shop local

5 innovative gift ideas from Houston startups for the 2021 holidays

Support Houston startups by shopping local this holiday season. Photos courtesy

Editor's note: We are in the thick of the holidays, and I'm willing to bet a good chunk of you are still doing your gift shopping, right? Why not give a little business to local startups as you shop for friends and family this year.

Need some more ideas? Browse last year's roundup of Houston startup-created gift ideas and check out the 2019 startup gift guide as well for even more options.

For your cousins in college: Cheers

Cheers Health has expanded its product line as it evolves as a wellness-focused brand. Photo courtesy of Cheers

Houston-based Cheers has a collection of products that prioritize your health — especially after overindulging in some holiday cheersing. In 2021, the Houston startup introduced a few new products including a canned beverage that's perfect for anyone looking to properly hydrate before, during, or after drinking — or any time for that matter. Give the gift of Cheers.

For your business-minded father: Lead From The Core by Jay Steinfeld

Blinds.com founder Jay Steinfeld has released his new book this week. Photos courtesy of Jay Steinfeld

Houston innovator and founder of Blinds.com Jay Steinfeld can now add bestselling author to his resume, and you can add his book to someone's stocking. Steinfeld told InnovationMap that he originally set out to write about his entrepreneurial journey and it became a much broader guide to business decision making. Give the gift of Lead From The Core.

For your dog-loving aunt: Fido

A Houston startup is bringing all the dogs to the yard. Photo courtesy of Fido

Gifting to the family pet? Treat them with some Chill Chews and Clear Ears from Fido, a new e-commerce pet wellness brand based in Houston. The company is founded by Houstonians Brad Madrid and Bobby Dwyer and is available in Houston and beyond. Give the gift of Fido.

For your sneakerhead nephew: Tradeblock

Tradeblock — launched in Houston by three childhood friends — coordinates sales of sneakers for collectors across the country. Image via tradeblock.us

Here's a gift shopping idea from a Houston startup that's changing the sneaker game — one step at a time. A group of self-proclaimed sneakerheads founded Tradeblock in 2020, and the app is a new sneaker trading platform that provides collectors with a secure way to collect and trade shoes. After a successful beta, the Houston-based startup has recently launched a new mobile app available for iOS and Android users. Give the gift of shoes from Tradeblock.

For your digital nomadic sister: Splay

The idea for Splay, a unique device perfect for a mobile workforce, was born on the Rice University campus. Images courtesy

Due to the pandemic and the gig economy, more and more of the workforce is working remotely — and away from their 2-screen setup at the office. Splay, created by Houston-based Arovia, solves the challenges with its collapsible screen and projector. The product is currently in its manufacturing stage but maybe this one's worth waiting for. Give the gift of Splay.

Trending News

Building Houston

 
 

This Houston staffing firm has tapped into tech to support the growing gig economy workforce. Photo via Getty Images

As the independent workforce continues to grow, a Houston-based company is aiming to connect these workers with companies that match their specific needs with a new digital platform.

FlexTek, a 14-year old recruiting and staffing company, launched a first gig site tailored to the needs of the individual worker. The platform, Workz360, is built to be able to manage projects, maintain quality control, and manage billing and year-end financial reporting.The company is also working to expanding the platform to provide infrastructure to assist independent workers with education, access to savings programs, tax compliance through vetted third-party CPA firms, and hopes in the future to assist with access to liability and medical insurance.

With a younger workforce and a shifting economy, the “gig economy,” which is another way to describe how people can earn a living as a 1099 worker, offers an alternative option to the corporate grind in a post-pandemic workscape. Chief Marketing Officer Bill Penczak of Workz360 calls this era “Gig 2.0,” and attributes the success of this type of workforce to how during the COVID-19 pandemic people learned how to work, and thrive in non-traditional work environments. The site also boasts the fact it won’t take a bite out of the worker’s pay, which could be an attractive sell for many since other sites can take up to 65 percent of profit.

“In the past few years, with the advent of gig job platforms, the Independent workers have been squeezed by gig work platforms taking a disproportionate amount of the workers’ income,” said FlexTek CEO and founder Stephen Morel in a news release. “As a result, there has been what we refer to as ‘pay padding,’ a phenomenon in which workers are raising their hourly or project rates to compensate for the bite taken by other platforms.

"Workz360 is designed to promote greater transparency, and we believe the net result will be for workers to thrive and companies to save money by using the platform,” he continues.

As the workforce has continued to change over the years, a third of the current U.S. workforce are independent workers according to FlexTek, workers have gained the ability to have more freedom where and how they work. Workz360 aims to cater to this workforce by believing in a simple mantra of treating your workers well.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about this, but we like the Southwest Airlines model,” Penczak tells InnovationMap. “Southwest Airlines treats their people very well, and as a result those employees treat the passengers really well. We believe the same thing holds true. If we can provide resources, and transparency, and not take a bite out of what the gig worker is charging, then we will get the best and the brightest people since they feel like they won’t be taken advantage of. We think there is an opportunity to be a little different and put the people first.”

Trending News