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2 Houston startups announce new execs to their leadership

Cart.com and Topl — two growing Houston startups — have made strategic appointments. Photos courtesy

A pair of Houston tech startups have recently announced new appointments to their leadership staff. An e-commerce company has a new chief people officer and a blockchain company named a new president to lead commercialization.

Meet Cart.com's new C-suite hire

Sara Patterson is a human resources veteran. Photo courtesy of Cart.com

Houston-based Cart.com, an end-to-end ecommerce services provider, appointed Sara Patterson as chief people officer. She will lead all aspects of the company's talent acquisition and employee experience of the fast-growing startup.

As the company grows its team and its ecommerce-as-a-service platform, it's Patterson job to forge a strong, unified culture and develop a compelling talent acquisition strategy to support continuing growth, according to a press release from Cart.com.

"Sara is one of the most accomplished and experienced HR leaders in the business. She has a real gift for talent management, and unrivaled expertise driving success for fast-growing companies across a wide range of industries," says Omair Tariq, CEO of Cart.com, in the release. "Her experience and dedication are exactly what we need as we forge a unified workforce to support our end-to-end ecommerce platform. After all, we aren't just growing our workforce at record speed. We're also building a unified culture and delivering incredible employee experiences to ensure that our entire team — from office workers to warehouse pickers — can stay laser-focused on our core goal of helping ecommerce brands to thrive."

She has three decades of experience in human resources, including serving as CPO of Lemonade, which included managing over 500 employees. She also worked as vice president of HR and head of talent management at Walmart eCommerce, which had more than 15,000 employees. She has also held senior leadership positions at Bonobos, Tribune Media, Conde Nast, Coach, and Gilt.

"People are the key to success for any growing company, and I'm thrilled to be joining one of the fastest-growing and most transformative companies in the ecommerce space," Patterson says in the release. "Cart.com's leaders have made it clear that they see a strong culture as the key to lasting success, and I couldn't agree more. I'm delighted to be joining such a talented team, and supporting their continuing mission to unlock scalable growth for ecommerce brands."

Here's who will lead commercialization for Topl

Tim Marx has transitioned from adviser to employee at Topl. Photo courtesy of Topl

Tim Marx has joined Topl as president, the company recently announced. Marx will lead Topl's commercialization efforts and scaling. He previously supported the blockchain company as adviser.

A Fulbright Scholar, Stanford MBA, and former Boston Consulting Group partner and managing director, Marx has consulted on the ground in more than 20 countries, including those of Latin America, Europe, and Asia. He will continue to support Baird Capital as a venture partner, which he has since 2018.

"My overall thesis for getting involved in Topl is that I finally saw a really solid business use case versus a classic solution looking for a problem to solve," Marx says.

To learn more about him, read his recent Topl team member blog.

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Building Houston

 
 

The Gradi App's platform is like Yelp meets Instagram, and users can even receive compensation for their content. by Avery Padilla

When the Houston restaurant industry was in its biggest time of need, two Houstonians stepped up to the plate to deliver a tech tool for the community.

Amid the pandemic, restaurants increasingly rolled out QR code menus to decrease the risk of spreading of germs by eliminating touching physical menus. Houstonians Zachary Dowthitt and Eric Hairston launched Gradi App in February 2021 to help both restaurants and guests access QR Code menus with more ease.

Now, the duo has launched a new approach for its app. The Gradi App, which can be found on the Apple App Store, has branched out to deliver an updated consumer-based model to help Houstonians discover food and drink options from the city’s diverse palate of dining.

Users of the consumer Gradi App can search through photos of menu items to find the best local spots for drinks and food due to proximity and preference. Think Yelp meets Instagram. The app even has an option to book a ride share from Lyft or Uber to the destinations.

“We noticed from menus at restaurants, people are posting their food photos all the time, but menus still don’t have photos" Dowthitt tells InnovationMap. "So, we asked ourselves ‘when was the last time you bought something without seeing it?’ Most people do it at restaurants every day.”

Some of Houston’s most popular spots — Frank’s Pizza, Henke & Pilot, Bovine & Barley, and others — have already been spotlighted on Gradi. Currently, the app has 32 restaurant partners and over 350,000 users.

Dowthitt says he is already thinking of future versions of the app. Users will be able to locate favorite spots, share menus with your friends, search food by items, and post their own photos from each restaurant on the app. Photos will be graded on the app by users, and users can even be compensated for their posts. The most liked photo for each item will be chosen as the featured photo for each restaurant on the app, and users that take these photos will get compensated for their unique content.

Gradi App hopes to have its updated consumer version of the app with search and linked menu options out by December 7. Dowthitt says hee has plans to deliver an upgraded nightlife and happy hour version in the future.

“We’ve eaten with our eyes from the beginning of time,” Dowthitt said. “And we believe in the future, you will see what you order (food or drinks) before you order it…and that is where we come into play.”

. Houstonians Zachary Dowthitt (left) and Eric Hairston launched Gradi App in February 2021Photo courtesy of Avery Padilla

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