| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Innovation + Job News

1638 Articles | Page: | Show All

Thinking outside the sandbox: Startup Cintric's journey through The Brandery


Cintric, the Cincinnati-based startup that's created a platform for mobile integration of location services, is a prime example of how much can change when a company joins an accelerator.
 
When Cintric founders Rhett Rainen, Connor Bowlan, Joel Green and Erwan Lent first entered The Brandery last summer, they had two different companies with slightly overlapping goals. Rainen and Bowlan were working on a fashion and beauty advice platform called Lookit that eventually transformed into a location-based notification app; Green and Lent hoped to create an app for location-based chatrooms called Shoutout. When the four creative brains met at The Brandery, it became clear that something bigger was possible.
 
"I think the value of The Brandery for us was less about driving our vision forward and more about providing a sandbox to experiment and clarify what that vision was," Bowlan says. "There’s a pretty unique opportunity to explore when you’re given a small chunk of funding and are surrounded by some of the most creative and intelligent people you’ll ever meet."
 
Rainen and Bowlan were impressed with Green and Lent's remarkable enginnering capabilities and began collaborating on a few side projects. Before long, their friendships evolved into a well-oiled idea machine, and out of that Cintric was born.
 
Cintric's initial goal is to solve the problem many smartphone/mobile device users have when using location services: a draining battery. By using an innovative drag-and-drop interface, Cintric's platform allows developers to build location components into their apps with minimal effort.
 
Cintric is also focused on making it easier for companies with applications to track who and where their users might be by building the apps in a much more efficient way.
 
As for the team itself, Cintric is made up of a French whiz-kid (Lent), an iOS engineer with incredible dental hygiene (Green), a bearded behemoth with mad financial projection skills (Rainen) and Bowlan, who is "terrible at describing himself."
 
"I tend to think of our team as a bunch of mavericks," Bowlan says. "I think a lot of folks were unsure of us at the beginning of The Brandery program due to our age (the oldest is 25) and willingness to take big swings and throw things out if they weren’t working."
 
The company is in the process of closing out its seed round of funding. Over the next few months, the Cintric name is likely to make its way to the forefront in Cincinnati's startup scene.
 
"We’ve got some pretty ambitious and unorthodox projects launching in the next few months that should do a good job of showcasing how we’re not afraid to think outside the box," Bowlan says.
 

Xavier's new Center for Innovation opens for students this week


On Thursday, Jan. 8, Xavier University students will get their first peek at the newly-completed XU Center for Innovation.
 
Over the past several months, the Physical Plant at Dana and Woodward on Xavier's campus has been transformed into a functioning cross-disciplinary space. This week, Xavier RA students will be the first to use the remodeled building as part of their RA training curriculum, which involves an innovation/problem-solving workshop.
 
The Center's purpose is to provide a home base for a newly rebranded and refocused innovation program at Xavier. The center will include classrooms for students as well as workspace for corporate clients and startup companies who come to Xavier to learn how to make their businesses more innovative.
 
The Center's Executive Director, "man on fire" Shawn Nason, is responsible for creating the training program, which is geared to helping organizations up their game.
 
"Shawn is a black belt in innovation," says Mary Curran-Hackett, Innovation Curator at the Center. "Companies that want to learn how to be more innovative are in good hands with him."
 
These programs aside, the Center will also provide open workspaces for professors and staff who are involved in the new School of Arts and Innovation, directed by Tom Merrill, a longtime Xavier faculty member. As a part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Arts and Innovation will offer classes in Innovation, Art, Digital/Video/Film, Music and Theater and Rapid Prototyping/Human-Centered Making. They also offer a minor in Innovation Engineering for students majoring in other fields.
 
As for the space itself, the Center maintains the minimalist, industrial character of a warehouse. High ceilings, exposed pipes (painted navy blue, white and gray of course) and a utilitarian feel make it ideal as a center for thinking and development. The modern décor includes Ikea furniture assembled by the Center staff themselves. The team's willingness to quite literally put their sweat and tears into this building only further evidences the passion and determination each member feels for the cause.

When all students return to campus on Jan. 12, the Center for Innovation will be ready for them. An Open House for Xavier students, faculty and community members will be held 2-6 p.m. Feb. 4 to provide a formal introduction to what the space has to offer.

 

Cincinnati Children's to host its first-ever Innovation Showcase Jan. 6


On Tuesday, Jan. 6, Cincinnati Children's Hospital and the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association kick off the new year with a glimpse into the hospital's numerous contributions to the buzzing innovation scene in Cincinnati.
 
The Cincinnati Children's Innovation Showcase is an all-day event set to take place on the medical center's main campus in Avondale.
 
The event hopes to bring together the hospital's innovators, including researchers and clinicians, with people in the startup and venture capital community. The showcase will announce three separate funding opportunities for inventors and innovators who are looking for a way to get their ideas off the ground.
 
"This is our first year doing anything like this," says Children's Hospital's Michael Pistone. "In terms of innovation and commercialization, we're continuing to strategically partner with (the medical) industry and the venture community to form smart collaborations that allow our promising discoveries to advance toward a commercial endpoint."
 
Cincinnati Children's already boasts three successful startups: Assurex, Airway Therapeutics and Enable Injections. The CEOs from these companies will be speaking at noon during the Innovation Showcase, discussing the relationship between startup CEOs and the inventor. A number of other interactive sessions held throughout the day will feature hospital staff along with a number of leaders in scientific impact from across the country.
 
As for the upcoming year, Children's is currently focused on gene therapy as a treatment for sickle cell disease. Cincinnati Children's Punam Malik developed this specific type of gene therapy in 2014, and it will be entering its clinical trial in the coming months. Genomics, which focuses on gene variations, the human genetic code, our surrounding environment and the variety of diseases we contract, is also a significant focus area with room for innovation.
 
"We see Children's as both a research engine as well as an innovation hub," Pistone says. "We're seeing more and more health IT, which presents new opportunities for the region."
 
Cincinnati Children's, Pistone says, is an ideal partner for IT companies, as the hospital can offer the innovation scene a variety of collaboration opportunities.
 
The showcase's emphasis on bringing "the bench to the bedside" is made possible by the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association, which is promoting the event. GCVA is an active participant in the startup community, regularly hosting networking events and meetups for players in the Cincinnati startup scene.
 
"The mission of GCVA is to connect funders and founders," says Vance VanDrake, president of the association. "We are excited to promote Cincy Children's first Innovation Showcase as it fits perfectly with our mission."
 
The event will take place 8 a.m.-7 p.m. in the medical center's "S" building. Both breakfast and lunch will be served, and registration is required for many of the day's sessions. Prospective attendees can sign up for specific sessions here.
 

Son of legendary Cincinnati barber opens upscale men's grooming shop

For over 60 years, the Salzano family has cornered the men’s grooming market in downtown Cincinnati. After emigrating to the U.S. from the Abruzzi region in Italy, Nicolino Salzano built a strong following at his Fourth Street barber shop, Salzano’s. Sons Guido, Angelo and Domenico have all been in the business since they were kids.
 
This week, in the recently-vacant space next to the barber shop in Atrium 1 of the Omnicare Center at Fourth and Main streets, one of the Salzano boys is taking a swing at cornering another market: men’s grooming products.
 
Industry-savvy Guido Salzano is set to open G. Salzano’s, a men’s grooming product retail store where his father’s customers can find the high-quality products the Salzanos use for their hot lather shaves and hair cuts.
 
With the help of his father, Nicolino, and his two brothers, Angelo and Domenico, Guido hopes to provide a hip, swanky space for men to find everything they need to look sharp. Hoping to give the place an “old world feel,” Guido’s retail space will feature a chandelier, comfy leather chairs and an old antique barber chair as a centerpiece.

The products on the shelves will include skincare and hair care products from Baxter, a California company, as well as German-made brushes, razors, after-shave and shaving cream from MÜHLE. The store will also feature products from Taylor of Old Bond Street out of London, the only retailer in Cincinnati to do so.
 
Eventually, Guido plans on releasing his own line of men’s care products to sell on the shelves. For now, it’s about creating an experience for his customers that goes far beyond that of Art of Shaving or any other retailer in the category.
 
“I want this place to be for every guy,” Guido says. “Athletes, CEOs, teenage hipsters, common folk like myself. Everybody.”
 
The shops hopes to attract customers of all ages who want more from their grooming experience. In addition to selling men’s hygiene products, G. Salzano’s will also feature items like pocket squares and cufflinks. It’s a shaving store, but with a twist.
 
In addition to drawing in shaving enthusiasts, barber shop customers and Christmas shoppers, Guido also sees his shop as the perfect venue for a groomsmen’s party.
 
“We’ll feed them, drink them, give them a great razor shave and have them check out the store,” Guido says. “I mean, a real badger hair shaving brush? That’s a great groomsmen’s gift.”
 
More than anything else, Guido sees his store as a product of the decades of hard work the Salzano family has put into their business. Though he's opening the store in his name, his brothers, father and uncle all played an important part in making his vision a reality.
 

Local tech company enosiX raises $4.25 million to simplify mobile app development

Another Cincinnati company is taking full advantage of the tech development market, working to fix a key mobile app downfall.
 
enosiX, a Cincinnati-based software company known for their developer-friendly "Framework" for mobile app creation, has a $4.25 million price tag on their first round of funding. Just last week, the company announced its success at the Gartner Application Architecture, Development and Integration Summit in Las Vegas. The company was formed in August at the Chiquita Building, 250 E. Fifth St., downtown.
 
enosiX's software solves the primary problem many modern mobile application developers face: integrating SAP (systems, applications, products). Many Fortune 500 companies use SAP for data inventory and inventory management, among other things, but many modern social applications for your smartphone and other devices don't connect to SAP. If a company wants to access their SAP data system, they can't do so on a mobile app — enosiX is trying to fix that problem.
 
By creating this Framework solution, enoisX is allowing big companies to connect their apps to SAP, therefore eliminating the need to train SAP specialists or pay to hire a SAP-knowledgeable employee. In essence, it's a heaven-sent solution for the development community.
 
The $4.25 million investment came from a variety of sources, including Allos Ventures and Mutual Capital Partners Funds. With the money, the company hopes to increase its staff (now at 15) and expand globally. The solution already has clients in Europe, and founders Gerald Schlechter and Philippe Jardin are currently talking with potential clients in the U.S.
 
Schlechter is a native of Austria who moved here in 2005 to work for Swarovski Crystal. He met his wife, a Cincinnatian, in 2006 and continues living here today. With a background in SAP and experience that crosses international borders, Schlechter decided to start building enosiX's framework after running CNBS, his own consulting company, for a few years.
 
Jardin hails from South Africa and was put in contact with Schlechter when the idea of the enosiX Framework was in its infancy.
 
"Philippe knew the right people, he knew how to start this kind of business," Schlechter says.
 
The company is constantly hiring, Schlechter says, particularly those knowledgeable in SAP and .NET developers. They hope to reach 40 employees over the next year.
 

Making moves: NKU launches startup resource center for young entrepreneurs

Over the past month, Northern Kentucky University has been quietly expanding resources for students interested in innovation. The iNKUbator, a summer program that provides mentoring, financing, workspace and connections to the startup community for select entrepreneurship students, is now in its third year of operation; the first class raised over $1 million in investments.

The program's success aside, founding director Rodney D'Souza wants the university to do more for startup hopefuls.
 
After starting NKU's innovation program in January 2014, D'Souza's emphasis on applied programs is what has led the university to bring in yet another resource.
 
Called "iNKUreka," NKU is now providing a year-round space for students and community members who want to jumpstart their startup idea. The space features a tool called IPAC (the Intellectual Property Awareness Center) that allows individuals to search a large database to discover if their idea is worthy of a patent.
 
"Instead of hiring a lawyer, which can get expensive, they can do this for free right here on campus," says D'Souza.
 
iNKUreka also features a law clinic staffed by students and faculty from NKU's Chase Law School that offers legal help focused on small business development. Kentucky's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is also a part of the equation, specifically when it comes to involving the community. In addition to these features, the program features a physical space where students can work to develop their ideas.
 
Beyond iNKUreka, D'Souza's involvement has also led to programs like iNKUbiz, which links students to in-school jobs that actually relate to what they're studying.
 
"Small companies need interns," D'Souza says. "We put students on those projects and make sure they're getting paid, just like any other in-school job."
 
NKU is also trying to expand their influence by offering three-day entrepreneurship camp over the summer for high school students. In doing so, the university has found a way to bring students to campus who may not otherwise consider NKU as an option.
 
"Not many people know about what's going on here," D'Souza says. "There's been a big push to inform (the tristate area) of NKU's potential."
 
At the very least, iNKUreka and the other developing entrepreneurship programs send a message that NKU means business.
 

Cincy Startup Store brings local online retailers to Over-the-Rhine


The Cincinnati startup community is riding to the rescue this Saturday to save last-minute shoppers from their holiday woes.
 
Seven companies will post up on 13th Street in Over-the-Rhine that day, their tangible products in hand and ready to sell. The event, called the Cincy Startup Store, is the first of its kind in the area and takes place at Simple Space, an all-purpose, revolving use venue designed to be the "Airbnb for retail space." The 600-square foot venue was recently remodeled by Levi Blethune to accommodate these types of collaborations and make them affordable to just about anyone who hopes to use them. The Cincy Startup Store is one of the first few events to put the space to use.
 
Kapture, Cincinnati's audio-wristband startup, will be hosting the shopping event. The company has recently gained attention for its appearance on The Price Is Right for its new wearable technology. Kapture's product helps consumers record audio after-the-fact by constantly recording audio data on a 60-second loop wherever the wearer goes. The Kapture wristband, in its many different colors, will be just one of the items on sale at the Startup Store.
 
Other companies expected to appear are Artfully Disheveled, a local tie, bowtie and pocket square designer and retailer; PlusBlue, who will be selling custom engraved mobile battery packs; Frameri, an online eyewear retailer that came out of The Brandery; Petbrosia, a custom pet food company who recently opened an office in Over-the-Rhine; Beluga Shave Co., the one-man company responsible for an easy-to-use single blade razor; and GoSun, makers of portable solar stoves that have already gained international attention.
 
This year marks the fifth anniversary of Small Business Saturday in Cincinnati, but it's the first time startups have been included in the equation.
 
"We're hoping there will be many more like it," says Stephanie Johnson, marketing and business development manager at Kapture.
 
Cincy Startup Store will be open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday at 16 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine. The event is sponsored by several well-known Cincinnati startup supporters, including Cintrifuse, CincyTech, Hamilton County Development Co. and The Brandery. 
 

Makers Megaphone graduates from CO.STARTERS to help other small businesses


When the words "marketing" and "branding" hit a Cincinnatian's ears, a plethora of big names come to mind. As a small business owner, the overwhelming size and high price tag that accompany services from larger marketing firms can prove intimidating. As a craftsman-turned-business owner, that intimidation factor can be even more significant.
 
Enter Ashley Berger. A Pratt Institute graduate and participant in the current fall ArtWorks' CO.STARTERS program, she moved to Cincinnati after 11 years in Brooklyn. Her background is in art, but she's worked and specialized in marketing, advertising and branding as the years have gone by.
 
Berger moved to the area to pursue a job opportunity with Dynamic Catholic in Hebron, and it wasn't long before she noticed the tremendous amount of creative energy in the Cincinnati area. After a year, she decided to quit her job and pursue a goal she had in mind: to help these creative individuals get the word out about what they can do.
 
"Many of these creative small business owners are really good at making things but not at letting people know about them," Berger says.
 
Berger intends to offer small-scale business coaching, website development services and other marketing tools to the kinds of craftspeople who surround her at ArtWorks. Her company name, Makers Megaphone, reflects the idea of providing a metaphorical megaphone through which these "makers" can promote their craft.
 
Berger has found guidance and support through the business-building process at CO.STARTERS. Unlike many of the participants in the program, however, Berger is actually building her business as the class goes along. The questions she asks during the seminars are not hypothetical; the answers are quickly applied to her business in real time.
 
"The week they talked about LLCs and trademarks, I did that," Berger says.
 
As of now, Berger hopes to be open for business by the beginning of 2015. Her website is in its final stages and her business plan is almost complete. Since each step of her company's establishment aligns with the CO.STARTERS curriculum, her final session on Wednesday evening will likely coincide with her business plan's finishing touches.
 
As for clientele, Berger hopes that her creative pricing structure and hands-on experience with other craftspeople through ArtWorks and otherwise will likely attract business owners who could benefit from her expertise.
 

Two Brandery graduates take advantage of the changing world of music

In response to the constantly-evolving world of music, two Brandery graduates, MusicPlay Analytics and Wax Music, are taking full advantage of holes left in the market.
 
Made up of a former platinum-selling musician, a software engineer with a Stanford PhD and a lead developer who's a veteran in the tech+music game, MusicPlay Analytics is poised to contribute significantly to the industry. As a company, its initial goal was to make sure that artists are paid every time their songs are broadcasted or performed in a business setting. Since their time at The Brandery, the team has evolved their idea to include an element that monitors consumer behavior.
 
"We’re now able to solve a problem for the Performing Rights Organizations and help songwriters earn their fair share," MusicPlay CEO Eron Bucciarelli-Tieger says. "But now we'll (also) be able to eventually allow record labels and songwriters to target tour and release promotions in the real world ... as well as bring 'Big Data' insights to small businesses."
 
Bucciarelli-Tieger and his team find themselves surrounded by support here in Cincinnati. With Dayton roots and an "in" at The Brandery, setting up shop here was a no-brainer.
 
"Cincinnati punches above its weight in terms of its culture and startup scene," Bucciarelli-Tieger says.
 
The Brandery's other music-centric graduate, Wax Music, has seen tremendous success in the last few months, causing CEO Jonathan Lane to be a busy guy.
 
Wax Music has created a mobile app that truly understands each user's music tastes. With the data it gathers, it gets to know the user so well it can recommend music that a simple algorithm never could. Instead of focusing on streaming the same songs to your laptop over and over again, Wax jumps off of the Pandora model to introduce its user to new artists and then alert them when those new artists are performing nearby.
 
With the concert industry booming, Wax has decided to avoid the licensing requirements that arise with sites like Pandora and simply provide a platform where music lovers can find more music to love.
 
Since the app was released, it's been promoted in 34 countries as Apple's Best New App. Both TechCrunch and VentureBeat have featured the app, and it was the winner of Microsoft's Push the Web Forward Contest.
 
 

Bad Girl Ventures to announce $25,000 winner Wednesday night


UPDATE ON 12/11/2014: Winners announced here.

One lucky Bad Girl is going to receive an early Christmas present Wednesday evening in Covington.
 
For nine weeks, 43 entrepreneurs at Bad Girl Ventures have been hunkering down over the details of business development, poring over material on marketing, finances, legal concerns and everything in between. Refreshed by cocktails and small apps, all members of the Fall class will receive graduation certificates and recognition for their talents Wednesday, and one will be recognized for their hard work with a $25,000 investment from BGV itself.
 
The holiday graduation ceremony, which is open to the public for $25 per ticket, will take place at The Madison Event Center in Covington. With 250-300 people expecting to attend, this season's group of Bad Girls will have numerous opportunities to network with the kinds of people who can help them get their businesses off the ground.
 
The event will also feature booths for each of the businesses. Attendees can stop by and meet each of the business owners from the current BGV class as well as past graduates from the program.
 
"We call it 'holiday shopping with the Bad Girls,' " BGV Executive Director Corey Drushal says.
 
Since Bad Girl Ventures isn't industry-specific, the group of female-owned companies is extremely diverse. The 10 finalists in the running for the $25,000 prize are listed below:
 
Poppy (Kimberley Barach)
A premium rental service company for baby products that eliminates the need for buying expensive products at every stage of a child's growth.
 
All Care Navigators (Barbara Gunn and David Gunn)
Provides experience and guidance to those seeking senior care services.
 
Babushka Pierogies (Sarah Dworak)
Handmade pierogies to be sold wholesale.
 
Chaddeze LLC (Mary Fennel)
A boy's underwear company known for its use of a front flap.
 
Tactical Intelligence Group LLC (Davina Eccard and Ryan Sullivan)
Offers self-defense courses, both armed and unarmed.
 
Norton Flooring (Erica Norton)
One of the few female-driven flooring companies, with decades of expertise.
 
One Fine Day (Lindsey Lescoe)
A specialty rental boutique for wedding planners.
 
Get Creative Photo Booths (Julie Ball)
An experienced photographer offers fun custom photo booths for weddings and other events.
 
Love Bite (Aris Yowell and Morgan Hamilton)
Brings together everything you need to throw a killer dinner party.
 
For the finalists who don't receive the $25,000 prize, BGV provides seemingly endless support in helping find a source of funding. As an official endorser for Kiva Zip, a domestic crowdfunding site that offers up to $10,000 in zero-interest loans, BGV has the power to connect their companies to favorable investment sources. BGV also boasts connections with US Bank, Park National Bank and Emery Federal Credit Union.
 

Local startup Strap attracts $1.25 million in investments for wearable tech


It looks like nice guys can finish first. That's certainly true when it comes to Strap, the Brandery grad and Soapbox-profiled company that's created the first software and analytics platform for wearables.
 
Charlie Key, cofounder of Cincinnati's Modulus and angel investor for Strap, describes the company as having "all the pieces." He describes founding partners Steve Caldwell, Patrick Henshaw and Joey Brennan as "extremely likeable, intelligent people."
 
Maybe that's why the company announced a $1.25 million round of seed funding last week. The round secured investments from CincyTech, Mercury Fund, Vine Street Ventures, Danmar Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners, New Coast Ventures and a number of angel investors, including Wendy S. Lea, CEO of Cintrifuse.
 
The founders' sparkling personalities aside, Strap also seems to have been in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. With the popularity of wearable technology slowly gaining ground, Strap's "toolkit" for developers entered the market while the market was hot. Their team, made up of startup veterans and truly brilliant technical talent, was also more than prepared to dive in.
 
"Well-timed, right team, right tech team — all investors look for that," says Caldwell, who serves as CEO.
 
Strap's technology, called StrapMetrics, is already compatible with wearables such as Pebble, Android Wear and Google Glass. The tool's ability to optimize sensory data from wearables is a key element in the growth of the industry.
 
Though nothing was set in stone, Caldwell and his team knew to expect an increase in capital as far back as early November. They've been fundraising since June and July, but it was The Brandery's Demo Day that truly ignited investor interest. In the past couple of months, Caldwell, Henshaw and Brannen have moved their families from Mississippi and truly settled into Cincinnati. They've since posted five job listings (four developers and one VP of engineering), reflecting their anticipation of a change in workload. They also recently already hired a marketing specialist, Sophie Turcotte.
 
For now, Strap will remain at The Brandery on Vine Street. By February, however, they expect their staff to have increased to 12 people, a number too large to fit into the accelerator's workspace. At that point, they'll start looking for another location in Cincinnati to call home.
 
"The goal is to grow the company significantly," Caldwell says. "This is a billion dollar industry, and we believe we can be a billion dollar company."
 

Petbrosia receives $1.5 million loan, moves into Over-the-Rhine office space

Yet another innovative Cincinnati company is moving to Over-the-Rhine. A converted livery, complete with old horse stables in the basement, will serve as the expanded office space for Petbrosia, a tech-enabled consumer product company specializing in custom pet food.
 
"We combine tech with something you can touch," CEO Keith Johnson says.
 
Petbrosia allows customers to enter specific information about their pet into an online system that then creates a custom blend best-suited to the pet's development and well-being. The company ships the food to customers across the continental U.S. in as little as one day. The company targets customers who are both e-commerce savvy and very passionate about their dogs and cats.
 
Johnson, a Procter & Gamble veteran who started Petbrosia in 2013, sees their new downtown office as a primary example of the kind of innovation their company hopes to represent. He and his 12-person team hope to bring jobs to the neighborhood and develop the area as a technological hub. By taking over the space at 1415 Central Parkway, they also hope to contribute to the constantly-developing culture for which OTR is so well-known.
 
While the decision to move into the new OTR space was made quite some time ago, Petbrosia's most recent news involves a $1.5 million loan from Ohio Third Frontier, a main source of funds for growing companies in the area. With the pet category of consumer products growing at a rapid pace, Petbrosia arrived on the scene just in time. Johnson believes they were granted the loan due to the fact that their revenues have remained consistent.
 
The loan money will be primarily used for marketing, he says, which includes hiring new staff, creating infrastructure and launching a new product line.
 
As for the new office space, the large building will provide ample room for a growing staff, and then some. With the recent launch of a vet partnership program, the Petbrosia offices will provide an ideal meeting space for seminars. Petbrosia also plans to share the space with Petwave, a pet-related content website that emerged in 2007. With plenty of room left over, the space may also be rented out to non-pet-related companies who want to be part of the OTR business scene.
 
Though the custom pet food idea has been picked up by larger pet food companies like Purina, Johnson is confident that Petbrosia's small size and personal commitment to each pet/pet owner will ensure the stability of their business. They also have a process and method patent currently pending to protect their concept.
 
"I think bigger companies have a harder time innovating," Johnson says. "With a smaller staff, the shift is much easier."

Cincinnati native creates one-of-a-kind razor, raises nearly $200,000 on Kickstarter

As Cincinnati native Zac Wertz was studying for the bar exam, his mind was wandering elsewhere.
 
For his entire adult life, shaving had always been an issue. Any razor he tried seemed to cause the same irritation. Though he dabbled in the electric shaver game, he was overwhelmed by how expensive and unreliable each option remained.
 
Wertz found salvation in the single-edge razor, the extremely cheap option that's become popular among shaving enthusiasts. The problem with using these blades, however, is the incredible amount of precision required to avoid hurting oneself.
 
With an MBA and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati under his belt, Wertz's mind began to wander. He had one goal in mind: make a single-edge razor that's easy to use. Within a year he surpassed his Kickstarter goal of $100,000, and that number only continues to grow.
 
Wertz began prototyping at home and tested his design on himself. Pleasantly surprised by the favorable results, he took his project a step further and started working with the Columbus-based industrial design firm, Trident.
 
"Explaining the concept was confusing to most people, but Trident understood it," Wertz says.
 
The company's first official prototype blew him away. Compared with other razors, his nicks were limited and the shave quality was unique — even better than what you get with other single-edge options.
 
"It gives you an aggressive but mild shave, all with one razor," Wertz says.
 
With a solid product in hand, Wertz launched Beluga Shave Company. Beluga's razor allows users to choose whichever blade fits into their budget. The wooden handle and 316L stainless steel pivoting head allows users to place the blade of their choice into the head, screw it closed and then begin using it as easily as they would any run-of-the-mill safety razor. Though the razor has a higher up-front cost, ranging from $125 to $150, Beluga offers a 25-year warranty to buyers based on the high-quality nature of the materials.

To Wertz, this is the kind of razor you pass down to your grandchildren.
 
"It can be a chore to shave," Wertz says. "This turns it into this luxurious experience."
 
The Beluga razor company is still primarily a one-man operation. Wertz contracts with manufacturers, expert designers and mechanical engineers from all over the country, but he is the company's only full-time employee. Even so, the product's design is close to being finalized. Customers can preorder the product on the website now and shipments are expected to begin in July.

Though a female-friendly version of the razor has yet to be developed, Wertz anticipates that a similar future model will prove marketable to women as well.

Eight startup myths ... busted

Whether they're actually involved with one or not, people love talking about startups. And amongst all the chatter, several stereotypes have emerged. Here to set the record straight are a few of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky's startup connoisseurs.
 
Special thanks to Eric Weissmann of Cintrifuse for the pitch.
 
 
MYTH: Startups are full of young people in hoodies.
 
"Startup life isn't for everyone. I came from the corporate world where I was used to dressing up more times than not. Now I find myself participating in no-shave November and wearing hoodies, athletic attire. I have even been caught wearing socks and sandals..." – Alex Burkhart, Tixers
 
"Entrepreneurship spans all ages. Out of the 60-plus companies inside HCDC's business incubator at the Business Center, the average age of entrepreneurs is 42 years old." – Bridget Doherty, Hamilton County Development Co. Business Center
 

MYTH: Venture capitalists (VCs) sit on bags of money and live a glamorous life.
 
"(VCs) are hard workers hard workers, very smart, travel a ton and don’t make very many investments in a year. They’re patient and deliberate with their funds (see Dov Rosenburg at Allos Ventures)." – Eric Wiessmann, Cintrifuse
 
"VC's are very much like entrepreneurs. They are out raising money themselves. They are constantly fundraising and tied to performance. They definitely don't just sit back and kick it, that's for sure." – Alex Burkhart, Tixers
 

MYTH: Every startup has to be a tech startup, and every employee is tech-savvy.
 
"We work with over 100 entrepreneurs each year, and of those 10 percent fall into the tech category." (See PetWants, Creative Invites and Events, Project Blue Collar, Functional Formularies.) – Corey Drushal, Bad Girl Ventures
 

MYTH: Startups have to go to West Coast or East Coast to find investors.
 
"(Some entrepreneurs) don't consider the advantages of things like an increased runway because of cost-of-living if you build a company in the Midwest." – Patrick Henshaw, Strap
 

MYTH: There are no women in startups, no women in tech and no system in place to support them.
 
"The Greater Cincinnati/NKY startup eco-system has a friendly and inviting environment for female founders. The latest Uptech class has five female founders, including myself and Amanda Kranias of Seesaw, a family social network. ... We also have a fantastic female founder, Brooke Griffin, at the CincyTech-funded company." – Candice Peters, Seesaw
 

MYTH: If you start your own business, you will have fewer people telling you what to do.
 
"Some people want to start their own businesses to get away from long hours ... or the horrible bosses of the world. However, starting your own business requires a substantial time commitment and possibly more people telling you what to do." – Bridget Doherty, HCDC Business Center
 

MYTH: In the startup world, no one gets paid until you have a big exit.
 
"Many startups have attractive pay and competitive benefits (see InfoTrust)." – Eric Weissmann, Cintrifuse
 

MYTH: Startup owners just eat Ramen noodles and drink beer from their office fridge all day.
 
"Not just Ramen — if you add hotdogs, it makes it that much classier and better tasting." – Patrick Henshaw, Strap
 
"There is never a problem finding beer. No keg per say, but always a case of Miller Lite or craft beers in the fridge." – Alex Burkhart, Tixers

Roadtrippers launches new app to ease holiday travel


Forty-eight hours before its users were hitting the road for Thanksgiving last week, Cincinnati-based startup Roadtrippers released their new iPhone app. A redesign that's been in the making for three months, version 3.0 arrived just in time to make traveling easier for the millions of Roadtrippers users across the country.
 
In the hopes of encouraging holiday travelers to "ditch long airport lines and expensive ticket fares for the open road," CEO James Fisher wants this version of the app to take advantage of the 41.3 million Americans projected to travel over the holidays (AAA). The timing of its release was entirely on purpose.
 
Known for highlighting off-the-beaten path destinations for road-trip enthusiasts, Roadtrippers' new app combines every element of planning a trip into one place. The newer features include weather forecasting and a GPS-enabled function that locates nearby gas stations, hotels, restaurants and other noteworthy stops as you drive. The interface is cleaner than the company's last iPhone app, and the maps are clearer and more detailed.
 
The app also features a virtual "concierge," which offers suggestions when users are not quite sure of where they want to end up. The concierge greets the user upon opening the app, helping the planner to do exactly what they want to do at that moment.

"It helps you plan but also act on the fly," says Roadtrippers business development manager Chelsea Koglmeier. "Unlike the usual map app, which shows you nearby places within a certain radius, our app keeps you on your route."

Users can also browse categories of destinations by using the "Discovery" feature. Place cards offer visual and descriptive information on each of your stops as you drive, and particularly appealing places can be saved under a kind of "favorites" list.
 
Though Roadtrippers gained popularity through its online planning tool, this updated app will likely inflate the company's already-booming success. It encourages travelers to change up their initial plan if something interesting comes along while still staying informed and on track.
 
With $3.25 million in brand funding on the books, it's likely that the app will only continue to develop and evolve as its popularity increases.
 
1638 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts