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Houston Technology Center Takes 100s of Entrepreneurial “Quarterbacks” to the End Zone

Written by Amanda Maher

What defines an entrepreneur? It seems like the simplest of questions, but it’s more complicated than that says Walter Ulrich, CEO of the Houston Technology Center (HTC):

“Entrepreneurship entails hard work, persistence, passion, competency, risk, danger and excitement. If entrepreneurship were to be captured in pop culture, it would be an NFL playoff game with the entrepreneur as the quarterback and a team of only a couple of players. The entrepreneur stands in the pocket being rushed on every play not just by one team, but the entire league. The entrepreneur has as many downs as he or she has the stomach and the money for, but rather than 60 minutes, the game is played for 10-12 hours or more every day, the goal line not just 100 yards away but miles away, and there are all manners of fumbles and incompletions and yet the entrepreneur stands in there minute after minute, day after day and month after month.”

Ulrich knows this perhaps better than anybody. HTC’s mission is to support entrepreneurs throughout the Houston area, and to ensure they have whatever tools they need to get through those 12 hour days, day after day and month after month. From technical assistance in areas like marketing, finance and infrastructure to networking and investor relations, HTC takes entrepreneurs from the earliest stages of business growth through to profitability.

The accelerator graduates include companies such as Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, which is focused on the development of next generation therapeutic vaccines. Hispanic Teleservices Corporation is the leading provider of outsourced customer care for the global Hispanic market. Neohydro has a unique and patented electro-oxidation technology that can be utilized to treat waste and other water for (re)use in multiple industries. Their primary focus is oil and gas exploration and production.  And finally, StarVision Technology, which offers higher performing and more cost-effective products to the aerospace electro-optic and imaging markets where growth in unmanned systems and space assets is strong.

While these companies seem vastly different on the surface, each has a “quarterback” who led their team through the HTC Accelerator and is now enjoying great success. These companies worked through their fumbles with their mentors and other industry experts, who helped them navigate to the end zone.

Moreover, they each represent a cluster of specific focus for HTC: life sciences, technology, energy and aerospace—respectively. These clusters were not chosen accidentally. When the HTC was first conceptualized in the 1990s, the Houston energy sector was already strong, and the internet-era was driving new growth. If HTC could tap into these opportunities, and link up with the local hospitals and universities, there was real potential to commercialize products across each of these often inter-related clusters.

Houston’s business community has taken note. More than 300 companies sponsor the HTC, with a few rotating in and out each year. In doing so, big businesses, venture capitalists and other investors have a sneak peak at the innovations taking root at the HTC, and can incorporate these products into their own lines of defense. It’s what keeps HTC sponsors like Chevron at the top of their game.

Since its inception, its 300+ member companies have raised over $1.6 billion in capital and created more than 4,500 jobs. With cluster-based incubators taking root in cities across the U.S., HTC consistently makes the proverbial playoffs.

Learn why Forbes’ has named HTC one of the “12 Business Incubators Changing the World” and read the full case study: What Works: Houston Incubator Taps Into Cluster Strengths, Emerging Tech.


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