Coming Home Again: Estrada Returns to Lead WeWork Labs in Houston

Houston—Co-working company WeWork is opening its latest “Labs” space in Houston.

New York-based WeWork, which has 49 Labs programs across the United States and globe, opened its first Texas location, in Dallas, last fall. WeWork’s Labs is the business’s version of an early stage startup program, offering workshops, mentorship, connections to local accelerator and incubator programs, and more in exchange for rent.

Leading the endeavor is Carlos Estrada, a native Houstonian who returns to the city after having spent the last four years in Nebraska building its tech community.

“My philosophy is that the programs be as founder-focused as possible, create a culture where founders are able to come to us, and get the help, support, and resources that they need to launch and scale up,” he says.

He expects the Houston Labs to host between 20 to 30 startups. About 60 desks are available at the downtown Houston location, which rent for $300 each per month. In addition to connecting Houston startups with WeWork’s network of 1,500 mentors globally, WeWork announced Tuesday that Labs is partnering with Alice, the Houston-based digital community that connects women founders to resources targeted to their startup’s needs.

Estrada spent the last four years in Nebraska, and most recently launched Roots Venture Group in October in Lincoln, NE, as an incubator, accelerator, and venture fund dedicated to launching and growing startups within the agricultural and rural industries. His work to develop a Middle America startup community is experience that—in combination with time spent at Austin’s Capital Factory and in nonprofits in Houston—should serve him well here in Houston, says Emily Keeton, managing director of WeWork’s Creator Fund.

Keeton has relocated from New York to Houston to help organize WeWork’s efforts in Texas. (Keeton, also a native Houstonian, also co-founded Station Houston three years ago.)

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring Labs to Houston at this important stage in the development of Houston’s startup community,” she says.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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