who's who

3 Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Tammi Wallace of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Adam Putterman of OURS, and Ghazal Qureshi of UpBrainery. Courtesy photos

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from edtech to mental health — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.

Tammi Wallace, co-founder of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Tammi Wallace of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce was a panelist on The Ion's Pride in Tech event. Photo via LinkedIn

There are a few days left in Pride Month, and Houston's tech community came together last week to celebrate — but also discuss some of the challenges within the ecosystem for LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs.

In a Q&A with InnovationMap, Tammi Wallace, co-founder of the Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, shared her advice for LGBTQIA+ innovators and allies.

"Get involved with the Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce," she says. "Since 2016, the chamber has been working to build a strong community to support LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs and get them access to resources to help their businesses grow and thrive." Click here to read more.

Adam Putterman, co-founder of OURS

Adam Putterman, co-founder of OURS, shares how he jumped on the opportunity that is innovating the future of relationship health. Photo courtesy of OURS

More than ever before, people are warming up to the idea of seeking professional health care for more than just their bodies, Adam Putterman, co-founder of OURS says on the most recent episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast.

"We've seen a massive shift in the perception of counseling and therapy — and, more importantly, all the aspects of health that are not just your body," he explains. "It's no longer just going to the gym, it's meditating, coaching for a professional field. We've found that people are taking that mindset and applying it to their relationship as well."

After launching its beta in 2020, OURS worked in stealth to develop its product, which officially launched in May. The platform costs $400 for a four-week program that includes six personalized interactive sessions with an OURS guide at the helm of the experience. These one-hour technology-powered sessions are based around an innovative new technology, called Loveware, and include dynamic and meaningful conversations between a couple that are built around the magic that comes from being in the room with an expert. Click here to listen to the full episode and read more.

Ghazal Qureshi, founder and CEO of UpBrainery

Innovations like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and machine learning certainly have advantages in the edtech sector. Photo courtesy

The education community is facing big changes thanks to technology and new innovations. In a guest column for InnovationMap, Ghazal Qureshi — founder and CEO of UpBrainery, a Houston-based immersive educational technology platform — shares how things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more have the potential to impact the sector.

"AI has created benefits for educators as well, such as it has created a task automation system in which all kinds of daily mundane tasks including grading papers, admin work, replying to queries, etc. have been directly automated," she writes. "Although adopting cutting-edge technology in the educational industry for most institutions is certainly not a piece of cake as it is time-consuming and very costly." Click here to read more.

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Building Houston

 
 

A local venture capital investor has teamed up with the Ion to bring four workshops focused on helping founders navigate startup funding. Image courtesy of the Ion

Calling all founders — the Ion is hosting a four-part workshop series geared at educating startup CEOs on venture capital.

The Venture Capital for First Time Founders series is put on by Energy Transition Ventures and the Ion and is completely free to attendees. Serial entrepreneur and investor Neal Dikeman is hosting the series with guests joining him for each event. A networking opportunity follows onsite at Second Draught.

“Houston needs more founders," says Neal Dikeman, co-founder and partner of Energy Transition Ventures, in a news release. "The Investor Studio Series is the unvarnished reality of what it takes."

More information and registration is available online. Here's what each workshop will focus on, according to the release:

  • Startuplandia - What Makes Startups Go on Wednesday, January 11, at 4 pm. So you want to do a startup? We all have a choice in life to work for someone else or start something. But half of what you’ve been told about how tech startups form and launch is wrong - get the real story. Guest: Juliana Garaizar, vice president of Innovation and head of Greentown Labs Houston, and a board member of the Angel Capital Association
  • VC 101 - How Venture Capital Funds Work on Wednesday, January 18, at 4 pm. If you’re going to be, or raise money from, a VC, you better have a good idea of how their business works and what makes them tick — demystifying the decisions and person behind the curtain from a venture capitalist’s own experience. Guest: Andrew Nicholson, managing director of Goose Capital
  • How to Raise Venture Capital as a First-Time Founder on Wednesday, January 25, at 4 pm. Raising venture capital is an art with unwritten rules the VCs, and your advisors don’t tell you. Luckily venture capitalists are more predictable than they think — avoid the rookie mistakes and get the story on how to pull it off from a 7-time startup founder turned VC. Guest: Brad Burke, managing director of Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship
  • The Biggest Mistakes Founders Make After Raising Money on Wednesday, February 1, at 4 pm. So now you’re in the rarified Funded Founders Club. Can you avoid the first-time founder mistakes or build a VC-backed company and make it to a successful exit? Guest: John Reale, venture lead for the Texas Medical Center Venture Fund and managing director of Integr8d Capital,

More guests may be announced and featured at the upcoming events. Each workshop takes place at the Ion.

“As Houston's HQ for innovation, the Ion is the perfect meeting place to host this workshop series for anyone interested or has a stake in a startup," says Christine Galib, senior director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Ion, in the release.

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