We had the good fortune of connecting with Jane Udoewa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jane, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Growing up, I never thought I would start my own business. I just knew that I loved technology, and I loved helping people, so the rest came naturally. Four years ago I began co-hosting the “Nigeria Cultural Parade and Festival.” This is the largest cultural celebration that showcases the beauty of Nigeria, in Downtown Houston. Through this event I was able to see how much people loved culture and how they want to share and express their cultural experiences. From the success of the parade and feedback from attendees, I noticed there was a void in highlighting cultural businesses. This led to the creation of Houston Cultures. I saw a need to promote small cultural based businesses who may not necessarily have an online presence, and even promote black owned businesses from all countries with the option to discuss all things cultural. The Houston Cultures app has many features but one of my favorites is the discussion board which allows customers to share their experience. Being the most diverse city in the United States, Houston has a tremendous amount of culture. I just wanted to be a breath of fresh air and bring more positivity and unity to the great city we call home, Houston.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Houston is such a culturally diverse city, and unlike New York, things are very spread out and making it difficult to find the hidden cultural gems the city has to offer. Here, at Houston Cultures, we like helping those small “mom and pop” shops that have that true authentic flair get noticed. We want people to explore the unknown, and at the same, we bring people together. Through this app, Houstonians and visitors alike are able to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. We like to focus on giving back to the community by supporting local businesses. In the beginning it was a bit difficult because we were spending a lot of my from our personal funds with out seeing a good number of downloads. But we had to remember that when we first started, my business partner and I never focused on making money, but it was always about helping people for the greater good. We saw a need and knew something needed to be done about it. One of my favorite quotes is by Nelson Mandela “It always seems impossible until it is done.” Managing the app does take up a bit of time, but we do what we do out of passion. It’s the thing we do to get our minds off the daily stressors of life, so working on the app is refreshing. We sometimes work until late in the night without even realizing it. Change is constant in this world as daily we see it changing and evolving. But one thing that will never change is the joy we at Houston Cultures get when you are able to expand someone’s horizons and put a smile on someone’s face. If you learn something new every day, you can teach something new every day. We look forward to the day when we randomly hear someone say “Hey check out this really cool app called Houston Cultures.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If someone was visiting Houston the first thing I would tell them is to download the Houston Cultures app! Sunday: brunch at Cool Running because you can try a wide variety of Jamaicans foods while listening to live music. The head over to iPic is a great movie experience! After the movie hand in the area and walk around and do some shopping followed by dinner at Steak 48. Monday: We would walk through the museum district, Houston’s cultural heart, and have lunch at Barnaby’s. We would make sure to go to the Houston Zoo, Japanese Garden in Herman park and the Buffalo Soldier’s Museum and wind down with dinner at Lucile’s Tuesday: Lunch at a this great Authentic Chinese restaurant called Pepper Twins, then head over to Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and have dinner at a great Mediterranean restaurant called Aladdin. All of this is off Westhiemer. Wednesday: Shiva Indian restaurant for lunch and then take a bike ride down Memorial park to see the new trails and then wind down with dinner at Blue Nile and amazing Ethiopian restaurant Thursday: Go take pics at the “We Love Houston” sign and head over to the Omni dance studio for free Latin dance classes. Then since we worked up an appetite grab some sweet treats at Rja Sweets, Houston’s longest running Indian dessert and since its minutes away from the mall. We would then head over to the Galleria for some shopping. And wind the evening down with dinner at Gloria’s which has live music so we can practice out Latin dance moves we just learned. Friday: Go golfing at Wild Cat Golf Course then take 3rd- Ward Bike tour and have dinner at the famous Turkey Leg Hut Saturday: Discovery green to see nice art and live performances, Check out the Miller Outdoor theater to see what’s going on there. Get a good work out on the hill. And wind the evening down with some Authentic Nigerian food from Suya Hut.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Gosh there are so many people who have influenced me. I’d like to shoutout my brother, Patrick Udoewa, who is the risk taker in the family. Always pushing me to try new things. I’d like to shoutout my business partner at Houston Cultures, Shaun Smart. I had an idea for this business and he helped me refine it to what it is today. I’d like to thank my co-host of the Nigeria Cultural Parade, Linda Anukwuem of WeLead who counties to showcase the beauty of Nigeria. I’d like to thank Houston Black Leadership Institute and Imanuel Way for always reminding me how important it is to give back to the community. I’d like to thank my amazing technical team at Fresh Tech Solutionz who keep the app up and running And lastly i’d like to thank Michelle Ngome of Company: Line 25 Consulting for always being my cheerleader and marketer
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