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Pitch Competition


Congratulations to our semi-finalists who will be pitching on Feb 4th!


Astros Track

Belmont Technology Inc


Jean-Marie Laigle is the co-founder and CEO of Belmont Technology. Belmont develops the Sandy digital platform and the Pebbles technology, which accelerates innovation by revolutionizing how science code is delivered and accessed. A graduate from the School of Mines in France, Jean-Marie gained first-hand experience on the challenges presented by the productization of technical workflows while developing and marketing scientific code for numerical subsurface simulations with the French Institute of Petroleum. Through various management roles in the IFP group, he has been collaborating with multiple Oil and Gas companies worldwide to develop and deploy innovative subsurface technology over the last 15 years. He co-founded Belmont Technology in 2017.

Cemvita Factory

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Blake Manuel is the Director of Corporate Development at Cemvita Factory where he focuses on strategy and finance.  He is an experienced energy professional with a multi-disciplinary background working across R&D, manufacturing,  and operations within industry and strategy, M&A, restructuring,  and supply chain in an advisory capacity as a management consultant.  He is passionate about cutting edge technology and enjoys golf and rock climbing in his spare time. 

Data Gumbo

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Andrew Bruce is the founder and CEO of Data Gumbo, a company he founded in 2016 after spotting an opportunity to eliminate a sizable cost inefficiency between an oil supermajor and one of its suppliers. Data Gumbo provides GumboNet, the trusted transactional network that automates smart contracts and transactions for industry leaders.

Prior to Data Gumbo, Andrew was the COO for MHWirth, an oil & gas drilling equipment OEM where he supervised global operations. Previous to this position, Andrew was VP of Controls at NOV. During his tenure at NOV, he founded the NOVOS product, a first-of-its-kind semi-autonomous drilling system, which Andrew holds a joint patent for on rig automation. With years of experience as an IT consultant and serial entrepreneur, Andrew earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is currently a member of IADC and SPE.


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Misha Govshteyn is the Chief Executive Officer and serves on the Board of Directors at MacroFab, the first digital marketplace for electronics manufacturing. Prior to MacroFab, Misha helped build Alert Logic into one of the largest SaaS companies in the cybersecurity industry as founding CEO, CTO and Chief Strategy Officer.


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Chris Buckner is the co-founder and CEO Mainline - an esports tournament software and event management company that focuses primarily on the collegiate market. Mainline currently partners directly with universities to help them manage, monetize, and market their esports initiatives in an effort to grow their programs. They also assisted ESPN with their Collegiate Esports Championship. Chris is also a co-founder of Cannon Ventures, an Angel Investor network in Houston that raises funds for startups as well as a co-founder of Come & Take It Apparel, a collegiate-branded sock company. In addition, Chris was the host for The FanReact Hour, a nationally syndicated radio show on the SBNation Radio Network and the co-host of an all-new esports television show, The META, that aired locally on Kube 57 and on Twitch.

Orbital Traction

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Stuart Schaaf, a serial entrepreneur, has developed and successfully exited three prior start-ups with significant returns to investors.  Stuart has over 25-years of experience in technology management, advanced engineering, and system level design with deep domain experience in electrical and electro-mechanical engineering design, technology development, product commercialization and management. In 2002, Stuart started InterSyn Technologies and developed a methodology to accelerate innovation and facilitate technology transfer through the identification of cross-industry problem-solution sets.  Using this proprietary methodology, Stuart identified the Orbital ASD as a breakthrough technology for increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gases, improving system performance and meaningful low-cost automation on new and legacy industrial systems.  He holds an M.S.E.E. (Marquette University), B.S.E.E. (University of Wisconsin) and is named as an inventor on over 20 patents and/or pending applications.


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Sinead E. Miller, Ph.D. is the CEO and Cofounder of PATH EX, Inc. Dr. Miller received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from Marian University and her B.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Purdue University in 2014. In 2017, Dr. Miller completed her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Syzygy Plasmonics

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Trevor Best is the CEO of Syzygy Plasmonics, a technology company developing a new photocatalytic chemical reactor that will revolutionize the industrial gas, chemical, and energy industries including hydrogen. Trevor graduated from Texas Tech University in 2007 with a triple major in International Business, Marketing, and Management and previously worked in progressively senior roles with Baker Hughes before launching Syzygy.


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Kim Raath is the founder and CEO of Topl, an ESG technology company with a purpose-built blockchain that empowers businesses to trace, verify, and monetize their sustainable and ethical practices. Topl was founded in 2017 by a team with deep blockchain and ethical sourcing experience and backed by some of the country's leading technology investors. Their technology empowers organizations to drastically cut certification costs as well as deliver unprecedented trust and transparency around their ESG initiatives. Kim grew up in South Africa and is the first Rice University student to simultaneously complete an M.A. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Statistics. Before university, Kim worked in 18 developing countries to rebuild and strengthen communities by implementing innovative forms of technology. While at Rice, Kim met her Topl co-founders James and Chris and found a common mindset and desire to build systems create a better world. As CEO, Kim innovates around every problem that arises and continuously finds ways to grow the entire Topl ecosystem using her connections and familial background in the mining and agricultural industry.

Venus Aerospace

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With an engineering background, an MBA, and years of experience at four different technical start-ups with very diverse backgrounds, including fiber optic test, biotechnology, steel manufacturing, and launching rockets, Sassie loves the challenge of bringing new technology to market. As a female engineer with 2 daughters, she's passionate about empowering women in STEM. Currently chasing big dreams with my PhD Rocket Scientist husband at Venus Aerospace.

Dynamo Track

Bondwell Technologies

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Dr. Howell is a co-founder of the company and leads all business and commercial activities while overseeing R&D in the lab. He earned a BA in Biology from Texas A&M University, a MS in Neurobiology from UTSA, and a PhD in Medical Science (focused on mechanical and genetic factors of thoracic aortic aneurysm progression) from Texas A&M Health Science Center. He completed his training in Tissue Engineering as a post-doctoral research associate in Dr. Bondos lab, where he authored 6 papers. He has raised over $2.3 million in grants and private funds.


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Pamela Singh is the CEO & Co-founder of CaseCTRL.  Previous Hospital IT Manager, Systems Engineer at General Dynamics, Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton & Dept of Veterans Affairs. Studied Systems Engineering, Operations Research, & Technical Management at George Mason & Johns Hopkins University. 


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Mariana Muntean is founder of Cinevva. Ex-Orange Telecom. Mariana has 15+ years of experience as a marketing, communications & advertising executive in the telecom and video game industry. Managed budgets of $20M + to launch successful product campaigns across all media to triple user subscriptions base. Won Brand of the Year for Orange campaigns multiple years in a row.

Working on democratizing video game development for creators without tech skills, using AI and deep tech. Our mission is to allow the starving crowd to use AI to empower creativity. Winner of Mozilla Builders Award 2020 for VIO.

Connectus Global

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Within his role Mike Anderson is responsible for all the operations, company strategic R&D and the development path of Connectus Global. Prior to assuming his role Mike was president of Manderson Resources, an executive coaching company that held proprietary technology for propensity modeling and sales strategy for executives in large growth companies in Australia.
Previous to this Mike was the president of Schmik Cycles, Niche Outdoor Sports and Fort McKay Geo Analytics. Following an equity exit, Mike went to work at a global mining OEM and held positions such as Project Manager, Business development Manager and Global account manager with a focus on tier 1 EPCMs. In these roles Mikes responsibilities spanned from Alberta, US, Germany, Aruba, Venezuela and Asia specific with special focus on Australia. Mike has lead the development in an Ai solution to identify personnel in a hazardous environment along side with asset tracking solution and electronic permit to work enterprise. Mike holds three trade tickets; Steam fitting/Pipefitting, B pressure Welder and Boilermaker certification. Mike also holds his ABSA level 4 Boiler Inspection and Trouble Shooting ticket, Steam System Design and level two Nuclear Leak Sealing certificate.


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Steven Krubiner is an entrepreneur and organizational leader with a rich background, and deep interest, in building bridges across national and cultural divides. A principled and innovative global leader, Krubiner has a transformation agenda that lies at the intersection of two passions: conflict resolution and foreign language acquisition. Krubiner has an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University.

DOSS Group

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Bobby Bryant is the CEO of DOSS Group INC., the holding company for: Ask DOSS, DOSS Pros, DOSS Social Agents, DOSS Home Loans, DOSS Home Warranty, etc... DOSS is a proptech company that's obsessed with creating an End-to-End Fair-Priced Digital Real Estate Marketplace. They are developing a Voice-Activated Intelligent Assistant built into a proprietary search and transactional platform that empowers the Consumer and REALTORS to ask any question about any property in the world to get accurate, easy, and instant answers 24/7. It's better than having a REALTOR in your pocket!

Koda Healthcare

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Dr. Tatiana Fofanova leverages her background as a clinical scientist, writer, entrepreneur, and death doula in Koda's mission of promoting equity in healthcare planning. In addition to her professional work, she has been a long-time educator and advocate for vulnerable communities throughout Houston.


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Dave is the Founder & CEO of Sibme, a web and mobile learning & engagement platform designed to change the way professionals learn at work.  Dave began his career in Houston after being placed by Teach for America in 2004 to teach at Northside High School in HISD.  He taught for 9 years before leaving the classroom to pursue Sibme full-time in 2013.  Dave is a North Dakota native and graduate of the University of St. Thomas (MN).

The Postage

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After witnessing how difficult it was to wrap up the details of a loved one's life, Emily Cisek knew there had to be a better way. However, she soon discovered there wasn't a single digital platform that could help someone simplify how they organized their life or stay on top of ever-changing data. It was then that she decided to create The Postage, a solution for people who wanted to manage their information and effectively control the aftermath of life.

Prior to founding The Postage, Emily was the Director of Sales at Integrate Agency, a full-service digital and traditional marketing agency, specializing in technology, energy, and real estate throughout Texas. With her extensive experience in leading, developing, and launching robust marketing and communication programs, she led efforts for a number of clients across various industries to build out their digital initiatives.

Emily received her BS degree in Business Administration from Bryant University then grew her professional career in Houston at Bounce Energy and Direct Energy as a Digital Marketing Manager, before spending several years in Austin leading a branch of Integrate Agency. Emily decided to headquarter The Postage in Houston, in an environment filled with energy and potential for growth.

Work & Mother

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Abbey Donnell is the Founder and CEO of Work & Mother. Donnell has over ten years of experience in marketing and brand strategy. She has an MBA from Rice University and a certificate in lactation counseling.

Rockets Track


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Daniel Meyer is an early stage entrepreneur and investor with experience across software, hardware and services companies in life sciences and information technology. He was the Chief Operating Officer and a board member of Genospace, an information platform for applied molecular and precision medicine, until its acquisition by HCA Healthcare (NYSE:HCA).

Dan was a member of the venture capital investment teams at Arboretum Ventures and PJC.vc, where he focused on healthcare and life sciences. He was a member of the healthcare investment banking group at Credit Suisse First Boston. He holds a B.A. in mathematics and economics from Middlebury College and an M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. 


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Dheeraj Singal is the vice president, compliance products, and founder of FINBOA, a leading innovator in digital process automation and regulatory compliance for banking institutions. Leveraging in-depth knowledge of financial services, Singal led the strategic development of FINBOA's end-to-end process automation platform and a suite of workflow solutions designed to reduce cost, financial loss, and reputational risk for banks and credit unions. 
Singal is a purpose-driven leader passionate about delivering SaaS technology solutions that deliver results and solve problems. He believes in providing the best value to his colleagues and clients through mutual trust, authenticity, and transparency.
Singal has more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry supporting financial institutions’ efforts and previously served as CTO of SURGE Ventures, a seed fund and mentor-driven accelerator that enables entrepreneurs to solve the world's energy problems with technology. During his time there, Singal provided technical and strategic mentoring to startups. Also, Singal serves as a member of the Houston Angel Network, the oldest angel network in Texas.

Galen Data

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Chris DuPont has over 25 years of experience developing sophisticated technology programs split between the medical device including Cyberonics and the aerospace industry including NASA and Iridium.  Mr. DuPont is the CEO of Galen Data, Inc., a configurable, scalable, FDA-Compliant software platform that makes it easy to connect medical devices to a FDA compliant Cloud.  Mr. DuPont has been a project manager and principal software engineer for a venture funded FDA Class III medical device company responsible for executing key software projects through a formal design control, verification, and validation process in compliance with FDA regulations.  Mr. DuPont also has been involved with numerous Class III medical startups in various roles and started the commercially successful Life Science Division at Tietronix Software, Inc.  Mr. DuPont has also co-authored and submitted 7 U.S. patents covering patient management and threshold optimization software applications for implantable medical device systems (4 patents issued to date).  Mr. DuPont has initiated and led the effort to achieve ISO 13485 certification, for two separate companies, which included building from scratch a compliant ISO 13485 (Medical Device Quality Management System International Standard) and ISO 14971 Risk Management system.  Mr. DuPont has a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus on intelligent software.


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Allen Thornton started Grantsource after being burned
- Author of Money for your Mission Book Series
- Non-profit Executive since 2006
- Real Estate Investor Single-family and Commercial
- Sold over $23 Million of enterprise software since 2011
- Helped hundreds of organizations find and secure over $10 million in grants on the Grantsource Platform since January 2018
- Forbes business council, Top 50 startups to watch in 2021 (Google for startups), Top Accelerator Program (Amazon for Startups Front Page), Top 50 Tech Innovators (Intercon), Top 5 US Black in Tech companies (Capital Factory)
- Graduate of Mass Challenge, Cardone Academy, Presentation Power, Lift Off, Rice U Impact, Station Houston, Mass Challenge and Sales Process.io Accelerators

HTX Labs

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Scott Schneider has more than 35 years in the software and technology industry, largely involved in startup companies over the past 20 years.  Scott founded Volant Solutions, an Oil & Gas enterprise application integration company, in 2003 and sold the company to TGS in 2012. Scott jumped back into the startup mix and co-founded HTX Labs in 2017, with several colleagues, on a mission to elevate the level of enterprise training through the use of immersive technology, such as virtual and augmented reality.

Keto A.I.

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Jeff Jensen is currently the CEO & Co-Founder of Keto A.I, a software/hardware company that is enabling pool service companies to scale to the mass market. Previously, he was CTO at Arundo Analytics, a venture-backed AI predictive analytics company focused on reducing operational downtime in oil & gas and maritime assets. He holds a Ph.D. in electromagnetics from Texas A&M University and spent years working on autonomous vehicles and swarm based technologies for DARPA and the Department of Defense (DoD).


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I'm Sebastien Long, CEO of Lodgeur. I'm an Anglo-French founder who emigrated to Houston 2.5 years ago from London. I grew up immersed in my parents' hospitality business and interacted with 30,000 travelers before earning my international management degree in the UK at the University of Bath. 

I spent the first decade of my career traveling the world digitizing banks and their operating models across five continents. Looking for a new challenge, I started my Executive MBA at the University of Cambridge and helped two Silicon Valley unicorns come to Europe. I launched the UK market for Sonder and advised Impossible Foods on European market entry.

Although hospitality is in my DNA, I'm a banker by training.  My experience comes from modernizing banks like HSBC, developing more customer-centric operations, improving risk management, and fighting financial crime. This background is surprisingly useful in our mission to provide an operating system that combines hospitality operations and multifamily apartment assets.

One of my hobbies is other people's startups: I mentor early-stage founders with MassChallenge, Founder Institute, and Capital Factory.


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A Petroleum Engineer by background, Sidd is the Co-founder and CEO of Nesh. Sidd is a Schlumberger and Shell alum with over 12 years of experience in the Energy Industry. He is also a self-described data nerd and a design enthusiast. Sidd has a BS in Petroleum Engineering from the Indian School of Mines and an MS in Petroleum Engineering from UT Austin.ney disease and engages in academic, clinical and community based initiatives to support those living with chronic renal insufficiency. 


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Latino, East End resident and 20 year serial entrepreneur, Erik Ibarra is the co-founder, CEO and visionary behind ORDRS. Always one to be ahead of the curve, Erik has created product driven innovations in restaurant tech, the sharing economy, on-demand transportation, legal and now health tech. Well ahead of today's pandemic, Erik lead ORDRS' vertical focus to productize every aspect of lab testing, enabling healthcare organization of all sizes to successfully launch lab testing initiatives. Erik is a former executive board member of Houston Exponential, current board member of Impact Hub Houston and serves on the Alumni Council for his Alma Mater, University of Houston Downtown.

Spark Biomedical

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Daniel Powell has over 20 years in developing and selling technology-based products and served in multiple leadership roles including Engineering, program management, marketing & business development.  Over his career, Mr. Powell launched over 18 medical device products including Deep Brain Stimulation for movement disorders and Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Epilepsy. Most recently he co-founded and serves as CEO of Spark Biomedical,  developing a novel, wearable neurostimulation solution to address opioid withdrawal and addiction.