Being the “Energy Capital” and home of the largest medical center in the world, Houston is making great strides in establishing entrepreneurship programs to groom the future leaders needed to adapt these industries in the ever-changing space of technology. There is an abundance of opportunities to start familiarizing yourself with the entrepreneurship ecosystem of the city. From programs associated with local universities, to independent organizations that support a startup culture, there is no shortage of options for future innovators to get started in their business journey.
The University of Houston offers the Wolff Center of Entrepreneurship an ideal option for students in that university. Often ranked among the top undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the country, the Wolff Center guides students through a rigorous curriculum in which they are exposed to circumstances that entrepreneurs often encounter. The program culminates with Wolffest, a student-run event where groups students apply what they learn by reaching out for sponsors and donations to local businesses, while doing extensive marketing to bring awareness to campus, as all of the funds go the Wolff Center. The event lasts three days and students set up and run their own food stand at the university.
The Wolff Center also supports RED Labs, an accelerator program that helps students navigate through the process of idea to startup. The program consists of three months of curriculum that provides members with coworking space and mentoring to make the most of the resources available.
Rice University has its own entrepreneurship center through the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Lilie). This lab offers various opportunities throughout the year for students with different exposure to entrepreneurship. The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge is a great way for students to get introduced to the culture through a competition composed of series of workshops and networking events. Rice also has a quite unique opportunity through the Baker Institute for Public Policy, which focuses on engaging students on the impact of entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy.
Also supported by Lilie are its Summer Internship and Lilie Fellows programs. Students that have shown competitive skills in entrepreneurship have the chance to intern in various cities across the US with exciting startups. Rice also has a startup accelerator, OwlSpark, that has launched 33 startups since its creation in 2013. Similar to RED Labs, OwlSparks has an extensive curriculum to cultivate startups and offers a highly competitive network of mentors ready to help those startups reach success after the culmination of the program.
But Houston is not limited to academic institutions to nurture innovators. Also available is Station Houston. This organization is incubator-like and offers many free events that are aimed for people interested in the startup world. The ecosystem enables businesses to accelerate their growth and encourages collaboration through their open space. With a wealth of competitive individuals, it is not rare to find mentors that could be the difference in taking a company to the next level.
If you’re interested in life science entrepreneurship, you should give TMCx a look. Located at the medical center, TMCx has access to some of the brightest minds in various medical fields right down the street. This advantage has proved crucial, as TMCx has recently been recognized as one of the top accelerator programs in the country (insert source). This organization has many opportunities for students interested in both entrepreneurship and the medical field. Like Station, it is a paradise full of mentors with knowledge and resources that are hard to find in other places.
If you’re not sure yet what you want to focus on, there is a wealth of other options out there to dip your toes. You can check out Meetup and choose from many interests you might have and join groups that share those interests. Simply going to some of the meetings will expose you to people working on interesting projects that are often excited to share their journey on how they got to where they are. Similarly, you can use Eventbrite to find events that are of interest to you. There you will also meet many high achievers that you can learn a lot from.
And of course, there is also social media. Facebook is another tool you have as a disposal to connect you to the entrepreneurship community. There are plenty of groups in a diverse range of topics, and you can find so many events to start meeting people with similar goals as yours. LinkedIn is also very convenient in that regard, but with the added benefit of being more geared to professionals. Whatever platform you prefer, look for someone that interests you and try contacting through there, you’d be surprised how many people actually reply and are happy to help.
No matter in what level of interest you are currently on in entrepreneurship, Houston has you covered. From simply wanting to know about startups in general, to actually getting your own startup going, you can find everything you need here. Take initiative and start exploring the many options available so that you too can be part of the group of innovators shaping the future.