Last year, Houston saw the launch of two startup incubator/accelerators: Owlspark at Rice and Red Labs at UH (full disclosure: I am a coug-owl). This year, those two incubators hosted the First Annual Houston Bayou Startup Showcase. It was not a competition, but a collaboration, designed to showoff the best startups our city has to offer. And honestly, no hyperbole intended, it was awesome.
First, the startups were great. There was a laser guided smart putter designed to improve your short game at golf; a table to help the infirm eat more easily from their hospital bed; a website to connect low-income youth with summer programs, ultimately aimed at helped them graduate college; some big data visualizations, and much, much more. The ideas were well fleshed out and backed by what seemed to be solid research and business plans. Best part, every single one was built here in Houston.
Second, the attendees at the event were super cool. There were representatives from almost all the major players in the Houston Startup Community, from founders to investors to lawyers to alumni to the moon. Best part, everyone was local. Everyone was someone you could do business with, you could learn from, you could be friends with whether for work or social.
Third, Houston has arrived as a startup community. This collaboration was a big coming together, not just for our two flagship universities, but also for our community. This was everyone, together, working to create new businesses, to find new opportunities, to share skills and insights, to help build something bigger and better than any one person could hope to do on their own. I have expressed my doubts about startups in Houston before. Last night convinced me otherwise.
I can’t wait for the 2nd Annual Showcase next year. Come on Houston, let’s #startsomething.