taking home the W
Inaugural Houston Venture startup pitch competition names big winners and doles out nearly $1M
Just a few months ago, Venture Houston 2021 was just an idea. Now, the two-day conference concluded with over 2,500 registrants and doled out nearly $1 million in cash and investment prizes to startups.
The idea was to bring together startups, investors, corporations, and anyone who cares to advance the Houston tech ecosystem, says Sandy Guitar, managing director at HX Venture Fund, at the closing event. The conference, which was put on by HXVF, the Houston Angel Network, the Rice Alliance, and Houston Exponential, wrapped up with the announcement of nine startups taking home investment or cash prizes.
In its first year, the Venture Houston conference attracted over 266 startup applications, and a group of Houston innovation leaders named 30 semifinalists that pitched on Thursday, February 4. On Friday, February 5, seven finalists pitched:
- Koda Health
- Spark Biomedical Inc
- PATH EX, Inc.
- MacroFab, Inc.
The top three startups in the competition took home cash prizes — Macrofab won first place and $15,000 from Halliburton Labs, Spark Biomedical won second place and $10,000 from Softeq, and PathEx won third place and $5,000 from ChampionX.
- Work & Mother won $250,000 from The Artemis Fund
- MacroFab won $250,000 — $100,000 from Mercury Fund and $150,000 from Carnrite Ventures
- Conversifi won $200,000 — $100,000 from Next Coast Ventures and $100,000 from Live Oak Venture Partners
- Koda Health won $50,000 from Houston Angel Network
- CellChorus won $50,000 from Texas Halo Fund
- Nesh won $50,000 from Plug and Play
- Cemvita Factory won $25,000 from baMa
Two previously announced prizes — $500,000 from Fitz Gate Ventures and $250,000 from Montrose Lane — were not given out.
The Venture Houston organizers are already looking forward to next year's program, but in the meantime Guitar had a parting call to action.
"Keep helping your fellow entrepreneur," she says, "that's really what Venture Houston 2021 is really about at the end of the day. The entrepreneur journey is a difficult one — often a lonely one — and sometimes one of hard knocks. Please keep finding entrepreneurs within your ecosystem. Let's help them with our advice, our capital, and our understanding."