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UC law students provide free legal counsel to 230 local entrepreneurs


The University of Cincinnati College of Law is giving its students real-world experience with Cincinnati entrepreneurs through a partnership with the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) and MORTAR.

“One of the best ways for our law students to learn how to practice law is by actually doing it,” says Lew Goldfarb, director of the ECDC. “In the clinic, law students assume responsibility for managing attorney-client relationships from start to finish, an experience that cannot be duplicated in the classroom.”

The ECDC opened in 2010 to provide hands-on training for law students and to provide free legal services to local entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations that might otherwise be unable to afford professional counsel. In the past six years, 147 students have provided over $1 million in free legal help to 230 local businesses and organizations.

“The ECDC is different than most other business clinics due to its extensive community involvement,” Goldfarb says. “We partner with many local business organizations, law firms and local lawyers, which helps enhance our impact on local entrepreneurs and law students alike.”
 
Under the supervision of Goldfarb and attorneys from local law firms, students prepare and review contracts, work on trademarks and copyrights and handle issues around corporate governance and employment practices, as well as prepare applications for tax-exempt status. Fellowships with ECDC are offered each semester and over the summer.
 
In addition to ECDC’s relationship with MORTAR, students have worked with other local incubators like Bad Girl Ventures, The Brandery, First Batch, the Hamilton County Business Center and OCEAN Accelerator. The students' experience with each accelerator program is similar, but their work must be tailored to the varied needs of their clients.
 
“Most MORTAR business owners are starting lifestyle businesses and not high-growth, venture track tech businesses, like those participating in The Brandery program,” Goldfarb says. “Students sometimes must adjust their legal priorities and how certain agreements are drafted.”
 
Goldfarb’s commitment to support and strengthen the local entrepreneurial community extends to serving as a member of MORTAR’s board.
 
“I was thrilled when I read about the launch of MORTAR,” Goldfarb says. “I believe its mission met a significant, unmet need in the entrepreneurship community. I reached out to Derrick Braziel to find out more about their plans and to discuss a potential partnership with the ECDC.”
 
ECDC also works with independent clients that are not affiliated with one of the local accelerator or incubator programs. Community partners refer businesses that are in need of assistance, and other clients reach out for assistance directly through an application on the group's website.

With the tremendous growth in the local entrepreneurial community and redevelopment efforts underway in many Cincinnati neighborhoods, ECDC anticipates there will be an increasing need for its services.
 
“I am open to collaborations with other organizations in the community as long as it will benefit our students and our resources allow it,” Goldfarb says. “By working together, I believe we can make a big difference in the community.”
 

Local tech startup tilr receives job-creation city grant


Last month, the City of Cincinnati granted a Job Creation Tax Credit to tilr, a company that will use the funds to hire 150 employees over the next three years.
 
The tech startup uses a patent-pending algorithm to connect qualified workers with area companies on an as-needed, on-demand basis. tilr endeavors to save time for both candidates and employers by streamlining the job application process and eliminating the need for cover letters and lengthy interviews.
 
Interested employers can visit tilr’s website and browse hundreds of vetted, trusted workers to meet a variety of short- and long-term placement needs. For employees, tilr provides a background check, introductory phone call and membership in the online community.

The company was incorporated in October of 2015 by five co-founders: Carisa Miklusak, Summer Crenshaw, Luke Vigeant, Sam Pillersdorf and Stephen Shefsky.

"Not only is tilr a local direct employer that will grow to a projected 100-plus jobs over the next three years," says Crenshaw, who, along with her team has grown the company to 17 employees since launching. "It is also a marketplace with over 13,000 community members in the Cincinnati area placing individuals with companies for work opportunities."
 
tilr recently moved into a new space at 308 E. 8th Str. downtown.

"As tilr launched beta and market release of the product in the Cincinnati region, Cincinnati rose to the top as a premier destination for a tilr office," Crenshaw says. "After months of working in the market (and one of the co-founders being a Cincinnati native), the co-founders agreed that Cincinnati would become the operational headquarters for the organization. Working with REDI Cincinnati, tilr was able to secure an incentive package that encourages tilr’s growth and expansion."

Its partnership with the city involves a 12-year tax credit that is based on future job creation with an average salary of $55,000 per year.
 

WEL Enterprise receives $25,000 in funding from Bad Girl Ventures


On Dec. 6, the fall Bad Girl Ventures LAUNCH class graduated, with WEL Enterprise taking home $25,000 in funding.
 
“All the money is going entirely towards my pilot project, which has a total cost of $100,000,” said Katrina Eckard, CEO of WEL Enterprise. “So now I will be pursuing other funds to complete the total, then I will be able to immediately build the first WEL system for wastewater treatment and reclamation of its kind. I have an incredible team of experts in place who have been working with me in my research and development over that past couple of years so we are ready to go!”
 
BGV Executive Director Nancy Aichholz said that the selection committee faced a difficult decision in choosing a winner from the cohort but expressed her confidence in the entire class to secure capital and move forward with their businesses.

Douglas Craven, director of corporate advancement for the Economic Community Development Institute, who served on the selection committee, said that ECDI will offer financing to another cohort member, Chica Sport.
 
“We plan to utilize the funding from ECDI to dramatically increase our inventory of our flagship product, the Seat Hero, in order to grow our retail partnerships, as well as open our own retail space for all of our athletic accessories,” said Meredith Finn, president and owner of Chica Sport. “Thanks to BGV and ECDI, Chica Sport is ready for our next big step.”
 
The graduation event, which was held at Rhinegeist, was the culmination of a big year for BGV, starting with the implementation of its new curriculum: EXPLORE, LAUNCH and GROW. The organization also moved into its new office space in Covington, and held its first open-to-the-public pitch night in November.
 
“We expected 50 people, and we had over 80 in attendance from the startup and business community from both sides of the river,” said Angela Ozar, BGV program manager. “It was a strategic move for BGV going forward, and was great exposure for the cohort to gain recognition and connections from our network." 
 
The LAUNCH accelerator program focuses on established, women-owned businesses that are looking to expand. The fall 2016 cohort included Chica Sport, Cinfully Sweet, Dry Moon Pillowcases, SecondNurture and WEL Enterprise. BGV is accepting applications for the next LAUNCH class through Feb. 10.
 
“I learned so much that I am able to apply to my business right away and in the future,” Finn said. “I know I am part of the BGV family, and with that comes an invaluable network of fellow women entrepreneurs.”
 
LAUNCH cohort member Debra Mooney of Dry Moon Pillowcases completed the EXPLORE program earlier this year, and is helping BGV with the GROW program that will begin next year.
 
“BGV is as much about process as it is content,” Mooney said. “The network of motivated, energetic, creative, diverse and supportive women is terrific.”
 
Mooney is using her LAUNCH experience to move her product into local retail locations, supplementing her online operation. She will facilitate a GROW seminar, Entreleadership, Mastery and Moxie, on Jan. 18 at BGV’s Mentor Avenue offices.
 
"Our GROW program is designed to help all entrepreneurs further their knowledge and skills to grow their business,” Ozar said. “The program will feature a la carte monthly workshops on a topic relevant to entrepreneurs.”
 
The first BGV GROW workshop, a partnership with VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm, takes place Feb. 14 on HR & Risk Management, registration is required. The next EXPLORE class will begin in the spring.
 

Brandery grad Soundstr nabs over $1 million in funding


Cincinnati-based music tech startup Soundstr has secured $1.1 million in seed financing from investors that include entertainment data and technology companies Gracenote and Accelerant, as well as unnamed angel investors.

Soundstr was founded by Eron Bucciarelli-Tieger, the former drummer for indie punk band Hawthorne Heights.
 
In May, Soundstr was awarded an initial investment from CincyTech, which the startup used to launch the production of its tablet-like devices.

The devices plug directly into a venue’s sound system. It uses music recognition technology to identify songs and catalog actual music usage, which in turn helps venues and other businesses to negotiate fairer licensing/usage fees that are charged by performing rights organizations.
 
“Disruption is an overused term, but in this case, it truly fits,” said CincyTech's director, Doug Groh. “We cannot imagine many areas more ready for disruption than this. We saw that the current methods of determining music licensing fees and royalty payments were both grossly unfair and highly inefficient. (Soundstr founder) Eron (Bucciarelli-Tieger) showed a deep understanding of all of the players involved — artists, venues, music publishers and fans — and their motivations.”
 
Soundstr is currently being used in several pilot venues nationally. The company is now taking pre-orders for a planned official launch in January 2017. Visit Soundstr's website for more information and a free trial.
 

MORTAR debuts Iron Chest Fund loans for entrepreneurs


On Nov. 15, MORTAR kicked off its Iron Chest Fund with a #100for100 campaign. The entrepreneurship hub is looking for 100 people to donate between $100-1,000 to help small business owners launch their ideas.
 
MORTAR was inspired by Mayor John Cranley’s State of the City speech this year, which highlighted the importance of having a vibrant and diverse ecosystem where everyone, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status, has a chance to participate.
 
The goal is to raise $100,000, but Iron Chest Fund’s Managing Director Derrick Braziel said he’s shooting for $300,000. The fund has already been pledged a $50,000 matching grant from Matt Butler, Signature Hardware’s president, by Jan. 1.
 
The fund will provide zero percent interest micro-loans of up to $10,000 to local entrepreneurs who typically wouldn’t be qualified for a loan through a traditional bank. Every potential recipient will take a financial literacy and money management course before receiving a loan.
 
Nine local entrepreneurs have already been chosen to receive loans through the Iron Chest Fund. Recipients include apparel companies, a men’s consignment shop and a paleo-friendly restaurant.
 
You can donate to the Iron Chest Fund here.
 
MORTAR is also having its seventh Life’s a Pitch-Mortar Pitch Night and Graduation at 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the Lindner YMCA at 1425 Linn St., 45214. Admission is $5.
 

Engage Cincy now accepting applications for innovation and engagement grants


Engage Cincy, the community engagement innovation challenge sponsored by the city manager’s office, is now accepting applications for round two of the grant competition.
 
“A thriving, vibrant city requires continuous fostering of constructive engagement between people of diverse backgrounds, views and circumstance,” said City Manager Harry Black. “Our intention with this program is to encourage creative ideas that will have real and positive impact, furthering those priorities.”
 
Four Engage Cincy grants were awarded in 2016:“I’m very pleased with the outcome of those projects as they came to fruition over the past months,” Black said. “The potential for continuing and growing these projects is very encouraging, especially the Cincinnati Neighborhood Games, which proved to be a hit right out of the gate.”
 
The first year of the program was intentionally broad in scope, and the city received 188 applications — over three times what they expected. For round two of Engage Cincy, the city manager’s office has focused the guidelines on three areas where engagement and innovation could make a critical impact: healthy food access, civic connections through technology and improving livability.
 
“An ongoing challenge for Cincinnati, and for a lot of cities, is providing healthy, robust food options for people in all neighborhoods,” Black said. “Some real creativity is needed here because the profit margins are so thin for fresh food retailers. How do we ensure everybody, regardless of easy access to transportation/mobility, socioeconomic status, etc., has access to, and is encouraged to make, healthier food choices?”
 
Applicants who have an idea that can be implemented within the grant period are preferred, but grants can be used to cover ideation and development, in addition to activation expenses.
 
“We know there are a lot of very savvy people who are finding all kinds of new ways to use social media, meta-data, smart technologies, etc., to solve problems and to entertain,” Black said. ‘We are looking for creative ways to tie this together and better engage city government with people, and connect people with each other.”
 
The Engage Cincy submissions can be focused on a specific community or address the city as a whole.
 
“We want to enhance the quality of life for an area or a group of people,” Black said. “This could mean any number of things — it depends on the challenges someone may see in front of them that they want to positively impact. This could be blight, crime, education or a whole myriad of things. How can engagement move the needle on these serious issues?”
 
Applications will be accepted online through Dec. 11, and are open to individuals, nonprofit organizations and companies based in Cincinnati, although collaborative efforts are encouraged. A selection committee of city staff and community leaders will narrow down the finalists for further interviews over the winter. The winners, each receiving up to $10,000, will be announced at the Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit in March.
 
“Our program is unique and we feel it could act as a best practice for other cities looking for fresh ideas,” Black said. “We are excited to continue the program, and we encourage everyone out there to check out the website and work with your friends to submit an application.”
 

Startup community invited to Cincinnati's Startup Weekend


This fall’s Startup Weekend will begin with a pitch night on Nov. 18, and will culminate in a demo night on Nov. 22. The 54-hour event will bring together Cincinnati designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts from all sectors of the startup community.
 
Anyone is welcome to pitch their idea and receive feedback from their peers. Once ideas are pitched, teams will form around the top ideas, which are determined by popular vote. The following three days will involve business model creation, coding, designing and market validation of the project.
 
The last step in the process is a demo, where the teams will present their projects to a panel of local entrepreneurial leaders, who will provide feedback.
 
The panel will be made up of five entrepreneurs from around Greater Cincinnati: Nancy Aichholz, executive director, BGV, Inc.; Tony Alexander, general manager, The Brandery; Miranda Millard, chaos coordinator and development assistant, MORTAR; Scott Weiss, CEO, OCEAN Accelerator; and JB Woodruff, program director, UpTech.
 
A number of speakers will present throughout the weekend, including Wendy Lea, CEO, Cintrifuse; Renee Murphy, research consultant, The Garage Group; Keith Romer, research consultant, The Garage Group; and Jake Rouse, cofounder and CEO, Braxton Brewing.
 
Teams will be able to seek advice from a group of coaches and mentors, including startup founders, designers, marketing specialists and business managers.
 
Registration is still open for Startup Weekend; tickets range from $75-99, with seats for Sunday’s demo night available free of charge.
 

Seventh annual Midwest UX Conference announces Cincinnati is 2017 host city


On Oct. 12-14, 2017, Cincinnati will host the seventh annual Midwest UX Conference. The regional conference celebrates the growing practice of user experience design, and since its inception in 2011, has been held in Columbus, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Louisville and Pittsburgh.
 
“The conference is a reflection of the host city and the UX community within it,” said Jessica Schomaker, Cincinnati MWUX chair. “It’s really refreshing to get to go to all of these cities and see the UX communities there.”
 
The three-day event will feature hands-on workshops, keynote speakers, city excursions and networking events. Keynotes will be held at Memorial Hall, workshops will be at Cintrifuse and other locations in Over-the-Rhine and the closing party will be held at the Contemporary Arts Center.
 
Day one of the conference is workshop-based. Attendees will be able to go into the sessions and meet with international industry leaders who will teach skills needed for UX design.
 
“I moved here not too long ago and took a UX job,” Schomaker said. “The UX community in Cincinnati is remarkable, and the quality of people and conversations I’ve had are remarkable. It would be surprising to people outside of the Midwest that these conversations and groups are here because the perception is that good design happens on the coast. But good design is happening in the Midwest too.”
 
She feels that with the renaissance of OTR and downtown, Cincinnati is in the middle of redefining itself. “It’s a reflection of what UX does — it improves user experience, just like Cincinnati is doing.”
 
The Midwest UX Conference is entirely volunteer-based. With each new host city, new conference chairs are chosen from the local UX community, which allows each city to put on the best conference possible for the region.
 
“We get to highlight things that are happening in the city and highlight our favorite places,” Schomaker said.
 
That being said, the conference is still looking for volunteers and sponsors to help shape the event. If you’re interested in either role, send an email to hello@midwestuxconference.com.  
 
Early bird tickets are on sale now for $350, and can be purchased here.
 

Local social intelligence startup forms partnership with Ford Motor Company


Spatial, a Cincinnati-based startup that launched less than a year ago, has recently partnered with Ford to bring its navigation technology to Ford’s cars. The partnership has allowed Spatial to relocate to Detroit, and to focus on taking its social intelligence technology and embed it into car GPS and navigation systems.
 
Earlier this year, 12 startups were chosen to be part of Techstars Mobility class, including Spatial. Launched in 2015, the mentorship-driven accelerator program focuses on next-gen mobility solutions.
 
Each startup received $120,000 in funding, plus three months of intensive guidance on business development, customer acquisition and developing relationships within the auto industry, as well as support from top business leaders. The class started June 13, and ended on Sept. 8 with a demo day at the Detroit Opera House.
 
From that experience, Spatial formed a relationship with Ford — the company chose three startups that are working on tech products for autonomous and connected cars. All of the startups were from Techstars Mobility’s second class: Cargo, HAAS Alert and Spatial.
 
The startups have been working on projects in key areas that are of interest to Ford: consumer experience; information technology and data analytics; multimodal trip integration; flexible ownership and user experience; and autonomous and safety technologies.
 
“We have multiple projects running with Ford currently, and each of them aligns with our mission: helping people navigate like a local, anywhere on Earth,” said Lyden Foust, CEO of Spatial.
 
The details of the specific projects are underwraps, but Foust says that Spatial’s contract with Ford has put momentum in the company.
 
“We’re starting to get a lot of inbound requests from customers working with autonomous cars and AI assistants, all the way to real estate websites that want to help their users understand an area and sort through home options quickly,” he said.
 
Fortune named Spatial one of the top 10 automotive startups of 2016. Read that article here.
 

CincyTech scores $13 million grant for startups


Last week, Ohio Third Frontier announced $67.4 million in funding awards across the state, including grants to two key organizations in the StartupCincy community. Grant money will be used to help encourage innovation and regional entrepreneurs. As Cincinnati’s dynamic startup ecosystem continues to expand, Ohio Third Frontier funding provides an important resource for the organizations supporting the thriving entrepreneurial community.

CincyTech
received about $13.5 million through 2019 from the Entrepreneurial Services Program to disburse to partner organizations Cintrifuse, the Brandery, HCDC and the U.C. accelerator while the University of Cincinnati’s Technology Accelerator for Commercialization received $500,000 from the Technology Validation and Startup Fund Program.
 
Ohio Third Frontier, which is administered by a commission and advisory board, allocates General Assembly funds to encourage the growth of startup and technology companies throughout the state. In addition to the two programs announced last week, the commission also operates a Commercial Acceleration Loan Fund and a Capitalization Program.
 
The Entrepreneurial Services Program focuses on four organizations that are supporting early-stage companies, attracting outside investment capital and encouraging regional collaboration around entrepreneurship: CincyTech (Southwest Ohio), JumpStart (Northeast Ohio), Rev1 Ventures (Central Ohio) and TechGROWTH Ohio (Southwest Ohio). The commission hired Urban Venture Group to conduct an evaluation of the four organizations supported by the ESP since the last award cycle.
 
CincyTech and its partners exceeded the requirements in all four areas of evaluation: regional focus and identity, ESP structure and management plan, client services and capital access and funding pipeline. The report noted several key strengths for the organization, particularly that the “’separate but interconnected network has achieved effective cooperation and coordination among partner organizations.”

The report also commended them for “high-quality services, especially mentor networks, customer access and capital access” and “deep ties with investors, regional corporations.” The only organizational weakness listed was a “low emphasis on reporting of metrics and costs.”

Previous funding from Ohio Third Frontier has also funded Imagining Grants, which support entrepreneurs and pre-seed companies as they develop sufficiently to attract outside funding.
 
The Technology Validation and Startup Fund Program supports colleges and universities as well as nonprofit research institutions in licensing their technological discoveries. The companies and agencies purchasing those licenses generate economic growth for the state as they develop commercial products.
 
UC submitted a proposal for Round 12 of the TVSF for its Technology Accelerator for Commercialization, which “provides seed funding, commercialization expertise and business connections to launch potentially high-impact entrepreneurial initiatives” to technologies developed at UC by full-time faculty and staff. The award will encourage multiple projects to transition from the lab into commercial ventures.
 

Locally designed app Physi partners with NKY Chamber for new year Wellness Challenge


From Jan.  5 to Feb. 16, 2017, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce will hold its fifth annual Workplace Wellness Challenge in collaboration with Physi, a Cincinnati-based fitness activity app.

“This partnership is a direct result of wanting to find the answer to a very tough question: How can we make Northern Kentucky a community that is healthy, interactive and fun,” said Carla Landon, marketing and communications manager at the NKY Chamber. “We believe that with the utilization of Physi, the participants of the Wellness Challenge will find it easier than ever before to plan activities with their friends and co-workers while still being able to balance their busy schedule between work and home.”

Companies participating in the challenge will be able to register online with the Chamber and receive a promotional code for employees to use when signing up for Physi. Employees will receive points for fitness activities, like taking a walk at lunch, or healthy behaviors, like getting a flu shot. The points will be tracked through the app, and at the end of the six-week challenge, used to determine the winner.

“When you were little, you came home, threw off your backpack and went outside to play,” said Marty Boyer, president of Physi. “Wellness is not just our personal responsibility any longer, we have engaged corporations in wellness too. A well employee is a better employee, but most wellness programs focus on 10 percent of individuals that take up 65 percent of our healthcare spending. This leaves the larger population with an unmet need of a wellness program that actually helps them maintain their health. We want to make it easy and fun to stay well; do the things that you like doing, when you’re available, with people in your community, and you’ll stay well.”
 
Physi will be rolling out the 2.0 version of its app just before the Wellness Challenge begins. The new version will have expanded social media and promotional code functionality, including the ability to unlock hidden activities.
 
“We are making the activities easier for individuals to see what others are doing, opting into their activities and seeing a wall of activities where your friends are participating,” Boyer said. “We often say there is no shortage of things to do, we just have to make it easier to participate.”
 
In addition to the Chamber’s Wellness Challenge, Physi is also working with Meet Me Outdoors, Creating Healthy Communities and Live Well NKY to leverage the app's networking platform to build relationships among community members while promoting physical activities. The Chamber is also promoting LiveWell NKY, awarding extra Wellness Challenge points to employers that are also registered LiveWell worksites.
 
“We share a common mission,” Boyer said. “We are both trying to connect people around activities and kick off the year with wellness in mind.”

Download Physi today in the Google Play or App Store.
 

Accelerator alum, KiwiLive founder forms partnership with Fern to take app to the next level


Live-event interaction technology KiwiLive is expanding into the convention industry through a new relationship with Fern Exposition & Event Services.
 
“I’ve been interested in the tradeshow market for awhile,” said Jeff Mason, KiwiLive founder and CEO. “Fern has such an extensive network and experience, and it’s exciting to be working together.”
 
KiwiLive started two years ago as a quick and easy solution to exchanging contact information and presentations at meetings. The application allows users to connect with other attendees and access speaker information by entering a keyword on the KiwiLive website. There is no app to download or software to install.
 
“The name came from a simple idea: through a keyword we connect, key-we became Kiwi,” Mason said.
 
Recruited to Cincinnati after college by an engineering firm, Mason eventually left his job to work on KiwiLive full-time, quickly plugging into the entrepreneurial community here.
 
“I went to a Startup Weekend at UpTech, which was my first experience at what it’s like to really run a startup,” he said. “I started to meet people involved in the startup scene, joined Cintrifuse, and plugged into the UnPolished movement at Crossroads.”
 
KiwiLive debuted at UnPolished's first Demo Day. Mason continued to work with other events, particularly in the startup community, to refine and develop the KiwiLive platform. Based on responses from speakers and organizers, new features like live polling and feedback were added. Ready to grow KiwiLive further, Mason joined UpTech's fourth cohort last fall.
 
“Accelerator programs often focus on ideas or early stages of a product, so I was a little worried about being pushed to totally rebrand and create something new,” Mason said. “But UpTech adapted to the level of each participant. Their ability to provide support and infrastructure, to push me forward, was critical.”
 
UpTech’s Demo Day is where KiwiLive connected with Fern. It took several months of discussions before last week’s announcement that, in addition to their financial commitment to KiwiLive, Mason will take on the role of director of customer technology innovation for Fern.
 
“This partnership is a lot deeper than just an investment,” Mason said. “Fern wants to be an innovation and technology leader in the tradeshow industry. KiwiLive services fit really well with their existing platforms and will work alongside them as another offering for their clients.”
 
KiwiLive will continue to serve its existing clients and core audience of seminars, speakers and presenters while working with Fern on the tradeshow marketplace, including developing tools for multi-tracked events where participants change sessions and speakers. Mason also plans to refine the look and feel of the application, creating an ease of use to make KiwiLive accessible and easy for meeting and event planners to set up, even at the last minute.
 
“This is a great opportunity to leverage Fern’s expertise at large events and my startup experience,” Mason said. “We’ll offer a unique experience that maximizes the value for both event organizers and attendees.”
 

Next Lives Here Innovation Summit brings together big business and Cincinnati's startup scene


Next Lives Here Innovation Summit is a new entrepreneurship event hosted by the University of Cincinnati that will take place on Thursday. It's organized with help from UC Innovate, a student group that encourages the development of campus leaders.
 
The event will kick off at noon with a networking lunch on McMicken Commons. It will then move inside to the Tangeman University Center where 12 teams of UC students will test out their ideas with representatives from big business and the Cincinnati startup scene.
 
Spark UC, now in its second year, is partnering with MORTAR to match interdisciplinary student teams with the entrepreneurs and businesses that are part of MORTAR, an organization that works with underserved, non-traditional entrepreneurs in communities experiencing redevelopment. The collaboration launched on Oct. 3 at the Social Enterprise Cincy Summit, and was followed by two weeks of workshops and project development.

At the Innovation Summit, the top three teams will make their final pitches.
 
Alternating with the pitch sessions will be speakers from the local startup scene, as well as leaders from the creative and engineering sectors. The first panel will discuss encouraging innovation and partnerships between the academic sector and industry, and the second panel will focus on disruption and the types of people and projects that challenge the status quo.
 
There will be a number of speakers from local, regional and national startup and bigco organizations, including Austin Allison, co-founder and CEO of dotloop, Wendy Lea, CEO of Cintrifuse and Rodney Williams, CEO and co-founder of LISNR, as well as a handful of representatives from UC. A full list of speakers and the day's agenda can be found here.
 
Throughout the day, the Innovation Showcase will feature displays that explore the resources and research activities taking place at UC. The exhibits will be organized around themes of social innovation, consumer engagement, local impacts, expectant futurology/fresh tech, student entrepreneurship, inspiring design, and health and wellness. The event will wrap up at 7 p.m.
 
Registration is required to attend the free conference, and spaces are still available.
 

Artrageous cultivates next gen innovation where science, art, history, engineering meet


Innovation and creativity are sought after traits in the startup community, but nurturing and encouraging those qualities in the next generation in an era focused on STEM and standardized testing can be difficult. Nathan Heck addresses that challenge through his web series Artrageous with Nate.
 
“Creativity happens everywhere,” Heck said. “You don't have to be a painter to be creative. I want to change the conversation about innovation and look at it in the world, outside of siloed school subjects.”
 
The web series, available on YouTube and PBS Digital, takes a multi-disciplinary approach, exploring a different artist, style, or subject in each episode. The art historical cannon is well represented, but with a twist.
 
“Our episode on Michelangelo looked at his art, but also pulled back the curtain on what was happening at the time that allowed (artists) to be so creative and innovative,” Heck said.
 
Artrageous with Nate also tackles subjects that might not be considered art, including episodes on design and engineering at Delta Faucet, microscopic views of kidney cells, and the process of developing a roller coaster at an amusement park. Heck explores the intersection of science, engineering, history, and art.
 
For historical figures, episodes focus on little known biographic facts, like the name of their dog, to make them relatable as people.
 
“These artists were rebels who made their own path,” Heck said. “Some died in poverty. Some never sold anything. Yet today they’re world famous.”
 
Heck also interviews contemporary artists to talk about their process, and for those working in non-traditional art environments, how their creativity fits in with their colleagues who are scientists and engineers. Each episode ends with a hands-on activity inspired by the subject.
 
“I am all about the process, not the finished product,” Heck said. “Art materials are expensive, so I try to come up with things people can make with what they have handy.”
 
Heck collaborates with museums, including the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM) , on his program. He has filmed three episodes at CAM featuring the Damascus Room, a dress by Issey Miyake, and a portrait by Gainsborough.
 
His most recent partnership, with the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, will create an app for museum users. Heck is also working to bring Artrageous to the Curiosity network, a spinoff of the Discovery Channel.
 
Heck will talk about his methods for encouraging creativity at the 2016 Day of Innovation conference at Butler University on Oct. 13.
 
“I love talking to business people about art and creativity,” Heck said. “It's important they understand creativity, what happens in the brain when you're being creative, and how broad creativity is. I want everyone to walk out thinking about how they are creative and innovative.”
 
The event is familiar to Heck. Artrageous with Nate won an Indiana Innovation Award at the 2014 conference.
 
“Nate's program impressed our judges with its very unique and fun approach and the show's combination of art, history and creativity,” said Jason Williams, executive director of Centric. “Nate is taking a lot of interesting material and making it more approachable. Artrageous is passionate about inspiring creativity inside and outside of the art studio.”
 
“We focus so much on measurable results,” Heck said. “But the things you can’t measure are what makes people unique and creative. If we lose creativity, we lose innovation.”
 
Those attending his session at the Day of Innovation should be ready to explore their creative side.
 
“I love to have fun with big, massive art projects,” said Heck. “So I’m planning something that everyone can do, but it won’t be too messy since it’s a conference after all.”
 
 
 
 

FEASTY app joins Startups in Residence program at 84.51


FEASTY, which is the first app to connect people with restaurants in real-time, recently moved offices to the 84.51° building to be part of the company’s Startup in Residence program. The program launched in June 2015, and provides co-working space and mentorship opportunities to four companies at a time, all of which are graduates of regional accelerator programs.
 
Startups in Residence is part of 84.51°’s Innovation initiative, which focuses on connecting, empowering and transforming associates, the community and customers.
 
FEASTY — a 2016 graduate of OCEAN acceleratorlaunched in March with two full-time employees, and has since added four more full-time employees. The app aims to connect those who love to eat food with those who create it.
 
“There are two problems when it comes to dining out: people can’t make decisions about where to eat, and the second is that restaurants don’t know how to drive customers into their restaurants in real-time,” says FEASTY founder Anthony Breen.  
 
FEASTY allows restaurants to post offers or incentives in real-time based on how they’re doing at that moment and drive traffic during slow periods. Those offers go out to users, and they can swipe and search deals, choosing one that will work for them.
 
Since March, FEASTY has evolved. It now tailors offers to each individual user.
 
“We started gathering and collecting data about what users like to eat, what types of deals they like and any dietary restrictions they might have,” Breen says. “FEASTY can then post intelligent offers for customers, and make sure they’re seeing customized deals.”
 
Tony Blankemeyer, startup liaison at 84.51°, sought out Breen because FEASTY fits well into the Startups in Residence program, as it is interested in companies that are leading in the field of data. 84.51°, a.k.a. Kroger, has significant data around in-home grocery purchases and is interested in learning more about the patterns and behaviors of people when they’re looking for somewhere to dine out.
 
“84.51° is home to some of the best data scientists in the world, and being in that community, engaging and connecting with those scientists will be an awesome opportunity,” Breen says.
 
Although no formal partnerships have been announced, FEASTY hopes to incorporate some of the data 84.51° has and make the app experience better for users.
 
FEASTY currently serves over 200 restaurants in the Greater Cincinnati area, including new partners like Q’Doba, The Rook and ZBGB. A 2.0 version of FEASTY will come out later this year, which includes a total revamp of the app. After the relaunch, Breen plans to begin scaling into other cities as quickly as possible.
 
“We’re excited to get as much knowledge from the Startups in Residence program as possible,” he says. “It will really help us make the right scaling decisions and moves, as well as help us establish the right contacts and networks.”
 
FEASTY is free and available for download on iOS, Android and the Apple Watch.
 
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