Democratizing Innovation: The Cannon’s Quest for Equal Entrepreneurial Opportunity

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The world of entrepreneurship is not the same as it used to be, and traditional models of workspace and community support are no longer enough to support growing businesses. Startups and small businesses,  in particular, face pressing issues such as effort-intensive processes, high costs, and the inherent risks of seeking essential services in the broader market. In response to these issues, The Cannon provides a transformative solution to reshape the foundations of how startups and small businesses operate and grow.

The Cannon is a community and support network for startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses based in Houston. It originated from the observation that despite the city’s large population and innovative spirit, there was a lack of infrastructure and support for turning business ideas into reality and then supporting them as they grew. Recognizing the untapped potential within the fourth-largest city in the U.S., The Cannon set out to create a community that would bridge the gap, connecting startups, small businesses, entrepreneurs, service providers, mentors, and corporate entities.

The company’s original investor had a vision to provide funding to portfolio companies that would contribute to job creation in Houston. And yet, The Cannon’s commitment to job creation extended beyond its digital community experience to include real-world impact. The initiation of real estate infrastructure development saw the establishment of physical hubs. These hubs became instrumental in providing startups and small businesses with tangible spaces to grow, collaborate, and access essential resources. The physical hubs not only became anchor points for the community but also contributed to the city’s overall economic development.

As The Cannon established itself as a pivotal force in Houston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, its evolution naturally extended beyond facilitating connections to a more comprehensive suite of services. Initially focused on networking, events, programming, and mentorship, The Cannon strategically adopted a broader objective—directly aiding business growth, job creation, and revenue generation.

CEO Jon Lambert leads the team at The Cannon; armed with a background in education and a degree in math, Jon began his career as a teacher and coach. His transition into the tech world marked the beginning of a diverse and successful career in startups. His career then led to the world of corporate venture capital, giving him a unique perspective on both sides of the equation — venture and startup.

When the opportunity to join The Cannon presented itself, Jon saw it as a chance to return to his roots and be closer to the action. The prospect of working with startup organizations daily, understanding their challenges, and finding solutions resonated with his passion for making a tangible impact.

“We can really understand what value and energy we can create from bringing entrepreneurs together and removing the walls that are often built around innovation initiatives, and we can make connections and offer opportunities for collaboration; I want to be in the middle of that. That’s what I’m drawn to. That’s really why I’m here.” says Lambert

Lambert’s leadership has significantly shaped The Cannon’s ethos, infusing the organization with a care for people, a passion for democratizing access, and a commitment to balancing for-profit goals with a nonprofit heart.

When Lambert joined The Cannon in 2019, the focus was primarily on building a physical community hub, exemplified by the Cannon West Houston facility. However, recognizing the limitations of physical walls to meet the growing demand, the organization explored ways to replicate the community experience virtually.

In 2022, The Cannon began working with Village Insights, a Houston-born technology platform provider specializing in innovation community management. The collaboration aimed to create a digital platform to engage the community virtually and offer an experience like the one at the physical hubs.

This partnership allows The Cannon to break down borders, expand its reach beyond its physical footprint in Houston, and engage with innovators and entrepreneurs locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. By leveraging the virtual platform, The Cannon aims to draw individuals from diverse communities into its central hub, fostering collaboration and innovation on a broader scale.

By leveraging technology, The Cannon aims to break down barriers that traditionally hindered collaboration across geographical boundaries. The vision is clear – to provide every entrepreneur, regardless of location, a fair chance to pursue their ideas and contribute to the global innovation ecosystem. To learn more, visit www.thecannon.com.

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