Houston: A Successful Gumbo

by | Nov 4, 2009 | Tecknowledgy

Houston has a successful recipe for emerging market and high growth companies.  In our nine years of being the Presenting Sponsor of the Fast Tech 50 we see no drop off in the number of successful companies, and their entrepreneurial spirit.  In fact, a recent national magazine just rated Houston as the fourth best large city in America to “Start a Business”.  So what’s our “recipe for success” you ask?  Well, Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a recipe as; “A formula or procedure for doing or attaining something. And it defines success as: “A favorable or desired outcome”. So what makes up our “Success Gumbo?” 

Our emerging market Gumbo has lots of ingredients.  It starts with an attitude and a belief in yourself and your idea.  That baseline, is legacy DNA for Texans or transplanted Texans from as far back as our earliest settlers.  Then it starts with having the right infrastructure and support groups.  That infrastructure includes:  The Houston Technology Center (HTC); The Rice Alliance for Innovation and Technology; and support groups like The Gulf Coast Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization (RCIC), and the Houston Angel Network (HAN).  All of these are providing forums for entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and find financial investors and backers.  And the final receipt ingredient includes the various advisors and service providers who work with these young companies to stir and fold these ingredients so that our Gumbo comes together at the right time and the right temperature. 

The Class of 2009 will be one of the youngest we have ever had in our program. In comparing this year’s group of winners, it’s clear that they represent a much younger and still developing group of early stage companies.  They will have an impact on our local and national economy for many years to come, and they will add to the legacy of what makes Houston the top city in the country to start a business.  The threshold to make the list was 20.05% for 2009!  The average growth rate for this year’s group is a staggering 132.7%. 

During this past year we had over 390 companies express an interest in becoming a member of this exclusive club.  The Fast Tech 50 class of 2009 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; 20 first-time honorees, 15 two-time honorees, 7 three-time honorees, 3 four-time honorees, 2 five-time honorees and 3 six-time honoree.  Our five time honorees include:  RigNet, Inc. and ERGOS Technology Partners, Inc. And our six time honorees are: BBS Technologies, DataCert, Inc. and Triad Resources, Inc. What staying power!

During the past year we saw the on-going continuation of many successful technology events throughout the city.  The Houston Technology Center (including the Gulf Coast Innovation Conference & Showcase) and the Rice Alliance (including the highly success Rice Business Plan competition with almost $1million in prizes) held many forums for the start up community.   The Houston based Gulf Coast Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization (RCIC) continues to do well.  We continue to hear from the State’s oversight group 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 2007 to fiscal 2008.

The nominees were asked to submit the following information:  nomination form; audited, reviewed or compiled financial statements or tax returns for 2007 and 2008; 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 2007 to 2008.  During the past year we received over 360 nominations for the Fast Tech 50.   The organizations that made the top 50 places were then listed. 

Overview of the 2009 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: Environmental Technology 3, Software 22,  Hardware 1, Hosting Facilities 2, Life Science 4, Technical/Consulting Services 6, eCommerce/Business Portals 3, Energy Technology Products 6, and Communications 3. 

Three of our honorees were started in the 1980s.  Eleven honorees were started in the 1990s.  Finally, thirty six honorees were started since 2000.   This group of honorees is by far, our youngest group of companies ever.  Hang on Houston; we’ve got some growing to do!

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 3,094 jobs and over $600 million 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 2010. Congratulations to all of our honorees!  We look forward to seeing you in next year’s listing.

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