The amazing growth of technology entrepreneurship in HoustonTonight I attended a Houston TeXchange event titled "A Look at the State of Entrepreneurship in Houston." I've followed the technology entrepreneurship scene in Houston for at least ten years, at it is making progress by leaps and bounds. The crash of 2000 was really only a small hiccup for Houston, and we have progressed far beyond where we were at the height of bubble and have really closed in on matching the activity in Austin and Dallas (maybe even surpassed on some measures). I was stunned to hear that the Houston Angel Network, which helps with seed investing for very small tech companies, is now the second largest in the nation in people and funding, after a group in California - while the Austin angel network essentially vaporized after the crash.
Another tidbit I picked up is that UH is really growing and pushing its undergrad entrepreneurship program:
Bauer's Entrepreneurship program is ranked as a top tier program by Entrepreneur magazine, and we develop winners. In the past four years, undergraduate students from the Bauer Entrepreneurship program have won awards in 10 national business plan competitions, and more than $60,000 in prizes.
There are now a tremendous number of entrepreneurship support groups in Houston, many of which made short presentations tonight:
- Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship
- Greater Houston Partnership Emerging Business Council
- Houston Angel Network
- Houston Technology Center (doubling in size)
- Women In Technology International - Houston chapter
The new President of the Greater Houston Partnership, Jeff Moseley, spoke about a range of topics related to Houston, economic growth, and technology entrepreneurship: the Governor's Emerging Technology fund, the Texas Industry Cluster Initiative, NAFTA, CAFTA, clean air, quality of place, the largest medical center in the world, citywide wi-fi, biotech, nanotech, new energy technologies, and even supporting the post-Katrina rebuilding. The range of activities vs. even just a few years ago is amazing. I was able to speak with him briefly afterwards about the importance of getting Tier 1 research funding status for the University of Houston and my local venture capital idea, and they are wide open to any ideas that help accelerate Houston's high-tech growth.
There is definitely a strong entrepreneurial spirit that runs through this city and this state. Some people trace it to the oil wildcatting mentality. California may have been the last hotbed of entrepreneurship during the go-go 90s, but their costs have spiraled out of control (a $700K+ mortgage tends to cut down on quit-your-job entrepreneurial risk-taking), and I think you'll see Texas emerge as the next great entrepreneurial region in this country.