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UC's 1819 Innovation Hub will be where local talent and industry "collide"

Renovations are currently underway at 2900 Reading Rd. — once the Uptown home of Sears & Roebuck — where leaders at UC will soon unveil a 133,000-square-foot innovation lab for students and faculty across all departments to mingle with top business leaders, researchers, economic developers and nonprofit professionals.

Named for the year UC was founded, the 1819 Innovation Hub will be fully open and accessible by next summer. The hub is a result of a “mutually beneficial” relationship between UC and Procter & Gamble — whose Live Well Collaborative will be the hub’s anchor tenant — according to UC’s first-ever chief innovation officer David Adams.

“Let this be the place where magic occurs,” says Adams, whose team reports to UC president Neville Pinto and is tasked with maintaining the strategic vision for the 1819 Innovation Hub as an effective interface between local industry and talent. The plan is for local businesses to liaise (via Adams) with UC students from all disciplines — a format that sets this program apart from those offered by other higher education institutions.

“The vision is for this hub to be school-agnostic,” says Adams. “Engineering students, art students, nursing students and business students can work together to bring their ideas to fruition faster, in one building, and with support and mentorship from key industry stakeholders.”

The facility’s location is also strategic: It’s less than one mile from UC’s main campus, the distance research shows as ideal for student access, says Adams.

According to published plans, the hub’s first floor will house a 12,000-square-foot makerspace furnished with hand tools, 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC machines. The second floor will primarily consist of multi-purpose learning, event and meeting spaces. A third-floor café, coffee and food area will neighbor gallery space where student artwork and other exhibits will be displayed.

The fourth-floor simulation center will presumably be where the real talent-pipeline magic happens, with students working on real-life projects for P&G. Adams says a goal of the 1819 Innovation Hub is to begin partnering with area high schools and middle schools to reach students earlier in the education lifecycle.

Experience is another factor that shows promise for the 1819 Innovation Hub. Adams arrived at UC last July via the University of Louisville, where he oversaw the $1.2 billion financial and operational aspects of the university and pioneered an academic-industry talent funnel there.

Click here for more info, and to view 1819 Innovation Hub photos and renderings.

Eight must-follow Instagram accounts that rule the Queen City

As you read this, phones are hovering over heads at a concert and poached eggs are dripping with hollandaise; people are posing in front of bathroom mirrors and sweeping the vista for that perfect panorama of Eden Park. Instagram unites our city shot-by-shot, uncovering the particulars through the eyes of those who live here. As you discover #cincinnati on Instagram, these accounts might help illuminate your community in unexpected ways.

Cincinnatians have known for a long time that our zoo is one of our city’s best attractions. However, Fiona's saga has caused the @cincinnatizoo's social media to explode. The world can’t seem to get enough of the littlest hippo that made it despite all the odds.

With creative perspectives and subjects, professional photographer David Schmidt looks at the Queen City in a fresh, exciting way. With regular features like #RoeblingWednesday, @cincygram captures iconic structures as well as the lesser-known details that make our city beautiful. Alarmingly technicolor sunsets and moody shots of a mausoleum tell the story of a dynamic, if complicated, city.

Instagram exists, in part, as a place for people to put pictures of the delicious food they're eating. If you need inspiration on which meal to snap next, @cincinnatifoodie is an excellent place to start. Focusing on artfully arranged plates, the meal portraits include restaurants from a range of price points, styles and locations.

Since Instagram is so food-oriented, it’s easy to get caught up in pictures of…food. @cincinnatifoodtours is an actual tour company that features plenty of plates from the spots their customers visit, but there’s also a healthy dose of Cincy food trivia and little observations about our city. Those who like to experience food will find many local opportunities as they scroll.

As Cincinnati reclaims its glorious brewing heritage, @the_gnarly_gnome has made it his mission to capture the boom of the microbrewery. @the_gnarly_gnome documents brewery openings, new brew releases and even explores some of the wineries in the area. The account proves that the ambiance of the tap room and the bottle are as important as the beer itself.

@cincinnatidoors is a reminder to stop and remember the impeccably designed details of our favorite city. By focusing on the doors around town, this account not only encapsulates our community’s diverse aesthetic, but also the history literally built into our walls.

@dogsofcincy celebrates our canine citizenry with whimsical, often hilarious portraits and brief stories of the featured pet. The account “finds the coolest dogs in Cincy,” and so far, it's been massively successful. Followers can even lobby to have their furry friend featured by using #dogsofcincy in their own Instagram post.

@outandoutfit’s Katie loves this city and the style it inspires. Often featuring her latest grabs from local boutiques, this mom also reviews nights out on the town at Cincy bars and eateries. Though her account definitely leans feminine, she posts fashion ideas for men, too.


Hamilton Mill wins grant to fund four strategic programs

The Hamilton Mill received a $500,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovative Strategies program, the first award to an applicant from southwest Ohio.

“We are ecstatic about the grant,” says Antony Seppi, director of operations for Hamilton Mill. “The EDA saw our collaborative approach, partnerships and our co-applicant, the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Research, as a good investment.”

During the three-year grant period, Hamilton Mill will apply the funds to four projects. The first two are water-focus: the Pipeline H2O water tech accelerator program and a new web portal for water-space issues. The other two programs of focus are Industrialist in Residence, which pairs Hamilton Mill members with mentors in manufacturing; and the ongoing City as Lab partnership with the City of Hamilton.

“One of our first milestones will be the Industrialist xChange Portal to identify and catalog the challenges regional businesses are facing in the water space,” says Seppi. “This platform will allow water startups to search the problems and see if their technology could offer a solution.”

UC will be working closely with Hamilton Mill on the programs supported by the Regional Innovation Strategies grant, bringing their water center and technology commercialization arm to the table.

“Our water center is an informal group of over 30 faculty members working in the water space,” says Phil Taylor, assistant vice president for Research Strategic Implementation. “They are researching water treatment, reuse, distribution, conservation and aquifer structure, and represent many disciplines, including engineering, biology, geography, planning, physics and design.”

The subject-matter experts at UC will work primarily with the Pipeline H2O participants, offering mentorship, research and applied research.

“This collaboration provides faculty with first-hand experience of what is involved in being an entrepreneur and lets them learn what it’s like to work with industry,” Taylor says.

In addition to faculty assistance, UC’s technology commercialization experts will provide entrepreneurial support to Hamilton Mill members and Pipeline startups.

“It’s important to work together on these issues,” says Taylor. “The collaboration between UC, Pipeline and the EPA is just starting and will evolve as we partner more effectively. This regional initiative could have global impact.”

The Hamilton Mill is coordinating with the EDA regional office in Chicago on the grant implementation and will be tracking startups coming into their programs and graduating, and the number of jobs created from those outcomes.

“We have come a long way in three years,” says Seppi. “This grant will transform us moving forward. It is a huge opportunity to take Hamilton Mill to the next level.”

New business initiative promises to ease access to foreign markets

American companies that are looking to expand to overseas markets face a bevy of logistical and legal challenges, including setting up local bank accounts, currency exchanges and brand awareness. A new public-private partnership, Getting to Global, was created specifically to minimize those barriers.

“U.S. companies are behind in the global e-commerce arena,” says Joshua Halpern, GtG founder and executive director. “European companies are cross-border from inception. Asian companies are expanding rapidly. To catch up, we need to get the right information to the right companies, and the best way to do that is through strategic partnerships.”

The GtG Initiative combines the digital resources of Google, Facebook, eBay and Pitney Bowes with the expertise of government agencies like the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Postal Service, as well as national organizations, including the Centers for International Trade Development and Global Retail Insights Network.

“The right solutions for these companies are already out there in the market — they just aren’t aware of them,” Halpern says. “We are aggregating the massive amount of information out there and providing a targeted, appropriate response to their needs.”

GtG is targeting several large sectors of the market, including agricultural goods (health, medical and food), industrial B2B products, software services and B2C commercial goods.

“About the only thing we’re not addressing is helping a company set up their first e-commerce platform,” Halpern says. “Our partners have expertise with physical products, building global brands and international payment gateways. We provide usable, actionable information for small- and medium-sized enterprises.”

The free resources provided by GtG are available through live workshops and online videos, classes and a searchable resource guide.

“We are providing a magnifying glass, looking at successful online sellers and having them share how they went global and how it works,” Halpern says. “We are connecting businesses with a neutral source of vetted solutions. This isn’t companies presenting a sales pitch, it’s companies talking about how they use tools and services.”

As the initiative grows, GtG sees opportunities to hold physical labs across the country and build partnerships on a local and national level.

“SMEs need to understand that localizing in the current market is limiting,” says Halpern. “Ninety seven percent of the world’s consumers are outside U.S. borders.”

GtG is providing the resources to help any company anywhere in the U.S. tap into that global marketplace.

Fifth Third program helps prepare Shroder students for financial success

Juniors and seniors at Shroder High School are the first in the nation to receive online education on finance and entrepreneurship through a new partnership with Fifth Third Bank. Shroder received a $10,000 technology grant to fund its Finance Academy.

Fifth Third and EVERFI created Finance Academy as an interactive online development tool to help teens better understand how to manage their money and how to become an entrepreneur.

The program is an extension of Fifth Third's $30 billion Community Commitment Plan — it's part of Fifth Third’s Lives Improved Through Financial Empowerment, or L.I.F.E., program.

Launched Oct. 16, the program will teach students about a variety of elements, including banking and investing in their future.

“We're helping young students learn those basic skills in high school,” says Fifth Third spokesperson Brian Lamb.

The program will be offered in class, and students will be able to use their mobile devices to complete the program. There will also be business classes that will focus on building capital, hiring and managing a budget.

One of the guest speakers, former Bengals player Dhani Jones, illustrated to the students how he was not one of the 80 percent of NFL players that have gone broke.

"They understand the value of the game," says Jones, "but they don’t necessarily understand the value of the dollar.”

Jones says that understanding the value of money and guidance all comes from teachers and education. “If you don’t take the proper planning, have the proper mindset and understand the direction of where you’re going to go, then you’re going to be lost."

Shroder faculty members will be able to track each student's score reports and help guide them to a path of success.

“There are a lot of finances when it comes to college, like getting loans," says student Mikaela Wormley. "I feel like if we know what to do now, you have a step above everyone else when it comes to college, and then after college and knowing which job to choose versus the benefits."

Powderkeg's impending launch highlights Cincy's startup culture

New to Cincinnati this year, Powderkeg is a community-driven organization that hosts bimonthly pitch nights for scaling technology founders. The community helps members move up in their companies through education, media exposure, resources and technologies.

The events are formatted for three scale-ups to pitch their companies to a panel of investors for feedback. After the event, Powderkeg creates a custom piece of content about the scale-ups and their pitch, and then gets them featured in a national publication.

Through events in eight different cities across the country, Powderkeg boasts over 10,000 members; since the program's inception, $576 million in capital has been raised from 421 pitches. Pitches have been featured in national publications like Forbes, VentureBeat and Huffington Post.

Erika Kotterer, events lead for Powderkeg, believes that featuring the startups in a national media outlet helps to get the word out there about startup companies and their growth in the last decade. “We are currently in Kansas City, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham and Indianapolis. We are trying to expose what's going on in these cities to the nation.”

In true Shark Tank fashion, Powderkeg Cincinnati's launch event on Wednesday will feature three rising-star startups — FarmFlx, Cloverleaf and Spatial, all of which are allowed five minutes on stage to pitch their business to advisors (Dave Knox, a brand marketer; Wendy Lea, CEO of Cintrifuse; and Derrick Braziel, co-founder of MORTAR).

FarmFlx is a financial engineering software firm focused on farmland rental contracts. Cloverleaf builds great teams using assessment and other employee data to provide insight into the right people in the right roles for increased team productivity. Spatial is a location data company that uses conversations from social networks to understand how humans move and experience the world around them using AI.

Pitch nights run far and wide, and the Powderkeg staff believes that this model of startup culture will be more sustainable over time.

“Powderkeg has been hosting pitch nights for the last eight years,” Kotterer says. “A lot of pitch and tech nights attract early stage founders, whereas Powderkeg is for scaling tech founders. Powderkeg is also entertaining and fun.”

The Powderkeg launch event will be held this Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Woodward Theater. Early bird tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets can still be purchased here for $15. Tickets are limited to the first 150 buyers.

Local chef introduces variety, one cookbook at a time

One local chef is bringing adults of all ages together for a travel-themed potluck dinner once a month in Over-the-Rhine.

Chef and owner of the Tablespoon Cooking Co., Jordan Hamons, came up with the idea for a cookbook club from articles she read on Serious Eats and Food 52. She based her business model on other successful platforms she's read about.

Those that join, as well as the chefs, make dishes from a different cookbook each month and bring their dishes to Revel OTR Urban Winery and share with others.

“I wanted a space that was welcoming and friendly and promoted conversation,” Hamons says.

In September, the theme was French cooking. Everyone made a dish from the cookbook My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. It was about more than just the food — it was about the conversations that took place.

People started to talk about the book, the recipes they made and their travels to France or their hopes to travel to France. “You meet new people and it really encourages that type of conversation,” Hamons says.

Last month's 33-member group included adults of all ages with little to very advanced cooking backgrounds. Hamons encourages people of all kinds to cook food from the cookbooks that they would not normally cook from.

“It's like a no-risk way to try a lot from the book and find some new foods that maybe you would not have expected to like,” she says.

Hamons and some of the other chefs involved provide a few of the main dishes and pair them with tasteful wines. Anyone can sign up on Tablespoon's website and pick a dish to cook, which range from easy to very advanced. The cookbook potlucks are $30, and cover the cost of the main dishes, the rented space at Revel and three glasses of wine. The cookbooks have to be purchased separately.

The cookbook club will meet again on Nov. 7 for a Lebanese themed potluck. This time, the cookbook is Orange Blossoms and Rose Water by Maureen Abood.

“She's a friend of mine and it's an amazing book,” Hamons says. “The food is so good."

The last day to meet for this year will be the potluck on Nov. 7, but after the New Year, the potluck will return once every month. Next year, Hamons will be working on the cookbook club as well as more cooking classes and a series of tasting events with Tablespoon.

To check out what she has in the works, click here.

Fifth Third adds innovation center to break down walls within the workplace

A buzzer echoes from a circular gallery space near the entrance of ONE67, Fifth Third Bank’s new innovation center. A group of men and women — the top 100 leaders in the company — aren’t sitting around a board table muttering over “the numbers."

Instead, they’re playing a game.

Incorporating a sense of freedom and fun into the workplace is the idea behind the avant-garde workspace in Fifth Third’s downtown skyscraper. Michael Crawford is the product manager for Momentum, a free app from Fifth Third aimed at millennials to help pay down student loans. Crawford works in ONE67 every day and says the space is meant to stimulate creativity and build community.

Before its opening at the end of August, Crawford describes the space as very 1970s. “You would’ve seen a lot of offices that democratized all of the window space,” he says. “Your position in the company could’ve been determined by how close you were or how much window space you had.”

Partnering Nelson Architects with Fifth Third’s Enterprise Work Services team, the newly designed 15,000-square-foot space redefines what it means to work in an office.

“We wanted to open the space to make it feel welcoming to all, and make it an area where you can always find your own corner based upon your day, your mood, your job and who you’re working with,” Crawford says.

Everything is designed to be mobile. Movable walls run along ceiling tracks in the gallery and can conform the space to fit the needs of employees.

A large barn door closes off the gallery from the "garage space" where employees are free to work, explore, create and even play.

“From here back, all of our walls are white board walls,” Crawford says, stepping through the door. “The team is all about being raw and not about being afraid to make mistakes, which is the whole notion of a white board wall.”

ONE67 has a variety of workspaces, including private nooks with expansive views of downtown, smaller breakout rooms for 2-4 people and “scrum rooms” for larger meetings.

In addition to the unique workspaces, there are approximately 45 traditional standing and sitting desks.

“To be innovative, you have to be edgier,” says Crawford. “On this floor, we’re purposely buying more furniture so people can put their feet up. It’s all designed to conform around you rather than you around the space.”

ONE67 features various “stimuli” throughout the office like mini corn-hole, a sandbox and a foosball table. The stimuli encourage play, teamwork and creativity throughout the day.

“You don’t see people playing for hours on end, but you do see people play foosball for 20 minutes,” Crawford says.

“We’re the only part of the building experimenting with no assigned seating,” Crawford says. While employees don’t have their own desks, everyone has a locker to store personal belongings.

“Having communal places like this where teams can come together and break bread is really important,” Crawford says.

“We’re also using this space to pilot new technology,” says Crawford. “We’re working with some startups in Cincinnati, as well as some large tech firms to say, ‘What will the office of the future be like?’”

ONE67’s library is a dimly lit, quiet area with a more down-tempo atmosphere than the rest of the space. “People can come here to think,” says Crawford. “It has a lot less stimuli and is more devoid of color so it’s supposed to be calmer.”

Though ONE67 is limited to Fifth Third employees for now, Crawford says the company hopes to expand its use in the future. “The vision is to be a space for our partners to come in and co-create with us.”

Photos by Allison Smith Cohen; others provided by Fifth Third.

Ohio Innocence Project works with UC law students to exonerate those wrongly convicted

The Ohio Innocence Project, based at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, marked International Wrongful Conviction Day on Oct. 2 with a week of events across the state.

The expansion of programming comes on the heels of an announcement that Ohio Representative Bill Seitz introduced legislation to provide compensation to individuals wrongly convicted due to prosecutors withholding evidence.

“This will have a tremendous impact on the lives of some of our exonerees who were released from prison with nothing and with no hope for compensation for the several years of their lives lost to wrongful imprisonment,” says Rashida Manuel, outreach manager.

Among the nearly 70 organizations that make up the Innocence Network, which is a collective of projects around the country working to exonerate wrongfully convicted men and women, OIP is unique for several programs.

“While many projects use law students to help investigate their cases, OIP’s one-year fellowship allows students to have a more in-depth view of innocence work and gain substantial hands-on experience,” Manuel says.

OIP is also the only program in the country to work with undergraduate students.

“We introduced OIP-u, a program for undergraduate students, two years ago,” says Manuel. “A core group of students from six universities in Ohio — UC, Xavier, the University of Dayton, OSU, OU and John Carrol University — work closely with us to host events on their campuses aimed at raising awareness about wrongful conviction.”

One of the UC events is the annual Dash and Bash and Freedom Walk. The race raises awareness of wrongful convictions, with exonerees participating in the Freedom Walk, as well as funds for OIP’s work.

Although focused on overturning wrongful convictions in Ohio, OIP works with organizations in Europe and Asia to start their own innocence projects through its Center for the Global Study of Wrongful Conviction and the European Innocence Network conference.

In September, OIP director Mark Godsey released a book, Blind Injustice, about his transition from prosecutor to innocence attorney and the causes of wrongful convictions. The Mercantile Library will host Godsey and several OIP exonerees for a reading and talk on Nov. 8.

“A central tenet of our mission is to inform the public of criminal justice system flaws, and our hope is that as communities become more educated on wrongful conviction, substantial change can be made,” Manuel says.

As OIP approaches its 15th anniversary next year, it is celebrating its work in freeing 25 Ohioans who were wrongfully convicted, and anticipate more exonerees in the future.

RSCI to host first Smart Regions Conference to showcase smart cities technology

The first Smart Regions Conference, organized by Cincinnati’s Regional Smart Cities Initiative, will take place Oct. 25 at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University. The conference is open to both stakeholders and the public who are interested in exploring new technologies.

“This is a great opportunity for people unfamiliar with smart cities to learn about the foundations, hear from who is involved now and find out how to get involved,” says Zack Huhn, director of RSCI. “We’ll have an Internet of Things playground with autonomous vehicles, Hyperloop UC’s capsule and drone races. People will be able to experience things they may have only read about.”

Vendor demonstrations will also take place at the IoT Showcase, and cities from around the country will share their smart city projects. To encourage the general public to attend and experience smart city technologies, a $10 general admission ticket is available for the day (all-access tickets are $50).

“We want to show the public what we are already doing and what we could be doing,” says Huhn. “Smart city initiatives will improve social mobility, drive economic growth and make the region a more desirable place to live and work.”

A full conference ticket includes focused workshops targeted toward startups, community leaders, academics and others working in the smart cities arena. Industry insiders are also the audience for RSCI’s event during Techstars Startup Week Cincinnati (the five-day conference is free).

“Smart Cities Day really focuses on the startups working on smart cities solutions and for people interested in working with those companies or developing new solutions,” Huhn says.

The foundational areas of smart city initiatives — connectivity, mobility, security and sustainability — are already being addressed on a small scale by the private sector. RSCI hopes that by increasing public interest in smart city technologies, new investments will be directed to the Tristate, accelerating the pace of implementation.

“The Greater Cincinnati region is unique in that stakeholders in all three states are collaborating to create interoperable solutions that will work across state lines,” says Huhn. “This will set the precedent for policies related to smart region infrastructure and attract resources here.”

Smart cities solutions not only offer businesses, utilities and municipalities technology to optimize infrastructure and reduce costs, but have applications for the public as well.

“We can create better neighborhoods and communities by having regional conversations and implementing solutions that will improve the experience of residents and visitors,” says Huhn. “It could be something simple like reserving a parking space downtown or address complex issues like the heroin epidemic. The Smart Regions Conference will be a catalyst for regional collaboration.”

You can register for the Oct. 25 Smart Regions Conference and for Smart Cities Day on Oct. 12 now.

Cincy hosts nationally recognized TechStars Startup Week Oct. 9-13

During the week of Oct. 9-13, #StartupCincy will host Techstars Startup Week Cincinnati powered by CincyTech — a first of its kind for the city. The five-day event is free and open to the public. Denver-based Techstars is a worldwide network that helps cultivate relationships among entrepreneurs, bigcos and startups in order to help them all succeed.

In years past, NewCo and FounderCon have showcased Cincinnati’s capability and talent as a startup hub, but for Cintrifuse’s Marketing and Public Relations Manager Henry Molski, the local startup scene has never seen an event quite like this.

“This year's event rides on the momentum of last years’ successes and pushes us into a new territory, but now we're telling our own story — that #StartupCincy has some of the best tools in the Midwest for you to launch a successful business,” says Molski. “Five full days of events: more than 60 speakers, 50 sessions, five happy hours, two demo days and a pitch competition. It's a big week.”

Each day, the public is invited to see what the local startup community is all about. The entire week is free and open to anyone who is interested. It’s a time to engage with others, source talent and learn best practices, all while creating opportunities for collaboration and growth.

And it’s all happening the same week as BLINK and Music Hall’s grand re-opening, which is no coincidence, says Eric Weissmann, Cintrifuse’s director of marketing, as the arts and innovation go hand-in-hand.

It was just a few years ago that event organizers were encouraged to space things out in the city, but Molski says the concentration of events this year “is a function of how much our city has grown and continues to work together.”

One of the 60 speakers at Startup Week is Alicia Kintner, CEO of ArtsWave, who will be speaking about the arts’ role in the innovation and entrepreneurship community.

“It was our intent to overlap with the [various arts-related] openings because it shows the energy that is pumping through our arts and innovation district in Over-the-Rhine,” Molski says. “It's very vibrant.”

For him, it’s impossible to walk the sidewalks of OTR without bumping into members of the arts and entrepreneurial communities every few steps, but there are still individuals he says who may not be in-the-know when it comes to the other community.

“With all of this happening at once though, it's impossible to miss out on the connection,” Molski says. “If you're involved in one, you're involved in the other.”

Check out Startup Week’s complete schedule of events, and read about another startup-related event in this week's issue that's happening later in October.

ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalists: Brookes & Hyde and Ohio Valley Beard Supply

Brookes & Hyde

Brookes & Hyde is an accessory brand that was started and founded on crafting the finest leather goods from the best materials in the world for life’s everyday adventures. It's a brand that sells quality and aesthetically pleasing designs to enrich the lives of each of its customers, all while creating a sense of ownership and pride when the products are used or worn.

Brookes & Hyde began as the college senior thesis of founder Connor Sambrookes, who was then studying at UC's DAAP program.

“During my final year of school, I returned to Chicago for a second internship and started to develop my senior thesis: a small batch brand focused on sourcing the highest quality leather and materials to create a product line of premium goods, made in-house, that gave the consumer a product worth their money,” Sambrookes says.

The brand was launched in 2015 and still operates out of the family garage, but Sambrookes is slowly growing and expanding the operations, constantly designing and innovating new products.

Brookes & Hyde is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where Sambrookes 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, Brookes & Hyde will be mentored by Allison Pape, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Django Kroner from the Canopy Crew.

“I plan on growing the brand locally and becoming a staple within the city of Cincinnati,” says Sambrookes. “I believe that Cincinnati is home to some of the greatest makers and artisans in the country, and I want to be part of building upon that.”

Sambrookes would use the prize money to move into a larger space that would ultimately allow him to increase production capabilities. It’s currently the biggest obstacle holding the company back.

“Instead of making one belt every hour, I would be able to produce 3-4 belts every hour,” he says. “It would allow me to increase my manufacturing, which in turn would lead to more sales, which in turn would lead to hiring of local talent and the growth of the brand.”

Brookes & Hyde makes a variety of products, including belts, wallets, toiletry kits, valet trays, coasters, dog collars and some smaller lifestyle accessories. Sambrookes plans to launch a women’s line later this year and will release a bag line in 2018.


Ohio Valley Beard Supply

Patrick Brown and Scott Ponder, the co-founders of Ohio Valley Beard Supply, have created a line of natural beard products comprised of beard elixirs, finishing balms, washes and conditioners — oh, and mustache wax.

They will tell you that they are turning porcupines into kittens, one beard at a time.

“We want men with beards to be 100 percent more attractive to whoever they want to be attracted to,” Brown says.

Ohio Valley Beard Supply 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.

Throughout the Big Pitch process, Ohio Valley Beard Supply will be mentored by Reuben Johnson, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Matt Madison of Madisono’s Gelato.

According to Brown, the business' current challenge is distribution and all that goes with shipping product and creating retail relationships. Ohio Valley Beard Supply products are in dozens of Fresh Thyme locations in the Midwest, plus a number of local boutiques.

“Our company has the potential to become something much larger,” says Brown. “We want to be in every single beard we can be in.”

With a win at the Big Pitch, the duo would be able to hire another employee to manage the distribution process so they can work on creating new retail relationships and opportunities.


How to Attend 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 about the other five finalists here, here and here.

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.”


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.

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