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Awesome Collective of Covington to host film premier party

On Friday, December 20, the Awesome Collective of Covington (AC) will premier the Index of Awesome, a film celebrating the awesomeness of Covington, at the Carnegie in downtown Covington from 6 to 9 p.m.
 
The collective is a group of engaged citizens of Covington dedicated to celebrating the “awesomeness” of the city through community projects which aim to engage residents, youth, visitors, schools, businesses and organizations.
 
Funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign as well as a Center for Great Neighborhoods’ Place Matters Mini-Grant, the film highlights the people and gathering spots that make Covington a wonderful place to live and visit as voted by the public in an online survey earlier this year. The film was produced by local media company Matic.
 
The Index of Awesome began in 2012 as a free printed zine and accompanying online digital version.
 
“Due to the success of the printed zine, we decided to replicate the project in 2013 using a vehicle that could be shared across the world,” says Teresa Burns, core member of the AC. “We knew that a film would allow the message of Covington’s awesomeness to be delivered far and wide.”
 
The AC promises that the film will features residents, visitors, patrons, entrepreneurs and change-makers all sharing the same message: Covington is awesome.
 
“Our sincere hope is that people receive a message of pride, strength and inspiration, and share that message with others in their community whether that be Covington or elsewhere,” says Jerod Theobald, another core member of the AC.  
 
“The time is now in Covington,” says Lydia Cook of the AC. “There is the development of the Hotel Covington, Gateway Community & Technical College’s Urban Campus, new entrepreneurs are joining the pioneers, and businesses, residents and organizations are working together toward the same vision. The Awesome Collective is one small part of the gigantic team moving Covington ahead.”
 
To learn more about the Awesome Collective of Covington or about the premier of the Index of Awesome, visit www.facebook.com/AwesomeCollectiveofCovington.      

By Mike Sarason


Cincinnati State hosts LEGO robotics tournament

Cincinnati State played host to the FIRST Lego League Regional Robotics Tournament on Saturday, December 7th.
 
The FIRST Lego League was founded by health care technologist and Segway inventor Dean Kamen as a way of introducing middle school students (ages 9-14) to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. It is designed to encourage creativity and build interest in engineering, math and sciences.
 
Students had been working since the end of August to design, build and program their LEGO Mindstorms robots to accomplish missions on a thematic LEGO playing field. In addition to the robot game (which took place in the afternoon), students spent the morning being judged on their robot design. Students came from all walks of life and represented several area schools including Walnut Hills High School, St. Williams Middle School, Loveland Middle School, Monfort Heights and more.
 
“We felt that the FIRST organization does a tremendous job in introducing students to career opportunities in the fields of design, engineering and technology, so we wanted to show our support by hosting this event,” says Josh Haldeman, program chair of the Industrial Design Technology (IDT) track at Cincinnati State.
 
This year marked the third consecutive year that Cincinnati State hosted the competition. Cincinnati State also sponsors the high school level FIRST Robotics Competition Queen City Regional, which is hosted at Xavier University each spring.
 
“By hosting this competition, we’ve discovered that we have helped to encourage more schools, organizations, parents and leaders to form a team and get involved,” Haldeman says. “The number of teams in Cincinnati has doubled since we started hosting this event. The students who are on a team get the chance to see real-world applications of design, science, technology, engineering and math, and therefore, are better engaged in the classroom.”

By Mike Sarason


One More Pallet secures new funding, reflects on first year

One More Pallet, the Cincinnati-based shipping startup company that helps smaller businesses find inexpensive transportation for their products, recently closed a $300,000 round of funding from Queen City Angels' First Fund IV along with an additional $95,000 directly from investors. The company, which started in 2012, has pivoted its model a few times in its first year of business to meet customer demands.
 
“Based on feedback, we simplified the user experience and have built a list of enhancements that will continue to make our system more convenient to use,” says Bill Cunningham, CEO of One More Pallet.
 
One More Pallet’s basic premise is that carrier trucks can average between 30-40 percent empty space, and the idea of adding “one more pallet” would increase efficiency and profitability. One More Pallet connects these trucks/trucking companies with small, underserved shippers to create value for both parties.
 
“We look for companies who need a trusted source for their shipping and are also looking for a quick and efficient way to move their goods,” Cunningham says. As is often the case in startup companies, Cunningham has had to shift priorities along the way.
 
“Our core value has changed from low-cost shipper to becoming the trusted source for small-volume shippers. We have found that customers value quality as well as low pricing," he says.
 
No stranger to the demands of starting a business, Cunningham has a long list of entrepreneurial experience. He began along this path in the early 1990s, counts One More Pallet as his sixth startup and also spent time as the director for the Xavier Entrepreneurial Center.
 
“I’ve seen entrepreneurship from all sides: as a founder, investor, academic, mentor and more.”
 
For 2014, Cunningham hopes to see One More Pallet transform into small shippers’ trusted source for LTL shipping; his goal is to reach more than 1,000 satisfied customers by the end of next year. And he urges Cincinnatians to support local businesses like his.
 
“Buy from local startups, just like you go to your local farmer’s market," he says. "We can provide you with excellent service, and you help our region prosper by choosing us.”

By Mike Sarason


UC researchers' Smartlight could lead revolution in interior lighting

Two researchers at the University of Cincinnati have collaborated across disciplines to create a new technology called SmartLight, which uses tiny, electrofluidic cells and a series of open-air ducts to transport light directly from the sun throughout a building, even into windowless workspaces.
 
Anton Harfman, an associate professor in UC’s School of Architecture and Interior Design and associate dean of UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), and Jason Heikenfeld, professor of electrical engineering and computer systems and creator of the SmartLight's electrofluidic cells, first began working on the idea in 2007.
 
“UC was participating in an event called the Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. (a biennial competition put on by the U.S. Department of Energy),” Harman says. “It was quite an intense project, and it was there that the brainstorming for SmartLight began. We honed in on the idea of how to better take advantage of the light that hits the side of a building.”
 
The innovations of Harman, Heikenfeld and their team of researchers may prove to be groundbreaking and trigger a shift not only in building design, but also in the way we use energy and sunlight. A typical photovoltaic array (think solar panels on a roof) loses most of the sun’s energy when it gets converted into electricity, which is often then going back into powering light bulbs. But with SmartLight, Harfmann says the sunlight channeled through the system stays, and is used, in its original form, which is far more efficient and sustainable.
 
“Traditionally, the way light has been channeled through a building is through fiber optics, which is very expensive and needs to be physically run through the building,” Harman says. “Smartlight is unique in that it’s all done without needing to install new wiring, ducts, tubes or cables.
 
Harman and Heikenfeld recently presented their research paper, "Smart Light—Enhancing Fenestration to Improve Solar Distribution in Buildings" at Italy’s CasaClima international energy forum. In the meantime, they are working on securing funding to build out a fully functional prototype of the technology.
 
To learn more, read UC’s press release on SmartLight here.

By Mike Sarason


Infomotion Sports Technologies launches smart sensor basketball

Ohio-based Infomotion Sports Technologies has announced the launch of its 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball that measures and diagnoses key skills critical to building confidence, versatility and success in the game.
 
The 94Fifty utilizes nine sensors inside the ball to deliver real-time shooting and ball-handling feedback, including shot speed, backspin and arc measurements, to an iPhone or iPod touch via Bluetooth Low Energy, giving players of any skill level the ability to improve important muscle memory skills more efficiently and effectively.
 
“The 94Fifty gives coaches insight into data they've never had before such as shot release time, spin rate, launch angle, dribble force and much more,” Tarek Kamil, Executive Director of Online Strategy at Infomotion, says. “With that data, coaches can develop customized workout plans for their players and, most importantly, can measure progress.”
 
The sensor technology inside the basketball was initially developed as part of a missile guidance system and takes 6,000 different measurements per second. The goal of the ball is to serve as a way to quantify a player’s skill level, an idea that has historically been very subjective.
 
“If we could ‘see’ skill, we could then measure it (Am I improving?), compare it (How does my skill compare to others by age, gender, geography, etc.?) and improve it (Based on your data, watch these three videos to help you improve.),” Kamil says.
 
Infomotion has already received noteworthy praise for its innovative technology. In addition to positive feedback from youth players all the way up to NBA players, Apple was so impressed by the 94Fifty when they found out about it that they signed an agreement with Infomotion to carry the ball at every one of their North American stores.
 
In 2014, Kamil says that Infomotion will continue to expand the online community for its users so they can compete online, look at leader boards, watch prescriptive videos and more.
 
“We’re looking forward to what we can do with this technology and are also working towards expanding into other sports next year,” Kamil says.
 
Kamil himself has been heavily engaged in the Cincinnati startup scene, having been involved in different capacities as a founder, investor, mentor and more through organizations like The Brandery, Cintrifuse, UpTech and the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association.
 
“I consistently try to deliver the message that you do not have to leave this area to do something awesome,” he says. “I’ve proved it in the past, and I hope we’re proving that again with Infomotion.” 

By Mike Sarason


Tom + Chee prepares for rapid growth in 2014

Tom + Chee, the locally owned purveyor of grilled cheese and tomato soup, has quickly and perhaps not so quietly become the fastest-growing grilled cheese empire in the U.S.
 
After starting in 2009 as a food tent on Cincinnati’s Fountain Square, the company opened its first brick and mortar store just under a year later. In the past three years, that number has gone from one store to six (three in Cincinnati and three in Louisville), with two more opening before the year’s end (Lexington and East Lansing). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
 
In the first quarter of 2014, Tom + Chee will open 11 more stores and is currently under contact to open more than 100 locations in the next three years. The catalyst? Getting dunked in the Shark Tank.
 
In May of 2013, Tom + Chee was featured on ABC’s hit reality TV show “Shark Tank.” Founders Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward appeared on the show, when they won an investment deal with “shark” Barbara Corcoran after pitching expansion plans for their restaurants offering fancy comfort food with fresh ingredients. In the time since then, they’ve been inundated with franchise requests.
 
“We’ve had over 9,000 requests,” Ward says. “They’ve come from all 50 states, Canada, the Phillippines, Dubai and even the Czech Republic.”
 
In spite of their impending growth, Ward mentions that many things have and will stay the same.
 
“When we started this, we wanted to provide fun and inexpensive food, and that hasn’t changed,” Ward says. “And with lots of people getting into the foodie culture, we wanted to provide a fun option that would appeal to that but also didn’t exclude anyone by being too costly.”
 
“If there’s one thing that has changed it’s that now we actually have some money in the bank,” Ward laughs. “When we were still on Fountain Square, we were putting all of our own money into this, so it’s nice not to worry about being able to pay our rent.” 

By Mike Sarason


Roadtrippers rolls out new embeddable maps

Roadtrippers, the Cincinnati-based startup that helps users discover, plan and book road trips customized to their own individual preferences, now has embeddable maps so that users can display a road trip on their own blog or website.
 
“Now the trips, bucket lists and places that users can create on our site don’t just have to live on Roadtrippers; they can live on other digital properties, which is really exciting,” says Chelsea Koglmeier, Operations Manager for Roadtrippers. “If you go on a trip and you’re blogging about it, you can display your trip right there. People can see where you stopped and interact with the places. If someone want to re-create the trip, they just have to click on the box and it takes them over to the Roadtrippers main site, where they can customize the map and use it for their own adventure.”
 
The embeddable maps function is as simple as logging on to Roadtrippers.com, creating a trip, clicking the “share trip” button, and choosing the proper dimensions for your site. Roadtrippers has also increased the maximum waypoints on a trip from 25 to 40, which is four times the Google Maps limit.
 
“An interesting facet is that we initially rolled this technology out for a website called theonering.net,” Koglmeier says. “They were taking a road trip to a comic book convention and really wanted an embeddable map to document their trip, so we rolled it out really quick for them. It was bare bones, but since then, people just love it. They keep asking for it and asking for it.”
 
After starting with the stripped down version, the Roadtrippers team worked long and hard to make the maps simple and easy to use. But the team has much further to go; up on the wall in their Over-the-Rhine office is a list of all of their 2013 and 2014 product goals, many of which have yet to be rolled out.
 
“The maps are just one piece of a bigger puzzle. A huge part of the travel offseason is that we continue to grow and people continue to be excited about our startup, even though it’s not travel season," Koglmeier says. "With the maps, it’s putting our brand in front of more eyes. Each time you post one on your site, it’s putting us in front of new people.”

By Mike Sarason

Max Training Program finds new method to address job market gap

MAX Technical Training, the Cincinnati-based IT training company, launched its new Java Developer Apprenticeship program, aiming to address employment and talent issues in the region.
 
The program, created by MAX founder Denise Bartick, is an innovative approach to retraining unemployed or underemployed people and addresses two interrelated business/economic/job sector issues: primarily, the issue of the rising number of trained professionals unable to find jobs in their field, and the simultaneous rise in unfilled demand for trained IT professionals due to a lack of talent.
 
“In recent years, our clients, who are mainly Fortune 1000 companies, have been saying, ‘We need more IT people, we need more software developers,’ but not many people have thought to look within for these positions,” Bartick says. “In many cases, companies are just poaching from each other out of the same, limited talent pool.”
 
Bartick’s program can handle everything from recruiting, assessing and selecting candidates to training them and, ultimately, placing them into new IT careers. Students in the program are trained to use JAVA, HTML, .NET and CSS, and are taught several other important skills in order to increase their marketability. Last year, MAX worked with Great American Insurance Group to successfully train and transition 10 people into JAVA Developer roles.
 
“MAX Technical Training’s approach to sourcing new IT Developer talent has been a huge success for us,” says Piyush Singh, VP and CIO at Great American Insurance Group, Property & Casualty Information Technology. “Recruiting JAVA developers has been a challenge for us over the past five years, and we were facing the same recruiting challenges as our peers in our industry. We needed something different and long-term. Collaborating with MAX to strengthen our team of JAVA developers has proven to be a rewarding investment.”
 
So far, the training program has been rolled out on a small scale; two classes of students have graduated the program as either .NET or JAVA developers and Bartick is opening the door for businesses looking to fill similar needs.
 
“We’re looking for creative, open-minded businesses and individuals,” Bartick says. “This is the right thing to do. We’ve got to invest in our region and our economy now.

By Mike Sarason

If you're looking for an IT job, check out Soapbox Media's Jobs Available section.

German company Forcam brings best in class manufacturing expertise to Cincinnati

FORCAM, the technology and consulting company based in Friedrichshafen, Germany, has continued growing internationally and, more specifically, here in the United States, where its offices are located in downtown Cincinnati.
 
Founded in 2001 by former SAP managers (another massive German-based software company), FORCAM creates MES (Manufacturing Execution System) solutions for clients like Audi, BMW, Daimler, MTU Aero Engines and more. More practically speaking, the technology they develop helps create more transparent manufacturing plants, giving their clients more reliable data on performance measurement of their machines, maintenance needs and more.
 
Just over a decade after their inception, in the summer of 2012, FORCAM decided to establish a United States branch of the company in Cincinnati. As its business in the states grew more extensive, the company found it necessary make the move. CEO Franz Gruber’s partnership with Jay Lee, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Material Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, proved crucial in FORCAM’s decision for where to locate.
 
“Although we are new to the U.S., we are growing fast,” says Julia Brochheuser, Marketing Manager for FORCAM. “We have 21 employees here at the moment but plan to double that size locally within the next two years. We feel very comfortable in the Cincinnati area. It’s good to be a part of the continuous growth and recovery of the city.”
 
FORCAM’s Factory Framework solution is the worldwide leading MES system. The technology connects, collects and designates real-time data of various computer-controlled types of machines. The signals deliver comparable web-based operating state modes of machines and facilities for each production stage.
 
“Factory Framework is easily one of our most innovative solutions,” Brochheuser says. The technology was awarded with the Baden-Wuerttemberg Innovation Award of 2006. FORCAM’s first customer, the engine plant of Daimler AG, was chosen “Factory of the Year” in 2008 and 2009.
 
“To be exceptionally innovative, it takes exceptional people who are motivated to develop new ideas continuously," Brochheuser says. "We maintain a culture of openness, friendliness and a dynamic relationship with our employees.”

By Mike Sarason


LEAPframe Digital Film Boutique invites you to feel the love

LEAPframe, the digital film and motion design boutique based in Over-the-Rhine, has quietly been building an impressive portfolio of work since forming in the beginning of 2013. In that time, they’ve worked with clients such as Cintas, First Student, Powerhouse Factories, FreestyleUSA, Texas Roadhouse and Carnival Cruiselines. Most of that occurred before the company even had a website or logo up.
 
“At the end of the day, I think our clients, our crew and our team like working with us because we’re about people and chemistry more than anything else,” says Brandon Faris, Director and Co-Founder of LEAPframe. “It’s what we refer to as ‘the love.' We want to spread the love. We get handwritten notes from people we work with all the time expressing gratitude. I don’t think they are used to that kind of highly personalized experience.”

LEAPframe’s early success can be attributed to several factors. First, their unique structure allows them the ability to scale and maneuver based on a given project’s demands in a way that very few other companies can. LEAPframe exists as the film/motion design division within LEAP, a Louisville-based digital marketing company.  As such, much of their work is for LEAP clients, but they also have their own, separate clients and even get hired on to do work for other agencies from time to time.
 
“Ryan [Woolfolk, Co-Founder of LEAPframe] and I had been working together for about eight years, and we wanted to do our own thing, but we didn’t want to have to do paperwork or accounting, we wanted to be creative,” Faris says. “We had already worked with LEAP on a few projects, so we opened a discussion with them, and after one conversation, we knew that it would be a beneficial situation for all of us.”
 
In addition to this, LEAPframe offers an innovative scaling approach that allows them to take on projects large and small while keeping overhead low and prices competitive.
 
“Because of the networks we’ve built up over the years of being in this industry, we have crews and directors in Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Miami, New York and all over that we hire on as needed,” Faris says. “We can build to scale anywhere, keep our prices low, but also ensure the quality doesn’t suffer. We can maneuver and make things happen that larger companies sometimes can’t. We’re like Kung Fu or Legos—we’ll adapt and bring in the right people to meet the need of the job and the client.”
 
No matter the size of the project though, Faris and Woolfolk are the constant. “You’re never dealing with a middle man; it’s always us,” Woolfolk says.  

By Mike Sarason

The Brandery and SAP collaborate to bring resources, investment to startups

The Brandery, the Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization that helps accelerate startups in technology-based consumer experiences, announced last week that it will work together with enterprise software company SAP to provide startups with unique access to innovation and thought leadership.
 
As a first step in the collaboration, The Brandery hosted at its Over-the-Rhine facility the SAP Startup Forum November 4–5. The forum was designed for Cincinnati startup founders whose companies are leveraging big data and real-time and predictive analytics, and included presentations from thought leaders, networking opportunities and breakout sessions.
 
“Our focus is giving our startups the resources that will give them a competitive advantage,” says Mike Bott, General Manager of The Brandery. “When SAP, which is known for work with big corporate databases and systems, told us that they were interested in working with startups and had free tools and training they could offer, we thought we’d be remiss not to offer that to our startups.”
 
For SAP, this collaboration is part of a larger vision called the SAP Start-Up Focus Program, which was launched in celebration of their 40th year. The program works with startup communities across the globe and helps them adopt and develop new applications on SAP HANA, a powerful new in-memory computing platform typically only available to larger corporate clients.
 
“SAP has a strong commitment to help startup companies globally,” says Shawn Reynolds, Global Vice President in marketing at SAP. “We are bringing resources, innovation and access to funding for startups so they can leverage SAP technologies to accelerate growth and their opportunity to do business with some of the world’s largest brands.” Reynolds, a fixture in the entrepreneurial scene in Cincinnati, is not only a mentor to The Brandery, but was also a founding member of Main Street Ventures, a now-defunct Cincinnati-based startup incubator that pre-dated The Brandery by almost 10 years.
 
“This collaboration is different because there is a hands-on aspect,” Bott says. “SAP made an effort to have a two-day forum in our facility and really put some manpower into it. It’s an ongoing thing for us to look at how we can continue to engage our partners in a deeper and more meaningful way. We’re bringing in world-class entrepreneurs, and we want the community to jump at the chance to work with them.”

By Mike Sarason


Urban Timber program responds to crisis with innovation and collaboration

Like great innovators often do, the Cincinnati Park Board had a problem. The root of the problem was this: About 10 years ago, the emerald ash borer, a beetle native to Asia and Eastern Russia, was found in Detroit.
 
The beetle is known to be 100 percent fatal to ash trees, barring a treatment that was too expensive and cumbersome for the park board to consider. With more than 10 percent of Cincinnati’s trees being made up of ash trees, the parks were left with a sizable challenge.  
 
“We knew that we’d have to cut a lot of trees down or risk them decaying and falling down, so we started working on a program to make something out of all of this wood,” says Dave Gamstetter, Natural Resource Manager for the Cincinnati Park Board.  “
 
This eventually led to the formation of Urban Timber, a collaboration between the Cincinnati Park Board, Wilhelm Lumber and several other local partners. The main focus of Urban Timber is creating flooring, tables and dimensioned lumber produced from trees harvested in the city of Cincinnati. Another dimension that sets this initiative apart is that proceeds from the sale of Urban Timber products go to replanting trees in the city.
 
“It’s really a case of making lemonade out of lemons,” Gamstetter says. “Instead of spending around $100,000 a year to turn the infected trees into mulch, we can look at these trees as resources, convert them into a product people can use, put the money back into reforestation, and consumers can support local businesses and their local economy by buying it.”
 
One of the key minds behind the idea for Urban Timber was Sam Sherrill, a professor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati and author of the book "Harvesting Urban Timber."
 
“Sam really pushed the idea of using the trees and finding a market for the lumber,” Gamstetter says. “He’s definitely a renowned expert on the process, and I don’t think many people realize he lives here in Cincinnati.”
 
Past clients include Cincinnati Public Schools, Landor and more. Urban Timber is currently in talks with Cintrifuse to put wood floors into their new Over-the-Rhine office space, currently under construction across from the Mercer Commons development.
 
By Mike Sarason


Broadhope Collective celebrates one year, expands community partnerships

The Broadhope Art Collective recently celebrated their one-year anniversary by opening in their new space on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Montana Avenue in the Westwood Business District.
 
After opening last year in Cheviot as a collaborative group of artists looking to enrich the community through the use of visual art, Broadhope has grown as a group and has committed itself to making change in its new neighborhood of Westwood.
 
“We’re looking forward to furthering our community involvement and becoming a part of Westwood’s revitalization,” says Emily Miller, co-manager of Broadhope. With one year under their belt, Broadhope is looking for new opportunities to work with like-minded organizations and continue to integrate into the local arts scene.
 
“We’re planning on working with Madcap Puppets, who share the same vision of turning this corridor into an arts district,” says Miller. “We’re also looking at hosting workshops for kids and creating a scholarship program to include all of our neighbors.”
 
Broadhope began when a small handful of artists living on the West Side recognized the need for a local arts community. Since their inception, the collective has grown from 11 members and two commission artists to currently having more than 25 members and seven commission artists.
 
“In addition to seeing our numbers grow, we’ve seen the collective member involvement grow, which is the most gratifying change I’ve witnessed,” says Kate Dignan, co-founder and media manager. “We are run and staffed by our artists, and we are 100 percent local to Cincinnati, so we place a heavy emphasis on that.”
 
Running Broadhope has been a learning experience for the members since day one; none of them have any prior history running a small business. Despite this fact, they have created a model that works for them.
 
“The first year for any business is full of challenges, but luckily, our collective is full of really enthusiastic and energized people who have different strengths we can make use of,” Dignan says. “We’ve even been asked about whether we had thoughts about franchising, which is incredibly complimentary.”
 
In the near future, Broadhope is working on several events in tandem with a variety of organizations, including Westwood’s first annual Deck the Hall on December 1. To learn more about Broadhope, visit them online here

By Mike Sarason

Xavier collaborates with Cincinnati Police on leadership program

The Xavier Leadership Center (XLC) rolled out its new Public Sector Leader Certificate Program this fall, running six weeks from September-October 2013. The program materialized as a result of collaboration between the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) and the XLC.
 
“Towards the beginning of 2012, Chief Craig [of the Cincinnati Police] asked me to develop leadership training for our police officers, so I immediately contacted Shelly Wallace at the XLC,” says Captain Doug Wiesman, a 23-year veteran of the CPD. “Xavier University, hands down, has the best business and leadership programs in the region. So over the course of the next year, Shelly and I met many times to develop a plan.”
 
While there are a handful of nationally recognized law enforcement leadership programs that CPD officers can attend, Wiesman and Wallace, who is Associate Director of the XLC, worked on creating a local, cost-effective alternative that benefits not only police officers, but also professionals from across the public sector.
 
“After conducting some focus groups and surveys, we discovered that many of the desired topics were already being offered in our established Leadership Foundations Certificate Program,” Wallace says. “So we designed a special day of topics for those in the public sector, combined that with our existing program, and made sure to include participants from the business and public sectors together.”
 
“What I had originally envisioned as a leadership course for law enforcement became something bigger, which I think is fantastic,” Wiesman says. “Our first class was very diverse, and it allowed for a unique interface between public servants and business professionals.”
 
“I very much enjoyed the program; to me, leadership is the cornerstone of firefighting success,” says Ron Wallace, Fire Captain for the Norwood Fire Department. “The Xavier Public Sector Leadership Program provided me with an opportunity to recognize what leadership qualities I already possessed and taught me to build upon those qualities to make me an even more productive leader."
 
After putting one class successfully through the program, the XLC will run the course again in January 2014 and will be starting recruitment in the coming weeks. To learn more, visit the XLC’s website.

By Mike Sarason

Local startup arms content creators and brands with powerful new tools

Local startup company Snipps wants to start a revolution in how we share content on the web. Their idea for how to do it all started with a simple thought.
 
“We noticed that sharing on the web was a one-way proposition,” says Greg Ackerman, Co-founder and Director of Sales for Snipps. “People are collecting our data, they’re making money off of what we create and share—and we’re not. On principal, we didn’t think that was right.”
 
Snipps’ idea is to change the model to one where people not only share content online because they want to, but because they are rewarded to do so. Currently, their approach revolves around a simple link shortener, similar to tools like Bit.ly, that can be shared via social media, e-mail, etc. As the link is disseminated and opened, the user is paid per click by Snipps for the content they have generated.
 
“It’s a great way to monetize your social value in terms of what you’re bringing to the table via any website or social media platforms,” Ackerman says. “But we are also allowing brands crucial visibility to their specific demographics.”
 
The other side of the equation is that when users push out a link, viewers that click on it will see a short ad before being redirected to the content. The technology that Snipps has developed allows the ad to be highly targeted based on what the content is about, who is clicking on it, where they are located and more. In this way, they allow brands a chance to present relevant ads to an audience that is more likely to consume their products.
 
“The management team behind Snipps come from an advertising background,” says Logan Huidt, C-ofounder and Vice-President of Sales. “We believe the technology we’ve developed not only gives consumers a stake in the content they’re creating, but it allows brands to connect in a way that is unique compared to anything else out there.”
 
Although the founders of Snipps are from Cincinnati, they have worked all across the country in cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Boston, and came back to town by choice.
 
“We see Cincinnati as the branding capital of the world,” Huidt says. "You have all of these great companies like Procter & Gamble and Landor, and we want to come on board while we’re still growing and be part of that nucleus. When we thought about really being part of a movement, we decided there’s no better place for what we’re doing.”

By Mike Sarason

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