Our friends at Partner Power International wrote a blog with a great video featuring PPI Vice President Henning Lund talking about how to prepare for Microsoft Convergence this year in New Orleans. He offers three key pieces of advice:

  1. Get a LinkedIn or Twitter account
  2. Bring comfortable shoes
  3. Wear a rogue hat

For companies doing international business, PPI is hosting a session called Go Global with Microsoft Dynamics. They’ll cover global deployment strategies for Microsoft Dynamics NAV as well as AX and CRM. Convergence always has great sessions, and my team and I learn a lot every year we go.

One in 20 million… It might not sound like much until you hear the 20 million is 10% of the 200 million users of LinkedIn.

Late last week, several of our Directors were notified that they were among the top LinkedIn profiles viewed in 2012. Tax Directors, Frank Landreneau and Del Walker were in the top 10% and Audit Director, Dan Ramey, was in the top 1%. Not bad for accountants who are contending with marketers, recruiters and IT folks who traditionally have high visibility.

Our resident social media guru, Practice Growth Executive Manager, Raissa Evans, said “Even being one of 20 million says something about the market and engagement. Think about how many Twitter Accounts are just squatted, doing nothing. The unique part of LinkedIn is that it can work for you even times when you leave it static.”

Last year she made a concerted effort to boost our team’s presence on LinkedIn. She coined the term LinkedIn Labs, for our lab-style training sessions. We started by training them how to make simple, yet substantive changes to their profile which would increase their chances of being found in a search.

We’re glad LinkedIn and others recognized what we already knew: we have awesome thought leaders here at PKF Texas! We’re proud to have three of 20 million!

MaryLynn Greg Brad at NASDAQ

So for the past few years the winner of the Rice Business Plan Competition (BPC) (www.alliance.rice.edu) has been invited to go to New York City and ring the bell at the NASDAQ and get some additional publicity for their startup company. This year’s winner was NuMat Technologies out of Northwestern University from Chicago.  It was nice to see the changes in the personnel and their success begin to accelerate as a result of winning the Rice BPC.  Several members of the Houston business community were also present at the bell ringing and it was a great testament to desire of the City to bring new companies and great ideas to grow and prosper in our city.

Recently, I had the opportunity to review a Kauffman Foundation report on the Rice BPC and its impact on the community as a whole.   The study showed “that university business plan competitions can go beyond simply being an academic exercise or educational experience. They can serve as a vehicle for building a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and serve as a launching pad for new businesses, especially high-tech, high-growth startups.”   The Kauffman report went on to say that “all net new jobs created in the United States come from startups-companies less than five years old.”  Our eco-system benefits from the Rice BPC and we are excited to be a part of that community.

Times Square RBPC at NASDAQ 

Raissa Evans is the Executive Manager of the Practice Growth team for PKF Texas.  She is an active member of the Houston Interactive community and 2012 will be the third year in a row she has attended the SXSW Interactive festival.

PKF Texas is again joining the ranks of those attending the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival held in Austin, Texas in March 2012. We’re really excited to have director of Consulting Solutions Greg Price join the dynamic Practice Growth duo of Karen Love and me in scouting out all of the tech trends and meeting futurists, thought leaders and influencers at the largest festival of its kind in the world. For more background on why our  accounting firm attends SXSW, see our articles on gaining our firm’s leadership endorsement and our Top 10 Business Take-aways from this year’s conference.

Monday, August 15, was the opening day for the 2012 SXSW Interactive Panelpicker, the official community-driven content curation system where attendees get to “vote up” or “vote down” topics they’d like to see make the final Program Book.

Although the Panelpicker is meant to be searched, and panelists have a chance to promote their own sessions and campaign for votes, I spent some time yesterday flipping through all 3,164 sessions to get an overall feel for this year’s trends and collected my thoughts to share.

Observations on the topics presented:

  • There’s a focus on different topics this year, that may not have received the same limelight in the past, including: social healthcare topics, education, ethics, nostalgia media such as radio and libraries, tablet devices, group buying, mobile commerce/pay systems, job hunting/recruiting and, ironically, fashion
  • Conspicuously underrepresented for an election year are topics on political issues, globalization and marketing for diversity, although you’ll see a small handful of each
  • A vast majority is what you’ll commonly see. They’ll be harder to sift through as you try to determine for yourself if the organizer has collected the right group of experts to speak on the topic (or if they just have “guru” in their Twitter bio). With a clever enough title, they may catch your eye anyway. These topics include: journalism vs. PR, new media, video, UX (user experience), design, content strategy, SEO (search engine optimization), developing, funding, gamification and gender issues
  • What I had hoped to see, but didn’t: anything about clean tech. Maybe this got siphoned off into October’s inaugural SXSW Eco conference?

My advice for panelpicker hopefuls, from a layperson:

  • Keep buzzwords out of titles – think of new, catchy ways to present your topic
  • Keep clichés out of titles – Ex. “X is dead, long live X” “The death of X”, etc.
  • Put your co-presenters in the session description as well. The site bandwidth has been overtaxed and is very slow, but we can preview and vote in the list view if it’s compelling.
  • Write your description with journalism rules: Compelling headline, first 3 sentences are most important. This is critical for the list preview mode and when scanning 3,164 sessions.
  • One out of 10 titles was too long, in which case the Panelpicker lists “Title Too Long” as the title and bumps the headline to the synopsis line. Fix this!
  • Consider listing a different lead organizer. Consider who has the expertise heavy, instead of defaulting to the big agency name who submitted this and 30 other sessions.
  • When using a case study as the subject matter, make sure we know exactly what can be taken away from the case study, rather than just listening to someone else’s brag session.
  • Be careful of telling me what females DO in a synopsis. You risk alienating more than half of potential attendees.
  • Consider that who you recruit to co-present will be presenting to arguably the best-educated and largest interactive audience in the world. The most common complaint last year was egotistical and unprepared panelists, which is not only boring, but offensive. You don’t want to be the negative buzz of the conference.

Last year, 935 sessions made it through to the final festival, attended by over 19,000 conference-goers from 63 countries. To place your votes, go to panelpicker.sxsw.com and use the advanced search function to find the proposals that meet your goals. Voting ends 11:59 CDT on Friday, September 2.

Houstonians can visit the Social Media Breakfast Houston site Facebook page for a running list of proposals from the Energy City.

As co-founders of the FastTech 50, PKF Texas together with the Houston Business Journal, the Houston Technology Center, Pierpont Communications, the Rice Alliance for Technology & Entrepreneurship,and the Wealth Design Group would like to invite to nominate your own business or a friend of your firm for the 11th Annual FastTech 50 awards.  The deadline has been extended to Monday, August 15th! 
Nominees must meet the following criteria to be considered:

• 2009 and 2010 net revenue must exceed $200,000
• At least 51% of the consolidated revenue must involve the original manufacture, design or development of technology products or services 
• Business must be headquartered in the Houston ten county region including: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, Waller, Austin, and San Jacinto.
Visit http://consult.pkftexas.com/fasttech50 to submit your application online. This year’s award ceremony will be held on November 29th at the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel. If you have any questions or would like more information please contact John Stephenson at 713-860-1428 or jstephenson@pkftexas.com.  

We hope you decide to nominate your company or a friend of your firm, best of luck!

On July 8, 2011 a bitter sweet day for our country was noted.  That day was the launch of the last US manned space flight for the foreseeable future.  I had the honor and the privilege of attending the final launch in Mission Control as a guest of the Johnson Space Center (JSC) through Walter Ulrich, CEO of the Houston Technology Center.  For the days leading up to the launch I was as anxious as a kid before Christmas.  I can remember growing up a young boy in the 60s watching the Mercury and Gemini space flights on our Black & White TVs with rabbit ears (For those of you who don’t know what that is, ask your grandparents). In 1968, my folks bought a Color TV by Motorola and we had a TV antenna attached to the house so we could watch the Apollo missions, including the moon landings.  I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon, and I don’t think I slept a wink the remainder of 1969.

Reflecting back to that time, as a young boy I was amazed and in awe at our accomplishments.  I had seen many times the famous speech by President John F. Kennedy and additional speeches by Presidents Johnson and Nixon all throughout the space missions.  I would have done anything to get a job so I would could work at JSC or the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) as it was called in those days.

Our day at JSC will full of excitement and anticipation.  I took dozens of pictures (see below – they wouldn’t let us use a flash so they’re a little grainy), received a briefing from Astronaut Stanley Love and watch the happenings of Mission Control, the Launch Pad at the Kennedy Space Center and watched the on-screen monitors in Mission Control.  The launch counted down, we had a three minute hold to address a system query, and it was cleared! On with the countdown!  30 seconds, 15 seconds, 6 seconds main engine start, 3-2-1 and lift off of STS 135 and the Space Shuttle Atlantis!   Wow it was so cool, and I saw it with my own eyes.  An event I will treasure the rest of my life.

Now the future of US participation and involvement in manned space flight is uncertain.  At a recent symposium of the Space Foundation, former NASA Administrator and Astronaut Richard Truly was asked about NASA’s space program.  His reply was, “If you can tell me what it is, I’ll be happy to comment on it.”  Without getting into all kinds of political comments and observations, I would like to ask each of you to get a copy of the special sections the Houston Chronicle ran on the final shuttle mission called “Above & Beyond”.  In particular, I call your attention to an interview in that special section of NBC News Correspondent Jay Barbee by Chronicle reporter Mike Tolson.  Mr. Barbee has had the honor of covering EVERY launch involving a US manned spacecraft since the first in 1961. His observations and thoughts on this issue are a must read.

As a close, I leave you with the following query, “If President John F. Kennedy was still alive today, what would he say about the current direction of the United States exploration of space?”  How do you feel about your answer?

My wife, Suzie, Astronaut Stan Love, and Me

Walter Ulrich, CEO HTC; Stanley Love, Astronaut, flew on  STS 122; and Downey Bridgewater, CEO Sterling Bank

 Me, at Mission Control

Getting ready for launch

After launch

HOUSTON – December 10, 2010 – Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas, P.C. (PKF Texas), the only Houston-based accounting and technology consulting firm specializing in Microsoft Dynamics NAV,  has been awarded the Gold Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Competency. 

Recently Microsoft launched its new Partner Network with increased rigorous standards for professional excellence and partners. Existing Certified and Gold Certified partners must meet stringent new requirements to retain their current competencies. A Gold Certified Partner under the previous guidelines, PKF Texas has qualified for the new higher level of standards. 

“Clients and prospects can recognize our advanced expertise with the attainment of this competency,” said Gregory Price, CPA, Director of Consulting Solutions. “The Gold Competency designation signals that PKF Texas has a significant level of industry experience providing services, software, and support for Microsoft technologies. It also indicates to customers and prospects that our business has a best-in-class capability and is reliable, experienced, and endorsed by Microsoft.” 

PKF Texas is also a member of Partner Power International (PPI).  As a member of PPI, PKF Texas can provide Microsoft Dynamics solutions seamlessly to companies around the world.

About Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions. Dynamics products include applications and services for retailers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and service companies, doing business domestically or in multiple countries. Visit www.microsoft.com/dynamics

About Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas, P.C. Consulting Solutions
The Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas, P.C.  Consulting Solutions group provides a variety of services to help clients conduct business effectively in today’s busy marketplace.  From examining and executing eCommerce strategies to business system design and implementation, Consulting Solutions develops solutions to fit the needs of every client.  Together with our strategic business partner Microsoft Dynamics NAV and CRM, PKF Texas and Consulting Solutions have the resources to meet any business challenge. Joining Partner Power International in 2009 expanded PKF Texas’ capabilities to address the needs of multi-national companies.

Well good morning Houston!  Today is a new day with the arrival of the Houston Technology Center’s (HTC) Blog. The HTC blog is another successful value proposition for clients and supporters of the HTC.

As many of you know, my blog:  FromGregsHead.com has been around for about 5 years now and we are very happy with the support we have received the community both here and around the world.  As one of the original, and early supporters of the HTC, we welcome this new addition to the Houston Social Media scene. 

My advice to HTC’s Director of Communications Maggie Joplin and CEO Walter Ulrich, is to build your editorial theme, and build content from the ground up.  The HTC has so much going on, and so many things for the entrepreneur and investor alike, that you have a treasure trove of topics to put out there for others to see, learn, and comment on.

The link to their site can be found here:

Best wishes to all my friends at the HTC.
Welcome to world of Blogging!

Has it really been ten years since we had our first Fast Tech 50 event?  I was thinking back to our first event, and our first winner, “E-Realty” which was led by Russ Capper. Wow, so much has happened since then with Russ and the other honorees of the Fast Tech  50.  It’s  would be difficult to capture all of the successes since that date.  But in reality that’s what the Fast Tech 50 is about.  Helping emerging market companies in the technology sector promote their businesses and the Houston Region’s technology prowess.

When we started this event, there was a seedling community that was gathering some momentum.  I guess I view the Fast Tech 50 as the catalyst for the tech sector.  Many things came together at that time.  The Houston Technology Center, the Rice Alliance, Bio-Houston all came into their own during this time period and I think it speaks to vision of the Houston business community.  We will honor several past winners of the event at today’s luncheon and I hope many of you will take a moment to stop by and visit with these entrepreneurs.  Not unlike the Allen Brothers of the early 1800s, these leaders are laying the groundwork for the Region’s future. 

The Greater Houston  Partnership has recognized our Fast Tech 50 program in the past and they have put together a Technology Infrastructure Committee to continue to bring focus to this very important area of our local economy.  Umesh Verma, Chairman of this Committee is leading an impressive group of resources expanding the impact of the Fast Tech 50 and Technology in general around the Houston Region.

The Class of 2010 will be one of the youngest we have ever had in our program. In comparing this year’s group of winners, it’s clear that they represent a much younger and still developing group of early stage companies.  They will have an impact on our local and national economy for many years to come, and they will add to the legacy of what makes Houston the top city in the country to start a business.  The average growth rate for this year’s group is a staggering 65%. 

During this past year we had over 390 companies express an interest in becoming a member of this exclusive club.  The Fast Tech 50 class of 2010 continues Houston’s tradition of technology excellence.  And they also bring to the forefront new and different stories of entrepreneurial success.  This year’s list of honorees includes; 16 first-time honorees, 13 two-time honorees, 10 three-time honorees, 4 four-time honorees, 2 five-time honorees, 1 six-time honoree and 4 seven time winners.  Our seven time honorees include:  BBS Technologies, DataCert, Inc., Merrick Systems, and Triad Resources, Inc. What staying power!

During the past year we saw the on-going continuation of many successful technology events throughout the city.  The Houston Technology Center (including the Gulf Coast Innovation Conference & Showcase) and the Rice Alliance (including the highly success Rice Business Plan competition with over $1 million in prizes) held many forums for the start up community.   The Houston based Gulf Coast Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization (RCIC) continues to do well.  We continue to hear from the State’s oversight group that the plans submitted from the Houston area are some of the most well received.


Let’s review the nomination and listing process.  To qualify for the Fast Tech 50, a company’s headquarters, or a foreign company’s US headquarters must be located in Houston SMSA region.  A minimum of 51% of the company’s consolidated net revenues must be involved in the original manufacture, design or development of technology products or delivery of services.  A nominee must have minimum net revenues of more than $200,000 in both years.  Rankings were determined on the revenue growth percentage from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2009.

The nominees were asked to submit the following information:  nomination form; audited, reviewed or compiled financial statements or tax returns for 2008 and 2009; an overview letter; and background information on the company, its products and/or services.  Representatives from PKF Texas validated the information on the nomination form from the information packet.  The percentage of revenue growth was computed by comparing net revenues from 2008 to 2009.  During the past year we received over 390 nominations for the Fast Tech 50.   The organizations that made the top 50 places were then listed. 

Overview of the 2010 Fast Tech 50

Our Fast Tech 50 represents a wide variety of industries.  The industries represented by our award winners, and the number of entries by their area are as follows: Environmental Technology 1, Software 20,  Hardware 3, Hosting Facilities 5, Life Science 3, Technical/Consulting Services 7, Energy Technology Products 9, and Communications 2. 

Six of our honorees were started in the 1980s.  Fifteen honorees were started in the 1990s.  Finally, twenty nine honorees were started since 2000.   This group of honorees is by far, is one of our youngest groups of companies ever.  Hang on Houston; we’ve got some growing to do!

The local economic impact made by this year’s Fast Tech 50 is phenomenal!  When reviewing the entire 50 companies, an impressive overview quickly emerges.  These organizations are responsible for creating almost 4,400 jobs and over $720 million in revenues to our local economy.  No one industry dominates the Houston business climate anymore.  Our businesses are as diverse as our people and our cultures.

Nominations will be accepted for next year’s Fast Tech 50 listing by contacting the Houston Business Journal, PKF Texas, or any of the additional sponsors.  Organizations that are nominated will receive additional information and application packets during the spring of 2011. Congratulations to all of our honorees!  We look forward to seeing you in next year’s listing.