, the newest cultivator of entrepreneurship on the StartupCincy scene, graduates its first local cohort with a public showcase on Feb. 1.
“We are graduating top level talent for the entrepreneurial ecosystem here,” says Michael Hiles, founder of Intellig8
and one of the directors of Founder Institute Cincinnati. “We worked hard to be very inclusive, and a third of our graduates are minority-led businesses.”
Founder Institute recruits entrepreneurs that are working on the ideation stage of their company or product for a rigorous 14-week program that's designed to challenge the viability of ideas and the resilience of the founders. The first Cincinnati cohort will graduate nine founders from eight companies — two members of the class had similar ideas and decided to join forces to create one company.
- Brad Birck: Virtual Lens will use a virtual/augmented reality application for consumer experiences, including virtual property showings for real estate agents and their clients.
- Doron Katriel: The Holistic Experience will produce WetDryes, a two-sided toilet paper that is moist on one side and dry on the other.
- John Bentley and Sam Malik: MeeLance provides a platform to match freelance professionals with clients based on skills and work style. Once matched, the system will support the relationship from proposal submission to product delivery.
- Keliyah Yisrael: Boonbee will create an engaging social platform for giving monetary gifts for birthdays, weddings and other special occasions.
- Lawrence Jones: Just Hire Me is a staffing platform for teenagers who are available for light chores, small projects and day work. It then matches them with the business and individuals who are looking to hire.
- Matthew Thomas: Fiero gamifies the career discovery process for college students, using their strengths, weaknesses and motivators to help them explore professional options.
- Steve French: Invest Your Faith helps Christians find companies that match their beliefs so they can have piece of mind about their investments and earn a competitive rate of return.
- Yogesh Kadiyala: Gyftsense utilizes social profiles and interests to recommend the perfect gift for any occasion.
“We expect to see our graduates active in the StartupCincy ecosystem,” Hiles says. “Some are considering applying to other accelerator programs, while others are already meeting with angel investors. We are very focused on building community and support among the cohort. They will also stay engaged with Founder Institute and we hope some will attend FounderX, the global Founder Institute alumni conference.”
The Graduate Showcase is open to anyone, and Founder Institute Cincinnati is hoping to draw a crowd that includes those who are interested in startups and entrepreneurship, service providers, other founders and investors. Each founder will present their company to the audience in a pitch-style program.
During the event, Founder Institute Cincinnati will also provide an overview of its program, which is currently recruiting for the spring cohort with early admission ending March 5 and final applications due by April 2. The application fee is waived for anyone who attends the Graduate Showcase. The second class will run from April 19-July 19, and a fall cohort will be offered as well.
Registration is required for the Graduate Showcase
. The event, held at Cintrifuse, begins with networking at 6:30 p.m. followed by the pitches.