Entrepreneurs For Houston Fund Launches with Goal of Raising $10 Million

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Fund’s first focus is to enhance grassroots efforts for civic relief mobilized in response to Hurricane Harvey

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In collaboration with the City of Houston and the Greater Houston Partnership's Innovation Strategy Office, Entrepreneurs for Houston (E4H) today launched the Entrepreneurs for Houston Fund with an initial goal of raising $10 million. The first focus of the E4H Fund is to provide financial support to the ongoing Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts led by Sketch City and Station Houston. During Harvey, Sketch City and Station Houston joined forces to assist the civic-tech and volunteer communities in creating open-source disaster response infrastructure. The E4H Fund provides the opportunity for individuals, corporations, and foundations to support these civic relief efforts aiding in rescue, relief, recovery, and rebuild projects in Houston. The long-term goal of the E4H Fund is to provide financial support for Houston’s entrepreneurial and civic efforts that will restore and sustain the city’s economy.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s impact, hundreds of volunteer designers, developers, marketers and civic hackers from Sketch City’s community joined forces to build and launch dozens of emergency crisis tools. Some of Sketch City’s initial projects already underway include:

  • Shelter Bot, allowing people in need to text their zip code to 346-214-0739 to find their nearest shelter;
  • HelpOutHouston.com, a continuously updated map of shelters and their needs; and
  • TexasRescueMap.com/MuckMap, connecting homeowners who need help clearing out materials from their flooded homes with volunteers to help with that work.

E4H has partnered with Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Technology & Innovation Task Force to support the grassroots tech and innovation ecosystem throughout Houston. This partnership stems from Mayor Turner’s continued mission to ignite Houston’s innovation economy. E4H’s near-term goal is funding the collaboration of Station and Sketch City to develop a “Disaster Relief Toolkit” to directly assist Harvey relief and recovery. Sketch City has already shared pieces of the Toolkit with developers and emergency response personnel preparing for Hurricane Irma and will continue to share the Toolkit with other cities and communities in their greatest time of need.

“Houston has a rich history of collaborating with people from different backgrounds and cultures to solve the world’s most complex problems,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We’ve seen this across our community through these difficult times. E4H will provide the funding to support our entrepreneurial and civic efforts that will rebuild and sustain Houston’s economy.”

“Since Harvey first made landfall, Houston’s tech and entrepreneurship community has made real impacts through disaster relief,” said Blair Garrou, E4H cofounder, Mercury Fund managing director, Station cofounder, and the Greater Houston Partnership's Innovation Strategy Office advisory board chair. “As Houston is now in the final stages of the rescue and relief efforts, we will shortly move into recovery and rebuild. We must support Houston’s entrepreneurial community to allow them to continue this effort while building tools and practices to support other communities in their time of need.”

To contribute to the Entrepreneurs for Houston Relief Fund or to get involved, visit http://www.EntrepreneursForHouston.org.  Media interested in obtaining an interview with members of E4H should contact Ahna Gavrelos at ahna(at)integrateagency(dot)com or 713.225.0880.

About Entrepreneurs for Houston:

Entrepreneurs for Houston (E4H) is a dedicated effort to drive growth and opportunity in Houston’s entrepreneurship, technology and innovation community. Based in Houston, Texas, E4H was formed during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 by Houston tech community organizations, including Mercury Fund, Station Houston, Sketch City, TMCx and the Circular Board. E4H’s first mission is to provide funding for Station and Sketch City to support our city’s entrepreneurial and civic efforts that will rebuild and sustain Houston’s economy.

About Mayor Turner’s Technology & Innovation Task Force:

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Council Member Amanda Edwards assembled the Mayor’s Technology & Innovation Task Force to undertake the important task of further cultivating an ecosystem of technology and innovation in Houston. Specifically, the principal charge to the Task Force was to make recommendations to the Mayor and City Council regarding what must be done to attract and retain technology and innovation startups and related businesses to Houston, to help spark long-term growth of Houston’s innovation economy. The Task Force is representative of a cross-section of Houstonians from different industries, backgrounds and points-of-view - encouraging the creation of a diverse set of strategic recommendations for the development of the necessary infrastructure to attract and retain the innovators of tomorrow to Houston.

About Greater Houston Partnership’s Innovation Strategy Office:

Greater Houston Partnership's Innovation Strategy Office is dedicated to supporting Houston’s innovation economy and boosting local startup activity. The primary objective is to catalyze the formation of highly-innovative startups driven by new technologies and business models that will grow Houston's innovation economy. The strategic plan aims for Houston to be – and to be seen as – an innovation city at a world-class level.

About Sketch City:

Sketch City is a Houston-based open, non-profit community of technology advocates and civic hackers. Through hackathons and meetups, the Sketch City community is on the frontlines of creating solutions to Houston’s most pressing civic challenges, including enabling communication for Hurricane Harvey rescue and relief efforts during the earliest onset of the storm and the development of apps to assist the City in all phases of its rescue, relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts.

About Station Houston:

Station Houston is the hub for Houston's tech innovation and entrepreneurship community. Station connects tech entrepreneurs with experienced mentors, investors, customers, education and talent – the essential tools to success for a startup. Station Houston is currently home to over 250-member companies and a network of over 150 mentors. Post Harvey, Station has opened its doors and resources to serve the broader tech, marketing and civic hacker community who are developing solutions to support Houston's relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts.

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Ahna Gavrelos
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