2021 in review

These were the top guest columns on InnovationMap this year

What startup advice and observations trended this year on InnovationMap? Why this tech company opened a Houston office, PR tips, and more. Photo courtesy of All You Need Method

Editor's note: So far this year, InnovationMap — Houston's only news source and resource about and for startups — had dozens of guest columns written by tech entrepreneurs, public relations experts, data geniuses, and more. As we get ready for 2022, here are some of this year's top guest contributor pieces — each with pertinent information and advice for startups both at publishing and into the new year.

Interested in contributing? Email natalie@innovationmap.com to learn more.

Houston expert: How to use the power of data and analytics to inform ​small businesses​

Startups and small businesses are accumulating data daily — here's how to use that to your advantage. Photo via Getty Images

By Shanna Jin, communications and marketing specialist of the Data to Knowledge Lab at Rice University.

Starting a business in a digital era brings entrepreneurs unprecedented advantages with technology and tools designed to optimize a business' operation. Whether it is a B2C or B2B, business owners can gather almost any data and metrics to improve their performance.

Being able to interpret data and making data-driven decisions becomes the key to the success of a business. It is not just a privilege for big companies anymore. Small businesses need it more than ever to make sustainable growth in the digital era.

The challenge? There are countless analytic tools and resources available that can generate data, but you need people who can extract insights from the massive amount of data. Click here to continue reading.

What do post-pandemic offices look like? This Houston expert explains

In-office working isn't going away — but it'll look different for decades to come. Photo courtesy Eric Laignel/IA Interior Architects

By Mark Gribbons, principal and design director at IA Interior Architects, andJon Pickard, principal and co-founder of Pickard Chilton.

Reflecting on what we have all recently experienced, our physical relationship with the workplace has out of necessity become more fluid. However, we believe that this pandemic will be the catalyst that will accelerate positive change in workplace design.

The shift ahead in workplace design will not simply be driven by performance measures. There is a renewed longing for a workplace that is driven by direct human experiences – one that enhances face-to-face encounters, offers spaces tailored to the moment, and deliberately fosters health and wellness. We all are reexamining the next generation of office buildings in search of a solution. Click here to continue reading.

Why my global tech startup picked Houston for its next location

Here's why ClassPass tapped Houston as a prime place to expand. Photo via Getty Images

By Rachel Moncton, vice president of Global Marketing at ClassPass. She is based in Houston.

Most people know that fitness and wellness leader ClassPass started in New York City. It's less well known that ClassPass has a large office in Missoula, Montana that houses several members of our leadership team, including CEO Fritz Lanman.

In 2017, the ClassPass team spent nine months conducting an intensive nationwide search for a city that matched our mission and values. As a brand focused on supporting an active lifestyle, we wanted a city that offered a connection to the outdoors. One of the most important driving factors in our search was finding a city where we could attract incredible talent to our team. Though we settled on Missoula, Houston was high on the list.

I'm thrilled that four years later, we are finally adding Houston as the fourth US ClassPass office. I have personally relocated to this city and now call myself a Houstonian. Click here to continue reading.

Expert shares advice for Houstonians experiencing a pandemic-sparked career change

Many Houstonians are unemployed, laid off, or furloughed amid the pandemic. Others are literally burned out and ready for a life-altering career change. This expert has advice for both. Photo via Pexels

By Briar Dougherty, CEO and president of Career Organic, an Atlanta-based career coaching company.

I've had so many pivots in my professional career; moving across the country, internal promotions, leaving a corporate job to launch my own company, and repositioning myself and my brand in new markets. But I'm one of those people who enjoy lots of change, and as I've continued in my career journey, I've found that those sentiments are not shared by many.

Making a career transition can not only be stressful for a majority of professionals but can paralyze people from making decisions that carry their livelihood alongside them. This is one reason I am fueled to help professionals, to be a support system for these complexities and helping them make decisions based on facts and strengths, not on fear.

As a career coach, it's my job to find a way to piece together years of experience for professionals in order to tell a story of growth, change, and transferable potential to sway key decision-makers for employment and economic opportunity.

Over the past several years, I've seen many trends in client challenges, storytelling similarities and developed a knack for helping people with complex stories make a successful career or entrepreneurial leap. Click here to continue reading.

5 PR and marketing tips for Houston startups and small businesses in 2021

What does your company plan on bringing into the new year — and how do you plan to communicate your efforts? Photo courtesy of All You Need Method

By Kathryn Worsham Humphries and Carla M. Nikitaidis, co-creators of Houston-based All You Need Method, a PR and marketing resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The past year has been a rollercoaster for small businesses. When the pandemic hit, every single person was affected. We've all had to pivot in some way either personally, professionally, or both.

As public relations and marketing professionals who specialize in working with small businesses, we've spent the last 10 months in the trenches with our clients, advising and helping business owners and entrepreneurs navigate these uncertain times. While small business revenue is down since January 2020, it's not all doom and gloom out there – we've seen many other businesses experience unexpected success and growth, and according to economists, we are entering the greatest entrepreneurial economy of our time.

And as we start this new year, there is no better time to invest in business growth and planning. Click here to continue reading.

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Building Houston

 
 

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

Houstonians are transitioning into a new summer month, and the city's business community is mixing in networking and conference events with family vacations and time off. Here's a rundown of what all to throw on your calendar for July when it comes to innovation-related events.

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

July 10 — Have a Nice Day Market at the Ion

Stop by for a one-of-a-kind vendor market - #HaveANiceDayHTX - taking place at the Ion, Houston's newest urban district and collaborative space that is designed to provide the city a place where entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities can come together. Free to attend and free parking onsite.

Have a Nice Day is a creative collective with a goal of celebrating BIPOC makers, creators, and causes.

The event is Sunday, July 10, 4 to 8 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 12 — One Houston Together Webinar Series

In the first installment of the Partnership's One Houston Together webinar series, we will discuss supplier diversity an often underutilized resource for business. What is it and why is it important? How can supplier diversity have long-term impact on your business, help strengthen your supply chain, and make a positive community impact?

The event is Tuesday, July 12, noon to 1 pm, online. Click here to register.

July 14 — Investor Speaker Series: Both Sides of the Coin

In the next installment of Greentown Labs' Investor Speaker Series, sit down with two Greentown founders and their investors as they talk about their experiences working together before, during, and after an equity investment was made in the company. Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most important relationships in a startup’s journey and what best practices both founders and investors can follow to keep things moving smoothly.

The event is Thursday, July 14, 1 to 2:30 pm, online. Click here to register.

July 15 — SBA Funding Fair

Mark Winchester, the Deputy District Director for the Houston District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, will give a short intro of the programs the mentors will discuss. There will be three government guaranteed loan mentors and two to three mentors co-mentoring with remote SBIR experts.

The event is Friday, July 15, 10:30 am to 1 pm, at The Cannon - West Houston. Click here to register.

July 16 — Bots and Bytes: Family STEAM Day

Join the Ion for a hands-on learning experience to learn about tech and robotics and gain insight into the professional skills and concepts needed to excel in a robotics or tech career. This event will be tailored for 9-14-year-olds for a fun STEM experience.

The event is Saturday, July 16, 10 am to 1 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 19 — How to Start a Startup

You have an idea...now what? Before you start looking for funding, it's important to make sure that your idea is both viable and valuable -- if it doesn't have a sound model and a market willing to pay for it, investors won't be interested anyway.

The event is Tuesday, July 19, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 20 — Perfecting Your Pitch

Join the Ion for their series with DeckLaunch and Fresh Tech Solutionz as they discuss the importance and value of your pitch deck when reaching your target audience.

The event is Wednesday, July 20, 5:30 to 6:30 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 21 — Transition On Tap: Investor Readiness with Vinson & Elkins LLP

Attorneys from Greentown Labs’ Gigawatt Partner Vinson & Elkins LLP, a leading fund- and company-side advisor for clean energy financing, will present an overview of legal considerations in cleantech investing, geared especially toward early-stage companies and investors. The presentation will cover the types of investors and deals in the cleantech space and also provide background on negotiating valuation, term sheets, and preparing for diligence.

The event is Thursday, July 21, 5 to 7 pm, at Greentown Houston. Click here to register.

July 28 — The Cannon Community 2nd Annual Town Hall Event

Partner of The Cannon, Baker Tilly, has played an integral part in the success of Cannon member companies. Join the Cannon community for The Cannon's 5-year anniversary celebration!

The event is Thursday, July 28, 4 to 7 pm, at The Cannon - West Houston. Click here to register.

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