When Greentown Labs opened in Houston this year on Earth Day, launch director Juliana Garaizar was working hard with the Greentown teams in Boston and Houston to make that day a reality. She is currently preparing for her next role within the organization.
Having worked in Houston for the past few years with organizations such as Houston Angel Network, TMC Innovation, and Portfolio, Garaizar has moved to a new role as Head of Greentown Houston and Vice President of Innovation at Greentown Labs.
Garaizar recently joined InnovationMap to ask questions about her new role, how Greentown Houston was launched a few months ago, and why Houston should take the lead in the energy transition now. I did.
InnovationMap: What is the transition from launch director to Houston incubator manager?
Juliana Garaizar: I think this transition is sending a signal that we’ve launched Greentown Houston one after another. We have the founding and grand opening partners we need to reach the funding milestones we have prepared. Now is the time to make sure you have the team and resources to make it happen. Our promise. That’s why I’m transferring my role to the head of the Houston Incubator. This means a role as the leader of the Houston team.
IM: You also have a general role as Vice President of Innovation at Greentown Labs, what does this part of your work mean?
JG: The most important thing is to be part of the management team. I think it’s very important for management to have a representative of Houston, just as Houston has a say. The launch period was like a side project, but now we’re doing our best to think about how to strengthen and realize all the initiatives in Boston. Make them happen in Houston.
I learned a lot about this extension and how to achieve it. This was our first extension. One of my roles is to build something like a book on how to realize a new green town, based on all the important lessons I’ve learned over the last year and a half, almost two years. It’s important not only to expand, but to understand what initiatives can add value to our location.
It is also important to have a more strategic view of the differences between ecosystems. I think Houston has more room for growth. Houston is a little younger ecosystem than Boston. Therefore, I think we need to do more from the perspective of revitalizing investment. Also, Houston’s workforce development has a fairly large workforce moving from oil and gas to cleaner ventures. And I really believe that Greentown Houston should play a role. In Boston, this may not be so obvious. Because not all employees are trying to migrate.
IM: You have a very thorough background in investing, is this also a focus in Greentown?
JG: Yes, of course. Greentown does not receive any shares, but we are fully aware that investment and access to capital is one of the greatest requirements of our members. And uh, we have our own investor program launched in Boston, and now that it’s open, we’ll continue to apply it to Houston.
Access to Houston’s capital is not as developed as access to Boston’s capital. That’s why there are various things. First of all, I think many of Boston’s ecosystem partners and investors are very interested in Houston. That’s why we give Houston members access to these new investors and make them aware of Houston’s trading flow. It also means that in some cases, some Houston investors who are familiar with investing in oil, gas and energy can be educated about investing in climate change technology. This was undertaken as an additional project in Houston. We actually dedicated one specific Rice Fellow for that. What we’ve done so far over the past year is how many Boston partners such as law firm Vincent and Elkins and Clean Energy Ventures have done. A training event on collaboration with the heels .. Remote training creates many opportunities not only for transaction flow and entrepreneurial connections, but also for participation in syndication between Boston and Houston investors. I did.
IM: A few months ago, I was attending the launch of Greentown Houston. How has your reputation been since its launch?
JG: It was much bigger and better than I expected. In other words, the reception was overwhelming. Every day, there are people who come without notice because they want to see Green Town. And I think that should be the case. People are excited and want to see the new building they saw on TV and see how things are going.
I am very surprised at the number of 30 Early Access members announced. I think about 23 of them have already moved in. We hire 5 new members each week. I’m really growing. We are also surprised that there is a great deal of interest in the desks of companies that are partners and investors who want to interact with our community.
Some members decided to move to Houston permanently based in Boston, while others were in Memphis and decided to move to Houston. So we’re already attracting quite a few climate change technology entrepreneurs from all over the United States and I think I’m all over the world because we want to be part of Greentown Houston internationally. Because there are also members.
IM: Why is it time for Houston to lead the energy transition?
JG: I think you already knew that was the time. If Greentown happened a year ago or a year later, I don’t think it’s the right time. We really believe that our key partners are announcing how Shell, Chevron, and many other partners are migrating. And now they see Greentown as a running partner above all else. Previously, it was a great initiative for them to participate. Now they really think of us much more strategically.
We’re there for the conveners, so we really believe that the energy transition can happen in Houston. I think we have all the elements to make an energy transition in Houston. We have capital, we have assets, we have talent, we have business partners, we have universities, we have SDOs, but everything is pretty siled. And I think there are buildings and physical spaces where all these people can collide and discuss the following: And it’s very important that we can keep the flow on every boat, as even partners can talk about open innovation without feeling competing.
So I think we are in this perfect storm. That is, all of these elements, somehow siled, will eventually occur, and the Biden administration will drive all these new initiatives and also emphasize our work. I think they are making the energy transition in Houston as much as possible.
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