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Houston Innovators: Tips for Bringing Your Product Idea to Life

Teamwork makes the dream work, and a Houston-based tech startup is one step closer to its dream team, according to company management.

Fluence Analytics, which moved its headquarters from New Orleans to the Houston area last year, has named Jay Manouchehri as the company’s CEO. Manouchehri has held senior positions in digital transformation at ABB and Honeywell worldwide, as well as in consulting and private equity.

“As you (you can see) from Jay’s background, he’s exactly the type of person we need to take our business to the next level,” said co-founder Alex Reed. “I think he’s going to be critical as we’ve made this move to Houston and move into this next phase of growth and ultimately lead to an exit.”

Reed rose from CEO to chief commercial officer, but Manouchehri tells InnovationMap the two really run the business together and balance each other out. Reed says he is focused on product business strategy and Manouchehri is leading industrial growth.

“The next step for Fluence is really to industrialize our product and launch it on the industrial market,” says Manouchehri. “That’s exactly why we moved to Houston – that’s where a lot of our customers are. We’re building and structuring the business so it can scale, get the right partnerships, and hire a team to take us to the next level and provide the technology.”

Fluence’s technology is a game-changer in the field of polymers. Industrial and laboratory monitoring solutions – a combination of software and hardware – track and report key data in real time, enabling industrial polymer producers to improve process control.

“When I saw what Alex was doing, it wasn’t like it was a startup looking for a problem to solve. It’s a startup trying to bust a nut that a lot of people in this industry been trying for 20 or 30 years and haven’t been able to do it,” says Manouchehri.

The move to Houston gave the company access to new and existing customers within the industry, but also potential acquirers and the company says an exit could be possible within the next few years. Additionally, Houston offers an opportunity for expansion into the biomedical space. Recently, Fluence hired an employee from Houston to develop this vertical.

“MRNAs and DNAs are all polymers, so we use the same intellectual property and technology and perform analysis, detection and data analysis for the biopharmaceutical industry,” says Manouchehri. “We actually push that quite strongly. Our customer base is growing rapidly.

Another avenue that Fluence is enthusiastic about is chemical recycling or recycling by polymerization. Reed says they are closely monitoring traction within the circular economy.

“Imagine taking plastic bottles and being able to recycle them back into the original molecule and then reprocess them back into a bottle,” says Reed. “Mechanical recycling is more common now and has a lot of disadvantages because of the additives and properties you get when you melt down all the different types of plastics. (Chemical recycling) would actually allow you to make new plastic from from the old plastic, simply by removing the original molecule.”

Fluence Analytics, which raised a $7.5 million seed round led by Energy Innovation Capital last summer, is headquartered in Stafford, just southwest of Houston.

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