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Houston is one of the top startup ecosystems for female founders

Our third installment of the female founder series highlights the organizations and companies that are helping women in Houston succeed.
Laís de Oliveira
on August 14, 2019

Houston, a well-known city for space exploration, is the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the U.S. and also boasts the fourth largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies. Not surprisingly, Houston is a fast growing startup ecosystem.

The home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets stands out for several reasons, yet here’s another one: according to Startup Genome’s research, Houston ranks as one of the top 5 global ecosystems for Female Founders. No, the powerful women in Houston aren’t just restricted to Beyonce. There is a long list of successful entrepreneurs that have shaped Houston into a female entrepreneurial powerhouse.

Successful female-founded startups

Alice, the free intelligent business advisor was founded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore. Alice connects business owners with mentors, online resources, investors and other important assets to support in entrepreneurial aspects, like technology and financing. It’s open to all founders but prioritizes women and underrepresented business owners.

Another noteworthy Houston Entrepreneur is Ghazal Qureshi who founded IDEA Lab Kids, an education program for summer camps and after school programs that focuses on STEAM subjects. Their focus is on teaching students in a hands-on learning environment about subjects that are of their interest. Currently IDEA Lab Kids has 18 locations in Houston and it has expanded into a franchise business.

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Organizations

Houston is swarming with organizations and initiatives to help women succeed. To name one, the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce (GHWCC) helps to develop women entrepreneurs in the Houston area. They host educational workshops and encourage relationships, networking, and idea sharing. GHWCC provides opportunities for women to enhance leadership skills with a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

A similar organization, The Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance (WBEA) is committed to increasing business opportunities for female-owned businesses through education, programs and professional networking. The WBEA is a nationally recognized council that serves 94 counties in the Texas region.

Funding

Artemis Fund is the first female focused fund in Houston. They aim to move the needle on female founders’ access to capital. Recently, they made their first investment of $500,000 into a college savings application.

“We meet and mentor Houston founders regularly. It is also a chick or the egg issue. How can we have more female founders with-out capital dedicated to their success? Many founders get funding and then move! We are attracting founders to Houston by showing this is a place where female founders and female investors thrive,” Stephanie Campbell, Principal at Artemis Fund and Managing Director of Houston Angel Network, told us. “We are also opening the door for startups in high cost places on the coast to move to Houston where they can do more with less and have access to our rich concentration of corporate customers.”

Membership organizations

Just like the top female founder ecosystems NYC and Chicago, Houston has its own chapter in the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA). The ABWA is a membership program that in Houston promotes participation among chapters and offers unique activities to its members including quarterly meetings and social events to fulfill personal and professional growth in women.

As part of ABWA Express Network, the Houston Area Professional Network (HAPEN) has a vision to be the resource of professional and personal development for all individuals while building a network that grows and mentors one another. HAPEN acts as an online community to bring women entrepreneurs from a diverse set of occupations together and to provide them opportunities to grow through leadership, education, networking, and national recognition.

An organization created specifically towards one sub-sector is Pink Petro, founded by Katie Mehnert, which caters to women in energy. It is a global organization with over 11,000 members in 120 different countries. Pink Petro connects members and gives them communities where they can share knowledge and exchange perspectives.

Lastly, If you’re looking to find publications highlighting the success of women in Houston, you might want to look into the Houston Woman Magazine. The magazine highlights notable female leaders in the area and provides different resources for female entrepreneurs. They have a directory for industry specific groups and organizations, which is valuable for any woman trying to get involved in the community. Also, the Houston Chronicle just covered our Women in Tech research and highlighted a group of female founders to watch. 

They seem to have it all. From organizations specifically targeted to certain sub-sectors to having a magazine that highlights the work of female founders, each local player is establishing that being a successful local female founder isn’t merely a possibility, but a goal. 

Read more from the series including a deep dive on Startup Genome’s Women in Tech research and a spotlight on Chicago, the number one ecosystem for female founders. Are you from Houston and working to improve the entrepreneurial journey for women? We’d like to hear from you! Email [email protected] and let’s talk.


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