Houston Women Are Shaking Up Innovation

Oct 23, 2018 | Blog

We asked our #AgentsOfChange to share how women are breaking stereotypes and shaking up innovation.

“Houston is a multi-cultural melting-pot of diversity and the more grants and programs we can have that target disenfranchised founders and their startups, the more successful ecosystem will be. We have the potential to foster an incredible depth and scope of perspective and purpose-driven startups birthed in Houston. Women-led startups are a disenfranchised group — I think only something like 7 percent of venture funding is contributed by these startups. If we are going to build a truly global innovation economy, we are going to need full participation and diverse perspectives. Well, in order to have diverse perspectives, you need diverse founders! The worse thing we can do is create communities with a culture that boxes out women. Firstly because it is not the right thing to do. But secondly, and really interestingly — there is a crazy amount a data to support the fact that women-led startups are more successful! That they bring in more revenue on average and that the ROI is considerably higher! Maybe this just goes to show that women are simply smarter than men…”

How is The Cannon bringing innovation to Houston?

“The Cannon was created to solve a challenge that has plagued Houston entrepreneurs for years. For too long, entrepreneurs have started their businesses in Houston, but as soon as they gain any traction they have to move elsewhere, to Austin, Silicon Valley, New York, or Boston, because our city has lacked the access to mentors, other startups, service providers, and most importantly, capital. To help fix that problem, we are creating a 32 acre campus dedicated to startups, small businesses and entrepreneurship. Once we solve the goal of keeping our entrepreneurs here, the next step is to get more companies to move to Houston and change the national perception of Houston as an innovation hub.”



“The gender gap has been well documented when it comes to the disparity between VC funding raised by all male founding teams ($66.9B across 5,588 deals in 2017) versus $1.9B across 368 deals for female founded companies.  But in spite of female led companies raising significantly less overall (2.2% vs. 79%) and at levels roughly half of what their male counterparts typically close in a Series A/B—female led companies on average generate 2x the revenue of male led companies.  So, in essence they do more with less—much less. The numbers don’t lie.  And at the TMC Innovation Institute we strive to find the best technologies out there that can benefit patients and improve the healthcare system.  But having a great technology is not enough if you don’t have the team to deal with the numerous challenges and hurdles that are inevitable.  We believe that the numbers speak for themselves in terms of the success of female founded and led companies—and overall, we believe diverse teams are stronger and more likely to go the distance. Over the last 3.5 years and 7 classes of healthcare startups coming through our TMCx accelerator program–approximately 30% of the companies we have selected and worked with have been female founded and/or led.  While it is too small a sample size and too soon to make conclusions about relative success rates every indication is that our attention at the TMC Innovation Institute to diversity and inclusion is well founded.”



“At JLABS, our commitment to fostering women and minority entrepreneurs is a part of our DNA. Across our global network, 26 percent of our residents are led by women, and 23 percent are led by under-presented minorities, compared to just 1 percent and 8 percent respectively industry-wide. Houston continues to grow as a place that healthcare start-ups can access differentiated resources that can contribute to their success, no matter their background. We are excited to be a part of this community, and we look forward to continuing our work of incubating start-ups to nurture their efforts to improve the health of others.”


Dr. Tom Luby

Head of JLABS Texas

How is Houston Exponential bringing innovation to Housoton?

“Houston Exponential (HX) is working to transform Houston into a world-class hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. We are focused on building a robust innovation ecosystem in which high-growth, high-impact companies grow and thrive. HX is the convening organization of the ecosystem, and we work to CONNECT people and resources within and beyond the ecosystem, ATTRACT talent, innovative companies and early stage capital to Houston, and PROMOTE innovation and entrepreneurship, both to Houstonians and to the rest of the world. Additionally, HX leads the implementation of the strategy that was adopted in 2017 to build the ecosystem. The strategy includes specific initiatives focused on attracting and retaining talent, education and learning,  the development of the innovation district, attracting early stage capital,  developing the technology focus areas (data science, robotics, industrial IOT and cybersecurity) and a host of others. There is a tremendous amount of activity and momentum.”



“Golden Seeds has been watching Houston’s business climate for a while and strongly felt it was time to take things to the next level. We are confident it offers attractive conditions for women entrepreneurs and angel investors, and statistics and initiatives back that up. According to the Center for Urban Future, women-owned businesses in Houston grew as much as 62 percent between 2007 and 2016 – eclipsing a 27 percent national average. That earned it the fourth spot among the top 25 U.S. cities, a ranking it equaled for growth in female entrepreneurs. An American Express study also places Texas second in women-owned firms, tied for first in their economic clout.Further, Texas’ Governor Abbott and Houston’s Mayor Turner are working together to increase the number of women entrepreneurs in Texas. Houston is enhancing its innovation community, too, creating districts to support start-ups with space, resources and access to capital. These include: The Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute, with more than 150 start-ups; JLabs, located within the TMCx Accelerator, hosting more than 50 start-ups; Station Houston, with more than 184 start-ups; and The Cannon with 70+ start-ups. With the recent announcement of Houston Exponential (HX), which is focused on driving the region to become a top 10 start-up ecosystem, more companies and advancements will emerge.”



“GHWCC has recently forged several new relationships to support women innovators.  These efforts provide opportunities for women to showcase their companies, access industry experts as advisors as well as investors to provide capital.  This is being created by the GHWCC to provide a compliment of necessary supports for women leading young companies which focus on accelerating their growth and success. GHWCC launched IGNITE Healthcare Network in 2017.  IGNITE, founded by Ayse McCracken, a longtime healthcare executive, is comprised of 60+ women executives who are in positions to influence the future of healthcare.  They are health system leaders, health insurance company leaders, attorney’s, medical school and nursing school executives, and leaders in other disciplines that touch the industry.  IGNITE’s programs have highlighted women like Baylor’s Dr. Dorit Donoviel, who are leading technology efforts to transform the delivery of healthcare as well as investors like Lisa Suennen, former VP of GE Ventures, Healthcare Fund.  Each year, IGNITE hosts a pitch competition seeking finalists from across the globe.  This year, 8 female leaders will be pitching to a group of industry expert judges on October 25th to win both cash prizes as well as entry into the much sought after TMCx and JLabs accelerator programs. Additionally, GHWCC has formed an alliance with NY-based Golden Seeds, one of the country’s oldest and most successful venture firm backing early stage women’ ed companies.  This relationship allows the GHWCC to match women with ideas with women with experience and money.  This is opportunity opens the door for healthcare and all other technology companies and provides a more comprehensive system of support for female entrepreneurs.”