Station Takes SXSW in Austin
Houston was well represented at SXSW with a crew of startup founders, accelerator hub CEOs, and coworking space leaders representing the city. A key way Station participated was through SXSW’s ‘Entrepreneurship & Startup Track’ that covered everything from growing businesses, strategic investments, the future of venture capital and emerging markets and services.
Among the conversations surrounding entrepreneurship and innovation, Houston’s rise to being a top entrepreneurial hub across all subjects was a recurring topic of discussion. Station Houston has been at the forefront of this crusade and continues to be as they prepare to move into The ION, within the Innovation District located between TMC and Downtown Houston. Station CEO, Gaby Rowe, participated in a number of panels during SXSW to discuss and highlight Houston’s continual growth in becoming a top ranked innovation hub, attracting startup funding and how venture capitalism is evolving in the region’s changing landscape.
“Houston is an incredible industrial town. We have more Fortune 500 companies here than anywhere other than New York - most of them in the world of the dirty and dangerous. We don’t have a lot of scooter companies.” Rowe said during the panel Startup Funding: From Apprenticeships to Professions about bootstrapping as a startup.
While Houston has made great strides in building its entrepreneurial climate, the same advances have yet to be seen with the early-stage tech investor network.
"Even if we have one or two funds, we need an ecosystem that supports funding in the same way we have an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs," Rowe said.
Station also participated in the SXSW Pitch Competition, with Rowe serving as a pitch coach.
“Being a coach for SXSW reminded me of how important mentorship can be to a diverse range of startups simply trying to find the best way to effectively tell their story,” Rowe said of the experience.
Station Houston also partnered with Houston Exponential to host the Houston Megastop at the ATX Startup Crawl, bringing seven of Houston’s startups to showcase at the SXSW kick-off event. Last year, the event included more than 90 technology companies and reached over 20,000 people. To roundup Station’s visit to Austin, Rowe spoke on a panel hosted by the Texas Monthly & Rice University Business School called, “Is Texas Still Full of Wildcatters?”
“Being a wildcatter means rolling up your sleeves and doing whatever it takes to solve big problems and that is at the core of what it means to drive tech and innovation today,” Rowe emphasized.
Station takes CERAWeek
Following SXSW, Station fully immersed itself into CERAWeek. CERAWeek’s Innovation Agora is an open marketplace allowing for the exchange of ideas on energy innovation, emerging technologies and solutions. Through the conference ‘Pods’ (featuring presentations by start-ups and energy innovation pioneers in an intimate setting) and ‘Voices of Innovation’ (candid sessions with sometimes controversial thought leaders), Agora Innovation created a forum for interactive dialogues with industry leaders on emerging and disruptive technologies.
During Station’s Pod session, ‘Houston’s Technology Ecosystem: An update on Station Houston’, Rowe gave an in-depth update the organization’s progress. In this candid conversation, she highlighted the great strides Station and Houston has made in just the last 8 months. This included the announcement of the ION building which will allow for Houston’s entrepreneurial, corporate and academic communities to have a central location to connect and share ideas. Rowe also touched on Station’s January 2019 announcement of transitioning into a non-profit, which will provide Station’s current and future members with more resources, services and allows access to mentors, investors, and talent.
“Obtaining nonprofit status early this year is a big deal for us. We’re following in the footsteps of other successful innovation hubs like 1871 in Chicago or Mass Challenge in Boston, and we now have access to a far greater pool of resources to support our mission to support the Houston startup community.” Rowe said in the January 8, 2019 press release.
Station’s goal at both SXSW and CERAWeek, was to show the community in the tech and innovation space that the city of Houston has no limits. Station’s vision and energy, backed by the full support of the city of Houston, will continue to reestablish their competitive position in the ecosystem.