Could RadioShack make a come back? Photo via Getty Images

Although the RadioShack electronics retail chain essentially crumbled following bankruptcy filings in 2015 and 2017, the name has survived for 100 years. In a bid to make RadioShack relevant for another 100 years, the brand’s new owner is making a play for one of the hottest, and most controversial, emerging business sectors in the world — cryptocurrency.

Seeking to capitalize on RadioShack’s global brand name, Miami-based owner Retail Ecommerce Ventures is propelling RadioShack (once based in Fort Worth) into the promising yet murky territory of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is digital currency built on a technology platform known as blockchain; bitcoin is perhaps the best-known type of cryptocurrency. In November, the size of the global cryptocurrency market surpassed $3 trillion.

“The need for a bridge between the CEOs who control the world’s corporations and the new world of cryptocurrencies will most likely come in the form of a well-known, century-old brand. RadioShack is perfect,” RadioShack proclaims on its website.

High-profile investors like Elon Musk have enthusiastically hopped on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. Yet other big-name investors, such as Warren Buffett, cast doubt on the viability of the scam-prone, highly volatile cryptocurrency market.

The owner of RadioShack clearly shares space on the Musk bandwagon. On its website, RadioShack — whose name still appears on hundreds of stores operated by independent dealers — recently revealed plans for a cryptocurrency platform called RadioShack DeFi (short for decentralized finance). The company touts RadioShack DeFi’s ability to profit from a 100-year-old brand name that’s recognized in more than 190 countries and once encompassed more than 8,000 stores.

The concept calls for people to freely swap existing cryptocurrency tokens for newly created RADIO cryptocurrency tokens through the RadioShack DeFi platform.

“It is our hypothesis that the best way for crypto to be more mainstream is for an established brand name in the tech space to lead the way. … Despite its pullback in the last 10 years, the brand is resolutely embedded in the global consciousness — ripe to be pivoted to lead the way for blockchain tech to mainstream adoption by other large brands,” RadioShack declares.

Retail Ecommerce Ventures bought RadioShack’s brand assets in 2020. The business also owns the ecommerce business of Pier 1, formerly based in Fort Worth, along with obsolete retail brands such as Dressbarn, Linens ’n Things, and Stein Mart.

Interestingly, RadioShack’s cryptocurrency setup would run on a system called Atlas USV that’s owned by entrepreneurs Tai Lopez and Alex Mehr — the same guys who own Retail Ecommerce Ventures and, thus, RadioShack.

“Lopez and Mehr are clearly staking the success of the entire operation on the strength of the RadioShack brand with consumers,” PCMag.com observes.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston biopharma company launches equity crowdfunding campaign

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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."


Texas ranks as a top state for female entrepreneurs

women in business

Texas dropped three spots in Merchant Maverick’s annual ranking of the top 10 states for women-led startups.

The Lone Star State landed at No. 5 thanks in part to its robust venture capital environment for women entrepreneurs. Last year, Texas ranked second, up from its No. 6 showing in 2021.

Merchant Maverick, a product comparison site for small businesses, says Texas “boasts the strongest venture capital scene” for women entrepreneurs outside California and the Northeast. The state ranked fourth in that category, with $6.5 billion invested in the past five years.

Other factors favoring Texas include:

  • Women solely lead 22 percent of all employees working for a business in Texas (No. 4).
  • Texas lacks a state income tax (tied for No. 1).

However, Texas didn’t fare well in terms of the unemployment rate (No. 36) and the rate of business ownership by women (No. 29). Other Texas data includes:

  • Average income for women business owners, $52,059 (No. 19).
  • Early startup survival rate, 81.9 percent (No. 18).

Appearing ahead of Texas in the 2023 ranking are No. 1 Colorado, No. 2 Washington, No. 3 California, and No. 4 Arizona.

Another recent ranking, this one from NorthOne, an online bank catering to small businesses, puts Texas at No. 7 among the 10 best states for women entrepreneurs.

NorthOne says Texas provides “a ton of opportunities” for woman entrepreneurs. For instance, it notches one of the highest numbers of women-owned businesses in the country at 1.4 million, 2.1 percent of which have at least 500 employees.

In this study, Texas is preceded by Colorado at No. 1, Nevada at No. 2, Virginia at No. 3, Maryland at No. 4, Florida at No. 5, and New Mexico at No. 6. The rankings are based on eight metrics, including the percentage of woman-owned businesses and the percentage of women-owned businesses with at least 500 employees.