On September 27, I have just 20 minutes to interview Russ Capper, the Executive Director of Houston Exponential, on stage at the American Marketing Association’s Marketing Edge 2018. I wish we had hours and hours with this audience, because Russ is someone who knows how to make things happen. Marketers will be inspired by his insights about Houston, about technology, and about leading big change.
One of the lessons we can learn from Russ is that where you start out doesn’t dictate where you’ll end up. Russ has successfully led a number of technology companies. I first met him when he was at eRealty.com, a company he launched in 1998. His use of web-based technology was innovative for its time. It changed the way people find and buy real estate. Serial entrepreneur that he is, Russ went on to found HighDrive.TV, a digital video network.
Russ and I have had a great relationship over the years. We worked on programs together when I was advancing my career at PKF Texas. We put together an Entrepreneurs’ Playbook that positioned PKF as a thought leader, not just an accounting firm. Russ opened doors for me in a strategic way, and I reciprocated. His loyalty to the Business Makers program we did together always impressed me.
Now, as executive director for the trio of groups that make up Houston Exponential (HX), Russ is in his element. He gets to use his entrepreneurial mind, his technology expertise, and his passion for connecting people with opportunities. HX works to grow the innovation ecosystem for the whole Houston region.
Another lesson we get from a mover-and-shaker like Russ is that you can grow your own business, or you can grow the entire platform upon which your business and others will thrive. This big-picture thinking means bringing a variety of players to the table. In the case of HX, the players include economic development leaders, city government, tech business incubators, higher education, start-ups, corporations and investors. Russ has an unselfish approach, and really, that’s the Houston way. I’ve seen this personally, and I know he’s already hard at work to bring a brighter spotlight on our high-tech community.
Russ knows – and so do longtime Houstonians – that our willingness to work together is one of our strongest attributes. We have proved it in the face of hurricanes and we prove it every day in business.
I’m grateful for the opportunity bring Russ Capper’s insights to audiences. And I can’t wait to see what’s next as our innovation ecosystem expands.