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

From networking meetups to educational symposiums, July is chock-full of happenings for Houston innovators.

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

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


July 6 — City of Houston Panel Discussion: Sales

Join the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity and SCORE Houston for a panel discussion designed for City of Houston vendors. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about doing business with the City of Houston and how SCORE Houston can support you while running your business. During each monthly meeting get your business questions answered by industry and Office of Business Opportunity experts and SCORE Mentors. Gain the information and support you need to provide your products and services as a City of Houston vendor.

This event is Thursday, July 6, from 1 to 2 pm at Houston Community College. Click here to register.

July 7 — UH-DGH Center for Hydrocarbon Exploration Symposium

This informative open house event showcasing the new UH Seismic Data Center will focus heavily on presentations centered around hydrocarbon basin analysis as well as relevant policy shifts within India and the opportunities that have emerged as a result. The UH Seismic Data Center arose from a collaboration between the University of Houston and the DGH, the technical arm of the Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The event is Friday, July 7, from 9 am to 12 pm at the University of Houston Technology Bridge (Building 9, Room 135). Click here to register.

July 10 — Ion Open Accelerator: Monopolizing Your Industry Channel

In this workshop, Jared Nielsen who has participated in several startups that now dominate their respective industries, will provide insight into how small startups have grown to become global monopolies in a very short period of time. Seeing a global domination market strategy executed from the inside may give your own startup insights and techniques that you can use within your own supply chain for a truly dominant market position.

The event is Monday, July 10, from 10 am to 12 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.


July 11 — Leaders Who Lunch

Connect with influential community organizers, leaders, change makers, and likeminded C-suite executives during a 3-course family style lunch. Admission and cost of the meal is $75.

The event is Tuesday, July 11, from 11 am to 12 pm at Weights and Measures. Click here to register.

July 13 — Texas Medical Center Veterans Committee Hiring Event

TMC is hosting a career workshop for veterans interested in breaking into the healthcare field. Attendees will have the chance to network with recruiters, learn about job openings, and potentially even secure an interview on the spot so be sure to bring copies of your resume and dress to impress.

The agenda:

10:00 - 11:00 am - Registration/ Networking

11:00 - 11:30 am - Career Readiness: Resume & Interview Preparation

11:30 am - 12:00 pm - Career Branding: Social Media & Networking

12:00 pm - 12:20 pm - Lunch (provided)

12:20 pm - 1:00 pm - ERG Panel Discussion: Connecting with our Veteran Communities

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm - Networking/ Closing Hour

This event is Thursday, July 13, from 10 am to 2 pm at TMC Innovation Factory (2450 Holcombe Blvd Suite X). Click here to register.

July 13 — GROW Community Meeting

Discuss green economy resources & opportunities for disadvantaged groups to engage in the energy transition and climate action.

The agenda:

11 - 11:15 am - Welcome and Introductions

11:15 - 11:30 am - GROW Overview

11: 30 - 11:45 am - GROW Updates

11:45 am - 12 pm - Funding & Contract Opportunities

12 - 12:30 pm - Lunch

12:30 - 12:45 pm - Next steps: Community Benefits Survey, Cooperative Agreement, Letters of Support

12:45 - 1 pm - Attendee Announcements

1 PM - Closing

The event is Thursday, July 13, from 11 am to 1 pm at Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center. Click here to register.

July 17 — Mingle Mondays Med & Health Tech

Head to this monthly mixer and get to know fellow members of Houston’s Med & Health Tech community. All who are interested in Med & Health Tech, including Med & HealthTech entrepreneurs, thought leaders, investors, healthcare professionals, and community members wanting to share their Med & Health Tech knowledge are welcome.

This event is Monday, July 17, from 6 to 7 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

July 17 — The State of Latino Entrepreneurship Reception/Networking

The Latino Business Action Network presents “The State of Latino Entrepreneurship Reception.” Network with Latino professionals, business owners, and supporters. This is a welcoming environment for connecting with your peers, LBAN, local chambers, and other organizations. At the same time, you will learn the latest on Latino entrepreneurship from LBAN, a nationally recognized expert in the field. LBAN is a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit that partners with Stanford to research and empower Latino entrepreneurship across the U.S.

This event is Monday, July 17, from 4 to 7 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

July 18 — Heated Dialogues Unleashed: Navigating Difficult Conversations

In this discussion, leadership veterans Debbie Danon and Michele Price will unravel the secrets of mastering difficult conversations for start-ups. For new founders looking to gain practical insights to navigate these challenges this conference will provide you with communication tools to approach these obstacles.

This event is Tuesday, July 18, from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm, virtually . Click here to register.

July 19 — Industrial Security Roadshow: Learn, Empower, & Connect

At the Industrial Security Roadshow attendees will gain insights into emerging threats, learn innovative defense techniques, and discover cutting-edge technologies to bolster your security procedures. A curated lineup of speakers will share their expertise, providing practical guidance and actionable steps to fortify your systems against cyber threats.

This event is Wednesday, July 19, from 10:30 am to 1 pm at 24285 Katy Fwy suite 300. Click here to register.

July 20 — Female Founders and Funders Meetup

Sponsored by Softeq Venture Studio and Sesh Coworking, this monthly meetup occurs every third Thursday and is ideal for female founders and funders in the Houston area who are looking to network and empower each other.

This event is Thursday, July 20, from 9 to 10 am at Sesh Coworking. Click here to register.

July 24 — Ion Open Accelerator: Getting the Highest ROI from Conferences and Events

In this workshop speaker Staccey Wright-Turner, a Houston based ROI strategist, will discuss how to maximize your time at and investment in conferences and events for a well-rounded marketing campaign.

These are the topics you can expect to be covered:

  • Whether you should do events, and which ones you should do
  • How best to invest your marketing dollars
  • Setting your objectives for events and conferences - yes, there is more than just "getting leads" - don't miss out on important revenue
  • Preparing in advance to get the most out of your event
  • Knowing how to approach attendees and get meetings booked
  • Follow through and evaluate the ROI on the events
  • Training sales staff for event-and-conference best practices
This event is Monday, July 24, from 10 am to 12 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

July 27 —  Summer Sizzle Happy Hour with Dell for Startups

Kick off the end of a warm summer in The Cannon West Houston Kitchen with a Happy Hour, sponsored by Dell for Startups and take advantage of an opportunity to learn more about the upcoming Houston Innovation Summit in October.

This event is Thursday, July 27, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at The Cannon. Click here to register.

July 28 - July 30 — Melanin Minds Mental Health Conference

Melanin Minds is taking over Big Brothers Big Sisters for a three day weekend of workshops, panels, & family-friendly wellness. All workshops will be centering BIPOC communities & featuring therapists, counselors, and practitioners of color. Admission prices vary depending on the level of access you want to the conference and when you register, discounted tickets for students are available up to year six of grad school ($20).

The agenda:

Friday 7/28 — Healthy Eating On The Go • Thriving Through Stigmas & Adversity • Perfectionism • Boundaries • Finances • Work-Life Harmony • 7 Types of Rest • Mindful Leadership

Saturday 7/29 — Building Mental Wealth • Finding Your Way to YOU • Nutrition As A Foundation for Healing • Yoga & Meditation • Community Talk Circle • Humor & Laughter • Reading the Cues • Relationships & Social Media • Wellness Practices & Routines

Sunday 7/30 — Advocating For Your Child • Goals Through Resilience & Stress • The Art of Self Expression • Financial Mental Health • Yoga For Youth • Big Brother Big Sister Matches Panel • Complimentary Self Care Services

This event starts Friday, July 28, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Click here to register.

In today’s dynamic business landscape, veterans bring the skills and expertise to the table that translate to any industry. Photo via Getty Images

Expert: How veteran employees can positively impact Houston startups, small businesses

guest column

Last week, the country celebrated Veterans Day — a time to honor the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. This day was also a time to consider, as business owners and entrepreneurs, how we support these veterans as they enter civilian life.

With only 18.5 million veterans, which accounts for seven percent of the population over 18 years old, it is an elite group. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest data, veterans have a nearly one percent lower unemployment rate than their nonveteran counterparts, which points to their unique skill sets, internal grit and dogged determination.

Entrepreneurs face interesting business challenges today with a tight labor market coupled with talks of a potential recession. Hiring today doesn’t have to be a daunting task when the right people are in the trenches with you. Veterans transitioning into civilian life are an often-overlooked talent pool who bring an abundance of skills, albeit sometimes non-traditional, to the workplace. They make great employees for startups due to:

Resilience

Every new business goes through a season of trial and error. Additionally, the ever-changing business environment and legislation force many businesses to quickly adapt. Veterans have learned to thrive under pressure, keep the end-goal in mind and focus under the most difficult situations. An employee who brings a sense of calm focus to an organization in growth mode, which can be chaotic, is reassuring to the business owner and they serve as a good example to fellow employees.

Intrapersonal skills

The military helps every recruit fine tune their intrapersonal skills, especially discipline, persistence and innovation. These same skills are valuable in the workplace and paramount to the success of today’s startup.

These engrained intrapersonal skills make veterans the employees entrepreneurs will rely upon. Commitments are kept and deadlines are met, hard stop. When an entrepreneur’s attention is divided, it is a relief for them to know the work will get done. Additionally, these are employees who will naturally step up as leaders, if given the opportunity to advance, and take pride in helping foster the success of the business.

Teamwork

In its simplest form, the military is a workplace made of many smaller work groups or units. Veterans know teamwork is an essential skill to master, often aided by clear and concise communication. In a military setting, however, if a team member doesn’t follow through, the consequences can be dire. While the stakes may be different, teamwork is invaluable to meeting an organization’s goals and objectives.

Versatility

The military also prepares veterans for civilian life and business today by teaching creative problem solving. These men and women quickly surmount complex circumstances and often with limited resources. The bootstrap nature of a startup environment and a tight labor market can benefit significantly from a veteran’s ability to improvise and adapt.

The multitude of skills veterans possess and have learned through their military careers allows them to quickly adopt and master new concepts. This is an extremely valuable to any small business facing limited resources and manpower. A new hire who can troubleshoot IT systems, move boxes and supplies, and manage people or clients is the best “multi-tool” for a startup.

In today’s dynamic business landscape, veterans bring the skills and expertise to the table that translate to any industry.

Veterans are a valuable resource and, once leveraged, can help employers improve the trajectory of their business.

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Roger Nicholson is a Marine veteran and senior vice president of service operations with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources offering the most comprehensive suite of scalable HR solutions available in the marketplace.

Craig Taylor has been named 2022 Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year by the Rice Business Veterans Association and has made it to the finals for EY's Entrepreneur Of The Year 2022. Photo courtesy of Iapetus

Houston energy entrepreneur recognized for 2 leadership awards

vet rep

Houston’s Craig Taylor is basking in the entrepreneurial spotlight.

On May 10, Taylor, founder and CEO of Houston-based Iapetus Holdings, and Tejpal Singh, co-founder and chief operating officer, were named Entrepreneur Of The Year 2022 finalists in the program’s Central South region. That region includes the Houston area. Professional services giant Ernest & Young sponsors the program.

Meanwhile, Taylor last month was named 2022 Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year by the Rice Business Veterans Association at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

Iapetus Holdings is a minority- and veteran-owned portfolio of eight self-funded, multimillion-dollar companies in the energy sector.

“When you set off to become a self-funded entrepreneur, you start with a vision and a ton of grit, but you never really have assurance of the fact that you’re going to be successful,” Taylor says in a news release. “The road to business success takes many turns and that’s why, to find ourselves among those honored with this distinction, to be among the EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalists, is so meaningful.”

Singh says he and Taylor “have much greater ambitions” for Iapetus as well as Atlas Scholars, the nonprofit they launched to provide internships and scholarships to high school students.

“It has taken a ton of dedication and effort to realize our ambition of building this group of energy solutions businesses, creating this number of jobs, serving this quantity and quality of clients,” Singh says.

Regional Entrepreneur Of The Year winners will be announced June 23.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year nod follows Taylor’s acceptance April 23 of Rice’s Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year honor.

Navy veteran Charles “Reid” Schrodel, an officer with Rice Business Veterans Association, says Taylor was chosen for the honor because of his success in business and philanthropy.

“For the Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year award, “we were looking for veteran entrepreneurs that are successful in their field, and we wanted to find a vet entrepreneur whose organization also gave back to their communities,” Schrodel says.

Taylor received the award during the Rice Veterans Business Battle competition. He and Alex Danielides, head of business development at Iapetus Holdings, were judges for the competition. In the competition, 16 early stage companies vied for funding. The 2022 winners were Libre, Opera Bioscience, and Bonappesweet.

In a news release, Taylor notes that veterans who own businesses face an array of challenges.

“Being an entrepreneur is not easy, but the Navy instilled in me a strong sense of responsibility and grit, which are critical characteristics of a successful entrepreneur,” he says.

Businesses under the Iapetus umbrella are:

  • Atlas Commodities, a commodity brokerage firm.
  • Atlas Field Services, which provides safety inspections and audits for energy providers.
  • Atlas Retail Energy, a provider of energy management services for commercial and industrial customers.
  • Gold Coast Utility Specialists, which provides risk management services for energy suppliers.
  • Hyperion Safety Environmental Solutions, whose services include safety programming and environmental planning.
  • Iapetus Infrastructure Services, which encompasses five of the holding company’s eight subsidiaries.
  • Soaring Eagle Technologies, a provider of mapping services.
  • UATI (Unmanned Aviation Training Institute), which trains drone operators.

Collectively, annual revenue for the eight subsidiaries is around $100 million.

“Our customers rely on Iapetus employees who are innovating and are making a difference on the most critical issues of our times. We’re affecting everything from energy security to sustainability to infrastructure reliability, and we do so as a cohesive group of diverse perspectives working toward common goals,” Taylor said in a 2021 news release.

“Our companies are working closely with utilities on strategies to help prevent risks, plan vegetation management, keep the lights on and employees safe,” he added. “We’re also helping commercial and industrial clients procure energy efficiently and sustainably, while providing international energy trade brokerage services in this intense-demand landscape.”

Houston has the the second largest veteran community in America — and the energy industry is vets' top employer. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-based veterans will lead the energy transition, says this expert

guest column

Many people living in Houston don't realize that the veteran community is taking an increasing leadership role in the energy transition. The Greater Houston area is the second largest veteran community in America with over 5,500 new veterans and their families coming to Houston annually. We are the fastest growing city in America for veterans as well.

In Houston you'll find a community of veterans who create a workforce and culture of excellence -- no handouts needed here. Our city is home to innovation in many industrial sectors, and also in the veteran services market. Combined Arms is the premier technology partner for accelerating the connection of veterans to resources like employment.

Headquartered in Houston, the agency operates in a dozen states nationally with a co-working space of over 30 veteran serving nonprofits on site and 120 services online. The top employment organization for veteran employment in the country, NextOp, is also headquartered in Houston. NextOp is focused on developing a pipeline of talent directly from military installations to industrial craft trades. They have the best numbers for placement of veterans and speed to employment, perfect for accelerating the energy transition as companies are looking for talent to fill new industry roles.

The energy sector is already the largest employer of veterans in Houston. We are a vibrant community with weekly networking happy hours for white collar veterans working in the energy industry at the original Kirby Icehouse on Wednesdays, put on by Houston Veterans in Business.

With one of the highest concentrations of public companies in the country, we have over 85 public companies with employee resource groups for veterans. The leaders of these groups meet regularly to support and serve our community. We are a thriving community that has the depth of relationships and connections to foster the personal and professional growth of veterans new to Houston and those that have called Houston home their entire lives. The majority of these groups are within energy companies that are actively supporting the energy transition.

Some examples of veteran-led energy transition companies include:

  • Everpoint Services, founded by Tyler Goodell, is bringing an oilfield services model to the wind, solar, and energy storage industries along with wind blade and solar panel recycling.
  • FastGrid, founded by Eric Curry, is rapidly growing through the project engineering side of renewable energy project development across the country.
  • WindCom, led by CEO Tim Hertel, conducts wind blade repairs and servicing.
  • Blue Bear Capital, co-founded by Tim Kopra, invests in high-growth technology companies across the energy, infrastructure, and climate industries.
  • eRenewable, co-founded by Fred Davis, provides real-time online auctions for Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs) and Virtual PPAs.
  • Last Dollar Trucking, co-founded by Nate Reeve, focused on the transport of the massive number of wind blades entering texas ports.
  • JAG Argueta, founded by Keith Argueta, provides accounting and fractional CFO services to cleantech startups.
  • Digital Wildcatters, co-founded by Jake Corley, building the "Barstool Sports of Energy"
  • Amberjack Capital, co-founded by Patrick Connelly, is a private equity investor in energy transition and infrastructure projects.
  • re:3D, co-founded by Samantha Snabes, pioneering new innovations to decimate the cost & scale barriers to 3D printing.
  • South Union CDC, founded by Efrem Jernigan, is developing the Sunnyside Solar project.
  • Fervo Energy, led by CFO David Ulrey, is developing next-generation geothermal projects to deliver 24x7 carbon-free energy.

One of the top chapters nationally for Bunker Labs is also here, with a veteran entrepreneur accelerator at WeWork downtown, the WeWork Veterans in Residence program. On top of that the largest veteran business plan competition is hosted by Rice University. The Veteran Business Battle is entering its 7th year with one of the finalists Parasanti pivoting their successful edge computing solutions into the energy transition for cleantech applications through their recent acceptance to Haliburton Labs.

Houston is also building a chapter of the Veterans Energy Project which is advocating for the Biden administration's infrastructure bill. Jon Powers with CleanCapital, a private equity investor focused on accelerating the flow of capital into distributed generation project, co-founded the Veterans Energy Project. Having served our country in a time of war, it is time again to place the country first and advocate for the infrastructure that supports all Americans.

The veterans of Houston can help make Houston not only the leader in the energy transition but also ensure that we are the energy capital of the future.

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Kevin Doffing is the president of Energy Capital of the Future.

BridgingApps, a program backed by Easter Seals of Greater Houston, uses technology like iPads to help provide services for children and adults with disabilities — as well as for veterans — and their families. Courtesy of BridgingApps

Houston nonprofit optimizes technology for special needs treatment and diagnoses

Using tech for good

When the first iPad was released in April of 2010, tech accessibility changed in more ways than mobile checkouts or on-the-go streaming.

The interface of the device is built around the multi-touch screen, which became a game changing component in special needs therapy and sparked the founding of BridgingApps, a program part of Easter Seals Greater Houston.

The program provides access to educational and therapeutic tools to parents, teachers, and therapists to use these mobile devices and apps to target and improve cognitive and physical development in children and adults with disabilities.

"I am the parent of a child with multiple disabilities; my son was born with Down syndrome," says Cristen Reat, co-founder and program director at BridgingApps.

Reat tells InnovationMap that she helped start a support group in a therapy clinic where many parents were interested about why mobile devices and apps were so engaging to their children.

"We were just amazed about how our children with different types of disabilities were engaged with the devices, were able to communicate with the devices, and were making big strides in their therapy," says Reat.

BridgingApps was founded by Reat and Sami Rahman in 2010, both seeking to help their children grow. The program became a part of Easter Seals of Greater Houston in 2011. The website currently boasts over 3,000 apps which users can sort through by category, age, price, skill, grade level, mobile device, and more. The apps are also able to benefit and treat veterans and their families.

"I was amazed at how quickly my son was able to do things independently with these touch screens that he was not able to do with traditional computers," Reat tells InnovationMap.

The Easter Seals Greater Houston organization was recently awarded a $15,000 grant from the Comcast Foundation as part of the Comcast NBCUniversal Assistive Technology Grant Fund, expand the available equipment used in the community technology labs with new equipment such as the TobiiDynavox EyeMobile Mini Classic Eye Gaze system that includes new software called Look To Learn and SnapCore First, and the AbleNet Latitude Mounting Arm that holds an iPad, Kindle, or other tablet and mounts to beds, wheelchairs, and tabletops.

The nonprofit offers three assistive technology services labs across the Houston area, in Bellaire, the Woodlands, and Stafford. According to the website, each lab has open lab days that the public can access without an appointment to explore a variety of assistive technology, including adapted toys and switches, specialized software and computer equipment, communication devices, and mobile devices and apps. Workshops and trainings are also available.

"The whole idea of BridgingApps is a shortcut, so that you don't have to Google search every day," says Reat. "It's basically the Yelp of special needs apps where you can type in a diagnosis, a skill, something you're looking for, and you'll come up with a video, instructions, and summary that helps people figure out what can help them today."

The organization was also awarded a $75,000 grant by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, which, according to a news release, will help the nonprofit serve 50 individuals that are veterans and or current military as well as their family members through services such as digital trainings through app reviews and videos, face-to-face counseling and counseling via tele-health, especially for those without transportation or living in rural areas.

BridgingApps currently has a team of two full-time and seven part-time employees. The nonprofit hosts an annual fundraiser each Spring called Walk With Me. The next walk is scheduled for April 25 at the Houston Zoo.
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Houston cardiac health startup raises $43 million series B to grow AI-backed platform

money moves

A Houston-based tech company that has a product line of software solutions for cardiac health has raised funding.

Octagos Health, the parent company of Atlas AI — a software platform for cardiac devices like pacemakers, defibrillators, ambulatory monitors and consumer wearables — has announced a $43 million series B raise that will bring their technology to many more hearts.

Morgan Stanley Investment Capital led the investment, which also included funds from Mucker Capital and other continuing strategic investors. The goal of the raise is to supply funds to accelerate Atlas AI’s growth across the United States and to expand into other areas of care, including ambulatory monitors, consumer wearables, and sleep.

"This investment will enable us to accelerate enhancements to our platform, in addition to scaling our commercial team and operations. We are currently the only company that helps cardiology practices migrate their historical data from legacy software providers and fully integrates with any EHR (exertion heart rate) system. We do this while enabling customized reporting supported by patient and practice decision-support analytics," says Eric Olsen, COO of Octagos Health, in a press release.

Octagos Health was founded by a team of healthcare pros including CEO Shanti Bansal, a cardiologist and founder of Houston Heart Rhythm, an atrial fibrillation center. The goal was to find a new way to deal with the massive amount of data that clinicians encounter each day in a way that combines software and the work of human doctors.

According to the Octagos Health website, “Our solution allows clinicians to focus on other ways of delivering meaningful healthcare and more efficiently manage their remotely monitored patients.”

It works thanks to customizable reporting features that allow patients’ healthcare teams to get help while monitoring them, but to do it precisely as they would if they were crunching numbers themselves.

"We are excited to partner with Octagos Health and support their vision of transforming cardiac care," says Melissa Daniels, managing director of Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital. "Octagos Health has demonstrated exceptional growth and innovation in a critical area of healthcare. We believe their platform and vertically integrated software and services significantly improve patient care and streamline cardiac monitoring processes for healthcare providers."

Will Hsu, co-founder and partner of Mucker Capital, agrees. “Octagos Health is poised for scale – industry leading gross margins, a very sticky product that doctors and clinical staff love, and a market ready for disruption with artificial intelligence. This is the new wave for diagnostic care,” he says. And with this raise, it will be available to even more clinicians and patients across the country.

Houston biotech company expands leadership as it commercializes sustainable products

joining the team

Houston-based biotech company Cemvita recently tapped two executives to help commercialize its sustainable fuel made from carbon waste.

Nádia Skorupa Parachin came aboard as vice president of industrial biotechnology, and Phil Garcia was promoted to vice president of commercialization.

Parachin most recently oversaw several projects at Boston-based biotech company Ginkjo Bioworks. She previously co-founded Brazilian biotech startup Integra Bioprocessos.

Parachin will lead the Cemvita team that’s developing technology for production of bio-manufactured oil.

“It’s a fantastic moment, as we’re poised to take our prototyping to the next level, and all under the innovative direction of our co-founder Tara Karimi,” Parachin says in a news release. “We will be bringing something truly remarkable to market and ensuring it’s cost-effective.”

Moji Karimi, co-founder and CEO of Cemvita, says the hiring of Parachin represents “the natural next step” toward commercializing the startup’s carbon-to-oil process.

“Her background prepared her to bring the best out of the scientists at the inflection point of commercialization — really bringing things to life,” says Moji Karimi, Tara’s brother.

Parachin joins Garcia on Cemvita’s executive team.

Before being promoted to vice president of commercialization, Garcia was the startup’s commercial director and business development manager. He has a background in engineering and business development.

Founded in 2017, Cemvita recently announced a breakthrough that enables production of large quantities of oil derived from carbon waste.

In 2023, United Airlines agreed to buy up to one billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel from Cemvita’s first full-scale plant over the course of 20 years.

Cemvita’s investors include the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, an investment arm of Chicago-based United; Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, an investment arm of Houston-based energy company Occidental Petroleum; and Japanese equipment and machinery manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: Every week, I introduce you to a handful of Houston innovators to know recently making headlines with news of innovative technology, investment activity, and more. This week's batch includes a logistics startup founder, a marketing expert, and a solar energy innovator.

Matthew Costello, CEO and co-founder of Voyager Portal

Houston logistics SaaS innovator is making waves with its expanded maritime shipping platform. Photo courtesy of Voyager

For several years now, Matthew Costello has been navigating the maritime shipping industry looking for problems to solve for customers with his company, Voyager Portal.

Initially, that meant designing a software platform to enhance communications and organization of the many massive and intricate global shipments happening every day. Founded in 2018 by Costello and COO Bret Smart, Voyager Portal became a integral tool for the industry that helps users manage the full lifecycle of their voyages — from planning to delivery.

"The software landscape has changed tremendously in the maritime space. Back in 2018, we were one of a small handful of technology startups in this space," Costello, who serves as CEO of Voyager, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Now that's changed. ... There's really a huge wave of innovation happening in maritime right now." Read more.

Arielle Rogg, principal and founder of Rogg Enterprises

Arielle Rogg writes in a guest column for InnovationMap about AI in the workforce. Photo via LinkedIn

Arielle Rogg isn't worried about artificial intelligence coming for her job. In fact, she has three reasons why, and she outlines them in a guest column for InnovationMap.

"The advent of AI pushes us humans to acquire new skills and hone our existing abilities so we can work alongside these evolving technologies in a collaborative fashion. AI augments human capabilities rather than replacing us. I believe it will help our society embrace lifelong learning, creating new industries and jobs that have never existed before," she writes in the piece. Read more.

Nathan Childress, founder of Solar Slice

Solar Slice Founder Nathan Childress says his new venture offers a fulfilling way to encourage and promote solar energy and a greener planet. Photo via LinkedIn

Nuclear engineer and entrepreneur Nathan Childress wants consumers to capture their own ray of sunlight to brighten the prospect of making clean energy a bigger part of the power grid. That's why he founded Solar Slice. The new venture offers a fulfilling way to encourage and promote solar energy and a greener planet.

Although trained in nuclear power plant design, solar power drew his interest as a cheaper and more accessible alternative, and Childress tells InnovationMap that he thinks that the transition to cleaner energy, in Texas especially, needs to step up.

Recent studies show that 80 to 90 percent of the money invested into fighting climate change “aren’t going to things that people actually consider helpful,” Childress says, adding that “they’re more just projects that sound good, that are not actually taking any action." Read more.