Houston may be the Energy Capital of the World, home to the largest Medical Center in the world, and the first word spoken from the moon! But it is usually not the first city that comes to mind when someone thinks of “tech hubs” in the country. San Francisco, New York, Boston, and more recently even Austin, have attracted that coveted moniker.
As cofounder of Smartereum – a blockchain and crypto news site – my job has taken me to multiple cities around the world, where I have seen the blockchain ecosystems that some of these cities have built, and are continuing to build. Returning home, I would search for blockchain groups to hang out with, but they always seemed to have going trouble. That is why I decided to launch the Houston Blockchain Alliance in October 2018, as a platform where someone like myself could easily find any kind of blockchain resources they would need. The Houston Blockchain Alliance is being setup as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit entity.
I consider myself a Houstonian, having made Houston my home for over 12 years now. This is where Smartereum was born, and continues to grow. As a technologist, who moved to Houston for a job at J.P.Morgan’s newly expanding North American Technology Center (NATC), over the years I have been frustrated at the seeming lack of tech resources in the city. I have seen other smaller cities overtake Houston to become those tech hubs. We were never in serious contention for Amazon’s HQ2 or for Apple’s $1 billion campus! So when I saw Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner push an “ambitious goal […] for Houston to grow technology innovation” with the first ever IoT partnership with Microsoft earlier this year, I could finally see a change on the horizon.
“Microsoft chose us because of the ambitious goal I set for Houston to grow technology innovation as its next economic frontier — after doing the same thing with energy, medicine, space exploration and the port”
– Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
The HBA aims to make and then showcase Houston as a great place to do blockchain work, in support of the Mayor’s goal.
In the short span of 2 months, the support I have received from Houston has been incredibly encouraging. We have built a robust team at HBA, comprising of professionals with varying skillsets working towards the same goal of putting Houston on the blockchain map. But the support has been more than just the immediate team. The Greater Houston Partnership, startups, educators and enterprises in Houston, have all reached out to the HBA with an offer of help.
The HBA mission is to “help Houston businesses and startups identify real-world applications of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.” However, the HBA aims to do even more – provide a platform for individuals, businesses, technologists, investors, and anyone interested in blockchain to network, collaborate, learn about, and contribute to, this technology as it evolves from its current infancy.
Anyone interested in joining the Houston Blockchain Alliance can do so for FREE before the kick off event, scheduled for February 21. The HBA plans on having similar events every quarter, with more regular informal meetups, as well as a citywide blockchain conference towards the end of the year. Members will gain free access to most events and meetups, as well as discounts on conference tickets and other member-only services.
If you are interested in helping out, as a volunteer, partner, sponsor, educator, or any other capacity, please contact us at email@example.com. And follow the Houston Blockchain Alliance on Twitter (@BlockchainHTX) and Facebook (BlockchainHTX)
Mahesh Sashital is cofounder of Smartereum.
He was previously Vice President at J.P. Morgan. He has over 15 years of experience in software engineering at various Fortune 20 companies. He has a Bachelor's in Engineering from the University of Mumbai and an MBA from the University of Texas-Austin.