Jason Calacanis is a technology entrepreneur, angel investor, and the host of the popular weekly podcast This Week in Startups. He's the founder of a series of conferences that bring entrepreneurs together with potential investors.

Launch website

Angel Podcast
Jason's blog

This Week in Startup


Carolyn Rodz serves as co-founder and CEO of Alice (helloalice.com), which helps businesses launch and grow. At Alice, Carolyn oversees the machine learning and product growth of the company. 

Alice Website


Queen Cora Coleman is an author, producer, business owner, international drummer and native of Houston, Texas. She has performed in over 40 countries, before hundreds of thousands of attendees and millions of viewers. She is an avid educator and ever-evolving Creative. 


Allison Thacker is Rice University's Chief Investment Officer and President of the Rice Management Company, Vice President of Investments and Treasurer. She is a member of the KIPP Houston Executive Board, Chairman of the Houston Ballet Board of Trustees, a board member for Black Stone Minerals, Houston Endowment Investment Committee member and a member of YPO.


Elizabeth McGee is Director of the Internet of Things Group at Intel. Elizabeth also consults with F500 corporations on their digital transformation initiatives. She

serves on Greater Houston Partnership's Regional Economic Development and Sustainability committees and the IOT, Data

Science, and Early Stage investment committees for Houston Exponential.


Kim Roxie is the founder and CEO of LAMIK Beauty. She first opened a store in Houston, Texas, selling her collection of natural, organic and vegan beauty products for women of color. Since then, Kim has expanded LAMIK to become a community. Last year, Kim moved to Austin, Texas to join a startup accelerator and launch LAMIK online.


I partner with companies that are frustrated by missing revenue targets, disappointed in previous sales/sales leadership hires and at times upset at the lack the processes and success metrics to drive revenue growth. More than just advice or training, we work hands-on as your VP of Sales to build and lead a high impact sales team that is results-driven and delivers sustainable growth.


Darlene Elizabeth Gagnon is an entrepreneur with over 25 years of branding, marketing, consumer trend with product development expertise. In her early twenties, Darlene was known by her peers for being a connoisseur of consumer trends.

Darlene established Kinnect Global Management Services a management company designed to manage the operational, sales and marketing efforts of entrepreneurial businesses.



Emeka Emembolu is the Vice President of Reservoir Development for the Gulf of Mexico & Canada at BP. He has worked in his current role for over three years, and has been in various roles at BP for over 21 years. In his role, he has worked to optimize and maximize the efficiency of petroleum reservoir development throughout the entire process. 


Dr. Hassanzadeh studies fluid dynamics and heat transfer in complex natural phenomena and engineering systems. The main theme of his work is understanding multi-scale processes at fundamental levels and then applying this knowledge to real-world and practical problems. Examples of problems of interest are reduced-order modeling of turbulent flows, flow control in energy systems, and climate/weather modeling.



Tamiko Hutchinson is vice president of Intel Capital and senior managing director of Portfolio Management at Intel Corporation. She leads Intel Capital’s efforts to help its innovative technology startups succeed. She and her team provide strategic business development, industry experience, technical and marketing support for the Intel Capital portfolio worldwide. Intel has invested $12 billion in more than 1,500 startups around the world.



Bradley McCredie is the Corporate Vice President of GPU Platforms at AMD. Bradley graduated from the University of Illinois in 1991, and since then has gain almost 30 years of experience in the computer engineering industry. He has helped with major developments at companies such as IBM, CTO Systems and Technology Group, and AMD.


Dr. Mellor-Crummey is a professor of Computer Science at Rice University. His research focuses on software technology for high performance parallel computing. His ongoing research includes work on tools for measurement and analysis of application performance, compiler and run-time technology for parallel and scientific computing, application performance modeling, and correctness tools for parallel programs.


Gabriella Rowe is the Executive Director and CEO of Ion Houston, as well as the CEO of Station Houston. Rowe previously worked with Nord Anglia Education, the parent company to The Village School, as both Head of School and the Director of Project Management. She oversees the operations of Ion at their current location downtown and is working to help them smoothly transition to their new building next year.




Vincent Saubestre is the CEO & President at Total EP Research & Technology USA.Total EP is a Steering research & technology affiliate of Total Group focused on digital, computer science, numerical modeling, high power computing, data processing, environment, deep offshore technology, carbon capture, utilization & storage, and sustainable technologies in collaboration with strategic partners located in North America.


Steve Scott serves as the Senior Vice President, Senior Fellow, and Chief Technology Officer at Hewltt Packard Enterprise. With more than two decades of supercomputing experience at Cray, NVIDIA and Google, Scott works at HPE to help define the technology that will drive the company’s next generation of supercomputing and big data solutions. He is responsible for guiding the long-term technical direction of computing, storage and analytics/AI products within HPE’s High Performance Computing & AI Business Unit.


Managing Director of LeanMastery, the incubator your startup needs to get going, grow and thrive, and CXO of Qukku, a social learning and collaboration platform.


Also, he leads the Houston Lean Startup Circle, the LARGEST and FASTEST growing lean startup circle in the world.


Houston Lean Startup Circle


Shafique is the founder of LeanMastery, the incubator your startup needs to get going, grow and thrive, and Qukku, a social learning and collaboration platform.  Shafique also leads the Houston Lean Startup Circle, the LARGEST and FASTEST growing lean startup circle in the world.


Houston Lean Startup Circle


Austin Miller is the Marketing Director at KPMG Spark and former contributor to Social Media Today. He specializes in marketing for software startups.



Jared Pese is an Associate at KPMG Spark and helps small businesses see the benefits of bookkeeping being done in a real time basis.


Meet Houston Tech Rodeo

Houston Tech Rodeo


Active investor and advisor to early stage companies after many years as CEO and senior executive building high growth companies in financial services, consumer goods and e-commerce. She serves as a board member for high growth profit and non-profit organizations. Currently Elaine is the Lead Venture Partner in Portfolia’s Active Aging and Longevity fund, Investment Chair for RTP Capital and an Angel Capital Association Board Member.Elaine has been a senior executive and board director leading domestic and global organizations from venture-backed start-ups to $750M+ enterprises. Functional expertise in general management, strategic marketing and brand management, business development and sales, and technology development and internet applications. Industry expertise in financial services, multi-channel retail sales, web services and e-commerce, and consumer goods and services.


Jeff Dodd is a partner in the Houston office of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP.  He is both a corporate and securities partner and a member of its technology transactions group. 

Jeff has worked with companies ranging from private emerging companies, to middle-market, to public companies and with financing sources (including venture capital firms) during his 40+ year career.  Jeff also has extensive experience in a variety of domestic and international licensing and other information-related transactions and cybersecurity and privacy matters. He is the author of Modern Licensing Law (Thomson-West) and of Drafting Effective Contracts (Wolters Kluwer), and is co-author of updates to Information Law and The Law of Computer Technology (both Thomson-West). 


Juliana is the lead investor at Portfolia. She has experience working in the venture capital and private equity industry. She has over 20 years of experience at various companies in the finance and trade sector, working with the Angel Capital Association, the Texas Medical Center Venture Fund, and the Houston Angel Network, among other companies. Juliana prides herself in her skills in business planning, entrepreneurship, international business, venture capital, and strategic partnerships.


Patrick's passion for entrepreneurship has permeated his career, from starting a private equity-backed investment and development firm in 2003 to spending ten years as a partner in a $13 billion private equity firm, supporting dozens of entrepreneurial management teams, many of whom were starting their first company. He since co-founded Starboard Star, a firm that aims to be deeply personal and pragmatic in its approach with founders. They aspire to combine the best of the old and new—the craft of early stage investing while developing new ways for companies to achieve efficient growth.


Samantha Lewis, Rice MBA ’17, is the Director of GOOSE – an exclusive venture capital investment group focused on early-stage technology ventures. Before attending Rice Business, she successfully started two ventures, one of which she sold in 2017. The other company, New Mexico Green Chile Co, generates a large annual revenue and boasts of customers like Torchy’s Tacos, HEB, and Trader Joe’s.

The GOOSE Society of Texas has invested over $50 million in start-ups and has had 5 successful exits. The group invests around $10 million per year across a variety of industries, but with a focus on breakthrough, defendable technologies.


Heath is a Venture Builder and Senior Strategy, Growth & Corporate Development Executive. He is a senior-executive at Mercury Fund with over 15 years of experience as a transformational leader with an accomplished background in strategic goal deployment and accelerating business growth. He works to leverage both right-brain and left-brain talents for strong, creative, and analytical solutions that enable him to thoroughly strategize and decisively execute objectives. He is passionate about educating, empowering and enabling entrepreneurs, angel investors and business professionals to maximize their potential.


Topper is the CEO and Founder at Goodfair. This is his fourth company he has been involved in either founding or co-founding.  Goodfair is a retail clothing company that aims to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry by selling recycled goods to create low prices and limit the need for low-wage sweatshops across the globe.


Katharine is the CEO and Founder at Zibrio. Katharine has been the CTO at Ishoe, as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston. The Zibrio SmartScale measures physical balance to help boost athletic performance, injury recovery, as well as fall prevention in older adults.



Safir is the CEO and co-Founder at Hamper. Safir is an experienced entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of working in the consumer services industry. Hamper partners with Class A office buildings in Houston and is reinventing dry cleaning and laundry. Best thought of as the “Redbox” for dry cleaning, they offer customers with the convenience of getting on-site dry cleaning as an amenity at work by using automated, stand-alone dry cleaning drop off kiosks. 


Amy Gross is the Founder and CEO of VineSleuth. VIneSleuth uses sensory science, rock-solid data and Artificial Intelligence to build personalization platforms and interactive menus for the food and beverage industry. A sought after keynote speaker on data integrity, AI and personalization, Amy has presented globally at such events as the Mobile World Congress, IBM Insight, Wine2Wine, and the National Retail Federation’s Big Show. 

In addition to participating in the Tech Rodeo, check out VineSleuth technology for wine selection at the Houston Rodeo.


Ksenia Yudina is the Founder and CEO of U-Nest, the first mobile app that makes it easier than ever before to create a manage tax-free college savings account. Ksenia is an entrepreneur and financial expert with over ten years of experience in the financial industry. As Founder and CEO of U-Nest she has spearheaded the development of the breakthrough fintech solution. Ksenia was a 2019 Finalist in Quesnays Female Founders in Fintech competition. 


Panos is Founder and CEO of Zenus. He is a machine learning expert who is passionate about research and innovation. He believes advancing technology is the best way to facilitate progress. Zenus provides biometric services to help facilitate facial recognition check-in at individual events, They aim to provide custom made end-to-end solutions to customers' unique situations.


Dyan is the Founder and CEO of Trumbull Unmanned. A US Air Force Academy graduate, Dyan leverages technical leadership in DoD acquisitions and aerospace program management. Her passions are STEM and serving underrepresented youth. Trumbull, a Forbes Top 25 Veteran-Founded company, focuses on analytics and UAS integration in the energy sector. They safely collect and analyzes data via drones, then serve the energy industry by solving technically challenging problems and promoting environmental responsibility.


    Paloma is a lawyer with experience in different areas of private law, mainly focused on corporate law and consulting for social entrepreneurs and non-profits. She is one of three co-founders and partners of Unboxed, a social innovation consulting firm in Mexico. She has been involved in numerous careers spanning the legal aspects of business and venture funding, and has a plethora of experience in in the industry.


Brittany is a dynamic entrepreneur with a doctorate in Molecular and Human Genetics with a passion for innovation. She is a scientist turned founder turned venture capitalist. While finishing her PhD, she co-founded Pheramor, the nation's first DNA-based dating app and also launched a secondary product called WeHaveChemistry.com for couples.  Her role at Capital Factory as Houston-based Venture Associate is to evaluate startups, mentor founders, and assist in deal flow / review for the Fund. 


Rahel is the Founder and CEO of ClimaGuard LLC. She is a project engineer with expertise in analyzing process performance, identifying improvements, and delivering sustainable solutions. She graduated from UT Austin with a degree in chemical engineering and has since applied herself to the field.


Leah is the founder at FOUND Experience & Executive Director of the British American Business Council. FOUND provides a digital travel guide that offers you curated activities, restaurants, bars, and shops. They hope to allow you to focus your time on travel, not research.


Isis is the co-founder & COO of Xplosion Technology Sport's APP. Xplosion Technology is a successful sports software platform that assists coaches in monitoring and improving the athletes’ performance. By using adaptive learning algorithms and motion capture sensors the platform provides real-time personalized feedback directly to athletes and coaches. 


Averett is the CEO and Co-Founder of Soko.



Karthika is a partner at Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP and a LCLD 2020 Fellow. Karthika’s practice involves all aspects of technology law with an emphasis on the protection, acquisition, and monetization of intellectual property. She leverages her background in scientific research and technology transfer to help clients meet their business objectives at every stage of product development. She has developed commercialization strategies for several technologies, and participated in the structuring and financing of six startup companies for various pharmaceutical, medical device, and medical informatics products. 


Diana Chow is a professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Houston. Her research encompasses liposomal formulation of 9-nitro-camptothecin and derivatives through formulation and pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evaluations; microemulsion formulation of highly insoluble drugs, using taxol as model compounds; and protection of natural and photo-aging, and skin cancer by derivatives of Tempol, and its mechanisms


Nancy is a  managing partner at Cabral Energy & Cabral Technologies, as well as CEO of Cabral Technologies, LLC. 


Claudia Neuhauser is the Associate Vice President and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer at the University of Houston.

Prior to coming to the University of Houston, Claudia served as Associate Vice President for Research and Director of Research Computing at the University of Minnesota. Prior, she held faculty positions at the University of Southern California, the University of Wisconsin Madison, and the University of California Davis. Claudia has served on numerous national committees and boards, including the Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 


Raquel Ybanez Salinas is the Assistant Director of Career Development at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is an educator & scientist specializing in career & professional development for biomedical scientists. She believes that the pathways to careers in STEM should be more accessible, inclusive, and transparent to navigate. As a scientist by training and experienced educator, she works towards bettering how we educate and train our future STEM workforce.


Leslie, a dedicated angel investor, is General Partner & Co-Founder of The Artemis Fund, the first female founded, female focused VC fund based in Houston. The Artemis Fund was founded on the principal that investing in women will drive greater returns for its Limited Partners. In addition, Leslie is a board member of the Houston Angel Network (most active in the US), an Investment Committee member of Blue Ivy Ventures, and a Strategic Advisor to the Rebel Fund.


Alley Lyles is a Women in IT - Silicon Valley Transformation Leader of the Year. She is a digital strategy consultant who specializes in user-centric product development and digital transformation for technology brands. Alley’s high-powered digital positions over the years have enabled her at Fortune 500 companies and start-ups based in Houston, Texas, and beyond. She launched her consulting company, Slink Interactive, in 2016.


Landi is a Multi-Generational Change Expert. She provides adaptive solutions for leadership consulting, change management, and executive coaching to help growth-oriented companies navigate critical shifts, to achieve organizational agility, leveraging data and generational diversity. She  identifies breakdowns in culture, talent and communications that affect profitability and performance to optimize operations, creating happier, more innovative teams and reimagined market opportunities.


Anu is the Managing Director of Ignition-Innovation at KPMG. Previously, she worked at EY where, as a senior manager, she served as the regional lead for intelligent automation in Tax and was also the regional lead on the America’s Tax Innovation Council. She has almost 20 years of experience in consulting and aiding companies to maximize innovation, revenue, and profitability. She has previously worked for companies such as Hewlett and Deloitte. 


Arielle is the project manager in the Center for Innovation at Houston Methodist. She has been nationally & internationally educated in public health, nutrition, & global business. Arielle is a seasoned leader with over 8 years of work experience in healthcare & startup industries. She is dedicated and passionate towards educating others about innovation in healthcare & health prevention.


Snehee is the founder and CEO of The Food Shop. The Food Shop’s mission is to develop green, sustainable solutions to make high quality & nutritionally robust food products. By providing clean, quality ingredients and manufacturing solutions to our customers, The Food Shop is working to transform the landscape of what is possible in food manufacturing. Good, clean food should be the gold standard and The Food Shop is the company setting the bar!


Leslie Duke is the Group President and General Manager at Burns & McDonnell, Inc. As group president and general manager in Houston, she lead Burns & McDonnell’s largest and fastest-growing regional office in the nation. She joined Burns & McDonnell in 1999 as a project manager and structural engineer in electrical transmission and distribution. She is credited with expanding Burns & McDonnell’s customer base from one to more than 100 clients in the industrial, refining, chemical, manufacturing and utility markets.


Carol Hess is Vice President of Workstations Product Management at HP Inc. For over 30 years, she has been driving organizational growth and brand/technology innovation.

Throughout her executive career, she has amassed extensive global experience and always been on the cutting edge of emerging industries while creating new business, products and categories.


Gretchen Watkins is the President of Shell Oil Company and Executive Vice President at Global Unconventionals. 

Before joining Shell in May 2018, she served as CEO of Maersk Oil. Across a nearly 30-year career in the energy industry, she has held senior executive roles at BP, Marathon Oil and Maersk Oil in North America, Europe and Asia.

she is currently the President and US Country Chair of Shell Oil Company, as well as the Executive Vice President for Shell’s Upstream Unconventionals business, overseeing the exploration, development and production of onshore shale resources.

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