Houston-based Work & Mother is growing. Photo courtesy of Work & Mother

Houston-based Work & Mother, which outfits commercial buildings with lactation accommodations for working parents, announced this month that it has entered into an agreement to open two new lactation suites outside the state of Texas.

The company will open suites in two commercial office buildings in Boston, Massachusetts, and Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. The new suites are expected to be completed this summer.

Work & Mother currently has suites in Allen Center, The Jones on Main and Four Oaks Place in Houston, as well as East Lake at Tillery in Austin and Lincoln Centre in Dallas.

The Work & Mother suites allow parents to book time to pump in a private room in the comfortable, well-designed suites through the Work & Mother app. Each private room is equipped with a hospital-grade pump, milk storage bags, sanitizing wipes, and other supplies while the full Work & Mother Suite lounge area includes cleaning stations and refrigerated milk storage.

The suites also serve commercial properties and employers by providing them with the resources to adhere to federal labor laws—as well as reduce HR risks, and retain female employees—by having a dedicated space with lactation amenities for employees.

When founder and CEO Abby Donnell spoke with InnovationMap in 2021, she said that Work & Mother was planning for national expansion.

"We look forward to supporting more new mothers' return to work and providing the real estate services that office tenants and landlords need in a post-pandemic world to promote wellness, flexibility, and inclusion in the workplace," she said.

In addition to the new location in Boston and Arlington, the company is planning locations in San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and New York, according to Work & Mother's website.

The company is also adding new services for working and lactating parents through a recent partnership with Nest Collaborative, a national virtual lactation consultation platform, announced last month.

The partnership will provide Work & Mother app users with access to Nest Collaborative's board-certified lactation consultants through telehealth appointments, available seven days a week.

The services through Nest Collaborative are part of Work & Mother's resource center called The HUB, which also provides career and personal coaching, mental health resources, and downloadable guides.

"We are confident that our partnership with Nest Collaborative will have a measurable impact on the breastfeeding success rates of parents who work outside the home," Donnell said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to broadening our ability to support working parents at any time, anywhere."

The Waffle Bus' brick-and-mortar location is NextSeed Space's first tenant. Courtesy of NextSeed

Houston-based online fundraising platform launches new turnkey retail space opportunity

what's next for NextSeed

Houston-based NextSeed makes it easier for retail and restaurant startups to get funding, and the company is releasing a new line of services to help these startups on the next step after funding: Finding retail space.

NextSeed Space now exists to help consumer-facing companies have access to move-in-ready spaces with short-term leases. The idea is to give the concept a low-risk place to debut their business, generate customers, and work out the kinks of their business model before locking in a permanent location.

"One of the biggest hurdles for a small business is the build-out process," Abe Chu, CMO of NextSeed says in the release. "A talented chef or designer might be very skilled at their craft, but many other factors are critical to opening a storefront including the capital raise, lease negotiation, design, permitting, construction and marketing. Finding ways to assist the entrepreneur in reducing complexity and controlling risks at this juncture is critical."

NextSeed has partnered with Greenway Plaza, where it offices, to bring turnkey retail space in The Hub, a new, recently renovated space in the office park.

The first NextSeed Space tenant is Houston's The Waffle Bus, which just raised $107,000 on the NextSeed fundraising platform. While the company has a popular brand and fleet of trucks, retail space has changed in Houston, and leasing companies are looking for safe tenants, the release says, meaning it's become more difficult for new tenants to find an ideal space.

"We see what's happening in the marketplace as our window to minimize obstacles for everyone's gain," Chu says in the release. "You've got creative small businesses that lack experience and funds, banks and investors that rely on longer leases for capital, and landlords who are not always equipped to handle the additional time and resources necessary to curate and nurture a revolving mix of pop-up tenants."

NextSeed's fundraising platform launched around four years ago and, since then, has helped almost 50 companies raise money totaling more than $10 million. NextSeed co-founder and CEO, Youngro Lee, spoke to InnovationMap last fall about how the company has grown and is always looking to expand.

"The goal was for NextSeed to keep innovating and bring in new technologies and processes," Lee says.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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

Where to be

It's time to look at what's on the agenda for June for Houston innovators — from pitch competitions to networking events.

Here's a roundup of events not to miss this month. Mark your calendars and register accordingly.

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


June 2 — Boost Your Brand's Online Visibility with a Book

Discover the untapped potential of self-publishing a book to establish your expertise, increase your visibility, and build your network. If you have ever considered publishing a book someday, this event is for you.

The event is Friday, June 2, from 8:30 to 10:30 am, at Impact HUB (Amegy Building - 1801 Main St 10th floor.) Click here to register.

June 2 — Best AI Tools for Business Innovation and Growth

This informative workshop is aimed at introducing participants to the latest AI tools available for businesses to innovate and grow. The interactive sessions will provide practical insights and expert advice from speakers who are experts in the field of AI. Participants will learn about the various AI tools that can be used for businesses, including machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and more.

The event is Friday, June 2, from 10 to 11 am, online. Click here to register.

June 7-9 — The Future of Global Energy Conference

To highlight Houston's role in the global energy transition, the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Energy Transition Initiative, and Center for Houston's Future will host a dynamic three-day conference focusing on the role community engagement, innovation and technology, workforce, and funding play in implementing Houston's energy transition strategy.

The event is Wednesday, June 7, to Friday, June 9. The event is hybrid at various locations in Houston. Click here to register.

June 8 — Out in Tech Houston | Monthly Mixer

Out in Tech provides an inclusive networking space for LGBTQ+ people and allies working in tech. Join this relaxed, social-mixer event, hosted on the second Thursday of every month.

The event is Thursday, June 8, at 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Avant Garden. Click here to register.

June 9 — The Future of Global Energy Conference: Luncheon

The Future of Global Energy conference concludes with a gathering of experts and thought leaders, exploring the roadmap for Houston to lead the transition to an energy-abundant, low-carbon future. Panelists include:

  • Jim Gable, President, Chevron Technology Ventures
  • John Hall, President & CEO, Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC)
  • Dr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Chief Energy Officer, University of Houston
  • MODERATOR: Jane Stricker, Senior Vice President, Energy Transition & Executive Director, Houston Energy Transition Initiative, Greater Houston Partnership

The event is Friday, June 9, from 10 am to 3 pm, at Hilton Americas. Click here to register.

June 9-10 — Mission Innovate - Reimagining Space Technology to Solve Today’s Challenges

This summer, innovators from around the greater Houston area will convene for a two-day event to innovate, disrupt, and help design innovative solutions that can address gaps in numerous key areas. Entrepreneurs will work with licensable intellectual property from NASA’s IP portfolio to solve some of the largest problems facing the industry. Experienced and first-time founders will form teams, ideate, and pitch their ideas to renown technology entrepreneurs, including members of the innovation teams at NASA. As part of the event, teams will be taught critical startup methodologies, advised by experienced business leaders, and network with an entire community that dreams of shaping key areas in emerging technology.

The event is Thursday, June 9, to Friday, June 10, at the Cannon West Houston. Click here to register.

June 12-14 — Energy Drone & Robotics Summit

The most influential gathering of over 1,500 industrial, energy, and engineering leaders from around the globe where the key challenges and solutions are addressed for operating robotics, drones, satellites, and remote systems successfully and managing AI/data, from the stars to the sea floor.

The event is Monday, June 12, to Wednesday, June 14, at Woodlands Waterway Marriott & Convention Center. Click here to register.

June 13 — Investor Studio Series: VC Due Diligence Best Practices

During this event, Golden Section, a venture capital fund and founders studio obsessed with B2B SaaS product development, will discuss how VCs approach investing and conduct due diligence, and why this matters for founders. The presentation will cover:

  • Market changes that effect how VCs approach investing
  • What founders need to prepare for this new environment
  • How Golden Section approaches due diligence

The event is Tuesday, June 13, from 4 to 6 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

June 13 — Using ChatGPT to Grow Your Business

Learn how to harness the power of artificial intelligence and use ChatGPT to not only stay ahead of the game but to redefine it. Whether it's handling queries, managing customer relationships, or generating leads, AI can automate and enhance many aspects of your work. This session will guide attendees through the fascinating world of AI and show them how to leverage it for maximum results.

The event is Tuesday, June 13, from 11 am to 1 pm, at Amcap Mortgage. Click here to register.

June 15 — Female Founders and Funders Meetup

Monthly, every third Thursday, Softeq Venture Studio and Sesh Coworking invite all rockstar female founders and funders in the Houston area to network and empower each other.

The event is Thursday, June 15, from 9 to 10 am, at Sesh Coworking. Click here to register.

June 20 — Co-Creating the Future: An African Startup Symposium on Collaboration

This physical symposium explores opportunities for cross-border entrepreneurial collaboration between the US/Houston and Africa. From Idea to Impact, delving into the African startup ecosystem, highlighting growth and potential for cross-border collaboration, key sectors driving innovation and growth, and legal, regulatory, and cultural considerations and challenges for cross-border collaborations. Startups and investment opportunities will be showcased.

The Agenda:

6:00 pm - 6:10 pm - Introduction to the event and The Beta Collective
6:15 pm - 6:20 pm - Sponsors Highlight
6:20 pm - 6:35 pm - Startup showcase
6:35 pm - 6:40 pm - Panel Introduction
6:40 pm- 7:30 pm - Panel
7:30 - 7:50 pm - Q&A
7:50 - 8:00 pm- Closing and Thanks
8:00 - 8:30 pm - Strategic Networking

The event is Tuesday, June 20, from 6 to 8:30 pm, at The Ion. Click to register.

June 22 — Ultrasound. Integrated. Everywhere.

Pump & Pipes is hosting an event focused on thin-film ultrasound technologies from energy applications into aerospace, health, and medtech sectors.

In collaboration with NASA Tech Talks, and the Mingle Monday Health & MedTech series at The Ion, join Pumps & Pipes as they venture into a discussion on the use of ultrasound technologies from both terrestrial and space medicine perspectives.

The event is Thursday, June 22, from 6 to 9 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

June 28 — June 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. Entrepreneurs, investors, students, and friends of climatetech are invited to attend, meet colleagues, discuss solutions, and engage with our growing community. If you’re looking for a job in climatetech or energy, trying to expand your network, or perhaps thinking about starting your own energy-related company, this is the event for you.

The event is Wednesday, June 28, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

Texans take note — council warns of summer energy shortfalls

heating up

The North American Electric Reliability Council issued a statement in its 2023 Summer Reliability Assessment earlier this month warning that energy shortages could be coming this summer for two-thirds of North America if temperatures spike higher than normal.

“Increased, rapid deployment of wind, solar and batteries have made a positive impact,” Mark Olson, NERC’s manager of reliability assessments, says in a news release. “However, generator retirements continue to increase the risks associated with extreme summer temperatures, which factors into potential supply shortages in the western two-thirds of North America if summer temperatures spike.”

For Texans, the combined risk of drought and higher than normal temperatures could stress ERCOT system resources, especially in a case of reduced wind. But before there’s a mad rush on generators, keep in mind, electricity consumers can take simple actions to minimize the possibility of widespread shortfalls.

Electricity demand begins rising daily around 2 pm in the summer and peaks in the final hours of daylight. These hours are generally not only the warmest hours of the day, but also the busiest. People return from work to their homes, crank down the air conditioner, turn on TVs, run a load of wash, and prepare meals using multiple electric-powered appliances.

In light of NERC's findings, Americans are recommended to take s one or two small steps to avoid unnecessary stress on the grid in the hours after coming home from work, we can prevent energy shortfalls. Modify routines now to get into the habit of running the dishwasher overnight, using the washer and dryer before noon or after 8 pm and pulling the shades down in the bright afternoon hours of the day. Delaying powering up devices – including EVs – until after dark and turning off and unplug items to avoid sapping electricity when items are not in use is also recommended, in addition to turning up thermostats a couple of degrees.

Meet the innovator who's leveraging big tech to advance Houston's ecosystem equitably

HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 188

At a glance, Rob Schapiro's resume might not make the most sense. A trained geologist with decades of experience in the energy sector, Schapiro made the move to Microsoft three years ago.

"I saw this disconnect between technology companies and energy companies — they didn't really speak the same language," he says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "I thought I could help potentially solve this problem and work between the two as a sort of translator."

Now, as Microsoft’s Energy Acceleration Program director and site leader for the company’s Houston office, which is located in the Ion, Schapiro is deeply embedded in Houston's innovation ecosystem and is dedicated to helping advance Houston's role energy transition in a sustainable and equitable way.

Inspired by the murder of George Floyd, Schapiro says he sought out opportunities in his personal life to expand his contribution to the community as an ally, and he became a big brother in Big Brothers Big Sisters. Microsoft, too, is active in supporting the community through partnering with local organizations, including SUPERGirls SHINE Foundation, the G-Unity Foundation Inc., and more.

"This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job, that I've had the ability to leverage the might of Microsoft and my own privilege to have an impact on real people," Schapiro says. "Microsoft's mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, and when you think about how you do that, it's really daunting. We realized that in order to do that, it's going to require a workforce that looks really different than it does today."

Microsoft knows too well the changing workforce, both from a diversity perspective and when it comes to artificial intelligence and other new technology. In its recent Work Trend Index report, the company found that, rather than being afraid of AI replacing jobs, the majority of the workforce is interested in applying AI to mundane tasks.

Schapiro shares more about his view of how AI will affect the workforce, plus what all the energy industry needs to focus on amid the energy transition, on the podcast. He also weighs in on how Houston's innovation ecosystem has evolved and where he hopes it's going. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.