HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 37

Houston entrepreneur on why social impact innovation is important — now more than ever

Aimee Woodall has been focused on innovation and creativity during COVID-19 for her own company, The Black Sheep Agency, but also for its clients. Photo courtesy of The Black Sheep Agency

As the pandemic hit, most entrepreneurs had only their own company to focus on keeping afloat. Aimee Woodall had her own creative agency — as well as its entire client list.

Her company, The Black Sheep Agency, is brand strategy for exclusively impact-based businesses. Sixty percent of business is nonprofit, she says.

"We write, we design, we build campaigns, we work in the digital space — whatever it takes to tell the story of the organization and to rally other people to not only pay attention to what the organization is doing but to also find their own way to participate in moving that mission forward," Woodall shares on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast.

Thinking back to when COVID-19 really started affecting business and her campaigns, Woodall remembers how she and her team had to reevaluate existing content, pivot planned projects, and, in some cases, cancel events or programming.

"Not only were we responsible for figuring out how our business will operate and be able to come through this on the other side in a healthy way, but also how do we take this roster of clients and make sure that we are a solid partner to them and that they all come through this in a positive way," Woodall says.

"How we could turn lemons into lemonade and harness this chaos and sustain and stay productive when we can, but also find some silver linings. It was a lot all at once."

She says she's still learning as they go along — something the entire country is doing. But, with social impact being important now more than ever, she's seen an opportunity to grow her company, which has been a silver lining to all the challenges she's faced during this time.

Woodall shares resources for advocates and social impact startups, as well as her thoughts on how companies and individuals can be more cognizant moving forward through the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you get your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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Building Houston

 
 

You can now hop online and invest in this promising cell therapy startup. Photo via Getty Images

A clinical-stage company headquartered in Houston has opened an online funding campaign.

FibroBiologics, which is developing fibroblast cell-based therapeutics for chronic diseases, launched a campaign with equity crowdfunding platform StartEngine. The platform lets anyone — regardless of their net worth or income level — to invest in securities issued by startups.

The funding, according to a press release, will be used to support ongoing operations of Fibrobiologics and advance its clinical programs in multiple sclerosis, degenerative disc disease, wound care, extension of life, and cancer.

"We're excited to partner with StartEngine on this campaign. StartEngine has over 600,000 investors as part of their community and has raised over half a billion dollars for its clients," says FibroBiologics' Founder and CEO Pete O'Heeron, in the release.

"This is an exciting time at FibroBiologics as we continue progressing our clinical pipeline and developing innovative therapies to treat chronic diseases," he continues. "This new funding will fuel our growth in the lab and bring us one step closer to commercialization."

The campaign, launched this week, already has over 100 investors, at the time of publication, and has raised nearly $2 million, according to the page. The minimum investment is set at around $500, and the company's indicated valuation is $252.57 million.

In 2021, FibroBiologics announced its intention of going public. Last year, O'Heeron told InnovationMap on the Houston Innovators Podcast of the company's growth plans as well as the specifics of the technology.

Only two types of cells — stem cells and fibroblasts — can be used in cell therapy for a regenerative treatment, which is when specialists take healthy cells from a patient and inject them into a part of the body that needs it the most. As O'Heeron explains in the podcast, fibroblasts can do it more effectively and cheaper than stem cells.

"(Fibroblasts) can essentially do everything a stem cell can do, only they can do it better," says O'Heeron. "We've done tests in the lab and we've seen them outperform stem cells by a low of 50 percent to a high of about 220 percent on different disease paths."


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