11 techstars making a name for themselves in H-Town

As the fourth largest city in the nation, and the home of NASA's Johnson space center, Houston has its fair share of tech savvy entrepreneurs. So, we've gathered the top tech names in H-town that you really need to know and added our thoughts on what we can learn from each of them.

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Jonathan Klein - Founder and CEO of Cimation

One thing Houston is known for is its huge oil and gas industries. Starting out in 2003 as an Engineer building oil and gas automation solutions, in 2009 Jonathan transitioned to project management at Audubon Engineering.

Spotting an opportunity to bring engineering into the digital age, Jonathan transformed Audabon's engineering department into a brand new company, Cimation. Founded in Louisiana, Cimation is dedicated to building digital automation solutions for energy companies. Cimation, is so good at what they are doing, they were recently acquired by global consulting Accenture.

Jonathan teaches us that if you're really good at something, your expertise, insight and tenacity can push you even higher.

Nely Galan - Founder and CEO of Adelante Movement

The definition of a self-made woman, Nely Gagan is the first Latina to be the president of a US television network (Telemundo). But that wasn't enough for Nely, the "Tropical Tycoon " as she was dubbed by New York Magazine, went on to be a New York Times bestseller, and, more importantly, founded the Adelante Movement.

The Adelante Movement is an organization dedicated to helping Latina women make it in today's business world, and empowering them for success. The movement is dedicated to take what Nely has learned from a long and successful career as a media mogul and pass it on to other women who can learn from her experience.

Nely teaches us that when you're a successful, self-made entrepreneur, you can be instrumental in helping to instil the positivity of self-empowerment in other hopeful entrepreneurs. There is always something you can give back and new ways you can help people.

Matt Mullenweg - Founder and CEO of Wordpress

Matt Mullenweg built Wordpress at the age of 19, the age when most people are trying to figure out what to major in. Since then Wordpress has gone from strength to strength and is now used by over 60 million websites. Even after his early success, Matt decided to forego the typical Silicon Valley office and still calls Houston home.

After 8 years of building up the biggest content management platform in the world and making a name for himself in San Francisco, he moved back to his home town. He flies out to San Francisco or New York City when he needs to, but doesn't feel like he needs to be there 24/7.

Matt teaches us that there's no conventional way to pursue the dream of successful entrepreneurship. There is no right age or location that completes the formula for success. It all comes down to the drive of the entrepreneur.

Allison Lami Sawyer - Co-Founder of Rebellion Photonics

Allison co-founded Rebellion Photonics, a company that detects gas leaks in real-time using photonic technology so consumers can fix problems before safety issues or environmental accidents occur.

Sawyer approaches her business with two main goals: improving safety and environmental solutions and empowering women in the tech scene. With this in mind, Allison is a big supporter of ‘SheHacks', a hackathon dedicated to women, and recently hosted it at Rebellion Photonics, yielding fantastic results.

Allison teaches us that sometimes setting out to solve one problem can lead to unveiling a new market and new industry for entrepreneurs to set their sights on. She shows that entrepreneurs can rebel against traditions and make their own path.

Gaurav Khandelwal - Founder and CEO of ChaiOne

Gaurav founded ChaiOne, a company dedicated to helping other companies build mobile experiences for their customers. Gaurav saw where the puck was going and understood that the next big thing in the relationship between customers and companies was all heading towards mobile. So he founded an agency dedicated to helping other companies realize their potential in this area.

Gaurav teaches us that the best way to create a strong business is to help other businesses with the trends that you can see are happening.

Matthew Hager - CEO of Poetic Systems

After dropping out of school, Hager went on to work for Texas's biggest industry, and found himself in an energy company. During his time in the corporate IT space, he found that people weren't measured by their merits but rather by their education.

Matthew, pulling from his own experiences in corporate America, founded Poetic Systems with the goal to build a software company that is built on the abilities of people, and not their academic savvy.

Matthew teaches us that education, while valuable, is not necessarily a pre-cursor to success.

Gregory Johnson - Executive director at CASIS

As this is a list about Space City, you knew you were getting at least one name from the aerospace industry - and what a name it is. Most of the names on this list have an interesting story of how they broke into the business world and redefined what success is.

Gregory Johnson however, a former fighter pilot and astronaut, has a different approach to advancing technology. He thinks that the best way to advance the world of technology is through promoting the work of the International Space Station, and that's exactly what the organization he heads, the Center for Advancement of Science in Space, does.

Gregory teaches us that if you want a change to happen in the world, or even outside of this world, sometimes you need to look for inspiration from other industries, and there's no denying that aerospace is lightyears ahead of most.

Rakesh Agrawal - Founder and CEO of SnapStream

For years, debates have been raging all over the internet: how are old and new media going to interface with each other to create the future of entertainment. SnapStream could be it.

Founded by Rakesh, a self-proclaimed "coding ninja ", SnapStream is a product dedicated to recording massive amounts of TV and then helping clients search within those hours of TV for relevant clips. That's how shows like "The Daily Show " (one of SnapStream's clients) find the most relevant clips for their features. SnapStream uses the closed captions that already come with the TV stream to make them easily searchable, offering a clever solution to an astounding problem.

Rakesh teaches us that sometimes, simple might just be crazy enough to work, even if it sounds like someone should've come up with it by now.

Sarah Worthy - Founder and CEO of Door Space Inc.

We live in the age of data. Everything in the world is being measured, analyzed and, hopefully, optimized. Door Space Inc, founded by Sarah Worthy, does that as well, but for a very specific industry.

With a long and storied career in tech, Sarah felt that a lot of time and resources are wasted within companies on training. Taking her frustration and desire for change, she created Door Space Inc. - a company dedicated to tracking and measuring employee training, to make sure that no time is wasted and employee training is optimized.

Sarah teaches us that all processes within a company can be optimized. All you have is to look at it from a different point of view.

Joowon Kim - Co Founder of On Comfort

Whenever a new technology trend comes around, most of us get excited and think purely about the amazing entertainment we will get from it. But not Joowon. When this game development professor saw that Virtual Reality (VR) is an unstoppable force in tech, she started thinking about how it could help people.

She then co-founded On Comfort, a company that builds psychology backed modules using VR to help de-stress and reduce anxiety with those who suffer from it. Her background as a yoga instructor helped her in creating the physical motion that helps alleviate the stress from those who suffer from anxiety.

Joowon teaches us that when you see a new technology emerge, figuring out how it can help people isn't only doing good, it can also be good business.

Grace Rodriguez - Founder of Station Houston

Grace Rodriguez says that her mission in life is to help good people do great things and good companies do better things. Her motto is simple: you must leave the world in a better state from which you found it.

After serving as creative director at one of TED's major conferences, she decided to found Houston Station - its only goal is to help startups in Houston do better. The program connects startups with mentors, talents, accelerator programs and any other resources they might need in order to do better business.

Grace teaches us that following your life's philosophy and living life with a positive purpose can lead to a viable and positive career path.

Houston isn't necessarily the first place that comes to mind when you think of a bustling tech scene, but as you can see from the names on this list, the home of the Texans has a lot of talented tech personalities to be proud of. One day it might even be named up there with San Francisco, New York, and London as a tech capital of the world.


The companies I mention or link to in this post are just examples that I thought you'd find useful - I don't endorse them or their services. I have no affiliation with them and make no representation about their services.

The social media accounts I've linked to express personal opinions and are not a reflection of Colonial Life's views or opinions.