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Tech entrepreneur and startup advocate Russ Capper tapped to lead Houston Exponential

HOUSTON (April 18, 2018) – The board of the recently established nonprofit Houston Exponential has chosen longtime local entrepreneur and technology industry champion Russ Capper as executive director.

Launched in October as a vehicle to bolster Houston’s innovation ecosystem, Houston Exponential (HX) combined three different initiatives: the Mayor’s Technology and Innovation Task Force, the Houston Technology Center, and the Greater Houston Partnership’s Innovation Roundtable. The organization’s three main goals are to make Houston a top-10 innovation ecosystem, generate $2 billion in venture capital annually and create 10,000 new technology jobs a year by 2022.

Capper was tapped to lead the organization because of his experience as an entrepreneur and his passion and commitment to driving technology innovation and entrepreneurship in Houston.

“We conducted a national search to fill this important role and we are elated that the search not only yielded the right person in Russ, but also that he has a deep understanding of the Houston technology landscape as a local. He knows both our strengths and our challenges,” says Gina Luna, board chair of HX.

Capper has successfully led multiple technology companies in the business-to-business and business-to-consumer spaces. A one-time IBM executive, Capper became CEO of document copying company, Document Services Inc., in 1993, transitioned it to a digital business model and expanded to six cities before selling the business to IKON in 1995. In 1998, he launched residential real estate brokerage firm, which used web-based technology to streamline and lower the cost of the homebuying process and later expanded nationwide with Prudential Real Estate. In 2005, he founded HighDrive.TV, a digital video network featuring in-person interviews with innovators, entrepreneurs and strategists. Over the years, HighDrive.TV has produced more than 2,000 interviews with local and national newsmakers from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to FedEx CEO Fred Smith.

“I’m very excited to take on this position at a critical time in Houston Exponential’s growth,” says Capper. “I believe in Houston and our ability to make big things happen. This is the right organization at the right time to help take innovation activity in our city to the next level and I’m ready for the challenge.”

Capper’s hiring comes at a time of accelerated momentum for HX and the innovation ecosystem, most notably last week’s announcement by Rice University of plans to transform the former Sears site in Midtown into an anchor for the innovation district. HX plans to relocate to this space once renovations are complete along with business accelerator Station Houston, the Texas Medical Center’s digital initiative and other organizations.

HX grew out of an in-depth study of Houston’s innovation ecosystem produced by Accenture for the Partnership’s Innovation Roundtable. That 2016 study, along with recommendations from the other supporting groups, helped establish the structure and strategy for Houston Exponential, including 13 strategic initiatives.

HX is working toward its mission by supporting a fund of funds to attract venture capital, helping to shape the recently-announced innovation district in Houston and attracting talent to the region, among other key endeavors. It’s also working to promote Houston’s image, both locally and nationally, as a vibrant, innovation economy where startups can thrive. The group has already made significant headway in crucial areas, from identifying investors and partners for early-stage companies to hosting international technology companies interested in expanding in the U.S. It’s also garnered significant commitments toward the goal of raising $50 million for the fund of funds.

“Houston Exponential is leading the charge to create a dynamic and competitive innovation ecosystem in this city,” says Luna. “To execute that vision we need the infrastructure provided by the innovation district, the investment dollars through the fund of funds and the know-how of people like Russ and the talented tech and business leaders in our working groups. Combine all of this together and we can move the needle.”

More News about Houston Exponential:

Houston looks inward for tech innovation leadership, Houston Chronicle, April 18, 2018

Historic Midtown Sears building to anchor Houston innovation district, Rice University News, April 12, 2018


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Jessica Kuhlman
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