Chicago startup gift guide: 15 unique finds to add to your holiday wish list – Chicago Business Journal

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and if you’re looking for a unique gift from a local Chicago business, we’ve got you covered.
In this year’s Chicago Inno Holiday Gift Guide, we’re featuring items from a range of Chicago startups. Whether you’re shopping for a foodie, fisherman or a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, our list this year has 15 Chicago-made finds with a range of budgets in mind.
Happy shopping.
For the foodie in need of an easy meal
$49 (with purchase of six weeks of meals)
Tovala’s smart oven and meal delivery service wants to make meal prep easier than ever. Using a barcode scanner to correctly cook your meal, the device can steam, bake, broil, toast and reheat your food in 20 minutes or less. The smart oven, one of Oprah’s Favorite Things this year, is currently on sale for $49 with the purchase of six weeks of meals, which start at $11.99.
For the beginner baker
Founded earlier this year, Chicago startup BāKIT Box is a meal kit service like Blue Apron or Home Chef, but for baking. It delivers users all the pre-measured ingredients they need to make their items, like eggs, flour, butter and milk, along with simple instructions on how to bake them. It’s currently selling a box of spicy gingersnap cookies, along with a holiday children’s book by Vicky Weber called « The Gingersnap Snatcher. »
For the caffeine fiend
$54 (concentrate roasts bundle, 24 servings)
Kavnia, a startup that works out of local hardware hub mHUB, makes cold drip coffee. Brewed slow using only organic coffee and water, the startup says it’s able to bring out the rich flavor of cold brew with its patent-pending brewing method. Kavnia is selling a 24-serving bundle of its cold drip coffee for $54.
For a holiday greeting from a famous face
Prices vary. $20 for Thomas the Tank Engine; $175 for Gilbert Gottfried as Santa
Special delivery! Thomas the Tank Engine is now on Cameo. Request a personalized video message from the most famous train in the world for only $20
For the hard-to-shop-for person on your wish list, try a celebrity shoutout from Chicago startup Cameo. For the big spenders, there’s NBA legend Bill Russell ($500) or musician Kenny G ($350). But you can also get a personalized shoutout from Thomas the Tank Engine for your little one, or a Christmas message from Gilbert Gottfried dressed as Santa.
For the hopeless romantic
Make your holiday gift giving even more thoughtful with Songfinch! Grab the perfect gift for your loved ones while they're available at
Chicago startup Songfinch, whose investors include The Weeknd and Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman, is a platform that lets you buy personalized songs from musicians. Perfect for your special someone this holiday, Songfinch will let you order a one-of-a-kind tune, as well as add-ons like a custom-cut 7” vinyl record or the sheet music of your personalized song.
For someone who needs a taste of Chicago
Featuring hand-picked items from local restaurants, Chicago startup Here, Here offers a variety of gift boxes full of tasty treats. Its Tiny Tour de Chicago box features sauce from Girl and the Goat owner Stephanie Izard, El Che Steakhouse Chef John Manion’s Firewatcher Seasoning Salt, Gnocchetti pasta from Monteverde and more.
For the well-groomed man
Chicago startup Bottlecode, founded by three former Trunk Club employees, is helping men improve their skincare regimens through its online service that matches users with specialized products. Its Winter Essentials kit features face wash, hand cream, lip balm, moisturizer, a dopp kit and more.
For the sustainable skincare fan
Hanahana Beauty is a Chicago skincare and wellness brand that sources sustainable ingredients to make its beauty products; its shea butter comes from the Katariga Women’s Shea Cooperative in Ghana. The company’s holiday set features a skin nutrition mask, 2-in-1 body bar, and black + brown exfoliating cleanser.
For the Indian food fan
$5.49 per meal
The Cumin Club, offers a meal delivery service that brings authentic Indian cuisines straight to your door. With dishes that start at $5 per dish, customers can sign up for weekly and monthly meal plan delivery schedules.
For the fishing aficionado
Catch Co, a Chicago startup that operates a monthly fishing tackle subscription called Mystery Tackle Box, sells a range of fishing gear from rods and reels to bait and tackle. Its Mystery Tackle Box Pro comes with 5-7 surprise items for the fishing enthusiast in your life.
For the indoor gardener
Backed by Amazon, Chicago startup Rise Gardens offers several different indoor gardening options for the green thumbs on your wish list. Its personal Rise Garden takes up just 18 inches of space and helps you grow herbs, veggies and leafy greens from the comfort of your home. 
For the booze-free drinker
Ritual Zero Proof is built for drinkers who want the experience of a cocktail, without the buzz. Its zero-alcohol gin, whiskey, tequila and rum are designed for someone who’s in search of a little more balance in their drinking routine, and it’s become one of the emerging NA spirits brands across the country.
For the at-home drinker
Chicago startup Bartesian makes a Keurig-like machine for cocktail making. Its pods can make drinks like an old fashioned, margarita, gin martini or a long island iced tea, with each capsule offering the appropriate amount of bitters, extracts, juice concentrates and other ingredients needed to make the cocktail. Users provide their own alcohol and simply push a button to make a drink. Actress Mila Kunis gave the device her sign of approval this year.
These won’t be ready by the holiday season, but you can order yours now for a 2022 delivery
For the pet lover
Houndsy is pet food dispenser that releases the perfect amount of food in your dog’s bowl with just the crank of a handle. The device, which stores a 30-pound bag of kibble, features a mid-century modern design made from European beechwood. Users can choose from one of six different serving sizes, and pull a lever on the device to completely fill the bowl with kibble. Houndsy, a TikTok favorite, can currently be ordered on Kickstarter.
To make your green thumb greener
Chicago startup Flora created a smart sensor and app that gives you more information about your plants and how to keep them alive. Its hardware device tells you exactly what your plant needs, from temperature, humidity, moisture and lighting conditions, and its app gives you alerts and other information to stay on top of it all.
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