Station Houston Aims to Boost Startups, City’s Tech Ecosystem

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help them work through an idea and help create the next generation of companies?

X: Is there a model in mind for Station?

E.K.: We always look to [Chicago entrepreneurship hub] 1871; it’s a similar model to what we’re calling co-working plus. They have an accelerator and VCs located there, a coding academy. It’s almost like all of the services that startups would need.

This is our 1.0 version. When we move to a larger space, we’re going to bring in other constituents to be co-located with us. We are not reinventing the wheel. This is a model that has worked in many other cities. Speaking with Amplify in LA, they said the mentorship one-on-one is much more impactful than roundtables and panels. Capital Factory (in Austin) started as an accelerator and shifted the model. Over time, we would like to raise a seed fund to invest ourselves.

We want to build affiliations and be part of the network in these different cities. We want other cities to be aware of what we’re doing and have those entrepreneurs reach out to us.

X: What sort of programming will be available? What do you think startups most need?

E.K.: It’s more than just co-working. One of the things that’s very impactful is just one-to-one mentorship. Someone like Keith Kreuer at Redhouse, doing speed-dating with him and three or four companies. My bet is that many of those companies will develop a formal or informal relationship with Keith. That’s knowledge transfer.

Right now, we have a lot of people working in disparate locations unable to bounce ideas off of each other. … Talent development is a big part of it. There are companies that are Series A- and B-funded that have left Houston, saying that Houston lacks talent. I’m not sure that that’s true.

I think the talent doesn’t have a place to go. How many young mechanical engineers are thinking about businesses they want to start, but they don’t know how to start?

I’ve spent a lot of time in New York and LA, and they go to South By Southwest, but they just skip Houston. They say there’s nothing in Houston; I’m not going to go. I’m building a lighthouse for the city, in the same way that Capital Factory and the (Dallas Entrepreneur Center) are for their cities.

Also, we want to work and are working with TMC all the other organizations in town. One of the cultural characteristics we have is around collaboration. For example, BrainCheck, which is a TMCx company, has a shared membership here.

X: What do you call success this time next year?

J.R.: How many people are starting businesses? How many are accessing investment dollars to grow? A year from now we want to be preparing to move into larger facilities.

E.K.: It’s capacity utilization. What percentage of seats are sold and how many shared memberships do we have? I’d like us to be bursting at the seams. That’s the physical manifestation of success.

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