New funding round – ETF Program

14 08 2010

Dear Gulf Coast RCIC EDO Partners,
As you may have heard, the ETF program suspended accepting applications last month, pending receiving funds from FEMA.  The ETF program has now received sufficient funds to announce a new funding round – which will be called “Round 20” (the 20th funding round of applications submitted to the State for review). 
In addition to the new funds that will be available to support Round 20, the Gulf Coast RCIC and Governor Perry are planning to announce a new group of ETF Awardees in late September, and will recognize all area ETF Awardees for this year at the 3rd annual Gulf Coast Innovation Conference & Showcase on September 30 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston.  As of today, the ETF program has provided awards to 36 area companies, eligible to receive up to nearly $41M from the ETF.
The Gulf Coast RCIC will be hosting a meeting with area EDOs to review the ETF program status and other activities in the region for helping early stage companies commercialize emerging technologies, including participation by the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Technology Center, other area EDOs, and the Chairman of the State’s ETF Advisory Committee.
This meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 26, from 9AM to 11AM at the Houston Technology Center, 410 Pierce Street, in downtown Houston.  If you or anyone else from your organization is planning to attend, please e-mail an RSVP to me at, by noon, Tuesday, August 24.  Please contact me if you have any questions about this meeting.
The Gulf Coast RCIC has established the following schedule for the next funding round – Round 20 (the 20th round of funding since the ETF program was launched in 2005):
·         Monday, September 13, 1-3PM, at the Research Valley Partnership in College Station – Applicant Workshop
·         Tuesday, September 14, 2-4PM, at the HTC – Applicant Workshop
·         Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, September 20-22, at the HTC – one hour Application Planning Meetings with each registered applicant, either in person at the HTC or via phone
·         Monday, September 27, 2-4PM, at the HTC – Application Workshop – question-by-question walkthrough of the application form – STRONGLY RECOMMENDED
·         Tuesday, October 12, 10AM – Gulf Coast RCIC Application Deadline
·         Wednesday, October 20 – RCIC Review Committee Semifinalist Selection Meeting
·         Wednesday, October 27 – RCIC Review Committee Finalist Selection Meeting – applicant presentations at the HTC
·         Tuesday, November 2  – TLSC Application Deadline (RCIC will submit Life Science Finalist applications to the TLSC for parallel review)
·         Wednesday, November 3 – possible 2nd RCIC Review Committee Finalist Selection Meeting – if there are more semifinalists selected than can present in a single day on October 27, non-life science semifinalists will be invited to present on November 3 INSTEAD OF October 27
·         Tuesday, November 30 – RCIC Board Meeting – applicant presentations at the HTC
·         Tuesday, December 14 – TLSC Board Meeting – for invited life science applicants, presentations in Austin
·         Thursday, December 16– State Application Deadline (RCIC will submit selected applications to the State for review)
·         Thursday, January 6 – State ETF Presentations in Austin
Companies interested in applying should submit an applicant registration through the Gulf Coast RCIC website (, and consider attending the Applicant Workshops on September 13 (tentative in College Station) or September 14 (at the HTC).  Companies should also plan to attend (in person or via phone) an Application Planning Meeting, and the Application Workshop.
In addition to the Applicant Workshops on September 13 (College Station) and September 14 (HTC), the RCIC is available to offer workshops at other locations.  Please contact me if you are interested in scheduling a workshop in your area.
If you or anyone you know is interested in participating as a Reviewer (and has not already signed up), please have them submit a Reviewer Application through our website –
If you have any questions about the RCIC or ETF program, please contact me or Deborah Mansfield (832-476-9285), Associate Director.
Bob Prochnow
Gulf Coast RCIC Director, Texas Emerging Technology Fund
Houston Technology Center
832-476-9262 (office)
866-341-0998 (FAX)


Today’s News

24 06 2010
The Search

Taking the Leap to Self-Employment

Published: June 18, 2010    From the New York Times

SITTING in their cubicles, rolling their eyes over the latest bureaucratic slowdown or marveling at the near-incompetence of higher-ups, some employees are thinking: If only I were my own boss, I wouldn’t have these problems.

No, they wouldn’t. They’d have a host of different problems. Still, some people make the leap to self-employment and find it was worth the risk.

How can a salaried employee with some savings tell if the idea of becoming self-employed is a viable option and not just an escape fantasy? And how can a recently laid-off employee with some severance pay determine whether this is the right time to pursue her dream of being an entrepreneur?

First, you must be highly motivated to sell a specific product or service that your research has found to be marketable. And your business idea should be based on expertise that you already have, said Susan Urquhart-Brown, author of “The Accidental Entrepreneur” and a career coach. Learning how to run a business is hard enough without also learning a new skill from scratch, she said.

Some soon-to-be entrepreneurs come up with a solution to a business problem and find their company is unwilling to pursue it, said William A. Sahlman, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School with a focus on entrepreneurship.

“There’s a mismatch between what they’re passionate about and feel ought to be done and what the company is prepared to support,” he said.

Motivation, drive, passion — these words are often used in connection with entrepreneurs. “They need to be passionate about what they do because that will carry them through the tough times,” Ms. Urquhart-Brown said.

As an entrepreneur you also need to be an excellent multitasker, because you’re in charge of your own marketing, payroll, administrative work, taxes and health insurance. Oh, and don’t forget — you also have to deliver a product or service.

At first, the actual business may be secondary because you will need to devote most of your time to marketing, Ms. Urquhart-Brown said. If you cringe at the idea of selling yourself, vow to hire someone for that odious task once the company has more customers.

Expect to devote long hours to your enterprise, said Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of “Happiness at Work” and chief executive of iOpener, a workplace consulting firm.

At one of her consulting clients, Ms. Pryce-Jones once talked to a high-level employee who was complaining bitterly about having to work 40 hours a week. “He thought that if he went freelance he would magically become happy,” she said.

She asked him, “How many hours a week do you think you’d have to work if you were freelance?” The man put the number at about 35. She told him he needed to double that number, at a minimum.

And those hours, though more flexible, can be unpredictable. People who prefer a fixed structure are probably better off as salaried employees, Ms. Pryce-Jones said, whereas entrepreneurs prefer a more fluid work environment. They actually thrive on the stress of uncertainty and the adrenaline rush it gives them, she said.

In addition to structure and predictability, a workplace offers a built-in sense of community and belonging, which is hugely important to happiness, Ms. Pryce-Jones said. One of the biggest problems faced by the self-employed is loneliness, she said. So make sure to connect regularly — either online or in person — with other business people, she advised.

Another major advantage of having an employer is access to benefits like health insurance. But fewer businesses are now offering comprehensive benefits, which can tip the scale toward self-employment, said Sara Horowitz, executive director of the Freelancers Union. Her group, which has 140,000 members, offers five levels of health insurance to self-employed people in a range of industries.

A harder adjustment for the self-employed is dealing with the lack of a steady paycheck, Ms. Horowitz said, as work tends to be feast or famine. And even when freelancers do get work, there’s a chance that they may not be paid. According to a survey of Freelancers Union members, more than three-quarters said they had experienced nonpayment in their careers. By contrast, a business has to be in very bad shape not to meet its employee payroll, she said.

Given all the risks, it’s no surprise that the failure rate for new businesses is high. Half of all start-ups fail within the first five years, according to federal data. But a failure of your business doesn’t mean you have failed as a person, Professor Sahlman said. When you’re seeking venture capital, he added, a past failure is often seen as valuable experience.

Even in the face of failure, most entrepreneurs are not willing to give up. “Once they taste having more control over their lives,” he said, “they almost never go back.”