#THIS19 : Fresh Perspectives : Growing Houston’s Ecosystem…Literally

Join Impact Hub Houston, WeWork Food Labs, and leaders from Houston’s food community to learn homegrown solutions to agricultural businesses

About this Event

Houston consistently ranks as one of the top cities for economic growth potentialone of the best startup ecosystems, and THE city with the best food scene in the country!

But while much attention has been given to the local startup ecosystem, our local agricultural and food entrepreneurs are often overlooked. So how do we help local food- and agriculture-based innovators connect around shared goals, collaborate effectively, and access resources and guidance to help them grow their own paths to success? How do we cultivate the next agricultural automation startup, or the next Ritual or UberEats and the businesses that help those apps thrive?

Join some of Houston’s local food leaders to explore and address these challenges!


  • Ecky Prabanto: Co-Founder, Greenway Coffee/Tropicales/Susu Kopi and Boba
  • Kaitlin O’Brien: Roaster/Co-Founder, XELA Coffee Roasters
  • Jimmy Tay Trinh: Chef/Founder/CEO, Naughty Noah’s Vietnamese Superfoods platform
  • Daniel Garcia-Prats: Co-Founder/Director of Operations, Small Places LLC
  • Moderator: Carlos Estrada, Manager, WeWork Labs

Many thanks to WeWork Downtown for hosting and providing food and beverages for this event!

#THIS19 : The Next Generation: Investing

Join Houston’s emerging investment community leaders to learn how our capital environment is evolving and offering new funding resources.

About this Event

Houston has long been criticized for its perceived lack of funding for startups, especially for diverse entrepreneurs. But last month, at least seven early-stage companies successfully closed their fundraising rounds — four of them co-founded by women and/or minority entrepreneurs — with many more promising startups in our region’s pipeline.

Join THIS: The Houston Innovation Summit during Global Entrepreneurship Week for a conversation with some of Houston’s emerging investment community leaders to learn how Houston’s capital environment is evolving, how they’re sourcing new deals, what they’re most excited about, and new markets and trends on the horizon for people to put capital to work.


  • LILLY LIUMercury Fund, Senior Investment Analyst
  • SAMANTHA LEWISGOOSE Society of Texas, Director
  • Stephanie Campbell: Managing Director, HAN / General Partner, The Artemis Fund
  • RHIAN DAVIES: VP Business Development, LetsLaunch
  • Heath Butler: Network Partner, Mercury Fund / Co-Founder, Urban Capital Network
  • Mike Menendez: Principal, Apogee Capital Partners / Founder, Southern Impact Investing Alliance
  • NextSeed


Lilly Liu is the Senior Investment Analyst at Houston-based Mercury Fund, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on entrepreneurs and technology innovation originating in the U.S. Midcontinent. She works with the investment team on deal sourcing, due diligence, and portfolio value creation. Mercury’s investment themes target SaaS, Cloud, and Data Science/AI platforms that make the industries of Middle America more competitive and efficient. Outside of Mercury, Lilly is an active contributor to the Houston and Midcontinent startup ecosystems, serving as a mentor at WeWork Labs, Station Houston, and TMCx. She graduated with highest honors from Duke University with a double major in Economics and International Affairs.


Samantha Lewis, Rice MBA ’17, is the Director of the GOOSE Society of Texas – an exclusive investment group focused on early stage technology ventures. Before attending Rice Business school, she successfully started two ventures, one of which she sold in 2017. The other company, Green Chile Co, generates over $3 million in annual revenue and boasts of customers like Torchy’s Tacos, HEB, and Trader Joe’s. Samantha is an advisor to numerous startups including Houston based blockchain startup, Topl.


Rhian leads business development strategy and growth at LetsLaunch, an equity crowdfunding fintech startup. Prior to this, Rhian spent over 10 years in supply chain management, deal delivery and operations within the energy industry at Shell and BG Group, including the development of global sourcing strategies and leading high profile negotiations with major international industry players. Rhian has lived and worked in over 6 countries and holds a BSc in Management Sciences from Warwick Business School, UK. She is currently undertaking her MBA at Rice Jones Business School.

#THIS19 : The Next Generation : Entrepreneur Education

Join some of Houston’s largest and most diverse academic institutions to learn how they’re growing the next generation of entrepreneurs!

About this Event

Houston consistently ranks as one of the top cities for economic growth potentialone of the best startup ecosystems, and one of the best places in the country for women and minority entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. So how do we help our city reach that potential and grow the next generation of entrepreneurs in ways that also create more inclusive, equitable and sustainable paths to economic development?

Join leaders from some of Houston’s largest and most diverse academic institutions to learn:

  • How Houston’s entrepreneurial education environment is evolving;
  • How they’re helping prepare and grow the next generation of entrepreneurs — from Zillennials to second-act seniors, and from newcomers to Houston to those new to startup culture;
  • What trends and opportunities they’re seeing; and,
  • What they’re most excited about for Houston’s economic future.


  • Dr. Beena George: Chief Innovation Officer, University of St. Thomas
  • Brenda Rios: Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives & Community Relations, HCC
  • Sandra Louvier: Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, HCC
  • Kelly McCormick: Professor of Practice & Managing Director of Red Labs, UH
  • Moderator: Ned Mueller, Entrepreneur In Residence, HCC

Many thanks to Houston Community College (HCC) Southeast for hosting and providing food and beverages for this event at the Felix Fraga Academic Campus in the East End!

#THIS19: Female Founders Breakfast – J.P. Morgan, Mercury Fund, Impact Hub

Mercury Fund and Impact Hub Houston invite Houston’s #FemaleFounders community to join us for breakfast at Mercury’s office on Nov 21!

About this Event

No matter which research reports you turn to, they all indicate that less funding and support are making their way to women-led startups…despite the fact that they tend to deliver higher revenue. The causes are varied and complex, but, ultimately, they point to a need for greater alliedship to help close gaps and ensure women get equal access to startup resources.

To explore ways that Houston’s startup ecosystem can address these disparities and be better allies for women entrepreneurs, J.P. MorganMercury Fund and Impact Hub Houston invite Female Founders and startup supporters across the region to join us for a brief conversation and relationship-building breakfast on Thursday, November 21, at Mercury’s offices in Greenway Plaza.

Women entrepreneurs are invited to come connect with J.P. Morgan and the Mercury team, and get to know other founders and active investors in a casual setting. Investors and potential customers are welcome to learn new strategies for inclusion and help open doors to new opportunities throughout the morning!

The Female Founders Breakfast is part of Houston’s annual THIS: The Houston Innovation Summit (#THIS19) series held during Global Entrepreneurship Week (#GEW2019) and curated by Impact Hub Houston. With this year’s themes focusing on Ecosystems, Education, Inclusion and Policy, please feel free to share your photos and posts from this event on social media with the hashtag #GEWinclusion!


Mercury Fund is an early-stage venture capital firm. With over $275 million under management, Mercury focuses on entrepreneurs and technology innovation originating in the U.S. Midcontinent. Our investment themes target SaaS, Cloud, and Data Science/AI platforms that make the industrial ecosystems of Middle America more competitive and efficient.


Impact Hub Houston is a locally rooted, globally connected, nonprofit startup development organization that aims to make Houston a role model for how the world solves its most pressing issues. A member of the Impact Hub global network—the world’s largest community recognized by the United Nations for accelerating entrepreneurial solutions towards measurable and scalable impact for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—Impact Hub Houston intentionally designs places, platforms and programs to build an inclusive innovation ecosystem and empower diverse changemakers, social entrepreneurs, and impact supporters to create the change they wish to see in the world.


J.P. Morgan Chase has a long history of supporting entrepreneurs and founders by providing banking services and guidance to companies of all sizes. J.P. Morgan supports innovative, high growth potential businesses through its Technology & Disruptive Commerce team at the Commercial Bank, which includes bankers and products dedicated to helping companies scale smart. We are particularly proud of support women, from our Women on the Move initiative to the firm’s $150 million Small Business Forward initiative supports women, minority and veteran-owned businesses with both the capital and technical assistance they need to grow.