Innovation Week HOU 2016


Innovation Week Houston is a FREE 3-day conference for Houston entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders. Based on the success of our long-running Austin event, we’ll offer engaging panels, interactive workshops, and thought-provoking sessions designed to help you grow your business.


Join us at Neighborhood Centers, Leonel Castillo Community Center, 2101 South St. Houston, TX 77009

Innovation Week Houston 2016 Agenda


Monday, September 19

9:00-10:00 AM     Networking Ninja:  More People, More Relationships, More Opportunity, More Business, More Sales,  More Revenue with Curtis Wilson

headshotCWilsonNetworking is often touted as the most important tool to growing your business and getting ahead, but not all networking is created equal. Creating genuine relationships and mutual benefit through your networks will bring you results: superficial small talk and exchanging business cards will not. Learn how to hone your relationship building skills and become a sneaky-smart networking ninja for years to come.

10:00-11:00 AM     Common Accounting Mistakes that are Costing You Money with Dwayne Briscoe, Bookkeeping Results LLC

21For new business owners or current business owners, there’s often times issues to where you’re not sure if something is a business deduction or not.  Learn about common accounting mistakes that can not only cost you and your business money, it can also cost you additional taxes or a potential loan to expand your business.  Key points from this session can be immediately applied to your current status following this session and find out how you can save money by managing your finances better.

11:00 AM-12:00 PM    Cyber Security for Small Businesses with Louis Barton, Frost Bank

The cyber safety presentation provides an overview of common cyber related issues (including data loss, ransom ware, and fraud) and responses to help lessen the impact of cyber risks to businesses and individuals. The information stresses a common sense approach to cyber risks, and is not technical in nature.


12:00-1:00 PM    Build Your Home on the World Wide Web! with Tanisha Dixon, Go TCG Webs

Tanisha Dixon - Headshot“Your website is undoubtedly the single most important branding tool you can have!” – Michael Hyatt, Author of Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World

With more than 3.2 billion people using the internet every day, it just makes sense to put your business online!  Whether you’re starting from scratch or simply wanting to optimize your current website design, this class will provide you with essential information, user-friendly tools, and a ton of free or low-cost resources to help you build your home on the World Wide Web!

*All workshop attendees can enter to win a free logo design (a $250 value) from Go TCG Webs!

1:00-2:00 PM     From Craft to Commerce: Getting Connected to Houston’s Maker Community, with Houston Makes

Houston Makes is a community based network focused on helping people make by collaborating and hiring others. This workshop will cover a quick introduction to production (how to make smarter yourself or hire people to make for you), selling (at local markets and online) and marketing (yourself, your skills and your products). Speakers from this session represent 3 local organizations making a big impact in Houston’s maker/craft community: TXRX, a local makerspace that helps people do things themselves and introduces many shortcuts using technology, Pop Shop America, an e-commerce store for handmade goods and organizes several local markets, and People & Words, a new startup focused on helping people use words to tell their story and market themselves.

2:00-3:00 PM    Project Management Essentials: Small Business Owner’s Toolbox TM with LaToshia Norwood, L’Renee & Associates, LLC

LaToshia Norwood, PMPAre you confident that you have the tools in your toolbox to manage ANY project or day-to-day business challenge? In today’s fast-paced business environment, as a business owner it is imperative that you do! Join us for the Small Business Owner’s Toolbox TM workshop and you’ll add the MUST HAVE tools EVERY small business owner needs, and will learn how to:

  • Utilize project management tools to get the work done on scope, on time, and on budget
  • Avoid issues that may derail success
  • Plan, manage, and control business processes and projects successfully and with minimal risk

3:00-4:00 PM    Worker Classification and Taxes: What You Need to Know with Jessie Campbell, Houston Volunteer Lawyers

Jessie Campbell_headshotAs you grow your business, you may need help. This session will provide you with the necessary information about worker classification and the IRS for when you are ready to hire your first worker.  Specifically, you will learn what the difference is between an employee and an independent contractor, who makes that decision, what are your tax requirements, and what happens if you classify the worker incorrectly.  This session is designed to informational only.

4:00-5:00 PM     How QuickBooks Can Make Your Business More Profitable with Dwayne Briscoe, Bookkeeping Results LLC

21If you’re not sure if QuickBooks is the right software for your business accounting needs, or you’re currently using it and have questions, then this is going to be a fun and informative program to attend.  Learn the different types of editions to show the benefits of your particular business.  Determine what different types of information are needed to be tracking everything to help maximize your profits.  If you have specific questions regarding your current business please feel free to bring them to this program and have them addressed by a Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor with over 10+ years of experience.    


Tuesday, September 20

9:00-10:00 AM     Build Your Marketing Toolkit: Engage Customers with Email and Social Media with Toni Harris Taylor

Toni Harris headshotMany small businesses and organizations find themselves seeking the right strategies, tools and tactics to make their marketing efforts as effective as possible.  But between Facebook and Twitter, email, and whatever new social network is rolling out that month—there’s a lot to keep up with. And there are only so many hours in each day. The number of possibilities can feel overwhelming. This session will help make sense of the noise. In this session, you will learn:

  • A greater understanding of marketing basics like goals and objectives
  • what a “campaign” is and what to write about and offer in that campaign
  • Simple but powerful tips for how to get your messages opened and read, shared and socially visible
  • About tools to help engage with your existing customers  as well as expand your reach to new prospects

10:00-11:00 AM    How to Scale Your Business with Zawadi Bryant, Nightlight Urgent Care

ZawadiNationally, there are approximately 28 million Small Businesses.   Over three-quarters of these businesses have no employees.  But for those who want to scale their business, there are FIVE key factors for success.  Growing your business can be overwhelming, but with these key success factors you will learn to share the fun with others and build a company that will last.  In this session, you will learn to:

  • Think Big and Be Bold
  • Work ON your business and not IN it
  • Establish Key Advisory Networks
  • Build a Public Profile
  • Evaluate the Right Financing for Expansion

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM     Small Business Resource Fair

Take a lunch break with Innovation Week! Attendees of this fair can mingle and get connected to local organizations providing small business owners with valuable tools and resources in the Houston area. Interested attendees will also be able to receive a FREE HEADSHOT courtesy of Jay Stevens Photo. Light refreshments will be provided.

IW HOU Resource Fair logos

1:00-2:00 PM     Soup to Nuts: Business Priorities with The Profit Mover Team

Our Profit Mover™ business experts will present: “Soup to Nuts Business Priorities”, a 1 hr seminar on the six priorities you need to focus on to sell what you make more profitably and efficiently. They will be discussing and answering questions on legal, financial, sales, marketing, admin, and funding issues. **Attendees will be able to sign up to meet with the team at our office hours immediately following the presentation.

Profit Mover™ Team:
Jan Triplett, Business Success Center & PMT leader
Andrew Eisenberg, Lee & Hayes
Francoise Luca/Sam Thacker, Business Finance Solutions
Steve Pearson, Pearson Strategy Group
Joe Wargo, PendasWargo, PLLC

2:00-3:00 PM     Powerful Social Media Strategies for Professional Events with Jessica Bolaños Vanegas, Goodspero LLC

Jessica SperoWhether you’re hosting a luncheon, attending a networking event or speaking at a conference, there are powerful ways to use social media to strategize your approach before, during and after professional events. In this session you’ll hear from a 10+ year digital media veteran on how to get one step ahead of the rest using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect with industry professionals, potential clients, partners, “unreachable” mentors, and how to best utilize social media to increase brand awareness, web traffic, and grow your follower/fan base. Follow Jessica: @FancyCapitalist

3:00-4:00 PM    Doing Business with the City of Houston with Tanya Makany-Rivera, Houston Office of Business Opportunity

TanyaWith hundreds of millions of dollars being awarded annually through City departments, knowing where to go for contracting information can seem overwhelming. Attend this workshop and see how you can make it through the maze of City contracting. You’ll find out what types of products and services are purchased, types of certifications you need to do business with the City of Houston, and how their procurement process works.

4:00-5:00 PM   Step by Step Guide to Innovation  with Ebony L. Thomas, Innovation Strategist (Certified in Business Innovation)

Ebony Thomas

The one critical difference between an innovative entrepreneur and a traditional entrepreneur, is that one sees dots and other  daily insights while the other also sees them but does not question, explore, or connect any of them. The acumen of attentiveness to how things apply to companies, products, and brands in an ever converging manner is the foundation for innovation. Get ready to strategically innovate with Ebony L. Thomas the Innovation Strategist Certified in Business Innovation. In one hour you will:

  • Identify your primary innovation business style that promotes your business growth & development.
  • Outline insights and competencies to address business challenges and opportunities.
  • Learn strategic and concise steps to innovate despite technological, economic, and political values constantly converging.


 Wednesday, September 21

9:00-10:00 AM     Food Business Basics with Joe Phillips, Oh My! Pocket Pies
Joe Phillips_ OMPPYou’ve got a great concept or tasty food product, now what? In this session we will present an overview of the different stages involved within the food-focused business planning process, from pre-planning to launch. We’ll discuss key concepts and areas of focus that will help develop and grow your small food business. Whether you’re a home cook wondering where to start, or an established food truck wanting to expand, we’ll provide information that will help you develop next steps for your business venture.

10:00-11:00 AM   Business Law Basics: Who and What You Need to Know with Crisarla Houston, of Cris S. Houston Law

crisThis session will go through the various types of business entities available to entrepreneurs as they begin their journey of owning a thriving business. This session will also cover basic business law issues that every business owner should know and will also cover the major pitfalls to avoid when starting one’s business. The session will focus on the keys to success in navigating the beginning stages of business ownership from a legal and business perspective.

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM    Perceived Legitimacy during the Fundraising Process (for Small Business) with Gira Desai Wieczorek, Aleberry Creative

aleberryWhat is “perceived legitimacy?” This session teaches you how you should visually prepare your startup to articulately deliver its message and raise funds & gain traction.


12:00 PM – 1:00 PM    Talk Like TED: How to Tell Your Story for Impact with Grace Rodriguez, Station Houston

1:00-2:00 PM      Big Money for Small Business: Access to Capital with Nini Gutierrez, PeopleFund

Small business is big business in Texas: over 90% of businesses in Texas have 5 or fewer employees. Even though small business is such a huge economic driver in the Texas economy, most business owners state that accessing the capital they need for their business remains their biggest challenge. If you are wondering how you can get the money you need to grow, even if you’ve been told “no” a hundred times, this session will outline the different ways you can access resources outside of traditional bank loans.

2:00-3:00 PM    PR Tips for Small Businesses with Sandra Fernandez, SandraSays

SFH-0002Every media interview is an opportunity for you to tell your story in your own words. Learn how to capture the attention of traditional media outlets and craft a pitch to tell your story effectively. From how to reach out to journalists and media outlets to how to give a great interview and what to wear, you’ll walk away with tips you can use immediately.

Sandra Fernandez is a public relations and social media consultant with more than 20 years of experience as a professional communicator.  Sandra is best-known for her role as Manager of Public Relations for the Houston Public Library, where she oversaw the publicity and promotion for all 43 libraries in Houston. You can follow her on Twitter ( and on her blog (

3:00-4:00 PM    Understanding Your Business – Mini Feasibility Study **En Espanol** with Alexis Rios, Neighborhood Centers

alexis rio¿Qué es lo que realmente significa ser un empresario? Cualquier persona puede soñar, o llegar a ideas, pero ¿qué se necesita para despertar el espíritu emprendedor y seguir adelante con el tiempo, el trabajo duro, y saber cómo hacer los sueños una realidad? En esta sesión, se desarrollará un plan de negocios preliminar, lleve a cabo un mini estudio de mercado de su producto o servicio, y determinar cómo va a ganar la atención de su cliente. También vamos a discutir qué materiales, mano de obra, equipo y recursos financieros necesarios para respaldar estas ideas. El taller será interactivo, con las formas para llevar a casa en averiguar el coste real del inventario, así como un análisis de mercado.

4:00-5:00 PM     3 Nuggets to Connect with Confidence with Michelle Ngome, Line 25 Consulting

Michelle NgomeWe all know the importance of relationships for professional growth. Yet we place barriers and social pressures on ourselves at business functions. Connect With Confidence will explore three motivational factors that will allow you to connect with anyone in any room.

  • Overcoming social pressures
  • The #1 way to build confidence
  • Understanding the business you are creating

Innovation Week