News & Blog Archives

Her Excellency Ambassador Dr.  Arikana Chihombori-Quao  is a guest speaker at the U.S.-Africa Business Conference.

Her Excellency Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao is a guest speaker at the U.S.-Africa Business Conference.

Save The Date For The U.S.-Africa Cultural Expo And Business Matchmaking Conference

April 3, 2019: The 5th Annual U.S.-Africa Cultural Expo and Business Matchmaking Conference is from May 9th - 12th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 6121 N. IH 35 in Austin, TX. The conference is a four-day event for African and American businesses and entrepreneurs to find mutually-beneficial business opportunities and explore potential business partnerships in the United States and in Africa. The conference also provides networking opportunities with high level government officials and decision makers to facilitate international business deals with Africa.

The event will also celebrate African culture through a variety of artistic performances along with workshops, panels and interactive round-table discussions. Conference attendees will engage with top experts focusing on economic development and diversification. The conference offers a unique opportunity to exchange with local, national and international business leaders, government decision makers and industry professionals to maximize bilateral economic trade between U.S. and Africa.

Guest speakers include Eric L. Niamba, Founder & CEO of Web365Experts; Larry Tabash, Senior International Trade Specialist and Middle East expert for the U.S. Department of Commerce; Her Excellency Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao and IITI Executive Director Richard May.

Go to the U.S.-Africa Cultural Expo and Business Matchmaking Conference for more information. To become a sponsor contact conference founder and director Samuel Yamthe at

BLOG: Investors Need To Look At Urban-Tech And Smart Cities


March 15, 2019 - At the recent SXSW “The Future of Cities” panel discussion, the “urban tech” and “smart city” terms were bantered around throughout the discussion prompting yet another subset of the high-tech and investor universe. So, what is a “smart city”? Cities are such complex ever-changing organisms defining a smart city makes it even more complex.

Jennifer Sanders from the Dallas Innovation Alliance states, “A smart city is one that lives at the intersection of data, technology and community to improve quality of life for all residents and increase economic development, resource efficiency and access to opportunity. A holistic human-centric approach is critical, with tech and data as an enabler, as opposed to a 'silver bullet'.”

If planning a smart city intersects at data, technology and community then that opens a vast universe for entrepreneurs and their sponsoring investors to take full advantage. Whether it is blockchain technology for the energy grid, real estate development or the advent of Uber and Lyft, they all have a direct or indirect tie to city planning.

If you think about it, Uber and Lyft are products of the bad, unforeseen or incomplete urban planning. We residents would rather spend our time and money in a car texting friends and co-workers rather than cussing out log-jammed traffic trying to find steroid-priced parking lots. So Uber and Lyft fill that lack of urban planning creating the most profitable companies in the world.

Yes, urban planning means the potential of dealing with government bureaucracy. But the savvy investor will quickly understand that if you find the right person in the right department, you will find a receptacle of information, trends and innovators filling the space that planners so desperately need to be the “smart city”.

The exponentially pace of our changing cities also foster city-sponsored or non-profit groups to fill that niche that investors need. These groups can be much more nimble and responsive than EDDs, city departments and chambers. Groups such as Austin’s Capital City Innovation, the Dallas’ Tech Titans, Dallas Innovation Alliance or (insert shameless plug) Invest in Texas Initiative.

These groups are hubs to information, leads and connections investors need to short-cut their way to projects needing money and projects that will make you money. Just ask Dr. Laing at Capital City Innovation. He can offer you hundreds of cutting-edge med-tech companies just sitting there poised to be the next company to change the world. But, what does this have to do with a smart city? Those med tech companies are being strategically and geographically placed in the planned medical triangle in the center of Austin combining the resources of U.T., Dell Medical Complex and Seton hospital.

Then there are venture firms such as Urban Us sprouting up to fill the smart city/urban tech space knowing that chasm grows every day. Nature abhors a vacuum and so do entrepreneurs thus a prime opportunity for investors to profit. While many investors scratch their head at terms like urban tech or smart city, they should take an acute notice to that space. Because it is really a door to many spaces where profits can be made while also serving a valuable need for us residents to experience a better life in the smart city.


North Texas Tech Titans Inviting Series A & B Investors for April 4th Innovation Showcase

March 8th, 2019 - As part of Dallas Startup Week, Tech Titans is hosting an Innovation Showcase on Thursday, April 4 at Foley Gardere.  At this event, a select group of fast growing, emerging technology companies from various technology sectors, with customers and increasing revenue, will be presenting their companies. As a member of a venture capital firm, corporate investment or M&A group, family office investor, or private equity firm, you’re invited to attend.  Participation in this event is invitation only and at no cost to you.  

2019 Innovation Showcase Overview

The Tech Titans Innovation Showcase is focused on bringing together Texas emerging, fast growth technology companies with potential investors or corporate customers to facilitate investments or business opportunities to help take these technology companies to the next level of growth.  Candidate technology companies will be selected from past Tech Titans Awards finalists and winners, Tech Titans Fast Tech companies and other select technology companies from around the state of Texas. The firms selected to pitch their businesses will not be seed or early stage start-ups, rather they must have customers, traction and rapidly growing revenue. 

The Innovation Showcase is being held in conjunction with Dallas Startup Week, a free five-day event that impacts and mobilizes more than 8,000 North Texas entrepreneurs and change makers. Dallas Startup Week is dedicated to connecting and uniting startups, founders, corporate and social innovators, investors and community leaders.  It is through these collisions that the collective power of DFW’s dynamic corporate landscape and burgeoning start up ecosystem will be unleashed, positioning DFW as the preeminent hub for driving innovation and defining the future of our economy.  Make your plans now to participate in the Innovation Showcase and the various sessions throughout the week-long event. 

Innovation Showcase Format

·      Event will be a half day event starting at 1 p.m.  with the presentation part of the program ending about 5:30 p.m. and followed by a networking reception ending about 7:00 p.m. 

·      The event will include a panel discussion on the status of innovation in DFW and trends in North Texas and around the country. 

·      Each presenting company will have a total of 8 minutes to present their business and answer questions from the investor audience.   

·      Following the company presentations, a reception will be held to give presenters and investors an opportunity to meet one-on-one, and to network with other attendees. 

·      There is no cost to attend the Innovation Showcase.


If you have any questions about registration or event details, please contact:  

            Beth Kolman

            Tech Titans




BLOG: Can Texas Boast About Being Fourth in Venture Investing in the U.S?

Welcome to Texas

Welcome to Texas

February 28, 2019 - In 2018, venture capital investing in the U.S. neared $100 billion. According to a U.S. News and World report 80% of the VC investing occurred in four states in the following order – California, Massachusetts, New York then Texas. In fact, California eclipsed Texas so much that Texas businesses received “roughly 1/28th of money invested in California businesses.” As a Texas investor association and Texas bred, we’re not happy with anything but being number one. Especially when it comes to money, business and investment. The only thing that could eclipse Texas pride of being number one is football but that’s a whole different article. But come to think about it, football is all about money, business and investment so the parallel still exists.

The number four ranking though is all about perspective as Josef Merrill from Sputnik ATX and Linden Group of Venture funds explains. He astutely cites VC investing is not about quantity but quality.

“As a venture capitalist, I’m OK with Texas ranking number four. Here in Austin, we are #1 or #2 in the Kauffman index for entrepreneurial activity in the past two years so it shows we have a healthier valuation and a healthier ecosystem.”

The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship is a series of annual reports that measures U.S. entrepreneurship across national, state, and metro levels. Rather than focusing on inputs, the Kauffman Index focuses primarily on entrepreneurial outputs—the actual results of entrepreneurial activity—such as new companies, business density, and growth rates. 

In fact, according to the Kauffman Index, three Texas cities rank in the top 10 – Austin, San Antonio and Houston with Dallas nudging closely at number 11. Ironically Miami not San Francisco or L.A. ranks number one. L.A. and San Diego rank numbers 3 and 4 with New York City at number 7. Boston is number 21. I guess those Harvard business degrees don’t match up to U.T.s.

Even more ironic, San Francisco dropped 10 spots to being number 14. Is that why we have seen so many satellite offices being opened in Austin from California? Or just flat out moving to Texas? Here at IITI, with our boots to the investment and VC ground, we definitely feel the California presence in both VCs and businesses looking for investment.

“Shutdown rates are the same as California and the other states yet we invest much less but in smarter and quality start-ups. We don’t have crazy money chasing deals that come back to haunt them,” concluded Merrill.

So in this instance, I guess we can’t use our slogan that everything is bigger in Texas just everything is better in Texas.

Joe Merrill and Dr. Oksana Malysheva are the co-founders and partners of Sputnik ATX and the Linden group of venture funds based in Austin, Texas. 


IITI's Chinese New Year Celebration Toasted The Year Of Wealth

February 14th - It is the Year of the Pig or, as some would rather call it, the Year of the Boar. So it was Boaring but not boring. Not at all. The 4th annual Invest in Texas Initiative’s Chinese New Year celebration featured a personal tour from Ceramic Master Artist Guo Aihe who started his world art exhibit tour in Austin, TX with IITI’s celebration as the second night of his opening at the Russell Fine Art Gallery. The family event featured special guest Judge Elisabeth Earle welcoming the attendees.

Adding to the event was some of the most talented students performing their piano, trumpet, dance and the traditional Chinese Guzheng instrument. It was a microcosm of America’s Got Talent. Along with art tour and talent, the event was a celebration of the Chinese Red Envelope tradition giving out gifts and prizes for lucky winners. Attendees were also treated to a table of traditional Chinese brushes to paint Chinese symbols on fans and scrolls.

IITI’s Chinese New Year celebration was sponsored by members Mainstay Global and Advanced Power Alliance. APA Executive Director, Jeff Clark was there to promote the investment opportunities in the wind and solar energy sectors. Mainstay’s Dandan Zou toasted the guests and offered a blessing of wealth that symbolizes the Year of the Pig. IITI Executive Director Richard May and IITI Promotions Manager Cici Zhu hosted the event.

Go to IITI’s Flickr page for the full photo capture.


IITI’s Chinese New Year Celebration to Feature Chinese Art Master Guo Aihe

February 7th, 2019 - Chinese Ceramic Art Master Guo Aihe will be the featured guest for IITI’s Chinese New Year celebration. He will be giving a personal presentation of his featured exhibit at the Russell Fine Art Gallery in Austin, TX on February 10th. The presentation will be part of IITI’s celebration of the Chinese New Year.


Guo was born in Luoyang, China in 1964 and received his BFA from Luoyang Normal University in 1986. He lives and works in Luoyang - the capital of thirteen Chinese dynasties and the birthplace of Sancai.

Since 1986, Guo’s Sancai Art has been exhibited in major museums and institutions both nationally and internationally. Guo earned international recognition for his public commissions, such as the 35-meters long mural The Center of the Country & The Origin of the Cities, which was revealed at the 2010 Shanghai World EXPO. Now it is permanently installed at Sancai Art Museum of China.

Guo Aihe has received numerous awards and honors in recognition of his academic contributions and cultural achievements. Notably, Guo received the “Seal of Excellence for Handicrafts” from UNESCO; “Gold Award” from the International Academy of Ceramics and World Crafts Council. He was honored the title of “Chinese Ceramic Art Master” by the China National Light Industry Council and China Ceramic Industry Association. Guo also was elected as one of “China’s Top Ten Distinguished Figures in Ceramic Industry”. In 2014, Guo was appointed as the Vice President of Chinese Ceramic Art Masters Association. In the following year, Guo founded “Today”, an annual charity exhibition focused on art education for children in rural China.


BLOG: The Disruption Of The Developer Is Happening

January 2, 2019 - Invest in Texas Initiative works with foreign and domestic investors looking to invest in many different sectors. As such, we get a peek at the future in many different industries and the disruption that they are going through or will. One of which is the construction/development industry that will have many different ripple effects - sales, financing, insurance, etc. when implemented into the real world.

Natural evolutions in the construction world have been the advanced technology of energy and green improvements. Computer and VR analysis of construction and remodel to maximize energy efficiency that helps the consumer’s pocketbook and saving the planet.

Or the continued advancement of solar energy whether a panel for the single home or a small central energy collection source in the parking lot that can distribute and power individual units in an apartment complex. The tenant can have individuals buy into the plan to save their individual energy costs or build in the cost for the entire complex to their rent. No matter what, energy costs are reduced drastically or eliminated. Saving money and the planet.

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Or an automated sun filter screen that can cover each window in a high rise for a fraction the cost and time of traditional installation. From the outside, you see a high-rise of a mirrored building. When looking out the window from the inside, you would never know there’s a veneer on the window. That technology can save a building’s electric costs hundreds of thousands each month saving money and, again, the planet.

But what about the disruptors? A small one could be a concrete block using recycled wood fibers as part of its construction. The blocks do not require mortar so quicker to build, cheaper to buy and eco-friendly. The result? An appearance of a wooden home whether a late 20th century southern plantation home or a modern 21st century home. The difference? It’s a special made concrete that can withstand fire, flood and wind damage. How would insurers factor that safety in their cost assessment?

Then there’s the 3D printer that can make build a 1000 square foot house in 24 hours for $10,000. The consumer still has to finish out remaining so the end cost for the home is anywhere from $20,000 - $35,000. The shape of the 3D house can be as organic as you want. “I would like a house in the shape of a question mark.” OK. It can do it.

What’s next with that concept? As the 3D construction machines become more advanced so does the product. A strip center finished in three days? How about a high-rise hotel? Finished in three weeks? And remember, these concepts aren’t part of science fiction scripts. They’re happening right now.

As one of the inventors of these technologies told me, developers are still stuck in the 1950s way of construction, development, infrastructure and design. They either need to understand and embrace the disruption that’s about to happen or get left behind without a job.


BLOG: What Is Your Company's Value Statement?

Investors advise companies looking for investment to keep their “eye on the ball” when submitting proposals. Insert groan here.


December 13, 2018 - What exactly is a value statement in the business world? Here’s one definition:

“A value statement is a marketing statement that a company uses to summarize why a consumer should buy a product or use a service.”

What does it mean from an investor’s point of view? It should be the first statement in a proposal that intrigues them to continue reading and ultimately swiping that credit card. After visiting with a dozen investment firms and reviewing proposals, value statements seem to be afterthoughts.

They’re either too industry inside jargon to understand. Or too vague that you could insert the word “broccoli” and still come to the same conclusion of ‘helping consumers find [insert word] that benefit themselves in a cost-efficient manner’. And many times, they miss the connection of why their product/business will help consumers, businesses, industries, economy and/or the society at large. And, most of all, the investor’s ROI.

Every investor I spoke with told me the key to actually reading further or caring about the proposal and ultimately investing sparks with the value statement. So what’s a good value statement? Here’s one example:

"Lego is a platform and experience provider focused on the development of children's play and learning. The company also fosters online and in-person communities of enthusiasts of all ages. Lego's capabilities include design of compelling blocks, operations oriented toward complexity at a reasonable cost, and learning-oriented brand development.”

While the statement is specific, it’s not too complex and also focuses on what it does to help the one consumer and to our society at large – “focused on the development of children’s play and learning.” And that’s why the consumer buys legos – for the development of their child’s play and learning. It’s important to the parents, their children and to help their child grow into a contributing member of society.

From the revamping of their value proposition, Lego went from being in trouble in 2004 to becoming one of the world’s top toy profit maker.

Several investment firms expressed they receive 1000 proposals per year. As such, they have a minimal amount of time to review each and rely on the value statement to grab their attention. So make sure it’s clear, concise and relevant to their pocket book, the economy and world we live in and the first words the investor reads.

Because it’s the value statement that keeps them reading or clicking on that little red dot that closes the document. Many times, for good.


IITI's Holiday Happy Hour/Networking Event Does It's Job


December 6, 2018 - Invest in Texas Initiative’s holiday happy hour and networking event showed why IITI’s here and stronger than ever. A group of the investment community that included venture firms, incubators, real estate developers, bankers, lawyers and economic development officials came together to swap stories of economic opportunities and enjoy some holiday cheer. The investment landscape spanned from a proposed air rail that can whisk you away from Austin to Los Angeles in 25 minutes to the real estate value and opportunities on the I 35 corridor from Austin to San Antonio.

The event was hosted and held at the Austin ArtSpace where local artists have permanent studios and a gallery that hosts rotating exhibits. The current exhibit featured art from military veterans and was the highlight of the event. Guests were treated to a tour of each art piece and the compelling stories behind them. Many were from veterans suffering from PTSD and how the process of creating their personal artwork helps the processing of their war experiences. The opportunity such as this exhibit also nudges them out to social events where they interact with other veterans and those interested in art. That’s important because many PTSD veterans will isolate themselves furthering their condition.

IITI’s holiday happy hour and networking event ended up being mission complete and successful. IITI’s mission is to connect investors with investees and all those who support the daunting task.

Next Coast Venture’s Senior Associate Ricky Garcia summed up the event nicely,

“We founded our firm on the premise that Texas -- and Austin in particular -- will be the next major hub for innovation and investment. Great events like this one hosted by the 'Investing in Texas Initiative' are a true testament to that phenomenon and it was great speaking with other investors and entrepreneurs who share the same outlook.”

IITI’s Dandan Zou and Richard May spoke about the momentum IITI is creating with the advent of a circle of international investors equaling $250 million to now international and domestic investors valuing $3 billion. These new investors span the range of industries from real estate to high tech and anything in between. And the countries that are interested in investing in Texas range from Australia, Europe and Asia.

IITI sends out many thanks to Mainstay Global for sponsoring the event. To view photos of the party, head over to our Flickr page.


 IITI’s Holiday Networking Event Features Art Exhibit from Military Veterans!

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November 16, 2018 - Come join IITI members on Wednesday, December 5th from 5:30 – 7:30 PM at the Austin ArtSpace. Find out what foreign investors look for and the international investment landscape from IITI Chair Dandan Zou. Or come to tell us what and why your project needs foreign investment while networking with the international investment community.
The event hosted by Austin ArtSpace and Mainstay Global feature the current exhibit of art works by military veterans. Attendees will be treated to the stories behind the art by military veteran and the show’s curator Chris Van Loan, Sr. Art works sold go directly to the veterans.
Austin ArtSpace is tucked away in the shopping center at 7739 Northcross Dr., Suite Q. Please RSVP to IITI Executive Director

Free to IITI Members
$35 per person, $55 for two
Great Hors d'ouevres
Beer & Wine (2 per ticket)

Click here for tickets. Contact for sponsorship and membership information. Become a member now!


BLOG: Lessons Learned - Real Estate vs High-Tech Investment

Texas Association of Business CEO, Jeff Moseley addresses the international audience at the IITI matchmaking session.

Texas Association of Business CEO, Jeff Moseley addresses the international audience at the IITI matchmaking session.

October 31, 2018 – Trick or treat is the phrase for today but let’s go with Timid or Treat for this article regarding the recent Invest in Texas Initiative’s Sino-Texas Business and Investment Forum. Real Estate – timid. High Tech – treat. The two prevailing themes for international investment regarding Texas real estate vs high-tech companies.

Before we go further, let’s start with the premise that real estate investment in Texas is boiling hot with opportunities and growth just like the high-tech industry. Especially in Austin where you can’t turn your head without seeing a high rise in construction or another news report of a high-tech company moving to Austin. So where was the vast difference in their treatment from these two Texas industries?

It began when the Invest in Texas Initiative state association began to reach out to the real estate and high-tech industries inviting them to the conference that was focusing on investment into their two communities. Time and time again, the real estate community was hesitant with the Chinese investors attending. On the flip side, the high-tech community were all ears eager for the chance to meet and matchmake with them.

At last year’s conference in Dallas, real estate jumped at the chance with the Chinese investors but not this year. If you read the papers or watch the news, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the caution that the China/U.S. trade war has trickled down. But the water trickling down was water off a duck with high-tech.

Talking with Kavi Capital’s Alfredo Kawage and Eduardo Viesca who pitched their San Marcos real estate development to the Chinese investors, they summed it up pretty quickly. It was the last day of the conference and months of the “timid vs treat” theme I experienced so I had to ask. Here’s their response.

“Real estate people are generally conservative in nature,” Viesca quickly states.

So I quickly respond asking them about their presence here as real estate developers.

“We’re a Mexican company with vast ties to Latin America and Texas. Their feud is not ours,” Kawage adds.

I never mentioned the Chinese investors in the conversation, by the way. It was their observation and the first words out of their mouths. Couldn’t have summed it up better. Thank you Eduardo and Alfredo.

 With high-tech companies, they summed it up just as quickly,

“This industry moves too fast to be cautious,” responds Capital Factory’s Investor Relations Associate, Nick Spiller. Capital Factory is a high-tech accelerator/incubator located in downtown Austin. They hosted a tour of Capital Factory for the Chinese investors and held matchmaking sessions with several of their companies and themselves.

“It’s not in their nature nor can you be successful if you’re innovating technology at a cautious pace.”

Couldn’t have summed it better yet again. Thank you, Nick.

But the best summary came from U.T.’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, David Firestein. Firestein is one of the leading U.S. China policy experts in the U.S. who addressed the U.S. and Chinese audience. His one-word answer was – perception.

International investment in Texas is between the Texas business and the foreign investor. Not through the federal government or Texas government. Texas business climate is friendly no matter who you are or where you are from so all of those who are worried with the tariff war feel confident and comfortable that both sides will get a return on investment.

These external dynamics didn’t deter everyone though. The Proper and The Grove real estate companies welcomed the investors to their offices for a tour and demonstration of their properties. And Shell Real Estate Services was a proud sponsor of the conference and had no reluctance at all when asked if they wanted to participate in the conference hosting Chinese investors. Thank you, Shell Real Estate.

So in a nutshell for the conference comparing Texas real estate and their response to Chinese investors – they were timid. And the response from the high-tech companies regarding Chinese investors – it was a treat for them. But, no matter what, none of that changes the theme for today. It’s still trick or treat. Happy Halloween.


The 2018 Sino-Texas Business & Investment Forum Recap


October 24, 2018 - The current analysis of the sensitive trade relations with China was the hot topic during the conference and how that could affect foreign investment to Texas. University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs China Public Policy Founder, David Firestein opened the conference with his short analysis and closed the conference with a full analysis. All of which was spoken in fluent Chinese by Firestein to the Chinese dominated audience. That prompted the many university student volunteer interpreters to translate his insightful assessment to the U.S. attendees.

Opening the conference was a genuine Texas welcome from State Representative Eddie Rodriguez and an international welcome from IITI Chair Dandan Zou. The forum was MC’d by IITI Executive Director Richard May with presentations from Georgetown mayor Dale Ross, Chinese investor Yonghua Wang and international attorney, Owen Gu covering all of the aspects of why to invest in Texas and why the Chinese are looking to invest in Texas. Capping the session was David Firestein, giving a brief update on the current and sensitive U.S./China relations.

Mainstay Global’s Jared Mermis started off the next morning talking about the external environment of living and investing in Texas and University of Texas at San Antonio International Trade Center’s Jaime Martinez on the resources that are available for foreign investors. After their presentations the dialogue was dominated by two powerful conversations going on in the Texas business environment, especially in Austin, was real estate and high-tech featuring four-person panels from each. 

In the afternoon and evenings, IITI stayed true to their concentration with real estate and high-tech. Wednesday, the Chinese guests were treated with a tour and reception at the Capital Factory. The Capital Factory is a technology incubator, accelerator and venture fund all rolled into one. The Capital Factory houses hundreds of businesses centered around high-tech and sponsor all shapes and sizes from one-man startups to Dell, Texas A&M and Walmart.

The next day’s afternoon event featured a hard hat tour of the Proper’s high rise condo/hotel development in downtown Austin from Bailey Tipps. The tour included IITI investors and attendees shooting up 30 stories in a large open cage to witness their art in progress of two-story condos ranging from $1-6 to $1.8 million to one bedroom condos at a mere $750,000. The hard hats were necessary as the high-rise is still in full construction mode featuring concrete, no windows and a lot of space that the tour guide had to fill in for the imagination. The hard hats also helped with the constant rain while the open holes soon-to-be windows showed the 40-story high view of the historic floods rushing down the Colorado River aka Lady Bird Lake just below.

That evening, the guests were treated to a reception at the Grove Real Estate Development offices in central west Austin. The Grove is a brand new mixed-use development just beginning a few blocks down the road at 45th street and Bull Creek Road that will showcase a different but similarly priced homes in a neighborhood setting rather than a high-rise. Along with dinner, The Grove’s Edjuan Bailey gave a detailed demonstration of the homes to be built and the return on investment those homes will provide to any investor.

The final day represented the heart and soul of the conference which was investing matchmaking from projects in Austin, San Marcos and Frisco to the attending Chinese investors. Projects included investment into “opportunity zones” presented by Teresa Shell and Bryce Berta from Shell Real Estate Services. Joshua Baer touting the many investment opportunities from the Capital Factory. Jian Wu presenting the Daytona multi-family development. Steve Tolen from Indie Powers needing more funding to complete the management of their innovative energy battery system. Kavi Capital’s Eduardo Viesca and Alfredo Kawage presented their apartment development in San Marcos to fill the growing population in the area especially in terms of Texas State University Students. Then Calvin Chen and Bethany Fadel showcasing their innovative design and development looking to fund the remaining of the development.

The next presentation was an in-depth analysis of the U.S./China tariff “war” from David Firestein. Speaking in fluent Chinese, volunteer Chinese college students helped all of the U.S. attendees understand the complicated nuances going on between Shanghai and D.C. - What does it mean today and especially for tomorrow?

The last of the business program showcased Jared Mermis being awarded the IITI International Business Award. David Firestein received the IITI International Partnership Award and all of the Chinese student volunteers receiving IITI Ambassador Awards. Capping off the event was a private tour of the LBJ Presidential Library for the international guests and attendees. Go to IITI’s Flickr page for a personal view of the conference.


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Is Technology And Real Estate An Odd Couple? Not At Next Week’s IITI Conference.

October 11, 2018 - When talking about investing in Austin, TX two words pop up - Real estate and high-tech. But don’t take our word for it. Join us and a panel of experts talking about both opportunities at the upcoming Invest in Texas Initiative’s Business and Investment forum. The IITI forum will be hosting a group of Chinese investors looking for Texas businesses and projects to invest.

Those two forums will be on October 18th at the State capitol featuring such speakers as real estate economist Sam Tennenbaum from the Co-Star group and Dr. Chris Laing of the Capital City Innovation helping coordinate the new innovation district in downtown Austin.

Real Estate and high-tech will be the focus for a group of Chinese investors attending the 8th annual IITI conference that will be held at the State Capitol and the U.T. Texas Exes center. The foreign investment component adds an even more intriguing component as the discussion of foreign trade is heating up. Those topics will be a feature for the opening session on Oct. 17th with LBJ School of Public Affairs China Public Policy founder David Firestein leading the discussion.

Ending the session will be investment matchmaking opportunities with the Chinese investors and Texas businesses. There will be networking opportunities in the evening and a site tour of the Capital Factory.

Register now to be a part of the “here and now” of Chinese investment and the state of high-tech and real estate. The conference is Oct. 17th-19th at the state Capitol and U.T. Texas Exes.


IITI Welcomes Shell Real Estate Services As IITI’s Bronze Sponsor

October 10, 2018 - Invest in Texas Initiative welcomes Shell Real Estate Services as their 2018 Sino-Texas Business & Investment Forum Bronze sponsor. Shell Real Estate Services helps clients in real estate investments, commercial brokerage and assets managements. They help their clients manage over $60 million of commercial real estate investments. Teresa Shell is the owner and operator.

Teresa Shell has had vast experience in the real estate industry spanning many areas and interests. She began her commercial real estate career with Ernst & Young, LLC's Real Estate Advisory Services group in Miami, where she worked on national and international real estate engagements. 

She has served as the Director of Fund Management for MMA Financial Advisory Services where she was responsible for managing approximately $3.5 billion of assets. And served as the Director of Portfolio Management for the Texas Permanent School Fund Real Estate Portfolio. She was responsible for the fiduciary oversight of approximately $600,000,000 of assets-under-management and the investment of approximately $500,000,000 annual income and placement of approximately $300,000,000 of historical cash reserves. 

Teresa is a principal of BETCO Consulting, a full service development consulting firm with a focus on investment opportunities in Texas and Hawaii and is looking to open another office in Tokyo.  She earned the Certified Commercial Investment Member “CCIM" designation, which is held by less than 1% of all commercial real estate practitioners.


BLOG: Who are all of these Austin high tech groups?


October 3, 2018 - If you’re talking about investing in Texas businesses and companies, the tech industry is at the top of the list. But which high-tech are you talking about? And what exactly is the definition of the high-tech industry? Those are questions Invest in Texas Initiative is actively asking because so are investors.

IITI being a trade association collects information, contacts and resources to help foreign investors understand the business climate for potential investment. So where do you get the same information on the tech side?

Since the Invest in Texas Initiative Business & Investment Forum is upon us and will be hosting a high-tech panel on October 18th at the state Capitol, let’s start with Austin high tech groups. Who are they and what do they do? Here are just a few.

Capital Factory - They help start up companies find their investors, talent, mentors and customers.

The Austin Technology Incubator - They are part of U.T. and focus on funding start up tech companies.

The Austin Technology Council - They’re a member based organization that help provide resources and information revolving around funding, talent and networking.

The International Accelerator - They fund start up tech companies that must be owned or driven by foreign born entrepreneurs.

Capital City Innovation - They’re a non-profit helping create an innovation district in downtown Austin.

Tech Ranch Austin - It is a networking and education group to help start-up tech companies succeed.

Austin's high tech industry continues to soar and with innovative partners like the Army Futures Command moving to Austin our future is rich with possibilities,” remarks Leigh Christie, Senior Vice President, Global Technology & Innovation at the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

If we’re missing some groups, which I know we are, please email IITI Executive Director so we can continue to connect with the high tech industry of Austin and Texas to fulfill our mission - to foster foreign investment to Texas businesses. In this case, high tech businesses.


The State Of U.S.-China Trade Relations

Attend IITI’s October conference to find out the latest on U.S. and China trade relations.

September 26, 2018

With the recent escalation of the trade war and tariff increases, U.S. and China economic relations just became even more complicated. Beijing says America is “putting a knife to China’s neck” and Washington accuses China of “economic espionage”. Where does the truth lie? And whose truth is it?

Invest in Texas Initiative, who’s mission is to bring foreign investments into Texas, plans to discuss the current China trade war head on during opening day of their 2018 Sino-Texas Business and Investment Forum. The nation’s leading expert, David Firestein, will give his analysis to the attendees at the state Capitol during the morning session. Firestein leads the China Public Policy Center at the U.T. LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Opening the session will be the top Chinese consul in America, Li Qiangmin. Ending the session will be Texas State Representative Eddie Rodriguez from Austin. Adding to the mix will be a group of Chinese investors searching for worthwhile projects to potentially invest. Adding even further in the mix are those Texas businesses searching for investors to grow and expand their businesses.

These potential investments will come from Chinese attendees representing wealth managements firms, corporations, entrepreneurs, and high net worth individuals. These investors are interested in Texas businesses needing capital to grow and motivated to be in Texas attracted by the Texas business friendly climate.

Invest in Texas Initiative is serving its mission by putting the two groups together in financial matchmaking style that helps all groups involved especially Texas. Investing in Texas means more jobs, a healthier tax base and further incentivizing Texas business ingenuity.

And the question goes - Will these tariffs foster more investment visits to and from the world’s two economic powerhouses? Will it create a more personal, hands-on commitment from both sides to further economic growth? And the answer goes - attend the IITI conference from Oct. 17th - 19th and find out.

Special Thanks to IITI’s 2018 Sponsors

Special Thanks to IITI’s 2018 Sponsors

Meet the 2018 Invest in Texas Sino-Texas Business & Investment Community Partners

September 19, 2018 - Invest in Texas Initiative (IITI) announces this year’s conference partnering sponsors: Mainstay Global, LBJ School of Public Affairs China Public Policy Center, the Austin Technology Council, the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, the China Press, AmeriGlobe Consulting and Bercy Chen Studio.

The 2018 Sino-Texas Business and Investment Forum will be held at the state capitol and U.T. Texas Exes Center from Oct. 17th - 19th. The forum also welcomes a contingent of Chinese investors attending the conference looking for investment opportunities in Texas.

Mainstay Global is a consulting firm that helps raise foreign capital to facilitating overseas business opportunities. Mainstay Senior Partner Dandan Zou is the co-founder and current IITI chair.

The University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs China Public Policy Center is the leading think tank for China public policy and U.S. relations. The Executive Director, David Firestein, will be one of the keynote speakers for the upcoming conference. 

The Austin Technology Council, headed by Amber Gunst, helps central Texas technology companies grow and thrive. They have been a key part of building Austin, the Silicon Hills, since 1992.

The Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce led by CEO Marina Ong Bhargava helps the economic growth and vitality for small businesses in the Asian Pacific American community in Central Texas.

The China Press is one of the largest Chinese newspapers covering Chinese activities and news in the U.S.

Bercy Chen Studio is an architecture and urban planning firm founded in 2001 by partners Thomas Bercy and Calvin Chen. They apply a design from various cultures while maintaining respect for their contemporary contextual conditions.

“We’re very thankful to have this coalition of groups rallying behind international investment in Texas,” remarks IITI Executive Director Richard May. “Our Invest in Texas Initiative trade association and partnering sponsors help foster and promote foreign investors to continue the growth of the Texas economy, create more jobs and push Texas to being the number one economy in the U.S. and the world.”


IITI Tours China Promoting Invest In Texas

Invest in Texas Initiative President Dandan Zou Tours China Promoting Texas Conference and US Business/Investment Opportunities


September 12, 2018

Invest in Texas Initiative (IITI) Chairwoman Dandan Zou will travel to Beijing, Shangai and Shenzhen for a 10-day tour beginning September 18th promoting Texas and IITI’s October business conference. IITI’s 8th annual Sino-Texas Business & Investment Forum features investor matchmaking, networking and forum topics such as the U.S. and China trade relations. The conference will be held October 17th– 19th in Austin, TX.

The first day of the conference will feature Chinese Consul General Li Qiangmin, LBJ School of Public Affairs’ China Public Policy Center David Firestein and Texas State Representative Eddie Rodriguez among others. These speakers will talk about the current China and U.S. trade relations in respect to this year’s conference mission promoting the positive business climate for Chinese investors.

Per the IITI Board of Director’s direction and key sponsor needs, this conference is aimed at driving direct results for both project owners and investors from rare high-quality commercial real estate projects to alternative energy and technology investment opportunities.

Zou’s schedule includes 3 events centered around Texas, IITI’s history and organizational resources. In addition, the chance for an early preview of one of the forum’s featured sponsors investment opportunity.

“Texas has many business opportunities for Chinese investors to profit, especially as the next and newest big wave of the US historical economic growth. The economic growth and regulatory friendly business environment provide foreign investors many options to generate a significant return on their investment,” remarks Dandan. “To Chinese businesses, entrepreneurs and investment firms we’re here to say ‘Welcome to Texas’.” 

The three-day conference holds morning seminars, featured speakers and forums centering around all aspects of the investment environment in U.S. but specifically in Texas. Afternoon and evening sessions feature investment matchmaking, site visits and networking events.

For more information on the conference or to register, go to IITI’s website at


IITI Chair Dandan Zou

IITI Chair Dandan Zou

IITI Announces China Road Show


September 7, 2018

Invest in Texas Initiative Chair Dandan Zou Takes an IITI Road Show to China Promoting Texas Conference and US Business/Investment Opportunities


Invest in Texas Initiative (IITI) Chairwoman Dandan Zou will travel to Beijing, Shangai and Shenzhen for a 10-day ‘road show’ beginning September 18th promoting Texas and IITI’s October business conference. IITI’s 8th annual Sino-Texas Business & Investment Forum features investor matchmaking, networking and forum topics relating to Chinese business opportunities in Texas. The conference will be held October 17th– 19th in Austin, TX.



The first day of the conference will feature Chinese Consul General Li Qiangmin, LBJ School of Public Affairs’ China Public Policy Center David Firestein and Texas State Representative Eddie Rodriguez among others. These speakers will talk about the current China and U.S. trade relations in respect to this year’s conference mission promoting the positive business climate for Chinese investors.

峰会首日将有中国驻美领事李强民总领事,德克萨斯州中国公共政策中心代表David Firestein博士和德克萨斯州政府代表Eddie Rodriguez等参与发言。这些政府代表发言人将就当前最热点的中美贸易关系进行解析,并提供多种中美双方商业合作发展机会。

Per the IITI Board of Director’s direction and key sponsor needs, this conference is aimed at driving direct results for both project owners and investors from rare high-quality commercial real estate projects to alternative energy and technology investment opportunities.


Zou’s schedule includes 3 events centered around Texas, IITI’s history and organizational resources. In addition, the chance for an early preview of one of the forum’s featured sponsors investment opportunity. Below is the event schedule and information:  


 Beijing on September 19th Wednesday 2:00pm

Location: Mainstay Global No. 1010, Building A, Shangdu International Center, Chaoyang District, Beijing


活动地点:北京市朝阳区尚都国际中心A座1010 曼斯特国际运营中心

Shanghai on September 22nd Saturday 2:00pm

Location: Qingting First floor, Huilongjing, No. 1011 Luocheng Rd, Xuhui district, Shanghai



Shenzhen on September 25th Tuesday 2:00 pm

Location: 88 Haide 1st Rd, HouHai, Nanshan Qu, Shenzhen Shi, Guangdong Sheng



For detailed information on how to attend these, contact Cici.Zhu: 512-850-4991 (U.S.) or Vivian Zou (180-190-0330).



或Vivian Zou 180-190-0330 (中国)

“Texas has many business opportunities for Chinese investors to profit, especially as the next and newest big wave of the U.S. historical economic growth. The economic growth and regulatory friendly business environment provide foreign investors many options to generate a significant return on their investment,” remarks Dandan. “To Chinese businesses, entrepreneurs and investment firms we’re here to say ‘Welcome to Texas’.”


The three-day conference holds morning seminars, featured speakers and forums centering around all aspects of the investment environment in U.S. but specifically in Texas. Afternoon and evening sessions feature investment matchmaking, site visits and networking events.


For more information on the conference or to register, go to IITI’s website at




IITI Announces Conference Speakers


Chinese Consul General Li Qiangmin, LBJ School of Public Affairs David Firestein and Rep. Eddie Rodriguez to be Feature Speakers at IITI October Investor Matchmaking Conference

LBJ School of Public Affair's David Firestein

News Release: September 5, 2018:

Invest in Texas Initiative (IITI) announces Chinese Consul General Li Qiangmin, LBJ School of Public Affairs’ China Public Policy Center David Firestein and Texas State Representative Eddie Rodriguez as feature speakers for IITI’s October 2018 Sino-Texas Business Forum. The October 17th-19th forum will be held at the Texas Capitol and U.T. Exes center.

Consul General Li is the top ranking Chinese Consulate in the U.S. under the China Ambassador to the United States. David Firestein is the Founding Executive Director of the LBJ School’s Center for Public Policy and one of the nation’s leading scholars in the U.S. and China trade relations. Rep. Eddie Rodriguez is an eight-term state representative representing part of Austin, who serves on the Texas House Committee on State Affairs.

These speakers will talk about the current China and U.S. trade relations in respect to IITI’s primary mission of foreign Investor matchmaking. These new trade dynamics become an important factor when Texas businesses meet with Chinese investors looking for investment opportunities during the conference.

Firestein is a decorated career U.S. diplomat who specializes in U.S.-China relations. He played an active part in advancing China and Asia trade and has advanced policy analysis on a range of topics, including U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and U.S.-China infrastructure investment cooperation. 

Consul General Li is the 13th and current Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Houston. His previous roles included being the Special Envoy to the Chinese Forum Dialogue and being the Chinese Ambassador to the Zambia, Uganda and Israel. One of his expertise in foreign relations is economic and trade affairs.

Texas State Representative Eddie Rodriguez serves on the House Committees on Economic & Small Business Development and Environmental Regulation. Rep. Rodriguez’ legislative agenda has addressed economic development, job creation, housing, education, hunger and nutrition.

Early bird registration for the conference ends September 27th and seating is limited. Register today to take advantage of the discounted fees to the conference.






Early Registration Now Open for IITI’s October Conference


August 29, 2018: Early Bird registration for the Invest in Texas Initiative’s (IITI) Sino-Texas Business & Industry Forum is open. Register today to take advantage of the discounted fees to the conference. Early bird registration ends September 27th and seating is limited. The October 17th-19th Forum will be held at the Texas Capitol and U.T. Exes center.

This year’s forum plans to be the most exciting yet. Chinese General Consul Li Qiangmin will be attending for the morning session on October 17th at the Texas Capitol. General Consul Li is one six General Consulates in the U.S. under the China Ambassador to the United States.

LBJ’s School of Public Affairs Center for China Public Policy Director, David Firestein will also be a feature speaker at the conference. With the China trade war in full swing, learn about the dynamics, implications and effects these sensitive relations will have on the economy, business and investment opportunities. Firestein is a decorated career U.S. diplomat who specializes in U.S.-China relations. 

Investor matchmaking will be another highlight of the forum. Texas businesses will be able to meet with Chinese investors looking for business opportunities in the state. IITI Chair Dandan Zou will help lead the efforts to bring in investment dollars to Texas businesses. Zou is the founder and CEO of Mainstay Global, a marketing consulting firm specializing in foreign direct investment in the U.S.

Register Now.


Invest in Texas Initiative Names Richard May as New Executive Director

News Release: August 22, 2018


Invest in Texas Initiative (IITI) introduces Richard May as their new executive director. May will manage the state association and help guide their mission to promote the Texas Investment landscape internationally. 

 “We’re excited to bring Richard on board. After an exhaustive search, we believe he is the perfect fit for the organization to reach its fullest potential,” remarks Dandan Zou, IITI Chair and co-founder of Mainstay Global.

“IITI’s membership reflects so many different players in the international investment community, we needed someone with broad trade association experience to represent our many members and the players we interface with from the financial industry to elected officials.”

May began his political career as one of the youngest city commissioners appointed in Austin. He then went to work at the State Capitol as the Texas House Appropriations Committee clerk advising state representatives on state agency budgets. His public relations career began as the publicist for the national TV series, Austin City Limits.

He combined this expertise becoming a trade association executive for the next two decades representing a national retail industry before Congress, the media and Wall Street. His achievements in protecting and promoting  a type of retail financial transaction became a college textbook chapter for business students to study the power associations have in shaping policy and industry practices.

“It is a great honor to serve the Invest in Texas Initiative members and board of directors. I look forward to working closely with all parties in taking IITI to the next level of serving the membership and bringing international investors to the great state of Texas.”