Houston Startup Hopes to Create Tech Cluster, Rebuild Neighborhood
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starting with the Houston Technology Center, which put down stakes just as redevelopment efforts began in 2000. Surge Accelerator, which runs a program for energy IT companies, has spent $2 million to refurbish a building that next month will become its new headquarters and a co-working space for cleantech startups.
A life sciences ecosystem has formed around the Texas Medical Center and Rice University, with groups such as Platform Houston, a co-working space, and Brightwork CoResearch, which is building a Biosafety Level-2 lab for scientists-entrepreneurs to pursue research.
Blair Garrou, managing director at the Mercury Fund, was a newcomer to the city in 1999 when he joined the newly formed HTC. He applauds tech entrepreneurs like Khandelwal and Surge founder Kirk Coburn, who he says are making decisions that are good not just for their companies and the tech-sphere, but also for the Houston economy at large.
“They realize that making individual decisions differently could have a lasting impact down the road,” says Garrou, who is also an Xconomist. “There needs to be more people thinking like that.”
Still, he wishes there wasn’t such a fragmentation of their efforts. “When VCs come to Austin, they just go to the Capital Factory,” which houses two seed accelerators, has a co-working space and has become the hub of entrepreneurial activity there.
“When they come to Houston, they don’t know where to go,” Garrou added. “It’s going to be challenging for Houston to find a true venture center.”
Still, Khandelwal says he believes EaDo represents the best place for ChaiOne to thrive and to bring a Silicon Valley-like community to Houston.
“We found a fantastic-looking space, one that we thought captured the spirit of what we wanted to do,” he says. “We want to attract the talent that’s going to Silicon Valley, Austin, and New York to come work for us. We are building that fabric.”
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