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The Silicon Bayou Mixer Series Kicks Off Monday, May 4 Bringing Houston's Tech Industry into the Spotlight

A new alliance is forming in Houston - bringing together innovators, techies, entrepreneurs and mentors who believe Houston is the next major hub for technology-based companies and start-ups.

The Silicon Bayou's mission is to unite like-minded individuals and businesses interested in incorporating the technology industry into the city's thriving economy.

The inaugural meeting of the organization - the first event in the Silicon Bayou Mixer Series - is slated for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, May 4 at Hay Merchant, 1100 Westheimer Rd. in Houston, 77006. The event mixer will be hosted by Sanjay Parikh and Chris Norton, directing managers of the SiliconBayou. 

Parikh said the impetus for starting the organization was simple. "It wasn't a stroke of genius; we just love Houston and we love technology," he said. "It was simply the right thing to do."

Parikh added that the timing was right. "I think that we're on the cusp of making some true advances in technology - from fostering advancements in the medical industry to making energy more accessible," he said. "Besides, I grew up watching 'Star Wars,' and I want to see some of that come to life."

Parikh said that Houston provides the ideal environment to build a strong technology industry. "I think this city is amazing," he said. "The people make the city what it is - and that's why I love it so much. Plus, Houston is growing. It has a lot of industries already -- but a solid technology sector is missing."

Since Parikh has a background in marketing, he believed that creating an identifying name was a key first step. "We needed a brand like Silicon Valley - everyone knows what happens there," he said. "We're theBayou City. So Silicon Bayou made sense."

He joined forces with Norton - his business partner at Gateway Design - to get the ball rolling. The two entrepreneurs began meeting with mentors. "We're working with various industries and talking to leaders in more progressive cities, technology-wise," Parikh said. "We're being mentored by a variety of people - some are local, and some are fromSilicon Valley, Silicon Hills and Seattle, places more tenured in the technology industry."

Getting a conversation going is one of the main goals of the Silicon Bayou. "Overall, we want to pique interest - and make an impact," Parikh said. "We'd like to grow the community, engage corporations in Houston and bring in companies that currently don't have a presence here."

He hopes the group will eventually create incubator spaces for start-ups in the area - and help new businesses get funding, form partnerships and rise to the next level. "We can utilize technology to make Houston better - and what we do here can make the world better," Parikh said.

In the meantime, he encourages anyone interested to attend the first mixer for the Silicon Bayou. "We want to see how this meeting goes -- and where it will take us," he said.

For more information, visit thesiliconbayou.com and sign up for group's newsletter or follow the organization on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thesiliconbayou.