Sitting in what has become his corner of the Ozmen Center, Chase Houston works quietly on his laptop. Occasionally he will share how many hours of sleep he got the night before, it is never close to the recommended amount, yet a smile remains on his face despite his long nights.
For this young entrepreneur, sleep has always been a challenge. During high school he was diagnosed with narcolepsy. His ability to stay energized in every realm of life from work, school, and his personal life became a daily struggle for Houston to overcome.
Because of his condition Houston has had to work hard to find ways to maintain a steady workflow and achieve his goals. Despite these challenges Houston has managed to work as an account executive at a software company while taking three graduate entrepreneurship classes at the University of Nevada, Reno, and completing his business plan to enter in the Nevada Governor’s Cup Competition.
What motivates Houston is, “a constant thriving for a new challenge.”
He received his bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in Japanese from the University of Nevada, Reno. He studied Japanese and played waterpolo for Kwansei Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan where he lived for a year.
The three-time governor’s cup competitor was a finalist for 2 consecutive years for the award as an undergraduate at UNR. His winning company is an innovative lithium- ion battery anode design that allows current batteries to have ten times more energy.
Chase’s partner in the Governor’s Cup was Mohammed Danyan. Houston and Danyan met on the graduate school council for the College of Business. Their company Hana Battery Technologies began after a series of conversations between the two students.
“Mo originally said ‘no, I am way too busy’,” said Houston.
Replying to Danyan Houston said, “So am I but I really think we are on to something big…I kept bugging him and he finally agreed to do it.”
Their conversation about competing began in the fall, once they solidified their idea they began developing their business plan in January.
Danyan is both a Ph. D Student and an MBA student.
“I couldn’t have done it without him, he is the scientific brain behind the operation,” said Houston.
Throughout the competition Houston and Danyan developed a mindset of moving forward whether or not they won or lost the competition.
“The way I looked at it, I kept telling him whenever we were getting stuck, either way if we don’t win we are still accomplishing something and moving forward,” said Houston.
The team will now move on to compete in the D.W. Reynolds Tri- State competition held in Las Vegas to compete against the top teams from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nevada where they can potentially win $118,000.
“It wasn’t the cash that got me excited, it was the recognition for our hard work, and for once people wanted to come and shake my hand instead of the other way around.”
The team’s efforts paid off as they took home a total of $25,000 for their company during last week’s awards dinner.
Houston began his career working as the director of international sales for a renewable energy Wind Turbine startup in Reno after graduating. He made a connection during a networking event with an entrepreneur at a new company and was hired once he graduated.
“I have a knack for relating to various types of people and establishing lasting connections. ”
Following this job Houston has served in many roles in a diverse range of industries from data center power management to commercial real estate, and has traveled to over twenty countries working with U. S. ambassadors in Europe and Asia.
“I was originally planning on becoming an orthopedic surgeon. I was gun-ho on going into the medical field then I took organic chemistry and realized this wasn’t for me,” said Houston.
Houston feels having a diverse background has allowed him to figure out what he enjoys doing the most. Growing up Houston’s parents were enthusiast and encouraging about his career options, never limiting his possibilities.
He recalls being told we could achieve anything, now he understands however, while he can try to achieve success in many fields, where he wants to achieve success has become clear.
“There are endless things to do but if I want to do something I truly love, then it would be in entrepreneurship,” said Houston.