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University of Houston: First steps toward faculty entrepreneurship

Taking these first steps will help you determine if entrepreneurship is a good fit. Graphic byMiguel Tovar/University of Houston

If you are a faculty inventor, you’re likely also interested in becoming a faculty entrepreneur. Aspiring to be an entrepreneur is the first step, but what should you do next?

Take action

Bruce Fischer, professor of business and economics at Elmhurst University, said in a blog post that “above all, you should take action” and not procrastinate.

Fischer suggests taking a course in entrepreneurship that covers the fundamentals of management.

Your university is a great place to start. For instance, the University of Houston houses the Gulf Coast chapter of the Small Business Development Center, which offers in-person and online trainings as well as free business advising.

The Bauer School of Business at UH also has programming suited to entrepreneurs at various stages of experience. Depending on where you live corporate, nonprofit, and government-sponsored startup development organizations may also provide resources to introduce you to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.

Find a mentor

Fischer also stresses the importance of finding a mentor. Find someone, maybe someone you know, that is already in the entrepreneurial space. Maybe they already have their own business, and they can give you help on your entrepreneurial journey.

The Associate Director of Startup Development at UH, Tanushree Chatterji, offered some advice for first time entrepreneurs.

“Networking is the key. Going to every relevant event and introducing yourself and talking about what you are doing is the most effective way to network. There are a lot of folks looking to mentor, you have to find them,” she said.

One way to get the conversation going is to reach out to your university’s office of technology transfer.

What's the big idea?

If you are a creative and passionate person, then maybe entrepreneurship is right for you. Taking these first steps will help you determine if entrepreneurship is a good fit while giving you exposure to the fundamentals of establishing your own business.

Fischer leaves us with some parting words of encouragement: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Entrepreneurs are a close community because they can relate to one another through their shared experiences.”

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This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Cory Thaxton, the author of this piece, is the communications coordinator for The Division of Research.

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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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