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Hacking Heroin leaders to present ideas at IX Health event on Sept. 29


The Innovation Xchange fall program, IX Health 2017, will explore civic health technology on Sept. 29, which is organized by Cintrifuse and The Health Collaborative. Organizers expect over 175 attendees from local and national heavy-hitters in the healthcare and technology industries, such as Humana, Microsoft, P&G, Mercy Health, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Johnson & Johnson and the City of Cincinnati.

“A healthy city equals healthy people,” says Emily Geiger, managing director of Spry Labs. “So how do we get people to the right resources to address social determinants of health like transportation, substance abuse, safety, food and housing? IX Health starts that conversation across the community between civic leaders, healthcare and others about these issues.”

Previous IX Health events have been less focused on a single theme, instead exploring innovation around multiple health topics. The Hacking Heroin event earlier this summer, and its success at bringing together disparate sectors around a single issue, prompted this year’s focus on civic health.

“What Hacking Heroin showed us is that by focusing on one issue, you can address the many social determinants contributing to the problem and the technology that offers solutions,” Geiger says.

Following a kickoff talk by Ted Smith, former chief civic innovation officer at Louisville Metro, attendees will break out into three civic health salons, presented by Spry Labs, the Health Collaborative and 17A.

Spry Labs will explore on-demand, consumer-focused models in healthcare. The Health Collaborative will look at an innovative model being tested in Cincinnati that connects healthcare providers with the social service sector. 17A’s salon will feature an interactive panel on the opioid crisis.

“We are excited to have representatives from regional health systems, social services and the tech community all in the same room,” says Geiger. “Startups will demo and get exposure, and they will hear what the community needs, which could spark new ideas.”

Over lunch, keynote speaker Adam Hecktman, Microsoft Chicago’s director of civic technology and innovation, will talk about his work partnering with public organizations and nonprofits to apply tech solutions to civic problems.

After lunch, startups working on civic health issues will pitch and demo their ideas. “We put out a call to action to local and national startups that are increasing the accessibility of services,” says Geiger. “The pitches will be problem-focused using a civic health mindset to provide solutions.”

To wrap up the day, the three Hacking Heroin winners will offer progress updates and demos of their projects. The final session will be followed by a networking happy hour.

“People in the tech industry are looking for a purpose-driven opportunity in the work they do, even if it is a side project,” says Geiger. “IX Health can flip the pitch by connecting the problems with the resources and help to solve it.”

IX Health will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 29 at Union Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Click here to view the day's schedule of events and to purchase tickets (range from $50-99).


ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalist: Circus Mojo


Circus Mojo’s Paul Miller says “there’s no business like show business,” and he should know. He has performed as a clown with the “Greatest Show on Earth,” also known as the Ringling Bros.-Barnum and Bailey Circus, as well as Off Broadway shows and soap opera gigs.

He is now channeling his inner (and outer) PT Barnum to start a new venture called BIRCUS Brewing Co., which is located in Ludlow. This idea is about 20 years in the making and dates back to when Miller first arrived in Cincinnati.

In 2009, Miller relocated to Ludlow and founded Circus Mojo to offer circus classes, corporate team building opportunities and special events, and to create and run the Circus Wellness Program for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

That same year, Miller also bought a former Ludlow movie theater built in 1946 to provide a home base for Circus Mojo and a venue for homegrown, non-site-specific events and productions. Now known as The Ludlow Theatre, a venue for music, comedy, plays and circus, it was recently named to The National Register of Historic Places.

From 2009-2014, the space was successful as a venue for showcases and events produced by Circus Mojo, as well as a space for private rental until it became the temporary incubator/brewing space for BIRCUS. Today, the space is under construction to better accomodate BIRCUS.

Circus Mojo is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

The "Big Pitch" that Circus Mojo is making is to use the potential $20,000 award to take the plastic kegs that BIRCUS is made in and have them shredded, melted and poured into a mold that will be converted into spinning plates. These plates will be distributed during Circus Mojo's performances and classes, as well as to its nursing home clients and the kids at Cincinnati Children's. 

“The concept of taking our own plastic kegs and recycling them into a product that I have been buying for 20 years is gigantic,” says Miller. “Our kegs that hold our fantastic beer will be transformed into circus props and given away to people who will be entertained by our performers.”

During the Big Pitch process, Circus Mojo will be mentored by Vance Marshall, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Mike Zorn.

“Oh and another thing: Don't be afraid of clowns,” Miller says. “We have existed since the dawn of time and our goal is to make people laugh while subverting authority.”
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How to Attend the ArtWorks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank:

ArtWorks Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Seven of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

Tickets start at $10 and are available here.

Read the previous profiles of 
Waterfields LLC and Handzy Shop + Studio and CGCERAMICS and Untold Content LLC.
 


Creativity and innovation to be highlighted at upcoming Maker Faire


Cincinnati prides itself on local talent, craftsmen and creatives who make, create and hone their craft all over the region. There are designers, artists, homebrewers, screenprinters, textile makers and writes a-plenty, and on Oct. 7 & 8, the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire will highlight many of these individuals at a "show-and-tell" type event.

The Maker Faire is organized by the Cincinnati Museum Center as part of the global Maker Faire network, which was created by MAKE Magazine. Maker Faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and is a celebration of the greater Maker Movement. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community by incorporating local crafters, collectors, tech enthusiasts, scientists and more.

In sharing their skills with other community members, makers not only enhance the variability of their craft but also the reach. Maker Faire uses the opportunity to showcase individual crafts among amateurs and professionals alike so that they may continue to pass those skills along to others.

Some of the makers included in this year’s festival are Careers in Welding, Choitek Megamark, OKILUG, OpenHeart Creatures, Project Build It (via the CAC) and Shari the Bag Lady.

For the second consecutive year, the fair will be held at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, and the Cincinnati Museum Center's media relations manager Cody Hefner hopes that the event will push the limits of the location this year and use it to its full potential.

Makers can still apply for a booth to showcase their chosen skill and share what they have learned through their craft. There's a separate event for filmmakers, the CurioCity Series: ShakesBEERean Film Festival, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7. 

For ages 21 and up, this includes a Shakespearean film festival, opportunities to meet with some of the festival’s makers and some of Cincinnati's finest beers.

Tickets for Saturday and Sunday, the ShakesBEERean film festival or all three can be purchased here. For more information, visit the Maker Faire homepage or Facebook page.
 


ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalists: CGCERAMICS and Untold Content LLC


CGCERAMICS, a company started by Christie Goodfellow, creates wheel-thrown pottery with an appreciation for design, materials and process. The functional pottery, such as dinnerware and planters, can be found regionally at top-rated restaurants and well-curated shops.

“I think I realized I was passionate about making pottery because I kept finding it,” says Goodfellow, who turned her passion of pottery into her full-time profession just four years ago. “I was drawn to the process and connected with the idea of making something that is just itself.”

Goodfellow, a Pittsburgh native, moved to Cincinnati when she was working in retail merchandising a few years ago. Serendipitously, her apartment was just five minutes from a large ceramics studio where she began spending evenings and weekends honing her craft of wheel-throwing. In 2009, she began selling her work online and at local art fairs and shops.

She makes custom tableware for restaurants and individuals, as well as garden and home décor for direct orders and wholesale. Each piece is crafted with mid-range or high-fire stoneware that has a warm, earthy palette. The straightforward designs and warm tactile feel of the wares complement an artful, farm-to-table approach, just as the ware’s meditative attention to detail and minimal finishes appeal to those who fill their spaces intentionally and highly regard the beauty and purpose of simplicity.

CGCERAMICS is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

During the Big Pitch process, CGCERAMICS will be mentored by Kaylyn Gast, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Steve Doehler, an industrial designer.

CGCERAMICS has been working out of a small backyard studio for the past five years and is looking to move into a larger space to support increased production. The $20,000 prize from the Big Pitch would enable CGCERAMICS to increase production capacity through the purchase of equipment, hiring employees and moving into a larger space. With the ability to create additional inventory, CGCERAMICS could take on more accounts and begin to create a more sustainable workflow.

“CGCERAMICS has grown organically over the past several years, and last year’s sales impressively doubled those in 2015,” says Goodfellow. “With 25 percent of inquiries discouraged with long lead times, now is the time for us to expand.”

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Untold Content, LLC


Untold Content, LLC, created by Katie Trauth Taylor, is a national writing consultancy that helps innovative organizations share their insights and establish their thought leadership through clear, thought-provoking content.

It serves government agencies, healthcare systems, scientific and technical companies, academic and research institutions and other innovative organizations that seek to establish fan bases to follow their thought leadership. Its team of expert writing consultants collaborates together with clients to think strategically and creatively about content development.

Two years ago, Trauth Taylor left her tenure-track teaching position at Miami University to focus on building Untold. Today, the Untold team creates everything from white papers and research reports to website content and book manuscripts. The range of its professional writing capabilities allows it to reach many disciplines and industries.

“This time last year, Untold was a one-woman company serving one major client,” Trauth Taylor says. “Now, we are a five-woman company serving more than 20 clients. We have proof-of-concept for our idea of a writing consultancy. There’s a definite need for writing consultants in Cincinnati and beyond.”

Her vision is to establish the company as a well-loved brand of storytellers here in Cincinnati and to work with clients at the national level. Five years from now, Taylor believes Untold will be a 10-15 member company serving clients within key centers of innovation across the United States and locally.

The emerging company is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

During the Big Pitch process, Untold will be mentored by Robert Sparks, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Jim Stahly of Score.

The real opportunity for Untold is to tell great stories of the work being done by experts and innovators.

“It’s simply incredible to see the number of scientific and tech startups forming here in Cincinnati,” Trauth Taylor says. “So many wise, hardworking innovators are popping up in our community, and yet many of them aren’t taking the time to pause, look up from their work and tell the world about it. My strong belief is that there are endless good stories that need telling. That’s what Untold is here to do.”


Winning the Big Pitch would allow Untold to invest in a local “home” office space and to start a focused marketing campaign to inform the Greater Cincinnati business and nonprofit communities of its creative, strategic approach to organizational storytelling.

“We need an energetic, collaborative space to call home,” says Trauth Taylor. “Underwriting on WVXU, pushing a brand video on social media and hosting brand storytelling meetups in our new space will all help us inspire more innovation within and beyond Cincinnati.”

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How to Attend the
ArtWorks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank:


ArtWorks Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Seven of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

Tickets start at $10 and are available here.

Read last week's profiles of Waterfields LLC and Handzy Shop + Studio.
 


New program from Freestore Foodbank provides job training in logistics, facilities management


LIFT the TriState, an innovative new Freestore Foodbank program, provides free job training to individuals interested in logistics, inventory and facilities management and transportation.

“Our goal is to end the line of people who need assistance by training individuals to get jobs in a growing field and become self-reliant,” says Kurt Reiber, president and CEO of the Freestore Foodbank.

One of the unique aspects of the program is Freestore Foodbank’s partnership with Gateway Community and Technical College, the Life Learning Center and BelFlex Staffing Network.

“Students are earning a Certified Logistics Associate Certificate while learning life skills and making industry connections,” says Reiber. “As the logistics and warehousing industry continues to grow in our community, this is an ideal time to help 'lift' the economy and Tristate families.”

The free 12-week LIFT program is geared toward under- and unemployed individuals with barriers to employment. Students spend the mornings in the classroom at Life Learning Center, where they work on soft skills like interviewing and conflict resolution, as well as prepare for the CLA Certificate exam with instructors from Gateway. In the afternoons, students move to Freestore Foodbank’s Wilder distribution center for a hands-on learning experience.

“Our staff has been a tremendous asset in working with students and sharing their knowledge,” says Will McAleenan, LIFT the TriState manager. “It’s a great opportunity to train inside a working warehouse.”

In the training area at the distribution center, students learn to operate forklifts and other warehouse machinery. The program also includes field trips to other regional warehouses, including those at Amazon and DHL.

“It’s important to expose students to the world of this industry,” McAleenan says. “There is such variety in scale and work, and getting into Amazon and DHL gives students a sense of the expectations and culture.”

Industry partner BelFlex has leveraged its contacts to bring in human resource staff to conduct mock interviews with the students. In the second half of the program, students will also attend job fairs.

LIFT is Freestore Foodbank’s second workforce development program. Since 2001, Cincinnati COOKS! has offered a free 10-week culinary training program for students who are interested in the food industry. Graduates receive free advanced culinary training through Freestore Foodbank’s Second Course program and then enroll at Cincinnati State with credits toward a degree.

COOKS! and LIFT students receive wrap-around services to support them as they complete their respective programs, including transportation, benefits enrollment and rent assistance. Graduates of both programs also receive regular follow-up from Freestore Foodbank.

“There is a clamoring for people with equipment training to work in this industry but it’s not just about getting them a job,” says McAleenan. “It’s about following up to see where they are and making sure they have the skills to keep the job.”

The first class of LIFT the TriState students graduates mid-October. Applications are now being accepted for the second LIFT class, which will begin in January.
 


ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalists: Waterfields LLC and Handzy Shop


Waterfields LLC

 

Waterfields LLC is a collection of improbable partners brought together by CoreChange, which is led by Dr. Victor Garcia, who has long advocated for changes to systemic poverty and its effects on many of the negative statistics in our city.

 

Five bright minds who shared a passion for social causes held early morning meetings at Xavier University and grew a seed of an idea into Waterfields, a specialty produce grower that employs neighborhood residents with meaningful, living-wage work. Today, chefs all across the Midwest use their products, including more than 135 in Cincinnati alone.
 

The emerging company is one of eight finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

During the Big Pitch process, Waterfields will be mentored by Victor Hernandez, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist, and Paul Picton of Maverick Chocolate Co.

 

The collection of partners — or growers — of the business are an impressive bunch. Each had a full plate as they built the plan for Waterfields: Dan Divelbiss was working on his doctorate and as a student contractor for the U.S. EPA; Ben Matthews was getting his MBA and working as a regulatory affairs manager for P&G; Paul Leffler is a retired IT guy; Sam Dunlap was working at the Civic Garden Center; and Dan Klemens was getting his MBA and working for the India U.S. Business Network on the marketing/sales side.

 

Klemens admits that on paper, the group didn't really belong together, but Dunlap and Divelbiss had worked on various projects, including an aquaponics setup in Norwood, and they were all 110 percent committed to doing something in urban agriculture to create meaningful, living-wage jobs as a means to positively affect poverty in our city.

The ideal customers for Waterfields are creatives in the food/beverage space. They sell their products to everyone from restaurant chefs to bartenders to food stylists/photographers.

 

The client base of chefs is one part inspirational and another part demanding.

 

“I'm inspired by our customers,” says Klemens. “Restaurant kitchens demand folks who are 10 percent artist, 90 percent machine. It's a tough industry to work in. But when that 10 percent can really shine, the food is life-changing. I've had multiple life-changing meals in Cincinnati and I'm damn proud to be able to supply those folks with whatever plants they want.”

 

And the growth strategy that Klemens and crew will work on during their Big Pitch mentorship is to take market share from California products that are often grown for shelf life and flown in overnight for logistics.

 

“If a Nashville chef is buying California products and we can offer higher quality, year-round and more local alternatives, that's a home run for us, and that’s our growth strategy,” Klemens says.

 

The Big Pitch prize of $20,000 would help the company with an expansion plan.

 

“That $20,000 cash prize means more grow rigs, which means more living wage jobs, which means more lives changed,” says Klemens. “It would be huge. We've proven the ability to sell and execute, we just need cash to do it quicker and bigger. “

 

Specifically, Waterfields is adding about 10,000 square feet of additional indoor growing space in October, and they’re working to double their capacity to meet projected sales demand and have some large relationships in the hopper. That's where they need the extra cash.

 

 


Handzy Shop + Studio
 

Suzy King and Brittney Braemer want you to never underestimate the power of a nice card and a handwritten note.

The design duo started Handzy Shop + Studio in 2015 after meeting at UC’s DAAP when they were sophomores. After graduation, they parted ways — Braemer was working as a corporate graphic designer and King as a canoeing instructor. Braemer soon realized the corporate world wasn’t for her and King couldn’t work a seasonal job forever, so they joined forces.

Their growing design and retail outfit is another of eight finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, competing for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall. King and Braemer will be mentored by Keith Jackson, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Emily Merkle of Blue & Co.

The duo started Handzy in a dingy warehouse studio doing freelance graphic design and making stationery to sell on Etsy and at the City Flea. They share a love for paper and the tangible — especially greeting cards and the sentiments they hold — so developing their own stationery line only made sense.

King and Braemer soon learned that only selling greeting cards at craft fairs wouldn’t keep them afloat, so the pair focused primarily on graphic design work to make money and grow the business. This approach allowed them to open a retail shop last July in a sweet little spot in historic downtown Covington, and is focused on three key areas: retail, custom design and the Handzy stationery line.

Retail sales are consistently increasing as foot traffic in Covington picks up and Handzy's social media presence grows. Their custom design projects are steady and recurring. With both of those segments in a good place, King and Braemer have identified wholesaling of their in-ho­use stationery line as the most lucrative opportunity.

If they win the $20,000 grant, Handzy will exhibit at the 2018 National Stationery Show in NYC.

“NSS is hands down the best way to get our personal stationery line in front of 10,000-plus industry professionals and buyers,” says King. “This show will set the stage for Handzy’s long-term growth — landing our cards on the shelves of shops around the United States.”


How to Attend the ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank:

 

ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Eight of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

 

Tickets start at $10 and are available at here.
 


AMA Cincinnati to host its inaugural regional conference Sept. 22


A new-to-town customer experience conference is encouraging brands to "get fired up about customer experience."

On Sept. 22, the American Marketing Association Cincinnati will host its inaugural regional conference, "Ignite!"

The event includes a dynamic lineup of keynote speakers, opportunities to network and exchange ideas in the event's Experience Lounge, plus various breakout sessions and workshops.

Ignite! aims to focus on the primary areas of customer experience, as identified by marketing professionals. The keynote speakers and breakouts will align with these four areas: insights, brand, behaviors and loyalty.

The goal for the conference is to get marketing professionals to think more critically and creatively about how to best engage a customer. From digital insights to differentiation, Ignite! will allow participants to explore ways of listening to customers that will help enhance the customer's overall journey with a brand.

Travis Nipper, president of AMA Cincinnati, says that the lineup of speakers is so strong that event organizers are having trouble determining which tracks they'll attend for fear of missing out on others at the conference.

"The conference will allow participants to gain new insights, feel a little challenged or stretched in terms of their point of view around CX, be inspired to take the ideas back to their organizations and empowered with practical tools to take back and use right away," he says.

For Gina Bonar, conference chair, Ignite! presents a special opportunity for marketing professionals locally, as it will allow them to connect with others and inspires growth.

"AMA Cincinnati has long been an award-winning Chapter within the AMA family, and Ignite! allows us to continue to push the envelope on what we can deliver to our local marketing community," she says. "In this incredible marketing town, it's a welcome and exhilarating challenge to serve as the essential community for marketers to meet, thrive, connect and grow."

If you're interested in positively impacting the customer experience at your company or brand, you can register for Ignite! here. Tickets are $212 for AMA members and $315 for non-members through Sept. 1, when the prices will go up.
 


Brandemonium to bring SXSW-style branding conference and events to town this fall


Brandemonium, Cincinnati's first-ever SXSW-style branding conference and festival, will take place Oct. 11-14.

“Cincinnati is a brand hub,” says Brandemonium co-founder Bill Donabedian. “The number of people that are from Cincinnati that work in the industry is amazing. We leveraged that network to bring in a strong lineup of speakers and panelists.”

Two years in the making, Brandemonium is the brainchild of Donabedian and Kevin Canafax of Fidelity Investments. The event will bring national branding talent to Cincinnati, as well as showcase local leaders in the field.

Bestselling author and Direct Marketing Hall of Fame member Seth Godin will be one of the keynote speakers. Other panelists and speakers include academics and professionals from companies like 84.51
°, Gorilla Glue, Target, LPK, The Coca-Cola Company, Google, Kellogg Company, Luxottica and Kroger.

In addition to the traditional conference, Brandemonium will also have a festival of performances, pop-up shops, brand takeovers, lounges, brand hacks and after-parties.

“Most conferences are just that: a conference and the only people that know about it are the attendees,” says Donabedian. “We wanted this to be more like SXSW, Cannes and Sundance. At those events, the industry turns itself outward and gets the public involved through brand activations, an experience that enables a brand to engage directly with consumers.”

All the festival events will be open to the public, although registration may be required for some events due to space limitations.

“Anyone that has a job that touches a brand, from a CMO to a graphic designer, should be interested in attending the conference,” says Donabedian. “The festival should interest anyone that wants to check out their favorite brands and have cool experiences.”

Brandemonium follows on the heels of the re-opening celebrations of Music Hall and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, and overlaps with BLINK, a new festival featuring art and light installations across the city.


“Cincinnati should be proud of our expertise in branding and embrace this event,” says Donabedian. “It’s who we are. It’s in our DNA. Our city has changed drastically in the past 10 years. I want everyone attending Brandemonium to be totally blown away by our renaissance.”

Online registration for Brandemonium is open(tickets are $399 until Aug. 31, then the price goes up to $499 until Sept. 29; day of, tickets will be $599) and organizers are still looking for companies interested in participating in brand activations and sites to host the activation events. Volunteers are also being recruited to help with conference and festival logistics.


Former Cincinnati Bengal gains attention from startup community with $1.88M in seed funding


ActionStreamer, a wearable technology platform that can livestream point-of-view video off of athletes in action, has secured $1.88M in seed financing from CincyTech and its network of investors.

ActionStreamer pairs patented software and networking technology with ultra-lightweight hardware to deliver an engaging new source of content to live sports coverage: POV video from inside-the-game. The wireless system streams high-definition video from a miniature camera and other custom components embedded into a wearable outfit, such as a player’s helmet or a referee’s hat, in congested, bandwidth-constrained environments like crowded stadiums.

As another example of the incredible startup culture in Greater Cincinnati, ActionStreamer has strong roots here. Former Cincinnati Bengal Dhani Jones partnered with Ilesfay co-founder and technologist Chris McLennan (a Cincinnati native) and business development leader Max Eisenberg, who returned to Cincinnati in May after three years in San Francisco.

Each member of the trio has contributed something unique to the business. While Jones’ relationships and network helped relay what professionals in the industry were looking for, McLennan used his technical knowledge from a career spent solving data transfer-type issues for clients and Eisenberg drew from his business development experience and passion for sports and entrepreneurship.

The real movement behind ActionStreamer?

Connecting players and fans on a deeper level. “Dhani’s drive to further connect players and fans in meaningful ways, a passion that resonated strongly with me as a lifelong sports fan, led to ActionStreamer’s founding in 2015,” says Eisenberg, CEO. “Our mission is to bring fans closer to the action than ever before. We’re facilitating a path to premium content and an unprecedented fan engagement model that's revolutionizing sports broadcast and coverage.”

As for how the Average Joe can experience this innovative technology, live, in-game field-level perspectives are available in the Arena Football League this season and are expected to come online in other leagues and sports this fall.

“Imagine being able to see what an MLB curveball looks like from the batter, catcher or umpire's perspective; what a bunker shot at Augusta National looks like from a PGA Tour golfer’s or caddy’s perspective; or what a leaping touchdown catch looks like from an NFL player’s or referee’s perspective,” says Greg Roberts, head of strategic partnerships & development at ActionStreamer. “Not just what they look like, but also being able to live the moments with the athletes, to experience it through their lenses.”

ActionStreamer strives to enable teams, leagues, networks and media companies to showcase these moments for their fans and viewers — and not just on television, as many fans now turn to social media and other mobile platforms for their entertainment. The founders consider ActionStreamer very fortunate to be opening doors at this exciting time in media.

“Everyone wants more content, more access, more engagement, and they want it now,” Jones says. "ActionStreamer is the advancement necessary to facilitate the transfer of real-time data from the field to the fans. We’re the train tracks or pipes from the field, if you will, that make it all happen.”

“We do source our own cameras, procure custom-made chipsets, design, 3D print and manufacture form-factors or product enclosures, which all makes ActionStreamer even more valuable to the teams, leagues, networks and media companies we’re working with,” McLennan adds. “But what truly sets us apart is our use of patented approaches to wirelessly transmit data from wearables and other miniature gadgets and to deal with networking and bandwidth challenges.”

Of course, with the ever-changing and rapidly advancing nature of technology, it is often times hard to maintain pace, as any business may find.

“Technology startups are always hard-pressed to make improvements rapidly,” says Eisenberg. “Chris built the first set of prototypes himself, then set out to garner help from experts in a variety of fields, en route to drastically improving all aspects of the ActionStreamer technology stack and obtaining three patents on it. We're proud of what we've built, but we strive to make it better every day in order to continue delivering the most value possible.”

ActionStreamer is proud to be a CincyTech portfolio company and to have received follow-on funding from some of Cincinnati’s most prominent angel investors. For more information on the latest advancements and integrations from ActionStreamer, click here.
 


Jubilee Project addresses food deserts and job training in Westwood


Food deserts — or communities without easy access to fresh foods — are a growing concern nationally and in Greater Cincinnati. Among other things, the Jubilee Project is bringing fresh produce to the McHenry corridor of Westwood and East Westwood through an innovative urban farm and market program.

“We have five lots in Bracken Woods, a small area next to the market and two front yards that we farm currently,” says Thomas Hargis, pastor at Calvary Hilltop United Methodist Church. “We not only grow outdoors but we grow in basements as well. We are currently growing out tilapia and have been doing aqua and hydroponics for over a year. We grow lettuce, basil and micro greens throughout the year that provide amazing produce during the wintertime.”


The Jubilee Market, which opened in June, sells produce from Jubilee Farms as well as clothing and merchandise from local vendors. The project was part of a City of Cincinnati collaboration between Place Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories and the Neighborhood Enhancement Program.

“The NEP coming behind PIVOT played a huge role in galvanizing the community, not only around the market but several other projects that have been completed in that area,” says Hargis. “We asked the community what they would like to have in their neighborhood and evaluated what made sense economically. We have since had over 1,000 hours of volunteer labor helping to restore the market and ready the plots for farming.”

The Jubilee Project, a pilot effort of six local Episcopal and Methodist churches, began with a construction job training and housing program.

“Any time you work in a community, you face all the issues that prevent the best parts of the community from blossoming,” says Hargis. “While construction was the first thing Jubilee started working on in Cincinnati, plans for food and other ventures were always in different stages that just needed the right opportunity and space to thrive. Traditionally, farming has not been a career path for most individuals. Urban agriculture, however, has created an opportunity for small businesses to be not only sustainable but provide a thriving wage.”

Jubilee Market also hires neighborhood residents who will learn retail skills and customer service that will hopefully lead to more permanent employment. The Market is currently only open on Saturdays, but the hope is to expand hours soon. Jubilee Farms produce can also be found at the Northside Farmers Market on Wednesday evenings and the Lettuce Eat Well Farmers' Market on Fridays.
 


UC professor gets state grant for innovative education platform


University of Cincinnati professor Vali Tadayon says he's witnessed a variety of challenges that college students face when it comes to accomplishing their academic goals. 

With 29 years of experience as a faculty member at UC under his belt, he's not only witnessed these challenges, but he's committed to problem solving so he can help students tackle them.

"Millennials can be impatient, result-oriented and seek instant gratifiction," Tadayon says. "This is not a shortcoming of this generation, but rather a new trend that requires rapid innovation within the realm of education."


With the help of the HCDC Business Center, Tadayon launched his startup Always Education two years ago, and this past June, he launched Always UC — a pilot project that will place among UC's political science department this coming semester. 
 
"The current Learning Management Systems that are in place need to be fundamentally redesigned from the ground up," Tadayon says. "Always Education is designed to be a logical layer that connects various databases to create the next generation learning ecosystem."
 
Always UC will bring Always Education to life, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation Startup Fund. Tadayon applied for the grant after completing I-Corps@Ohio, a seven-week, hands-on training program designed to promote entrepreneurial success. He went throught this program with his HCDC business coach and mentor. 
 
"There has been significant growth in software, startup and jobs in Cincinnati," Tadayon says. "The TVSF grant has helped with the needed resources to launch our pilot successfully. We have hired local software engineers and hope to continue growing our business in Cincinnati." 
 
In addition to promoting economic growth throughout the region, Always UC will allow students to collaborate and engage with one another in new ways. After its one-year test phase, Always UC will be eligible for a new round of grants totaling $1 million and a potential learning platform that can mitigate the challenges millennials face in their post-secondary years.
 

Diverse by Design symposium to focus on inclusion and diversity initiatives in Greater Cincinnati


The Fifth Third Bank Diverse by Design™ Leadership Symposium will focus on intentional inclusion at its sixth annual event on Oct. 11.

“The Symposium is intended to be a community-focused event that creates a vehicle for us to bring together business leaders from across the region with the objective to inform through the Diverse by Design updates, engage through the business connection and inspire through the thought leadership of the keynote speaker,” says Mary McFarland, vice president and manager, Inclusion and Diversity at Fifth Third Bank.

The event originated in 2008 as an internal Fifth Third program. The collaboration with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber began with the 2012 release of Diverse by Design: Meeting the Talent Challenge in a Global Economy regional indicators report.

“The Symposium is an opportunity to have authentic conversations about what it would take to become an inclusive community,” says Mary Stagaman, senior inclusion advisor at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.

The day will start early with a networking breakfast followed by keynote speaker Jeffery Tobias Halter. Halter, the former director of diversity strategy for The Coca-Cola Company, now leads a consulting firm that focuses on advancing gender equity.

After his presentation, Halter will switch from speaker to moderator to facilitate a panel of senior business and community leaders who will discuss his talk and provide an update on local initiatives.

Following a networking break, attendees will be able to choose from one of four breakout sessions to attend.

“We have done a lot around inclusion of people with cognitive and developmental disabilities,” says Stagaman. “This year, we are focusing on physical disabilities with panelists from EY, Ethicon, P&G and Fifth Third.”

Mary-Frances Winters, author of We Can’t Talk About That at Work will lead a workshop on constructive conversations around difficult subjects. “Winters explains how we can have those conversations productively to build bridges not walls,” Stagaman says.

“While all the sessions promise to be powerful, the session on Polarizing Topics at Work is one that is particularly important in today’s climate,” McFarland adds.

A session on supplier diversity will offer innovative ideas for big companies with existing programs as well as tools for small companies unsure of how to start.

Julie Nugent, vice president and center leader, Catalyst Research Center for Corporate Practice will share a research-based approach on gender equity.

“The Symposium is for leaders with an interest in seeing the workforce and region become more inclusive and diverse and for anyone who cares about building an equitable community,” Stagaman says.

Tickets for the event are available now, and the first 200 registrants will receive a copy of Winters book.
 


Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's CINC program celebrates five years


For the past five summers, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Cincinnati Intern Network Connection program has helped connect college students to the region while they work in their respective summer intern and co-op positions.

CINC is a summer-long program that exposes interns and co-ops around the Cincinnati area to all that the region has to offer. It's free to students and participating companies, thanks to the help of many investors, including Presenting Investor: Xavier University’s Summer Intern Housing; Excellence Investors: P&G and Western & Southern Financial Group; Participating Investors: Cintas, EY, Kroger Technology, Miami University, Northern Kentucky University, Patheon Pharmaceuticals and the University of Cincinnati; and Contributing Investors: the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

The program showcases the Cincinnati region through a series of four summer events, which are also free to all interns and co-ops that attend. According to Jules Shumate, special projects leader for the Chamber, it was a record summer for CINC.

"A record 1,050 interns and co-op students signed up for CINC this summer, representing 216 companies, 165
colleges and universities, 45 countries and 36 states,” Shumate says. “Over 500 of those interns came from outside the Cincinnati MSA. CINC significantly increases our ability to attract and retain skilled, global talent to the region’s workforce."

While many of the interns stem from local colleges and universities, some come from schools outside of the Greater Cincinnati area as well.

Heeding from the University of Florida as a Material Science and Engineering major, Ilana Krause has been participating in CINC throughout the summer as she continues her internship with P&G. She says that while she came to the area hesitant, the program and Cincinnati in general has exceeded her expectations.

"I really enjoyed the work experience itself, as the opportunities that P&G provides give interns a lot of freedom and autonomy on their projects, while also giving them the resources to enable them to really contribute to the company,” Krause says. “The work we are given is challenging and interesting, and the people within the company are so supportive and genuinely want interns to succeed and have a great experience.”

According to the Chamber, over 51 percent of the students in CINC are currently employed or have already started their careers in Cincinnati, highlighting the strength of the program in developing area connections for interns and co-ops.

“By connecting students to internship opportunities, interest groups, social scenes, community engagement and Cincy’s flavor, we will deepen their affinity for the region and what it means to have the best in life when they choose Cincinnati after graduation,” Shumate says.

And, from what Krause says, her experiences here have deepened her personal connection with the area. “Coming from Florida, I was hesitant that I would ever consider any other place like home. But after this summer with P&G, programs by the Chamber and the incredible people I met, I could see myself returning back to Cincinnati and continuing to create a network in Ohio.”

Leading up to its closing event for this year’s program, the 2017 CINC program surveys say that 93 percent of interns will consider starting their careers in Cincinnati, something locals can look forward to in the professional realm.

The Chamber is ecstatic to introduce college students and the local community to a brand-new event that will amplify Cincinnati as the #hottestcityinAmerica to over 2,000 students from 18 local member colleges and universities. The Big College Event is a large-scale event for college and university students from all over the region, which will take place form 4 to 9 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Click here for more information regarding the event.
 


Sibling duo brings ancient art of tea ceremonies to East Walnut Hills


Siblings Lily and Max Raphael are the founders of Hearth, a project that creates community through tea and ancient ceremony. You can most often find them at Clear Conscious Movement in East Walnut Hills, where many healers and teachers share a space for their events and classes.

Soapbox sat down for a Q&A with the Raphaels to learn more about how they strengthen and heal Cincinnati through tea.


Why did you choose your location?

Lily: Hearth exists wherever we are. At this time, most of our activities take place at Clear Conscious Movement; however, we also take Hearth to the community, stewarding tea ceremonies at yoga studios, retreats, nature hikes, festivals, art installations and most recently, the Covington Farmers Market.

 

Max: Doing ceremony after ceremony at Clear, we’ve witnessed not only how tea can positively impact the space it’s in, but also all the people who share it. While we hope to expand beyond just tea with Hearth, I think the stillness and connection these ceremonies offer — on so many levels — really captures the overall spirit behind our project.

 

What services do you offer?

Lily: Inspired by our travels in Southeast Asia and Latin America, the goods we offer capture the beauty, culture and human connection we have found in the many places we have gone. These goods root back to all things cozy, providing a sense of home and respite while on the journey. Currently, we offer a selection of teas that Max came across while practicing tea ceremony in Asia. All our teas are clean, organic and in some cases, even wild, and sourced from personal connections to farms and tea merchants in Taiwan and Southern China.

 

Max: Our inspiration to share tea comes from connecting with it as a plant medicine, as I first did while studying in Taiwan. So rather than approach tea as a fancy or exotic beverage, we hope to facilitate a deeper, more personal connection to it, which we’ve found for ourselves.

 

What would surprise people about a tea ceremony? Why would someone want to try it?

Lily: During the ceremony, what I find time and again is that people are surprised by the level of stillness and connectedness they experience through a fairly simple practice. The mere act of sitting in silence and drinking tea allows us time and space to journey inward in a very accessible way that can easily be replicated at home. So much of our time is spent interacting with others, it is hard to find a moment to look inward. Even in just under two hours, it is amazing what one can discover about him/herself while silently sipping a bowl of tea.

 

Max: What’s most surprising is how close everyone feels with one another by the end of the ceremony, even though we’ve never met before, and just spent about an hour or more in silence, not conversation! The ceremony is its own sort of nonverbal conversation; with yourself, with nature and even with others.

 

Actually, the organic flow of it all, and the beautiful responses from people right after it, often catch me by surprise, too. Each ceremony is completely different, even when the same people are gathered. In the Japanese tea ceremony, there’s a saying that captures this: ichi go ichi e, "one chance, one encounter." One meaning of this is that any ceremony (or really any kind of gathering) has its own flavor and essence that could never be duplicated again. This exact assortment of people might never gather again. So tea can help us enjoy this unique time and space together. I usually like to start the gatherings by saying “this experience would not be the same if even one of us weren’t present."

 

How does this ceremony enhance the culture of Cincinnati?

Max: It’s a really special way to spend time with people, whether they’re new or old friends. We have many ways to connect and gather, but so few like this, if at all. To share silence with each other, without it being awkward or rigid, is both rare and meaningful. Most of us already drink tea, and this is just one way to find an even deeper connection with it, and through it, to something beyond tea itself. And the best part is, you don’t have a to be a certain way, or believe in any particular idea. You don’t need to know anything about tea or be a meditator, anything like that. You just sit and drink tea, and without any effort you begin to relax. Your senses gently awaken, and you feel you can set aside the usual masks or armor that some of us need just to get through the day.

 

We’re not sharing tea or the ceremonies to push any ideas, or even to make it into something exotic. We’re just creating a space each time for you to simply be as you are, and take away whatever meaning the experience has for you. To us, this is something so rare and needed not just here in Cincinnati, but everywhere.

 

What rewards you about this business?

Lily: There are so many rewarding aspects to Hearth. I love that it gives everyone an excuse to sit down and connect with each other, and that we have the opportunity to share these very special pieces of our journeys with people in our hometown. I am also grateful that it has brought so much purpose and continuity to what my brother and I love doing.

 


Urban agriculture efforts growing in Cincinnati communities


An innovative inter-departmental collaboration, Urban AgricultureStat, launched in June with a motion passed by Cincinnati City Council. The goal is to expand Cincinnati's urban agriculture footprint and invest in ways to develop blighted properties for the purpose of urban farming.

“Many cities, including Cincinnati, have highly successful urban agriculture programs, and many of those programs are expanding,” says Larry Falkin, director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability. “Currently, gardening is occurring on approximately 40 city-owned parcels.”

OES, working with other City departments including law, health, economic development, planning and water, is developing a pilot project to convert publicly owned vacant land or buildings into urban farms.

“Next step will be presenting a report to the City Council,” says Falkin. “OES always tries to learn from both the successes and failures in our own programs and those in peer cities.”


As urban farming grows in popularity globally, the benefits — open green space, absorption of carbon and heat, sourcing local food and developing local economies — are being weighed against the potential drawbacks. Agriculture needs considerable space and water, which could limit land development options and impact a city’s potable water supply.

Cities including Austin, Detroit and Vancouver have had complaints from community residents about land use, access, odors and especially neighbor engagement and inclusion. RE: VISION in Denver has successfully worked with residents to develop an extensive urban agriculture program. Across Cincinnati, community organizations have started neighborhood gardens.

“Over the past several years, we have engaged in conversations with residents about what we as a community should do with vacant/blighted lots in Lower Price Hill,” says Mary Delaney, executive director of Community Matters. “After many conversations and a few vision gatherings, we heard a desire for space to garden.”

Community Matters hired a resident leader to coordinate the garden project and engage the community. Its test project, converting an empty lot on St. Michael Street into a garden, was so successful that two additional gardens were created and, this year, four neighborhood teenagers were hired as summer garden apprentices.

“I believe that urban farming is a great way to activate vacant properties and engage residents in ‘owning’ the spaces,” says Delaney. “Urban farming could also be a source of employment. I think Waterfields, a local aquaponics company that started in Lower Price Hill, is a great example of this. They have a great business model and are dedicated to providing sustainable wage jobs to local residents.”

Over the coming months, Urban AgricultureStat will be working with community stakeholders to research and plan for a future expansion of the City’s urban agriculture program.
 

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