Houston Startup Hopes to Create Tech Cluster, Rebuild Neighborhood

When Gaurav Khandelwal opened the doors to Start Houston last year, its neighbors included a carpet outlet warehouse, food-distribution companies, and an industrial tool supplier.

The gritty environs of warehouses and out-of-service railroad tracks in the optimistically named “EaDo” neighborhood—presumably hipper than “East of Downtown”—are not the sort you usually associate with a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity.

But Khandelwal sees promise among the hulking buildings. Last month, he purchased another one on Delano Street, a gutted art deco structure that he says will be the headquarters of his mobile IT startup, ChaiOne, by next spring.

“I want to put Houston on the map for technology startups,” Khandelwal says. “I want to drive some energy into the community.”

ChaiOne will spend about $3 million buying and refurbishing the building, an effort that Khandelwal and city officials believe will be not only the keystone for Houston’s newest startup ecosystem, but a jump-start to the development of a long-neglected city neighborhood.

“This is right in line with what we need to see happening in the district,” says Anton Sinkewich, executive director of the East Downtown Management District, which supervises redevelopment in this part of Houston.

ChaiOne would be … Next Page »

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Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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