Houston, Your Final Destination for Entrepreneurs

by | Nov 3, 2006 | Community Circle, Tecknowledgy

As we prepare our program for the sixth year of the Fast Tech 50 Awards Luncheon, I again have a chance to reflect and comment on an outstanding group of entrepreneurs and business leaders that make Houston one of the best places to live and work in the country. The maturity of many of our new emerging companies is evident with the threshold to make the list increasing to over 35% for 2006! The average growth rate for this year’s group is a staggering 134%. It seems everywhere you look there are new entrepreneurs emerging on the scene in Houston. Our city has its legacy, and its future, riding on the success of its entrepreneurs. Everywhere you turn all the appropriate parties are on the same page in this critical area. In my opinion, it’s a return to a time when NASA was first starting here in Houston and all parties were working together to get it right. All branches of government as well as the private sector are on the same page, and doing what’s right for our great city.

During this past year we had 341 companies express an interest in becoming a member of this exclusive club. The Fast Tech 50 class of 2006 continues Houston’s tradition of technology excellence. And they also bring to the forefront new and different stories of entrepreneurial success. This year’s list of honorees includes; 25 first-time honorees, 9 two-time honorees, 11 three-time honorees, 4 four-time, and 1 six-time honoree. Our lone six time honoree is: Cardtronics.  

We also had some unique honorees this year, our first group of combination honorees. We have both a father-son and husband-wife combination. Talk about success in your family! Our father-son honorees include: Ron Farmer (father) of US LED Ltd. (a first time honoree) and BJ Farmer (son) of CITOC (a four time honoree). Our husband wife combination includes: Michael Chang of Directron (a two time honoree) and Vicky Change of Prime Systems (a first time honoree).

During the past year we saw many successful technology events throughout the city. The Houston Technology Center, the Rice Alliance (including the highly success Rice Business Plan competition), held many forums for the start up community.   The Houston based Gulf Coast Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization (RCIC) is off and running. Recent feedback from the State’s oversight group is that the plans submitted from the Houston area are some of the most well received.


Let’s review the nomination and listing process. To qualify for the Fast Tech 50, a company’s headquarters, or a foreign company’s US headquarters must be located in Houston SMSA region. A minimum of 51% of the company’s consolidated net revenues must be involved in the original manufacture, design or development of technology products or delivery of services. A nominee must have minimum net revenues of more than $200,000 in both years. Rankings were determined on the revenue growth percentage from fiscal 2004 to fiscal 2005.

The nominees were asked to submit the following information: nomination form; audited, reviewed or compiled financial statements or tax returns for 2004 and 2005; an overview letter; and background information on the company, its products and/or services. Representatives from PKF Texas validated the information on the nomination form from the information packet. The percentage of revenue growth was computed by comparing net revenues from 2004 to 2005. During the past year we received 341 nominations for the Fast Tech 50.   The organizations that made the top 50 places were then listed. 

Overview of the 2006 Fast Tech 50

Our Fast Tech 50 represents a wide variety of industries. The industries represented by our award winners, and the number of entries by their area are as follows: Bio/Life Sciences 1, Medical Devices 2, Software 28, Medical IT 2, Hardware 4, Technical/Consulting Services 5, eCommerce/Business Portals 3, and Communications 5. 

Two honorees were started in the 1970s. Four of our honorees were started in the 1980s. Twenty-one honorees were started in the 1990s. Finally, twenty three honorees were started since 2000.   This group of honorees is by far, our youngest group of companies ever. Hang on Houston.

This year’s Number 1 ranked Fast Tech 50 honoree  is Tyrell, Inc. You will find a profile on this company later inside this special section of the Houston Business Journal. They grew a remarkable 1,764% during the past year! Congratulations to Wally Klemp and his team. It’s a great story of entrepreneur collaboration. Talk about fast starts! In addition, two companies started in 2004 made the Fast Tech 50 list right away. They are: Quantum Solutions for Business and Continental Vista Broadcasting Group, Inc. The single largest revenue contributor from the Fast Tech 50 to our local economy is COMSYS at $662 million. This was by far the most difficult year to make the Fast Tech 50 with the cutoff being approximately 35.3% growth. This is up from the record of 11% in the prior year. 

The local economic impact made by this year’s Fast Tech 50 is phenomenal! When reviewing the entire 50 companies, an impressive overview quickly emerges. These organizations are responsible for creating almost 9,060 jobs and over $1.4 billion in revenues to our local economy. No one industry dominates the Houston business climate anymore. Our businesses are as diverse as our people and our cultures.

Nominations will be accepted for next year’s Fast Tech 50 listing by contacting the Houston Business Journal, PKF Texas, or any of the additional sponsors. Organizations that are nominated will receive additional information and application packets during the spring of 2007. Congratulations to all of our honorees! We look forward to seeing you in next year’s listing.

Houston is indeed the final destination for entrepreneurs.


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