[0:00] Start of episode
[05:09] Houston’s startup ecosystem 10 years ago to now
[08:41] What is Village Insights?
[10:58] What’s missing in the Houston startup ecosystem?
[13:00] What makes Houston unique?
[18:28] Barriers for startups and the remedy
[21:49] What do we need less of?
Houston’s startup ecosystem compared to 10 years ago
Going from school at USC and the Navy, James came back to Houston and found an evolving ecosystem for startups. He says that, ten years ago, the startup sphere was much smaller in Houston but it also included some key, vital industries. Houston had foundational elements that hadn’t fully realized, James says. There is a large workforce and many people involved in the STEM industry from health to aerospace.
“Houston was a small ecosystem, but it had the good basics. It had foundational elements that maybe hadn't quite realized.”
What’s missing in the ecosystem?
Having had experience in many startups in Houston, James has seen room for growth. Number one, he says, is that companies need more funding. Many early companies with lots of potential are waiting to see the light of day in Houston. Development and diversification is happening, James says, beyond their silos. At the Founder Institute, James works with people who have back-of-napkin ideas, all the way to mentoring those through pre-incorporation.
“And to see early generalists, early angels, that's where we're missing a lot. I know, there's some great ones out there. And I'm grateful for them. But I think there's many more that are literally waiting in the wings, right now, and have maybe not quite enough connection to the community.”
Barriers for startups and the remedy
James says that there are some barriers to startups and that a few are known while others are unknown or unrecognized. One of the goals for Village Insights is to connect those who have vision, ideas, and capabilities but may lack the connections needed to fulfill them. Village Insights prioritizes providing that platform. However, James says that many who are plugged into the right communities still need to hurdle the ever-present barrier of funding.
“One of the things we wanted to do, as a platform was to be able to find the women and men that maybe go unnoticed and aren't connected to that corporate opportunity, that university opportunity, or that economic development opportunity.”
Is there anything that we need less of?
James says that there seems to be a breakdown of communication and clear messaging of getting the vision across for new ideas. Up front, James says, it would help if people were clear of what they can or cannot do while communicating that they may still be discovering their value. He also says that many discuss collaborating but find it hard to actually connect.
“I think it would be wonderful if there could be less speak about collaboration and more doing of collaboration.”