Garaizar Aims to Elevate Houston Angels’ Profile and Outreach

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traction there. Our members are happy that they see a lot of new faces. We are getting new sponsors. We are putting a lot more into the ecosystem and fortunately big companies are seeing that and they are willing to partner with us.

The second challenge is to collaborate. There are good initiatives out there and they are not connected to the ecosystem. We can see that there’s a lot of energy but still not a lot of coordination between all the action. I believe we can piggy-back a lot more between initiatives and make them bigger.

In the case of both life sciences and energy, one of the things I want to do next is create an investment map of the ecosystem. Who’s really there? There are plenty of energy investors doing their own thing but we don’t really know of them. I met a Chinese fund manager and he’s telling me he has $400 million to invest in Houston, and every time he comes he doesn’t know who to go to. There’s plenty of opportunity there so we need to make sure we know what the map looks like.

X: What do startups need to know as far as what you are looking for when you invest?

JG: The most important part is the team. We need to make sure that there’s a good team or a good potential for a good team, that they have either the expertise and they’ve done it before. There has to be some chemistry, too. On paper and at the pitch we thought they were a great business idea [say], but there was not any chemistry between our investors and the entrepreneurs. The next thing is the opportunity, the idea. Is it really innovative? And, of course, the market, have you thought of how you are going to get the money back? The exit strategy.

X: How much interaction are you seeing from international investors or startups coming to Houston?

JG: I had a lot of interaction in my background. It’s one of the reasons I’m here. With [Surge Accelerator’s first class], we had only one international company from the 12. This year, four of them are international; one of them is from my hometown in Spain. They recruited the company but the company didn’t want to come. I called them and convinced them. They were amazingly successful.

Right after Surge, they got 1.5 million euros from a European fund and $1.6 million from Houston. We should try to partner with other groups used to international investing. One of the things we decided to do was with Gavea Angels in Rio de Janeiro. They are interested in investing in Houston. With Surge we are doing remote pitching. We recorded the pitches at Surge’s demo day and are now editing them and we’ll put them together so that [Gavea] can see what we saw at Surge and we can start doing some collaborations.

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