Houston Tech Rodeo Roundup: Diversity, Fundraising and Innovation


The Houston Tech Rodeo took place last week in a new hybrid platform. The startup event across Houston hosted a multitude of in-person events that were primed for networking. While their digital platform provided a plethora of live seminars from innovators around the country.

One of the virtual sessions on Tuesday, May 18th, dove into the topics of fundraising, innovation, and most importantly, diversity. The speakers for this event were Zoe Bogan, a Founder at ZB Agency, Fonta Gillam, CEO and co-founder of Invest Sou Sou and Michael Burch, an accountant at KPMG Spark.

Burch and Bogan explained how KPMG Spark can be an invaluable tool when organizing your finances and numbers for your pitch and company. The main focus of the seminar, diversity, was extremely informative in talking about the barriers people of color and women face in the workplace, specifically with startups.

Gillam is considered a pioneer for women in the FinTech (financial technology) startup world. Her FinTech has been extremely successful since its launch in 2016; since then, she has experienced the ups and downs that come with being an owner of a FinTech as well as a woman of color in this industry.

The biggest takeaways from this seminar are:

  • Know all the jargon for your field: Gillam touched on an experience she had years ago when she was giving a pitch to investors and did not know one of the terms someone had asked. Since then, she made sure she knew every piece of jargon that could be used in her pitch.

  • Be confident and knowledgeable: Gillam spoke often about how especially as a woman and a person of color; she will always be met with skepticism. Make sure you know and understand your mission, numbers, and how your product or idea will be implemented. Be confident in your pitch, your approach, and make sure to never back down from criticism.

  • Look the part: Gillam mentioned that it is not enough to just have a solid pitch and be knowledgeable, having a professional look or design to your pitch goes a long way when convincing people to give you their money.


While all those points are great advice for any level of entrepreneur, the best quote of the day came from Burch when he gave his opinion on diversity, “diversity drives innovation.”


At Texas Innovators, we support that claim 100%. Today, no true change or innovation is done without diversity; as we all work together to break through barriers for women and people of color, there is no limit to what kind of innovations or ideas can be manufactured.