Heelho Wins Business of the Month

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Texas Unchained Recognizes Austin, Texas-based Heelho Insoles as its June 2016 Business of the Month

"Heelho is emblematic of a new breed that is making gains in business circles.... They are experimental, web-savvy, and incentive-driven."

The creators of a new product that makes women's high-heeled shoes less likely to cause ball-of-foot pain have been named as the “Business of the Month” by Texas Unchained. The honor is bestowed monthly by texasunchained.com on one deserving “independently owned, non-chain, non-franchised Texas business” that “exemplifies the energy, vitality, originality, and resourcefulness, as well as the bootstrap spirit, of a homegrown Lone Star enterprise.” (See announcement at http://texasunchained.com/heelho-takes-honors/)

Less than two years old, the startup known as Heelho (heelho.com) was named the honoree for the month of June. Company founder Tina Goodman said that the honor has been extremely gratifying for their entire team.

“It's feels like a well-timed reward for the dedication, enthusiasm, and drive that our team has showed that has taken us this far this quickly,” Goodman said. “It reinforces the worth of what we've put our faith in. We live in times when opportunity abounds for anyone who wants to create a business and make a go of it. Our ‘team’ is mostly our owners—there are seven of us. So ownership is huge where Heelho Insoles is concerned. We have partners and other hired associates who contribute also, but by far the work is done by people who have a stake in the bottom line. That's a structure that is easier accomplished in a small company, in one that is light enough on its feet to meet challenges quickly. It's a structure that meshes well with the fast-changing world of direct-to-consumer online selling, which can sometimes be a turn-on-a-dime proposition.”

Things are indeed happening fast for the (mostly) ladies at Austin-based Heelho. Their product was mere months between drawing board and the arrival of their initial stock. The first shipments of product to consumers were as recent as December 2015. Yet already the company is expanding into secondary product lines and new markets.

Dianne D. Green, an Abilene, Texas, businesswoman and the person who nominated Heelho for the recognition, said that the company has flourished because they are risk-takers and problem-solvers.

“They are highly collaborative and they are worker- and partner-empowering,” Green said. “They got their product to market at lightning speed. And it's a product that gets rave reviews. In many ways, they are emblematic of a new breed that is making gains in business circles, not just in Austin and not just in Texas but across the nation and around the world. They are experimental, web-savvy, and incentive-driven. They're not about brick-and-mortar. Heelho is more fluid and, where management is concern, less hierarchical. Heelho knows its customer and its product and is streamlined about getting the two together, and the process has less to do with getting retail partners than it has to do with going direct to the buyer and building that relationship.

“Austin is itself an incubator community for businesses,” Green continued. “Mostly we think of these as tech startups. But the potentialities of the web, social media, and today's take-any-comers marketplace offer room for non-tech businesses like this one as well. It's largely about understanding how to thrive in an inbound, online environment. You don't have to have a technical product to take advantage of sophisticated online marketing practices. Heelho does have technology in its product, and the company is working on some sophisticated applications of its basic design, but it's really just a shoe insert. And yet that's something that can be marketed with cutting edge techniques.”

What sets the product apart is its patent-pending depression in the insole, one that “offloads” pressure away from a point in the metatarsal arch where many high-heel wearers develop a sore spot.

The Heelho team found themselves the subjects of a 2,000-word feature article on Texas Unchained's website (http://texasunchained.com/heelho-feature-article/). The article tells how the company began, how the product works, and where the business is headed.

“The city of Austin is not just notable for the fact that it is a business incubator and accelerator, but also for the fact that it sees many women launching those businesses,” Green said.

According to Austin Woman magazine, woman-owned firms account for 30 percent of all enterprises and are growing faster in number and employment than most other firms. Texas is leading the way with the second fastest growth of women-owned firms.


For more information, contact:
Tina Goodman 210.912.8143, tina(at)heelho(dot)com

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Jesse Mullins

Kit Mullins
since: 02/2016
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