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.

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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.