AUSTIN, TX -- The founder of Renzoe Box, René Graham, has had an impressive few months, accomplishing three immense milestones and earning her company a place at the forefront of the Texas startup community:
In March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting the United States, Graham became one of the 50 finalists for the 12th Annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Pitch. SXSW Pitch gives startup companies the opportunity to pitch their product or idea to a world-class panel of investors and industry professionals. More than 900 startups worldwide applied for the pitch, only the top 5% of applicants were selected. Although, the festival was abruptly cancelled this year due to COVID-19 and Graham was unable to pitch. “SXSW Pitch is an incredible program. It would have been a huge platform and opportunity for us. My heart sank when we received the news of the festival cancellation. But like every startup must, we pressed on,” she commented.
Next, at the end of May, Renzoe Box was chosen to join the 2020 MassChallenge Cohort and enter a global network of prestigious startups. MassChallenge began in 2010 in Boston to incubate and accelerate high-growth startups. Each applying startup is rigorously analyzed by a panel of experienced investors and executives to determine its viability and worthiness of joining the cohort. The 58 startups selected for this year’s Austin-based program constitute the top 10% of applications received, coming from 5 countries, 15 states and 5 industries.
Most recently, at the end of June, Graham was named a 2020 Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a year-long
entrepreneurial fellowship for women created by international fashion icon Tory Burch. Based in New York, but moved online for this year’s cohort, the program offers exclusive opportunities to rising female business owners, including year-long programming & executive mentoring, a $5,000 business education grant, and access to a community of support. Hundreds of female founded startups applied, only 50 were selected.
When asked to comment on her success, the Texas-native Graham said “Any one of these is an incredible honor, but to be selected for all three within a matter of months is beyond my wildest dreams. Over the past few years I have learned Texas has somewhat of a stigma in the startup world. We’re seen as outliers, many believing that the ‘big’ ideas are generated on either coast, with most unicorn companies developing out of the Bay Area or New York. Great ideas aren’t geographically bound, and I want to be part of the next generation of startups to prove that stigma wrong. We have incredible resources, talent and grit here in Texas; we’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves to get the job done.”
About René Graham
A Texas native, Graham is a licensed architect who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from The University of Texas and a Master’s degree in Architecture from Rice University. Through her career, she has held adjunct positions at two Texas universities, Texas A&M and the University of Texas. Graham is also the co-founder of Laurel House Studio, a boutique architecture firm, and BCS Modern, a real estate development company, both based in Bryan, Texas.