accommodate each customer's needs. Cemvita is on the front lines of interacting with incumbent energy businesses that play a major role in the future of energy.

"The way we communicate with energy companies, we tell them that us to be the innovation arm for you and we work together," Karimi says. "I think it's everybody needs to understand it's a transition. There is no way to just change the way that chemicals are produced just immediately and replace it with something new. It's a transition that needs both aspects."

Just a few of the many SXSW events you should add to your agenda. Photo via SXSW

Houston innovators: Don't miss these SXSW 2023 events

where to be

Editor's note: SXSW has officially taken over Austin, and it can be a bit chaotic to try to make the most of the goings on. Here are a few things for Houston innovators to check out — panels, houses, happy hours, and more.

Friday, March 10, to Monday, March 13 — Funded House

Funded House, is on a mission to help funded startup leaders navigate the difficult task of growing their business; through an integrated series of meetups, lounges, panels and parties.

The house is open from Friday, March 10, to Monday, March 13, at 201 E 5th St. Startups and VCs need to apply for entry. Badges aren't required. Learn more.

Friday, March 10, to Tuesday, March 14 — Capital Factory House

Capital Factory is again hosting tons of events at its office. Don't miss the annual startup crawl on Friday, March 10, starting at 5 pm.

The events are happening from Friday, March 10, to Monday, March 13, at Capital Factory (701 Brazos St). Badges aren't required, but the crawl asks for RSVPs. Learn more.Learn more.

Friday, March 10 — DivInc presents "Just Us"

Join DivInc for an engaging conversation with leading BIPOC venture capitalists in the tech space as we have a frank discussion revolving around how its BIPOC VC community is helping founders reach their goals, and get real about how we can do better.

The event is from 5:30 to 8:30 at Brown Advisory (200 W 6th St.) Badges aren't required, but RSVPs are. Learn more.

Saturday, March 11, and Sunday, March 12 — The 15th Annual SXSW Pitch Competition

Announcing 40 finalists for the 15th annual SXSW Pitch competition, presented by ZenBusiness and supported by Collins Aerospace, representing the most cutting-edge technologies from across the globe at SXSW 2023.

The pitch competition is taking place Saturday, March 11, and Sunday, March 12, at the Hilton Hotel (fourth floor). Badges are required to attend. Learn more.

The SXSW Pitch Showcase is from 10 am to noon on Monday, March 13, at the Hilton Hotel (fourth floor). Badges are required to attend. Learn more.

Saturday, March 11, and Sunday, March 12 — Energizing Health

Energizing Health @ SXSW 2023 brings together an historic digital gathering of passionate health advocates to work on innovation problems. Energizing Health creates opportunities and connects partners to make health more fair and equitable for everyone, starting with people facing disproportional injury.

The programming takes place on Saturday, March 11, and Sunday, March 12, at The Line (111 E Cesar Chavez). Badges are required. Learn more.

Sunday, March 12, to Tuesday, March 14 — Shell House

Shell returns to SXSW this year with its three-day activation that focuses on thought leadership on reaching the goal of Net-Zero by 2050, plus entertainment, recharge stations, displays, and more.

The house is open from Sunday, March 12, to Tuesday, March 14, at Antone's (305 E 5th St.). Badges are required. Learn more.

Sunday, March 12 — Ground Zero: Creating Pathways from Research to Scale Deployment and HETI happy hour

The Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative has organized a panel of Houston experts to discuss the energy transition.

Panelists:

  • Dr. Paul Cherukuri, Vice President for Innovation, Rice University
  • Juliana Garaizar, Chief Development & Investment Officer, Greentown Labs
  • Dr. Tara Karimi, Co-Founder and CTO, Cemvita Factory
  • Moderator: Jane Stricker, Executive Director, Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI)
The panel is Sunday, March 12, at 4 pm at the Austin Marriott Downtown (Waller Ballroom D). Badges are required.
Following the panel at 5 pm is the Energy Innovators Happy Hour at Moontower Hall Foyer. Learn more.

Monday, March 13 — Houston House

Join Houston industry leaders and startup founders for a series of thought provoking panels on today’s most prominent topics in tech. Relax in our lounge space, attend a session, and don't forget to stop by in the evening for the GHP's cocktail reception from 5:30 to 7 pm.

The programming takes place on Monday, March 13, at The Line (111 E Cesar Chavez), from 10 am to 5 pm. Badges are required. Learn more.

Monday, March 13 — Founded in Texas

Project W, The Artemis Fund, HearstLab, and Brown Advisory have joined forces to bring you Founded in Texas, an investor feedback session designed to support Texas-based female founders of B2B and B2B2C technology companies.

The programming takes place on Monday, March 13, at Brown Advisory (200 W 6th St., Suite 1700). Badges aren't required. Learn more.

With three weeks left until game time, South by Southwest announced another long list of featured and keynote speakers. Photo via SXSW

SXSW announces even more featured speakers joining the 2023 program

headed to texas

Whether the return of South by Southwest (SXSW) in three weeks is putting butterflies in your tummy or sweat on your brow, we're in the home stretch. The newest announcement — another wave of featured speakers — does not say it's the final round, but time is running out to make adjustments before the start of the festival on March 10.

Previous announcements included keynote addresses from Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert and team members who worked on the James Webb Space Telescope. There have also been two rounds of music showcase announcements, culminating in a list of nearly 500 performances.

The announcement on February 14 is heavy with big names including three entertainers presenting keynotes: actor, producer, and New York Times bestselling author Priyanka Chopra Jonas; Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter, producer, and author Margo Price; and Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton.

Two more newly announced keynote sessions come with longer descriptions: Chef José Andrés presents The Stories We Tell Can Change the World, and Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, and Gillian Gilbert of New Order appear in conversation with The Times rock & pop critic Will Hodgkinson.The former keynote tackles the responsibility of storytellers to address crises around the world, using Andrés' humanitarian group World Central Kitchen as a lens. The latter discusses the discography and history of the history-making band.

“Today's speaker announcement is a fantastic milestone for the 2023 event and spotlights five additional Keynotes and numerous Featured Speakers, including influential icons and up and coming innovators,” said Chief Programming Officer and Co-President Hugh Forrest. “We are extremely proud to have assembled a diverse, comprehensive conference program for SXSW, and we can’t wait to share it with our community in March.”

Organized into 25 programming tracks presented in a variety of session formats, SXSW celebrates the convergence of technology, film, television, and music. Tracks include civic engagement, climate change, design, film and TV, psychedelics, sports, travel, and more.

Just some featured speakers and sessions joining the 2023 lineup include:

  • Chair and CEO of General Motors Mary Barra with CEO, CTO, President, and co-founder of Cruise and co-founder of Twitch Kyle Vogt
  • Actress, philanthropist, entrepreneur, New York Times bestselling author, and co-founder of Hello Bello Kristen Bell, CEO of Hello Bello Erica Buxton, and actor, comedian, filmmaker, host of the podcast Armchair Expert, and co-founder of Hello Bello Dax Shepard
  • Chief Diversity Officer of TBWA\North America Aliah Berman with activist, advocate, author, and founder of the #MeToo Movement Tarana Burke
  • Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation Joe
  • Ben Bevirt with Chief Sustainability Officer at Delta Air Lines Pam Fletcher
  • Chief Digital and Commercial Officer at Unilever Conny Braams, President, Worldwide Advertising at Netflix Jeremi Gorman, founder and CEO of Media
  • Link Michael Kassan, and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Delta Air Lines Tim Mapes
  • Co-founder and President of OpenAI Greg Brockman with founder and CEO of Dot Dot Dot Media Laurie Segall
  • United States Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm
  • General Partner at Benchmark Bill Gurley with investor, New York Times bestselling author and host of the podcast The Tim Ferriss Show Tim Ferriss
  • The Art of Creating Influence 101 on navigating entertainment careers
  • The Blog Era: Hip-Hop's Wild Wild West on the influence of music bloggers
  • Daddy Issues in Film on fathers in film
  • Dateline 24/7: How the True Crime Powerhouse Became a Podcast Empire on a genre leader
  • Driving Personal Health Forward: The Role of Apple Watch and iPhone on digitally monitoring health at home
  • Evil Dead Rise: Flesh-Possessing Demons Come Home on the new Evil Dead film
  • An Inside Look at “Blindspotting” Season 2 with Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs on the continuation of the series
  • Onyx Collective Presents “UnPrisoned” on a new Hulu series
  • The Kids Are (Not) Alright: Gun Violence Terrorizing Youth of America on activism and justice
  • Leguizamo Does America: Next Stop – Austin on the contributions of U.S. Latinos

For a full lineup and more information on featured sessions, visit SXSW.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Here's your latest roundup of innovation news you may have missed. Photo via Getty Images

Houston space co. adds new adviser, startup named SXSW alternate, and more innovation news

short stories

Houston startup news is in full swing this year, and there might be some headlines you may have missed.

In this roundup of short stories within Houston startups and tech, Venus Aerospace makes an impressive appointment, a sportstech startup is headed to SXSW, and more.

Houston space startup names former NASA administrator to board

Jim Bridenstine, formerly NASA's administrator, has joined Venus Aerospace. Photo courtesy of Venus

A Houston-based company that's creating reusable hypersonic drones and spaceplanes has named its latest adviser. Jim Bridenstine, who served as the 13th administrator for NASA, is Venus Aerospace's latest addition to the team.

"I'm excited to be on the board of advisors for Venus Aerospace," Bridenstine says in a statement. "We have been plowing through the atmosphere at Mach 0.7 for over 70 years. This not only wastes time, but it also costs too much money and places greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. It's time to disrupt the transportation business and Venus Aerospace has the talent to do it."

"Now we're going above the atmosphere, at hypersonic speeds, to get from one side of the planet to the other in a much cleaner way," he continues.

Founded in California in 2020 and then relocated to the Houston Spaceport, Venus is scaling after raising a $20M series A last spring.

"Jim brings a very unique perspective and capabilities from aviator to congressman to administrator," says Andrew Duggleby, CTO and co-founder, in the release. "The thing that gets me most excited is his ability to jump in, understand the context, and know exactly where he can make an immediate difference."

Houston startup snags spot as SXSW Pitch alternate

This Houston tech company has been named an alternate for the 2023 SXSW pitch. Photo via SXSW

SXSW announced 40 finalists for the 15th annual SXSW Pitch competition taking place March 11 to 12.

"Since its inception, SXSW Pitch has been front row to some of the most ambitious startups from around the world, using creative ideas to change their industry’s future," says SXSW Pitch Event Producer Chris Valentine in a news release. "We are thrilled to play a role in helping shape these early-stage ventures and connect them with the resources they need to thrive. This year’s competition will be a representation of the incredible and innovative work being done around the world."

In addition to the finalists for each category, SXSW names a handful of alternates. This year, Houston-based AiKYNETIX was included in the Artificial Intelligence, Robotics & Voice category.

AiKYNETIX, which was founded in January 2021, uses real-time video analytics technology to provide a new option for runners on treadmills. App users — runners and their coaches — then can measure running form and running performance metrics to improve training.

Houston IT and software services company claims spot on 2023 cloud tech awards

Rajasekhar Gummadapu is the CEO of Techwave. Photo via Techwave

Houston-based Techwave has won a prestigious award. The company claimed the “Best Cloud Migration or Systems Integration Solution” award at the 2022-2023 International Cloud Awards.

The award, which recognizes and honors industry leaders, innovators, and organizational transformation in cloud computing, was announced earlier this month.

"It is an honor to receive the Best Cloud Migration award at the International Cloud Awards," says Raj Gummadapu, co-founder and CEO, in a news release. "This accolade is a reflection of our relentless pursuit of innovation and delivering exceptional solutions."

Techwave is a global IT and engineering services and solutions company revolutionizing digital transformations.

Houston startup secures latest level of compliance

Koda Health has cleared a new level of compliance. Image via kodahealthcare.com

Growing Houston company Koda Health has announced that it achieved SOC 2 Type II compliance, a distinction that indicates a certain standard of securing customer data.

"This compliance demonstrates our commitment to protecting our partners and their data through enterprise-level security protocol and standards," the company announced on LinkedIn.

Koda Health was audited by Prescient Assurance, a leader in security and compliance attestation for B2B, SAAS companies worldwide, according to the company.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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

WHERE TO BE

From pitching competitions to expert speaker summits, May is chock-full of opportunities for Houston innovators.

Here's a roundup of events you won't want to miss out on so mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post may be updated to add more events.


May 2 — State of Houston's Global Economy

Explore the complexities of Houston's global economy, dissect the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and chart a course for sustainable growth in the years to come at this business conference sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership. Highlighting the day will be a presentation by the Partnership’s Chief Economist, Patrick Jankowski who will share his insights into the role global trade plays in the region’s growth.

Panel conversation speakers include:
  • Kurt Heim, Vice President of Environmental Advancement, Daikin Comfort
  • Moderator: George Y. Gonzalez, Partner, Haynes Boone, LLP
This event is Thursday, May 2, from 8:15 to 10 am at Partnership Tower. Click here to register.

May 3 — Transformative Healthcare Innovations Across the TMC

This symposium is filled with discussions, presentations, and networking opportunities. Discover the latest advancements in healthcare technology and how they are shaping the future of medicine. The event will be held in person at the TMC3 Collaborative Building, so come ready to engage with industry experts and fellow healthcare enthusiasts.

This event is Friday, May 3, from 9 am to 3:30 pm at TMC3 Collaborative Building. Click here to register.

May 6 to 9 — Offshore Technology Conference.

Since 1969, the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) has served as a central hub convening energy professionals from around the world to share ideas and innovations, discuss, debate, and build consensus around the most pressing topics facing the offshore energy sector.

This conference is Monday, May 7, to Thursday, May 9, at NRG Park. Click here to register.

May 7 — Small Business Awards Houston 

This year's awards luncheon event theme will be "The SBA Awards presented by SCORE are going to Space" celebrating Houston's advances into space with two fantastic guest speakers and the optional “How to do business with NASA” workshop. The keynote speakers will be Stephanie Murphy, Aegis Aerospace and Arturo Machuca, Director of the Houston Spaceport.

This event is Tuesday, May 7, from 11 am to 1:30 pm at Royal Sonesta Galleria Houston. Click here to register.

May 7 — Tech + Tequila Talk: Goal Park Innovation

At the upcoming edition of Tech+Tequila talk, hear the process behind activating public spaces like Goal Park. Specifically, explore how innovation plays a key role in creating a safer and more dynamic environment for the community. Join in discussions on the intersection of art, philanthropy, and urban development, and learn how projects like Goal Park are shaping the future of our cities.

This event is Tuesday, May 7, from 6 to 8 pm at Niels Esperson Building. Click here to register.

May 13 — TECHSPO Houston 2024 Technology Expo

TECHSPO Houston brings together developers, brands, marketers, technology providers, designers, innovators and evangelists looking to set the pace in advancing technology. Watch exhibitors showcase the next generation of advances in technology & innovation, including; Internet, Mobile, AdTech, MarTech and SaaS technologies.

This event is Monday, May 13, from 9 am to 7 pm at Marriott Marquis. Click here to register.

May 14 — An Evening with Johnson & Johnson's Immunology Team

Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine Immunology Team will present our strategic priorities in the space as part of our search for promising scientific innovations.

The focus areas of the program include bispecifics for auto-immune and inflammatory diseases, multispecific T-cell engagers for deep cell depletion, and tissue T-Reg / stromal immune modulators. After the programming concludes, there will be an opportunity to network at the reception with industry leaders and like-minded innovators. This networking session will provide attendees with a chance to discuss ideas, and further explore collaboration opportunities

This event is Tuesday, May 14, from 4 to 7 pm at Texas Medical Center. Click here to register.

May 16 — Energy Underground

The Energy Underground is a group of professionals in the Greater Houston area that are accelerating the Energy Transition. Make industry contacts, secure financing, share deals, recommend talent looking to enter the energy workforce at this meeting of like-minded innovators.

This event is Thursday, May 16, from 12 to 1 pm at the Cannon West Houston. Click here to register.

May 16 — UH Tech Bridge: Innov8Hub Pitch Day

This event is your chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant startup ecosystem, network with industry experts, and discover the next big thing. Get ready to witness groundbreaking ideas and cutting-edge pitches from talented individuals.

This event is Thursday, May 16, from 5 to 7:30 pm at UH Tech Bridge. Click here to register.

May 18 — Create by Getty Images Houston 2024

Head to this event to shoot a variety of ready-to-upload content for your portfolio and enjoy priceless creative development opportunities. Connect with fellow creators, collaborators, and peers to expand your network and build meaningful relationships. Participate in interactive workshops to enhance your skills and knowledge and gain actionable takeaways for creative endeavors.

This event starts Saturday, May 18, at 8:30 am at The Cannon West Houston. Click here to register.

May 22 — Pearland Innovation Hub Anniversary

Come for an evening filled with innovation, creativity, and fun. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet some members, partners, and sponsors of Pearland Innovation Hub.

This event is Wednesday, May 22, from 6 to 8 pm at Spacio.us. Click here to register.

May 28 — Texas Small Business Expo

Texas Small Business Expo is a trade show, educational business to business conference, exhibition & networking event for entrepreneurs, start-ups and anyone that owns a business or looking to start their own business. Learn how to solve challenging business issues by discussing strategies, acquire valuable knowledge from those in your business and connect with top vendors in various industries.

This event is Tuesday, May 28, from 4 to 9 pm at Wakefield Crowbar. Click here to register.

May 29 — Bayou City Bio Pulse at Gensler

Join the GHP for its next Bayou City Bio Pulse, hosted by global architecture, design and planning firm, Gensler. This event will feature panel discussions, tours of Gensler’s space, VR walkthroughs and more.

This event is Wednesday, May 29, from 4 to 6 pm at Gensler's office (2 Houston Center). Click here to register.

Texas lands in top 10 states expected to be most financially affected by weather events

report

Texas — home to everything from tornadoes to hurricanes — cracks the top 10 of a new report ranking states based on impact from weather-related events.

SmartAsset's new report factored in a myriad of data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to identify which states face the most financial risk due to various weather events. In the report, the states were ranked by the total expected annual financial losses per person. Texas ranked at No. 10.

"With a variety of environmental events affecting the wide stretch of the United States, each state is subject to its own risks," reads the report. "Particularly, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, landslides, lightning and drought, among other events, can cause damage to buildings, agriculture and individuals alike. When considering insurance, residents and business owners in each state should account for historic and projected losses due to environmental events in their financial plans."

In Texas, the total expected annual loss per person is estimated as $283.15. The report broke down each weather event as follows:

  • Coastal flooding: $1.49
  • Drought: $3.48
  • Earthquake: $1.71
  • Heat wave: $8.16
  • Hurricane: $89.22
  • Riverine flooding: $66.05
  • Strong wind: $5.37
  • Tornado: $71.04
  • Wildfire: $8.26
  • Winter weather: $1.96
Louisiana ranked as No. 1 on the list with $555.55 per person. The state with the lowest expected loss per person from weather events was Ohio with only $63.89 estimated per person.


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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

Exclusive: Houston hydrogen spinout names energy industry veteran as CEO

good as gold

Cleantech startup Gold H2, a spinout of Houston-based energy biotech company Cemvita, has named oil and gas industry veteran Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon as its CEO.

Sekhon previously held roles at companies such as NextEra Energy Resources and Hess. Most recently, he was a leader on NextEra’s strategy and business development team.

Gold H2 uses microbes to convert oil and gas in old, uneconomical wells into clean hydrogen. The approach to generating clean hydrogen is part of a multibillion-dollar market.

Gold H2 spun out of Cemvita last year with Moji Karimi, co-founder of Cemvita, leading the transition. Gold H2 spun out after successfully piloting its microbial hydrogen technology, producing hydrogen below 80 cents per kilogram.

The Gold H2 venture had been a business unit within Cemvita.

“I was drawn to Gold H2 because of its innovative mission to support the U.S. economy in this historical energy transition,” Sekhon says in a news release. “Over the last few years, my team [at NextEra] was heavily focused on the commercialization of clean hydrogen. When I came across Gold H2, it was clear that it was superior to each of its counterparts in both cost and [carbon intensity].”

Gold H2 explains that oil and gas companies have wrestled for decades with what to do with exhausted oil fields. With Gold H2’s first-of-its-kind biotechnology, these companies can find productive uses for oil wells by producing clean hydrogen at a low cost, the startup says.

“There is so much opportunity ahead of Gold H2 as the first company to use microbes in the subsurface to create a clean energy source,” Sekhon says. “Driving this dynamic industry change to empower clean hydrogen fuel production will be extremely rewarding.”

In 2022, Gold H2 celebrated its successful Permian Basin pilot and raised early-stage funding. In addition to Gold H2, Cemvita also spun out a resource mining operation called Endolith. In a podcast episode, Karimi discussed Cemvita's growth and spinout opportunities.