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Innovation + Job News

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First Student and CPS team up to provide new technology for students, parents

First Student, a Cincinnati-based corporation focused on transportation services for school districts, is partnering with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) to roll out the ZPass for the 2013–2014 school year. ZPass is a new technology that allows schools, parents and caregivers the ability to “take the guesswork out of the bus stop, and give parents comfort in knowing their child got on or off the bus as scheduled," according to First Student.
 
With ZPass, each student is issued a unique ID card, which is scanned when they enter and exit the school bus. Each time this happens, the time, date and location is logged and transmitted to a secure database. School administrators, as well as parents, can access the same system to see when and where a child has entered and exited the bus. Parents can also register to have the information sent instantly by text messages or push notifications.
 
“Cincinnati is one of the first locations to have this technology,” says First Student spokesperson Jen Biddinger. “After a successful pilot program last school year, we are in the process of rolling it out on a wider scale.”
 
“By the beginning of October we will have grown it to 12 schools,” adds John Davis, Director of Transportation for CPS, “and our outlook is that we will initiate other schools and go district-wide by January of 2014.
 
“We were looking for something that could better track student ridership and provide information for parents,” continues Davis. “The ZPass allows a parent to estimate when a bus will arrive at a particular bus stop even in adverse weather conditions.”
 
“As a district, we understand that technology is changing our lives rapidly, and we want to harness the power of that technology across the board, be it in operations, such as in this case, or in the classroom,” explains Janet Walsh, Director of Public Affairs for CPS.
 
“We’re moving forward rapidly with using various kinds of blended learning models, which use technology in different, more sophisticated ways,” Walsh notes. “It’s an exciting time, and we are embracing it as a district.”

Michael Sarason

UC launches its first Massive Open Online Course: Innovation and Design Thinking

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are gaining traction at major universities across the country. These free, online courses open higher education to the masses; students' are limited only by their desire to learn.

MOOCs gained major attention in the United States after prestigious universities like Stanford and MIT began offering them. The courses are open to any student, regardless of educational background, and can last from four to 17 weeks.

Course structure varies by institution, and each potentially can have thousands of students. MOOCs generally are about the process of learning, and students aren't awarded college credit for completing them.

This fall, the University of Cincinnati of Cincinnati is pushing the boundaries of MOOCs by offering its first, and participants can earn free college credit for completing it..

UC professors Drew Boyd and Jim Tappel will teach Innovation and Design Thinking. The course will teach students the tools that organizations use to innovate everything from new products to new employee training methods.

Students who complete the MOOC and enroll in a UC Business or Engineering degree program can apply the credits. It will be a two credit hour course.

"This is one of the first, if not the first, option available to turn a MOOC into course credit," explains Tappel, an Engineering and Applied Science professor.

Tappel and Boyd, a marketing and innovation professor, will begin their seven-week course in October. During those seven weeks, students will apply innovation tools, using them to create new product or service ideas.

Innovation can be taught, Tappel says. This course can help individuals or groups learn, step by step, the innovation process.

"All companies today realize that innovation is important (for growth). And it's different than creativity. Innovation takes creative thoughts and turns them into a practical, pragmatic result," Tappel says.

You can sign up the for UC's Innovation and Design Thinking MOOC, or find out more about it here.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter


Crossroads community shines light on its entrepreneurs with Unpolished

Crossroads Church, one of Cincinnati’s biggest and most robust churches in terms of its services and programming, has rolled out a new, grassroots initiative for its members called Unpolished. Unpolished is a group that came together within the Crossroads community to “encourage, educate and engage aspiring entrepreneurs.”
 
“At Crossroads, we are very excited about this,” says head pastor Brian Tome. “A small handful of our community members suspected that there were others thinking like them, so they held an initial event on one day’s notice and 400 people showed up.”
 
“We held our initial event back in June,” adds Tim Brunk, co-founder of Cladwell.com, one of Cincinnati’s newest startups. “We were looking for a way to simultaneously encourage the entrepreneurs within Crossroads and begin building a community around them," says Brunk, who is one of members involved in starting Unpolished.
 
The initial event, in addition to attracting 400 people, produced some noteworthy results. “We had five short presentations from community members, telling their entrepreneurial stories,” Brunk explains. “The distinction from a ‘pitch’ was that we wanted the real story--what was hard, who did they lean on, what did they learn, what role did faith and community play, etc.”
 
“We saw some excellent fruit,” Brunk continues, “including a handful of businesses and partnerships that formed from people networking at the event.”
 
As the group is still developing, so are its future plans. Survey data taken from the first event led the members of Unpolished to begin holding office hours at Crossroads, which allow for one-on-one sessions between a subject expert and an entrepreneur seeking guidance. Additionally, development has begun on an app that will allow all community members to post needs and find help or resources within the Unpolished community.
 
“We are also looking into doing some specific workshops around startup related topics,” Brunk notes. “We have several other ideas as well, but there's plenty of planning yet to do.”

The church also began a four-week series last weeked called "Go Forth," which focuses on how to be an entreprenuer in all aspects of life, including business, family, personal and spiritual endeavors.

“While Crossroads respects the old,” Tome says, “we also see that the new is how things go forward.
 
For more information on Unpolished, visit the Crossroads Unpolished Facebook page.

By Michael Sarason

New device helps simplify mobile typing

TREWGrip Mobile QWERTY is an innovative device designed to simplify the labor of typing on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.

Invented by Mark Parker, president of TREWGrip LLC  (a subsidiary of Outlier Technologies), this unit works in conjunction with any devices that accommodate bluetooth syncing. The phone or tablet is physically attached (not permanently) to the Mobile QWERTY via the micro-suction dock, where a wireless bluetooth connection enables the device to interface.


“I’ve been doing software development for mobile workers for years,” Parker says. “We hope people realize that the “hunt and peck typing” technique doesn’t work. I think we’ve reached the point where people realize this technology is limiting. It isn’t a software problem … it’s a hardware problem.”

A rear-typing keyboard allows the user to easily hold the Mobile QWERTY with both hands while typing at similar rates to traditional keyboards. Some practice is necessary to truly get the hang of it, which is why TREWGrip offers training exercises and games. Having developed the device from scratch, Parker worked to ensure it could be easily held by hands of all sizes by equipping the device with multiple sizes of removable hand grips on the side.

TREWGrip, a Cincinnati-based company, recently launched a kickstarter campaign to help fund the product’s initial run. 

By Sean M. Peters

World traveler Luisa Mancera lands in Cincinnati, joins Roadtrippers

Chicago, Mexico City, London, Argentina, Spain. Despite what it may look like, this is not a bucket list of cities/countries to travel to. Rather, it is a list of all of the places that Luisa Mancera has called home before returning this past June to Cincinnati to work as the lead designer at Roadtrippers, a Cincinnati-based startup that helps users discover, plan and book the best road trips customized to their own individual preferences.
 
“For many years, I was always the one in my friend group that was leaving,” Mancera says. She lived in Mexico City for the past three years, working as a designer for a few different companies before eventually teaming up with her cousin to start their own branding and design studio there called Malaca.
 
“Life in Mexico City was very fast-paced, and I enjoyed befriending people from all over the world,” Mancera recounts. “But it was also very transient, and I think that’s what got to me. I wanted something a little more stable.”
 
Having grown up in Cincinnati from age 8 through 17, Mancera considers her roots to be here in Cincinnati. “I was back in April for a wedding, and at that point I was considering coming back to Cincinnati for the summer, working remotely and just getting the lay of the land to see how I felt here.”
 
One of the things she put on her to-do list while in town was to check out the Brandery, which she had not only read about online, but also heard good things from friends.
 
“I spoke with (Brandery office manager) Mike Bott, and he offered me a free place to work at their office because he thought I could potentially be a resource to the startups there,” Mancera says. “Soon after that ,James Fisher, who started Roadtrippers, was looking to hire a designer and went through the Brandery to look. Mike put us in touch and it just snowballed from there.”
 
Fast forward to the present, and Mancera is now living in Cincinnati for the first time since her teenage years. “Even though I was excited to come back, I was also a little bit weary,” she admits. “I thought that it might be a little boring or uninteresting, but it’s been very much the opposite. There’s a diversity of experience here that I was not expecting.”
 
“The biggest surprise is just how incredibly welcoming people are here. … And I think that’s the biggest difference between Cincinnati and anywhere else I’ve lived,” she says.
 
Mancera has jumped right into the thick of things with Roadtrippers and is happy to be part of a team that is constantly developing new ideas that challenge her along the way.

“Right now, we’re doing a lot of user interface design, which is actually new to me, but James knows a lot about it. It is really exciting work, and we’re growing very quickly. It’s neat to be a part of that. I think it will be a cool process to be a part of the transition from scruffy little startup to something that’s a little more structured, organized and grown up. I feel like that’s sort of what I’m going through as a person too,” Mancera says with a chuckle.
 
Mancera is also looking forward to witnessing the continued growth of the city and hopes that it continues to bring more young people into the fold. “I’d like to see people from other parts of the country moving to Cincinnati. I think it adds to this scene," she says. "If someone from a city like Seattle is moving to Cincinnati, it’s a big deal because it means there’s something here that’s catching the interest of people on a national level. It’s exciting to think about.”

If and when that person makes the move, you can count on Luisa to plan them the best road trip possible.

By Michael Sarason

Merx 2013 encourages local businesses to think globally

Members of the local business community convened at the METS Center in Erlanger, KY, to discuss the intricacies of conducting business overseas at the summit known as Merx 2013.

Derived from the Latin word for trade or commerce, “Merx” is hosted by the Northern Kentucky International Trade Association (NKITA). The purpose of the event is to encourage growth in local businesses’ ability to maintain their affairs outside of the US.

The event catered to two lines of thought for entrepreneurs: marketing and operations. With dual panel discussions split between two conference rooms, this approach helped professionals across the board to maximize their chances of successfully implementing their businesses in countries other than the United States.

Topics of conversation included marketing to locals, how to set up an entity abroad, getting the most from trade shows, partnerships and acquisitions, online marketing, and general security precautions to take when working in another country. Business leaders from the area’s most successful companies moderated the panels, which were open to attendees for discussion.

With Cincinnati’s startup community gaining momentum in the business world, events such as Merx 2013 help to ensure that businesses old and new have the chance to not only conduct business around the globe, but also promote Cincinnati in the process.  

Click
here for a list of all businesses involved at this year’s summit.

Chase Bank opens new U Square location featuring newest banking technology

Chase Bank, one of the largest in the world, has opened its newest Cincinnati branch at 219 Calhoun St., in the new U Square development on the University of Cincinnati’s campus. This new branch is only the second Chase branch in Southern Ohio to feature the bank’s new express banking kiosks.
 
“The USquare branch is very special to us because it’s located right here on the Bearcat campus,” says branch manager Fabian Tunson. “Research has shown us that consumers, especially of this generation, really enjoy using technology. And this branch is right for anyone interested in some of the newest technology, including the express banking kiosks.”
 
The express banking kiosks are similar to ATMs but with a touchscreen user interface that is similar to a tablet and a much wider range of functionality. Some of these additional functions include check cashing, withdrawals in multi-denominations ($1, $5, $20 and $50 bills) up to $1000, credit card bill paying services and the option to purchase money orders.
 
The kiosks are part of Chase’s larger overall goal to introduce innovative ways to meet customers’ needs. About 400 of these kiosks exist around the country currently, and the number is expected to double by the end of the year.
 
“We are very proud to be serving customers on the UC campus and in the Cincinnati community,” says Emily Smith, Director of Media Relations for JPMorgan Chase. While Chase has nearly 300 branches and 23,000 employees in Ohio, this new branch marks the company's first bank location in Clifton.
 
“The branch will be very convenient for students, but it’s also in a great location to serve the residents and small businesses in the area,” Tunson says.

Michael Sarason

Rock Paper Scissors to build on Smartfish Studio's artistic past

Smartfish Studio & Sustainable Supply is planning to make a big splash soon by expanding it offerings beyond its signature footwear and art supplies.

The studio’s owner, Alisha Budkie, has decided to back away from the day-to-day management of the shop and instead focus on her line of handmade shoes and sandals, Smartfish Footwear. The interior of the store, which is located at 1301 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine, will soon be renovated and will become Rock Paper Scissors.  

“We’re not changing Smartfish Studios,” says Lindsay Nehls, co-founder of Rock Paper Scissors. “We’re building on it.”

Nehls, visual artist, partnered with Adam Petersen, a musician and central figure in the local arts community known as the Marburg Collective. The two have exciting plans for their new venture.

While Smartfish Footwear will still be available for sale at Rock Paper Scissors, Budkie has plans to study the making of footwear internationally. She will still be involved with the store, just not as directly as before.

On top of local art on the walls, the team at Rock Paper Scissors looks to provide a nurturing atmosphere for local music— albums will be for sale, along with band T-shirts and posters.

“An opportunity presented itself quite fortuitously,” says Petersen. “Our long-term vision, beyond it simply being music and merchandise consignment, is for [Rock Paper Scissors] to become an informational center for anyone looking to learn about particular Cincinnati-bands. We’ll compile lists of venues and bands and arrange it so everyone’s adequately represented.”

Gallery showings, workshops and other artistic events will continue to be held in the location.

Smartfish Studio will have a transitional Final Friday event Aug. 30. The shop will be closed Sept. 1-7 for Rock Paper Scissors to get settled, and the shop will officially be open for business Sunday, Sept. 8.

If you would like to contribute to Rock Paper Scissors’
Indiegogo fundraising campaign, with all proceeds going toward essential inventory and accoutrement, make sure to donate before time runs out.

By Sean Peters

Metro now offers stored-value cards to riders

Many city-dwellers are continuously faced with the arduous task of budgeting their quarters between two priorities: bus fare and laundromats. While both woes can be remedied with a little planning, some people are forever caught in the cycle of rifling through their pockets at a moment’s notice to either catch the bus or feed the washing machine. But Cincinnatians have been presented with a new method of relieving these tribulations with the new Metro stored-value cards.

The cards can be purchased in prepaid increments of $10, $20 and $30 from Metro’s sales office. They work just like cash in any bus-related payment situations, including transfers and multiple riders. Metro’s stored-value cards are replacing the 10-ride Zone 1 tickets, although those will be honored until the end of 2013.

For those familiar with bus fare rates and simple mathematics, however, things don’t quite add up: with normal inner-city fares set at $1.75, the prepaid increments of $10, $20 and $30 won’t deduct even portions, leaving some untouchable funds on the cards, as they are incapable of being recharged with additional cash. If your card’s balance cannot pay the full fare, the difference can be paid in cash or with an additional stored-value card when paying at the front of the bus.

While it might be possible to budget your stored-value card so as not to have any residual funds before it is redeemed, this discernible anomaly might prove problematic for local bus riders who might be better off with the 30-day rolling pass, which is good for unlimited travel in a zone of your choice for a 30-day period.

The new stored-value cards are available for purchase at Metro’s sales office, which is located in the Mercantile Building arcade downtown, weekdays 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

By Sean Peters


The Happy Maladies want YOU to write their next album

The Happy Maladies has issued an open invitation for composers of all levels to submit original pieces of music for the band to interpret.

The project is titled “MUST LOVE CATS,” and it will be an album of five compositions. The tunes will be featured not only on a professional studio-produced album, but in performances across the Midwest (including Cincinnati). A booklet will also be made, which will profile each of the five selected composers.

“We’ll be accepting any kind of composition until January 1, 2014,” says violinist and vocalist Eddy Kwon in the band’s recently released YouTube video that officially kicked off the exciting new endeavor.

The band, which is comprised of founding members Benjamin Thomas, Peter Gemus, Stephen Patota and Kwon, utilizes the violin, double-bass, guitars, mandolin and banjo.

“We really don’t want composers to try to ‘fit’ our sound, or limit themselves to what they think these instruments sound like,” says Kwon. “We’re really willing to do anything.”

Jazzy, folksy and classically trained, the unique group is hard to classify, but infinitely easy and enjoyable to hear. In the band’s five-year career, they have explored so many genres that they’ve developed an omnipotent musical identity.

“All of us are really, really supportive and advocates for new music,” says Kwon. “We are hoping this project can be a new model for the way composers and bands and performers interact and work together.” 

By Sean Peters

Local couple involved in community goes the entrepreneurial route

Eric and Holly Saddler recently purchased Molly Maid of West Chester. Before owning Molly Maid, Eric, a graduate of the Naval Acadamy, spent 11 years in the U.S. Navy. He then worked in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Holly has a degree in psychology, and before becoming a stay-at-home-mom to their four children—ages 17, 16, 13 and 10—she was a child psychologist.
 
The Saddlers moved to West Chester in 2006, and have been passionate about getting their family involved in the community. They’re active in their church and their kids’ activities. With Molly Maid, they hope to bring lots of clean homes to the area and help out the local economy through job creation.
 
Molly Maid was founded in 1979 in Canada, and began franchising in 1984. There are more than 450 Molly Maid franchises across the country, along with 180 locations in Canada, the U.K., Portugal and Japan. The West Chester location serves Mason, Middletown, Liberty Township and West Chester. As a business, Molly Maid has been rated “Best Value” among cleaning services in Good Housekeeping and has been included in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 for the last 10 years.
 
Soapbox sat down with the Saddlers to talk about their passion for the community and their new business.
 
Why did you want to own a Molly Maid franchise?
ES: After spending time in the corporate world, we wanted to work for ourselves. We also wanted to find a business where we could spend more time together. We were looking for something in the community, and we wanted to own a type of business that was something people wanted, something that could improve their lives and something that could give them more family time. We were also looking for a business with a small team environment.
 
What’s it like owning your own business?
ES: We closed on the sale May 31, and we love it so far.
 
What values have your brought to your business?
ES: Leadership and being respectful to people. It’s important to have a work environment where people want to work and feel supported. We also believe in hard work and good, fair work, as well as doing things directly for people. Molly Maid has been a positive shift out of the corporate business world for me; in this job, we’re focused on the customer and politics are out of the way.
HS: When we started looking for a franchise to purchase, we talked about owning a business that would give our kids an example to follow. We wanted them to see the benefits of having ownership in your own company and have them be more in touch with what it means to run a business. They’ve been helping out, and it’s been great for all of us.
 
What organizations are you involved in in the community?
HS: I’m involved in the ladies group and music ministry at our church, Saint Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church.
ES: I’m on our church’s pastoral council and am involved with the teen youth group. I’m also active in Cub Scouts as a leader and pack committee chair. As a business, we’re also involved with the Ms. Molly Foundation. We give a portion of every clean to the foundation to support domestic violence shelters in the area. We want to grow and develop that as a franchise and get our entire staff involved. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but we know we want to be more involved.
 
Why do you think it’s important to be involved in the community?
ES: It comes back to the values we have from our faith perspective—we’re here to serve others. We have responsibilities to our families, communities and those around us. We looked at different franchises for business opportunities, and Molly Maid was right in town. We knew some of the existing customers and wanted to serve needs in our area.

Follow Caitlin on Twitter

HCDC launches Business Retention Council with 30K Duke Energy grant

The Hamilton County Development Company is tapping local Hamilton County authorities to identify and aid businesses that are ripe for growth or in danger of leaving the area.

With a $30,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, HCDC launched a Business Retention Council. The Council allows HCDC to take a more proactive approach to business growth and retention, says HCDC President David Main.

The Council is comprised of economic development and other officials from most of Hamilton County's cities and suburbs. It held its first meeting this month.

"We are putting together a list of businesses we feel have the potential for expansion or may be at risk of leaving," Main says. "We want these business to stay in their communities. We hate reading in the papers that businesses left or went out of business when we could have done something about it."

HCDC is a 30-year-old nonprofit business development agency. The Norwood-based organization runs a business incubator, and is a small business lender.

HCDC has reached out to businesses in the past, but the Duke grant will allow for a more formal business retention program. Retention efforts are crucial to the local economy, Main says.

"Business expansion and retention tends to be overlooked, but it counts for 80 percent of job creation in any community," he says. "It's important to retain, and if possible, expand existing businesses."

Besides connecting with businesses, the Council wants to create an "early warning" system to alert members of any Hamilton County business that is facing potential challenges. The Council wants to find a way to find businesses before they leave or shut down.

Resources the Council could offer businesses include lending opportunities, business counseling, and marketing and sales support. The Council also wants to facilitate open communication with local government agencies.

"We can't always make a difference, but we want to at least have the chance to do something if a business is considering leaving or in danger of closing," Main says.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Tronk Design puts modern spin on handcrafted mid-20th century style furniture

Brad Musuraca started building furniture "just for fun" shortly after graduating in 2006 from the University of Cincinnati.

In January, he decided to make it a way of life, and he launched Tronk Design. The startup puts a modern spin on the classic design of the mid-20th century. Tronk's handmade pieces come in three hardwoods: cherry, maple and walnut. The line includes a table, planter, shelf, bed and "retro" clock/stereo dock.

"Our current line very much has a mid-century feel to it," Musuraca says. "We really wanted to stay away from the ultra contemporary look, which may be appealing now but will eventually look dated. We are really going for a simple but elegant look that won't lose its appeal."

Tronk Design debuted at the AmericasMart International Home and Gift Show in Atlanta. Musuraca designs and manufactures the furniture in his Forest Park workshop.

The furniture features simple designs with clean, sharp lines and an interesting look. Tronk's most popular product so far is the Franklin Shelf. It's a 90-degree corner shelf that can be easily used in small spaces.

"The Franklin shelf gets a lot of attention," Musuraca says. "It was up for an award at the Icon Honors (furniture industry award) in Atlanta. It was a finalist."

Tronk furniture is sold mainly through independent retailers and online through sites including fab.com, TouchofModern and Scoutmob. Tronk has recently added an option to buy through its website.

Musuraca is working to grow the company by finding new dealers and expanding the line. By next year, he plans to add metal and more contemporary pieces to his designs.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

MoveMX to innovate mobile gaming

Cincinnati is home to MoveMX, a video game development team that is creating motion-responsive games for mobile devices.

While current generation console gaming platforms already have the ability to recognize body movement in relation to their game’s generated characters and environments, MoveMX is determined to bring that same vitality and energy to tablets and cell phones. By utilizing the devices’ built-in cameras, the games can be controlled through body movement.

MoveMx was created to provide a more immersive mobile gameplay experience,” says Zak Nordyke, founder of MoveMX. “We wanted to give mobile gamers the opportunity to use their bodies as the gamepad. We didn't like the idea of young gamers craning their necks and tapping buttons as the only way to enjoy content.”

Nordyke’s team is currently developing its first title, “The Chronicles of Glover.” It will be an action platform game centered around a young man named Glover who discovers mysterious body armor that grants him heightened abilities. The game is currently in demo stages and is slated to be available to play late August.

Dedicated to stimulating gamers beyond the simple pressing of buttons, MoveMX is lending a hand to the mobile industry by innovating its current technology.

We wanted to bring the motion gaming experience to mobile,” says Nordyke. "It allows users to play movement tracking games everywhere.”

Healthier and more physically engaging than traditional gamepad-controlled video games of yesteryear, motion-tracking with video games is a step (or swing of the hip) in the right direction for the often sedentary video game industry. 

By Sean Peters

GlueWorks' launches multimedia digital portfolio platform

Today the web is a crucial link between employer and employee. Your first contact with a potential employer is almost always online, and it can be hard to stand out.

That's why a group of Cincinnati entrepreneurs are set to launch a platform that allows job seekers and college students to more completely, creatively and simply show what they're made of.

Stephanie Hughes, Kevin Mackey, and Tom Raterman, founders of GlueWorks, LLC, and Erik Lutz and Greg Frederick, their partners from the Devine Group, a Cincinnati-based talent management firm, are launching their first product, the Glue Talent Showcase. The online platform is a multimedia portfolio that allows users to display and share their important workplace skills and attributes.

The Glue Talent Showcase, set to go live July 31, allows users to customize their profiles from a number of available features. With the Glue Talent Showcase, job seekers can use video, PDFs, audio, pictures and more to show and sell themselves. Glue Talent Showcase also has a workplace assessment feature that will list your top five workplace competencies (out of 84 assessed).

"You can upload your resume, a first impression video or elevator pitch, songs, letters of recommendation, class projects," says Mackey, who has a background in marketing and finance. "It's like an interview before the interview."

GlueWorks will allow users to share their profile from the site.

The platform is a modified idea of Hughes', an NKU professor. Originally, she envisioned the site as a way to connect college students to former professors and businesses. Students can be hard to find once they graduate, and GlueWorks was formed to increase the "stickiness" between them, she says.

Like many startups, the idea evolved, though the core concept remains the same: high-quality connection. The Glue Talent Showcase stands out from sites like LinkedIn because of its focus on displaying individuals' talents, Hughes says.

"Glue offers a much more digestible tool," she says. "If I'm an employer, I don't want to navigate my way around a (social media) profile. Glue presents information in a much more standardized, digestible way for employers. It doesn't make the job of the employer difficult."

And what's good for employers, is good for employees.

Those interested in The Glue Talent Showcase can sign up on the GlueWorks website. It's free for individual users. Organizations like colleges and universities or chambers of commerce can also purchase a white-label version of the system, which includes a search portal and an administrative portal for providing advice and feedback on their members' Talent Showcases.

Eventually, as Glue builds its user base, employers will be able to purchase regional or national recruiting memberships for a monthly or annual fee.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter
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