Groupraise: Station Houston Member
Devin Baptiste grew up in Houston. So, it’s no surprise that he wanted to keep his business here. But when he started it in 2011, no way did he think he’d have a company with a base of operations in Houston, as well as offices in Chile and the Philippines. He knows one thing, though: he’s grown a business that helps change lives.
“We’re approaching $1 million in charitable donations,” he says about his company, which brings together organizations looking to raise funds and restaurants that want to bring in customers during slower times of the day or week. Groupraise allows restaurants to be part of its database, and groups can then select them to host an event or meal.
“I like to say it’s the most delicious way to change the world,” he says.
The idea was born when he was playing keyboard in a band and got to know several restaurant and bar owners as he played gigs in their spaces. One of them mentioned that he wanted to work with community organizations on fundraisers, but didn’t know how to best access them.
“I was an Eagle Scout,” says Baptiste. “And I grew up in the Baptist church with a deep love for Jesus Christ. Helping people is part of who I am.” So, he worked within his own network to gather groups to go to his friend’s restaurant. The restaurant, in turn, agreed to donate a percentage of sales to a charity. “He expected about 30 people to show up,” says Baptiste. “The number was closer to about 3,000.”
That foundation encouraged Baptiste to look at ways to connect more groups and more restaurants. Over the last six years, Groupraise has grown, but Baptiste says it’s really taken off in the last 24 months. In July 2015, 500 restaurants had signed on with the company. By January of 2016, the number had grown to 2,500. At the end of last year, there were 5,000. Baptiste recently signed a national deal with Jason’s Deli, a company that’s always had a commitment to community service, which made the partnership a natural fit. Groupraise is in 150 cities in the country and employs more than 50 people in Houston, Chile and the Philippines.
As a native Houstonian, Baptiste loves the city, and he’s a proud booster of its innovation and entrepreneurial scene. But he says he finds it scattered; there are pockets of entrepreneurship and innovation all over the city’s wide expanse. One of the things he loves about being a Station Houston member is that so many like-minded startups are in one place.
“I saw from the beginning that Station was a great investment,” he says. “When you have so many like-minded people in one place, it allows for these spontaneous collisions on a daily basis. And I wanted to be part of that.”
He loves that he can learn from fellow entrepreneurs and that Station has a commitment to mentoring companies. “I think this is really just the beginning of a whole new innovation cycle,” he says about the city. “And the Station Houston community is a big driver of that.”