Liftoff Houston 2018 Winners

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Innovation Category
Social Bevy

Alphonso Roundtree is an accomplished former NFL Player and graduate from Tulane University’s Freeman Business School with a degree in Marketing. Alphonso’s experience as a pro-football player afforded him the opportunity to live, work and travel abroad in countries such as Canada, Scotland, the Netherlands and more. His amazing experience as a pro-football player and entrepreneurship while playing led to the creation of ThatsWzup.com, the predecessor to Social Bevy as an online event promotion website focused on the central and southern Florida regions in 2007. In 2009, he evolved ThatsWzup.com to develop the innovative and first-to-market concept, Social Bevy.

Now established in Houston, Texas, Alphonso continues to leverage his resources and network in the sports industry plus his expertise in lifestyle marketing & event production working to grow Social Bevy’s global reach in the event marketing space by utilizing mobile and online technologies and establish Social Bevy as a household name.
Originally from Bradenton, Fla and proud father of Aniyah and Alphonso the 3rd, Mr. Roundtree is driven to succeed for his family. Self-motivation, ambition and determination guides his work-ethic for Social Bevy. His sheer enthusiasm and passion for his business is what will drive Social Bevy’s success.


Product Category
Olympus Watches

Christopher Wan was born in Houston, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in petroleum engineering in 2014. He began a career in business intelligence consulting for Enertia Software but also felt the itch to create something of his own. In 2015, he co-founded MODASI, a startup that is now selling its own line of men’s watches. In 2017, he played a marketing role for a software development startup. Today, Christopher is now focusing on his job and MODASI.

At a young age, Jenna already developed a deep interest in entrepreneurship and design. When she was in 5th grade, she began teaching herself HTML so she could edit basic coding for her Neopets store. That "business" quickly took off as more and more people online asked her for coding help. She exchanged her services for Neopoints, turning her into a Neopets millionaire. She first discovered e-commerce in high school, where she would flip outlet store items on eBay for a pretty hefty profit, a business that could have taken off if it didn't affect her grades so much (foiled by parents!). Jenna loved the idea of paving her own path and not once considered taking the conventional way. She pursued a degree in the creative field and it has since taken her on a wild ride of adventures. For 5 years, she left Houston to travel the world and study fashion. There, she met some of the most prominent figures in the fashion industry and somehow ended up in a few magazines herself. Before she returned from Italy, she landed a partnership deal with Alibaba, which gave her the nudge to really pursue her own e-commerce brand.


Service Category
The Block of Greater Houston

Lauren Wiggins is the owner of The Block of Greater Houston. The Block is a special needs adult day program designed by the experiences of her former clients. She is a certified autism specialist working in the verbal behavior and applied behavior analysis fields for the past 10 years. Currently she has a small consulting business where she contracts therapy and training services to 3 private schools here in the Houston area and the Woodlands. Lauren has a master’s degree from the University of Houston -Clear Lake campus in Early Childhood Education with a focus in Children with Disabilities and has become a certified autism
specialist from IBCCES. Five years ago, Lauren opened Behavioral Learning Agency, a small business consulting with preschools and elementary schools to advocate for her client’s acceptance into mainstream schools.


Service Category Finalists
Product Category Finalists
Innovation Category Finalists


2018 Judges

John Reale, Station Houston

John S. Reale, Jr. (JR) is the Co-founder and CEO of Station Houston, Inc., (Station), Houston’s hub for tech innovation and entrepreneurship. JR also serves on the Board of Houston Exponential, a convening organization formed to grow Houston’s innovation economy. Before its formation, JR Chaired Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Task Force for Innovation and Technology for the City of Houston; and served on the Greater Houston Partnership’s Innovation Advisory Board. By background, JR has spent the last decade launching, leading and growing early-stage technology ventures after starting his career in the financial services industry.

Judge Ogle, Capital One Bank

Deidre Mathis, Wandastay Houston - 2017 Winner

Diedre Mathis has firmly inserted herself into the hospitality and travel industries with the creation of Wanderstay Houston, private and shared accommodations catering to budget conscious travelers. Having traveled to over 37 countries on all 7 continents, Mathis fell in love with the instant community and cultural diversity hostels provided. She wanted to bring that same experience stateside. Mathis holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree in corporate communications from Bowie State University and a graduate certificate in Tourism Management from the George Washington School of Business.

Mechelle Tran, Pho Saigon Vietnamese Noodle House

Mechelle is a partner at Pho Saigon Vietnamese Noodle House. She joined her family business in 2007 and helped with its expansion. She is currently building another location in Pearland, TX. She is also a partner at Riel Restaurant, a modern American concept which opened in Montrose in 2017.

Mechelle believes in perseverance and integrity. She also stands behind the importance of charity work. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Houston, and a Master in Education from St. Thomas University.

Freddie Raines, Capital One Bank

Megan Eddings, Accel Lifestyle - 2017 Winner

Megan Eddings was born and raised in Rhode Island, majored in Chemistry at The University of Virginia and worked in science labs at UVA and Brown University.  Megan is full of life, a “positivity enthusiast” and absolutely loves science, fashion, fitness and giving back.

Siemens Medical offered her a Medical Sales job here in Houston 14 years ago and she has been in Texas ever since.

Maria Rios, Nation Waste, Inc.

Maria Rios is the President and CEO of Nation Waste, Inc. (NWI), the first female Hispanic-owned waste removal company in United States history and one of the largest minority-owned companies in the state of Texas.  NWI is a fully-certified, commercial waste disposal company specializing in construction, demolition, commercial/industrial non-hazardous waste removal, portable toilets and recycling services.

Maria is living the American dream, as she began her U.S. journey emigrating from El Salvador as a child. Her family came to the U.S. to pursue education and a better life. Through reliance on faith, a relentless work ethic and determination, Rios graduated from Houston Community College and earned her BA from the University of Houston.

Mariadele Priest, Capital One Bank

Henry Keculah, 4.0 GPA - 2017 Winner

Henry Keculah Jr. is an American citizen of Liberian descent who came from humble beginnings. A graduated of the University of Texas at Austin, Henry did not have much and was determined to change his future. Upon graduating college, Henry started 4.0 GPA (Growth, Productivity and Accountability) LLC., which serves as an education consulting firm and resource for schools and private organizations. 

4.0 GPA's award-winning curriculum prepares students for college and/or certification programs, and provides their parents with the tools to assist their child with the college admissions process. 4.0 GPA is a one-stop-shop for all of your educational needs. From fundraising/grant writing, to professional development and enrichments programs for students, 4.0 GPA does it all. 


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