The Right Connections
After launching numerous successful startups in Houston, James Taylor President of CHR Solutions appreciates Houston’s openness to entrepreneurial ventures, a mindset which stems from the cities oil wildcat mentality.
When he launched CHR Solutions in 2003, formally Global 1 Source Group, he worked with HTC in its earliest stage. As a seasoned entrepreneur he saw the need to connect entrepreneurs in the technology sector and James witnessed the early emergence of what the founders of HTC were trying to accomplish. James knew Houston lacked something of this caliber to connect tech entrepreneurs, “I saw HTC as something good because we need to create and keep high tech jobs in the city and keep our intellectual property here to get companies working better.” He eventually met his business partner and co-founder of Global 1 Source Group (which CHR Solutions merged with in 2006) at a Tech Champs meeting at HTC. As one of the first tenants of HTC, they grew the business from only two to an impressive 546 employees.
Success from a narrow focus CHR Solutions unfolded from the convergence of voice, video, and data in mid-market companies. The founders took advantage of a highly fragmented market to create a technology focused on mid-market companies. By focusing early on the niche, they quickly and successfully scaled their business to become the largest provider of services and solutions to the rural telecommunications market serving more than 800 U.S. companies. “Thinking about the management team and infrastructure, look to grow ahead of the size of the company at its current state. As a CEO if you don’t plan for it you will never get there. In many instances you are investing money ahead of revenue,” James discusses some ways he accomplished his business growth. The ability to recognize the opportune moment to take those risks, many times, arises from gaining crucial advice from the right mentors, much like what HTC does for its client companies. “No matter how experienced a founder is, he or she can never get too much counseling and 3rd party opinions. However, a founder could spend too long coming to an answer, but those differing viewpoints are all really important.”
Entrepreneurs in Houston “[Houston] is a great city, with a lot of good, smart people with good businesses that say let’s give it a shot,” James explains how Houston distinguishes itself from other startup ecosystems. The welcoming nature of our community opens the door to new ideas and new businesses, no matter the entrepreneur’s background. While Houston welcomes entrepreneurs, the lack of venture capital for start-ups consciously arises as a pain point for founders as James suggests, “The adequate supply of venture capital and private equity supply in Houston is still an issue, it is much better today than it was 10-15 years ago, yet it is still a challenge.” However, as we continue to help bring organizations like the Houston Angel Network and the RCIC, we make headway into a solution. The more initiated to support the equity capital markets, the brighter future entrepreneurs will have in Houston.
The Future of Houston Technology Houston is perceived as the energy capital of the world and rightfully so, but sometimes this title leaves innovations and other technologies lost, for example amazing things still come out of NASA. We have tremendous educational institutions in the Houston area. People sometimes forget about nano-tech and the medical center. Medical knowledge assistance is needed from a business standpoint, and we should do more to support those new entrepreneurs’ commercialization efforts and their technology here in Houston. “The more we can do to bring technology companies here, while helping those already in business the better.”
James Taylor is a leader in the international technology community, a highly sought-after speaker and expert witness. He has been a supportive and active friend of the HTC for many years. He serves on our Board of Directors to help push HTC’s mission forward and provide strategic support to our executive team.