James Phelan

James Phelan

Strategy, Innovation & Commercialization

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Tech & CPG Commercial Officer, Innovator, Strategist, Design Thinker, Communicator, Doer – I harness and apply prior military and professional experience as an advisor, consultant, and executive in startup, growth and corporate organizations.

IMO Teams and projects excel in environments where vision and the exploration of ideas is encouraged and celebrated.

I enjoy rolling up my sleeves to address opportunities and solve problems – visioning, iterating, reiterating, assessing, listening. My methods and contributions improve organizational productivity and bottom-line revenue by providing thorough analysis, intelligently designed processes and actionable solutions – driving value for investors, employers, employees, and every level of client or vendor.

I have lead and have led technology and operations teams in B2B SaaS, CPG, Real estate (title), Future-of-work, Energy, Global Trade, Finance and Transportation. I actively advise and consult on emerging agriculture, economic impact, space and entertainment startups.

Innovation knows no industry limitations nor bounds.

In my “off time,” I serve on boards and in leadership roles for influential arts, professional and startup community organizations – Attracting, promoting, and celebrating entrepreneurship, creativity, conviviality, abundance and success. 


Phon 832-713-6256 (Work)

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I am an innovator, a thought leader, and a connector for the Houston startup ecosystem. Often described as a “serial entrepreneur” and a “bridge builder,” I enjoy sharing valuable insights gained through 20+ years of military and private sector experience. While regularly wearing multiple hats for an array of enterprise, growth, and startup businesses, I contribute a blend of servant leadership, metrics driven analysis, and strategic systems architecture applications across multiple projects simultaneously – Corporate Communications Director for BCV, a global natural resources exporter; COO for Cathexis’ Change Exchange, an Austin-based social impact fund; Consultant to CEDS, an economic development investment (EDI) fund; Founder and CINO for Plāsyn, a “Prop-tech” startup being incubated by the Bunker Labs/We Work “Veterans in Residence” program.

I’m also on boards or consult for several other startup companies and startup-focused service providers. Through assisting the regional startup community as the Partnership Director of Startup Grind – Houston and as a Director for The Founder Institute – Texas, I’ve gained relationships that I enjoy connecting. Other meaningful relationships come from my academic/athletic past in California, lifelong ties to the American northeast, and through frequent travel with my wife and family.

I enjoy being an active and dedicated volunteer. Recently I began and participated in Hurricane Harvey and Maria relief and recovery groups nationally (Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico) that have helped directly comfort and feed thousands of families by addressing significant logistical snafus. As a current member of the Board of Directors for FreshArts.org and The Washington Avenue Arts District in Houston, I do my best to celebrate and support the local arts. Over the past 10 years I’ve participated in and spearheaded numerous initiatives that have served to benefit the arts, urban planning, and economic development/ innovation locally, nationally, and internationally.

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Houston entrepreneur plays startup matchmaker so everyone succeeds

By CultureMap Create Oct 30, 2017, 1:24 pm03Plasyn founder James PhelanPlasyn founder James Phelan Courtesy photo

When CultureMap reached out to James Phelan to discuss his new company, Plāsyn, the Houstonian was just about to board a plane to Puerto Rico. A former member of the U.S. Navy, Phelan was stationed there during his service and so was eager to return and help out with relief efforts following Hurricane Maria.

This is right after he spearheaded recovery in Houston post-Hurricane Harvey — “I guess I’m just addicted to helping,” he says — and all while he’s gearing up to launch his latest venture, Plāsyn.

“Being busy keeps me happy,” Phelan says. “And I suppose it doesn’t hurt that my background is in urban planning, logistics, and transportation consulting, plus the Navy experience.”

That varied background has served Phelan well in his past ventures, which include the former Houston Heights co-working concept White Space, and will be an asset for Plāsyn as well.

The company pairs businesses that need short-term workspace with hosts that have that space — be it a commercial kitchen, conference room, or retail display area — available to share. These “micro-term” temporary commercial real estate bookings bolster a user’s businesses by meeting a variety of space needs during a company’s entire business cycle.

Hosts with operating commercial spaces share their workplace profiles, accept or decline use on their terms, for fair daily rates. Guests connect to, schedule with, and pay hosts through Plāsyn, securing turn-key places that meet their needs. 

“There are millions to billions of underutilized square feet of viable space, and this is a way to reduce ‘brain drain’ and job loss resulting from the offshoring of manufacturing and services,” says Phelan. “Let’s reverse this trend and create cost-effective, local options to keep businesses competitive, while also housing the exponentially growing independent/nomadic workforce.”

The idea also alleviates high costs for physical exposure in brick-and-mortar stores, since sharing physical retail space benefits operators with money and foot traffic, while saving startups and pop-ups cash on their end. The ultimate goal, Phelan says, is to encourage Plāsyn’s tagline of “make, meet + sell.”

As director of Houston Young Professionals (HYP), which 35,000-plus local professionals rely on for events and community volunteer opportunities, and as partnership director of Startup Grind, an event series designed to help educate, inspire, and connect local entrepreneurs, Phelan knows a thing or two about making connections. Now, even more, will benefit from his experience.03

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Author: Houston Young Professionals

Freddy Goerges CEO and Founder of Houston Young Professionals Chamber of Commerce and Editor / Publisher of Events in Houston a Business Directory and Events Publication Website