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Angelhack will provide free local opportunity for developers to build skills

Angelhack, a global series of hackathon events, is coming to the Cincinnati area for the first time next month. The hackathon will take place the weekend of May 3-4 in Covington at local accelerator Uptech.
At the hackathon, developers will come together to create projects from scratch, usually working through the night. At the end of the weekend, projects are presented to a set of judges (Angelhack boasts an impressive list of judges including Dave Knox of Rockfish, Mike Bott of the Brandery and Chris Bergman of Choremonster) and the most unique and interesting project wins, similar to the recent Startup Weekend held at Uptech.  
“Where Angelhack differs from Startup Weekend is that this is really about making a working product,” says Alex Bowman, director of marketing at Choremonster and organizer of the local Angelhack event. “Startup Weekend is more focused on creating viable business ideas. This is more developer-focused.”
Before joining Choremonster, Bowman attended two Angelhack events while working for Amazon and recognized not only the value, but also the fun involved in attending the event.
“I emailed the CEO and convinced her that we needed to bring this event to Cincinnati,” Bowman says. “With the community we’ve created here in the past few years, I knew it was the right time. I want to show that this city can hold a really strong and coordinated event and give our developers here a chance to build new skills and work with new tools.”
To that end, Bowman worked with Angelhack to make the event free for all participants. The winning team will be granted acceptance into the HACKcelerator program, a global pre-accelerator program designed to help top hackathon teams turn their hacks into market-ready products.
“I want our local developer community to check this event out and leave feeling like they’ve improved their craft,” Bowman says.
To register for the free event, visit http://www.angelhack.com/event/angelhack-cincinnati-spring-2014/.

By Mike Sarason

Local Startup Liquid simplifies data collection and analysis

Jacob Shidler was actually trying not to be an entrepreneur. Both his father and grandfather started businesses; Jacob rebelled by studying science, eventually receiving his masters in environmental science at the University of Cincinnati with a focus on rainwater.
Fast forward a few years and he has now started his own company, Liquid, which streamlines the process of data collection and analysis for the 21st century, allowing custom forms to collect data from anywhere in the world and then sync with an online database that can be shared and worked on collaboratively in real time. For Shidler, as with many entrepreneurs, it all started with a problem.
“I was working on a project in the Comoros Islands, which is an island chain between Mozambique and Madagascar,” he says. “There’s no water infrastructure there—they are nearly 100% dependent on rainwater. I was interested to see how the materials of their gutter system would affect the overall quality of the water.”
Shidler was working on the project sans grant money and thus had very limited funds. He had 10 days to collect a large number of sample data, catalogue it and include pictures.
“Many of the sciences are still stuck in a paper system, which I found too time-consuming, wasteful and filled with error,” Shidler says. “I couldn’t afford to use those methods, so I came up with my own.”
Shidler’s method was to mix and match different technologies like digital photography, iPad apps and services such as Dropbox to bring his data into the digital realm.
“We hacked together a system for the whole collection portion of my project, and it worked great,” Shidler says. “My advisors ended up being more excited about my collection methods than my actual research.”
Upon hearing this feedback, Shidler realized he had a serious opportunity on his hands and began working on creating a tool that could do everything he’d patched together for his research, only more easily and efficiently.
In January 2014, Liquid released a free alpha version of the product to a small test group.
“We’re now up to about 180 users, including researchers at UC, NKU and in Ghana, and the feedback we’re getting is great,” Shidler says. “People are finding the tool organically because the need is real. We’re still refining it, but we’re excited about what’s to come.” 

By Mike Sarason

Creatives can compete for cash and services in Big Pitch contest

For creative business owners looking to grow their business in Cincinnati, there is no time like the present. Announced this month, Artworks Big Pitch, presented by U.S. Bank, offers artists, makers, designers and creative entrepreneurs a chance to claim up to $20,000 in cash prizes, as well as pro-bono professional services.
Applications for the Big Pitch are open now and will be accepted through May 16. Applicants will then be narrowed down to eight finalists, each of whom will have five minutes to deliver their pitch to a live audience and panel of experts at the ArtWorks Big Pitch event on Aug. 27, 2014 at the American Sign Museum in downtown Cincinnati.
The business with the best pitch will be awarded a grand prize of $15,000 cash. The finalists also will have the opportunity to be awarded an additional $5,000 by popular vote. Two runners-up will be awarded professional services such as legal, accounting and branding support.
The Big Pitch is yet another transformative project presented by Artworks' Creative Enterprise division, which also manages CO.STARTERS (formerly Springboard).
“A stronger creative community builds a better Cincinnati,” says Caitlin Behle, Creative Enterprise manager for Artworks. “This funding is a huge stepping stone to supporting the greater Cincinnati community. So far the biggest hurdle for us is that it sounds too good to be true.”
To provide opportunities for interested applicants to ask questions in person, ArtWorks is hosting two events—the Creative Enterprise Open House on April 24, and ArtWorks Big Pitch Q&A Info Session on May 7.
“We’ve been seeing more and more opportunities for web/tech/app-based companies in Cincinnati, but we felt like the handmade creative community was getting overlooked,” says Katie Garber, director of Creative Enterprise for Artworks.
As a sponsor and collaborator on the event, U.S. Bank will provide each of the eight finalists with a mentor who will coach them for the 10 weeks leading up to the event. For more information on the event, visit http://www.artworkscincinnati.org/creative-enterprise/artworksbigpitch/
 By Mike Sarason

Quest for the Queen offers adventure and community building for Cincinnatians

On Saturday, April 26, Cincinnati will play host to an “adventure race” throughout the city called Quest for the Queen. The event, the brainchild of proud Cincinnatians Matt Feldhaus and John Klingler, promises to lead participants through several of the city’s 52 neighborhoods while engaging them with Cincinnati’s past, present and future.
Quest for the Queen will run throughout the day. Participants will divide into teams of two and will be given a list of riddles, each one directing teams towards checkpoints around the city. The checkpoints will provide opportunities for participants to engage with the community, discover new neighborhoods and businesses, and learn about the history and character of the city.
Participants will be asked to take a photo at each checkpoint, and the first team to get through all the locations will be declared the winner.
“We both love Cincinnati for different reasons, and we wanted to provide a way to show people some of those things and give them a chance to make new discoveries of their own,” Feldhaus says.
An interesting twist to the race is that participants won’t be allowed to use cars or GPS devices (like cell phones) to help them get from place to place.
“The reason for the rules is that we don’t want people to rely on technology—we want them to get familiar with the neighborhoods and the different things going on in them,” Klingler says. “We’ve got a lot of local businesses on board as well; in the end we just want to engage Cincinnatians with their local communities.”
Feldhaus and Klingler are recommending that participants make their way through the quest by bike and public transportation. To that end, the two have secured a partnership with Metro to guarantee all participants a free day pass to ride the buses throughout the course of the race.
“We got Metro involved because we wanted to show that Cincinnati does have viable and efficient public transit options,” Klingler says. “This provides an easy and fun way for people to try out our city’s bus system.”
Registration for the race is open now. To learn more about Quest for the Queen or to sign up, visit http://questforthequeen.webs.com.

By Mike Sarason

Cladwell makes fashion easy, fast and affordable for men

The Office’s Dwight Schrute may not seem like the best fictitious personality to base a business on, but for Cladwell co-founder Blake Smith, the inspiration was there. Cladwell is an online fashion resource for men that provides customized wardrobe recommendations for everything from casual to business attire, scouring through thousands of name brands and returning the three best options instantly based on user input data.
“For me, the epiphany came when my co-founder, Tim Brunk, and I were working for an entertainment startup and we had a meeting with an LA billionaire,” Smith says. “He had two assistants with him, one dressed in a super sharp, slim-cut suit and the other dressed like Dwight Schrute.”
After the meeting concluded, the sharply dressed man was shaking everyone’s hands while the Dwight lookalike was literally left packing up the cords from the PowerPoint presentation.
“That’s when I started thinking, ‘Which one of those guys am I?’” Smith says. “There’s a conversation going on around us based on what our clothes say even before we speak; I wasn’t sure if my clothes were consistent with who I am.”
Like many men, however, Smith isn’t a big fan of mall shopping, so he called his friend Chris Merchich (now the third co-founder of Cladwell), who was working the floor at Macy’s, to ask for recommendations. Merchich, knowing Smith’s general size and style, sent him a personal email listing a handful of items to buy online. Then Smith had another “aha” moment.
“I wondered, ‘What if everyone had a service like Chris in their lives, something that could take the hassle out of shopping?’” Smith says.
Based on that idea, Smith, Brunk and Merchich quit their jobs in mid-2012, spent nine months capturing fashion rules from sources like GQ, Askmen, Dress for Success and Color Me Beautiful, and converted them to thousands of style algorithms for the tool that would become Cladwell.
“Everyone else in fashion is pushing for perpetual shopping,” Smith says. “With Cladwell, we’re saying instead that there’s a finish line for men that’s probably less than 50 articles of clothing based on individual preferences. With Cladwell, we want to help guys shop faster, cheaper and more efficiently.”

By Mike Sarason

New CampFinder tool helps parents find camps for kids

JB Woodruff and Brennan Sweeney, ex-technology consultants turned entrepreneurs, have launched CampFinder, a new online resource for information on local camps and programs.
CampFinder features a comprehensive list of camp programs and user reviews with focused program searches and social media capabilities. The site lets parents “shop online” for the best program for their child’s specific personality, needs and interests while eliminating the need to visit multiple camp fairs or scour the internet for information.
Woodruff and Sweeney decided to launch the business after working together as mentors at Northern Kentucky Unversity’s INKUBATOR program. Sweeney proposed the idea that became CampFinder as a result of his own struggles finding a place online that not only offered a comprehensive listing, but also one that shared reviews and shed light on the experience his son might have.
“Our region is home to so many great camps, we want to help those camps get noticed, and at the same time we want to make it easier for parents find the perfect camps for their kids,” Sweeney says.
“My passions are helping people, solving problems, challenging myself and learning,” Woodruff says. “There was a natural fit working with the INKUBATOR, and that’s what drew me in to working with CampFinder.”
Previously, both Woodruff and Sweeney had worked as consultants. Both came to discover their love and knack for entrepreneurialism in different ways.
“Brennan began by creating a company where he did property management software,” Woodruff says. “In 2012, I quit my job here and went to Africa and got involved with an accelerator over there called 88MPH. I can honestly say I’m a lot happier now than I ever was in my previous career.”
Currently, there are around 450 camp programs listed on CampFinder.Co, with more camps being added each week. Camps run the gamut from arts, sports, outdoors, science and more, and camp locations span the Tri-State.
“We’re currently exploring different models to find out how we can bring the most value to the camps as well as the parents,” Woodruff says.
To explore programs through CampFinder, visit www.Campfinder.co

Open Data Startup Weekend pulls in new ideas, new entrepreneurs

Innovation, talent and resourcefulness were all on display this weekend in Covington as local accelerator Uptech played host to the Open Data Startup Weekend. This year, Cincinnati Startup Weekend partnered with Code for America, the nonprofit aimed at connecting citizens with better design and tech services, and Open Data Cincy, a regional initiative to use public data to encourage transparency, innovation and civic engagement.
The goal of the event was to foster social entrepreneurship by accessing public data to launch new ventures, analyze patterns and trends, make data-driven decisions, and solve complex problems in our community.
A diverse crowd of participants turned up for Startup Weekend, which asks participants to split into groups and create viable startup ideas over 48 hours. Among their ranks were high school and college students, lawyers, engineers, techies, and designers representing several age groups and varying experience levels, from complete newbies to previous Startup Weekend attendees.
“I enjoy the fact that people come from diverse backgrounds and working together really intensely,” says Racquel Redwood, who was participating in her second Startup Weekend on an idea called Potholer.
“While I work for a large company here, its great that there are opportunities here to explore the entrepreneurial space as well,” says Benjamin Danzinger, R&D engineer at Johnson & Johnson.
After spending the weekend refining their ideas, getting advice from the event organizers (who themselves also represent local startups like Choremonster, Lisnr, BlackbookHR and more), running focus groups and scouring data, each group presented Sunday evening to a duo of judges—Eric Avner of the The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and Elizabeth Naramore of GitHub, which provides powerful collaboration, code review, and code management for open source and private projects.
First place went to UMO, which addresses “the achievement gap” and is a platform for prospecting students to learn about the true cost of a college education at various universities based on scholarships available, average ROI of the degree they’re interested in and actual published attendance costs. For winning, they received six months of desk space at Cintrifuse, a meeting with a local venture capitalist, and a GitHub gold account—all things to help continue their startup. 
Second place was kNOwait, an app that publishes drive times along with wait times at local urgent cares, DMVs, etc. to help users determine the actual fastest option near them. They received desk space at Cintrifuse, legal advice from Taft, and a GitHub bronze account. The next Startup Weekend will take place in November; visit www.cincinnati.startupweekend.org to stay updated.
By Mike Sarason

Cincy Sundaes combines micro-grant funding and delicious sundae making

While they may not be the first, Erika Fiola and Kristine Frech may be the most recent duo to put the “fun” back in funding. The two enterprising young women have begun a new program in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area called Cincy Sundaes, which combines an ice cream social event with a forum to present, listen to and award micro-grants for innovative ideas from the local community.
The premise and structure is purposely simple. Cincy Sundaes is a series of ice cream socials that take place from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, with the first taking place Sunday, April 13 at Rhinegeist Brewery in Over-the-Rhine. The events are open to the public, cost $5 to attend and feature four presenters with innovative ideas intended to improve the Greater Cincinnati area. Each attendee receives one sundae, featuring Dojo Gelato, and one vote. After the presentations, attendees vote for their favorite idea and 100% of the money collected at the door goes directly to the idea that receives the most votes.
“I’ve spent most of my life living in Cincinnati and much of my adult career working in Northern Kentucky,” Frech says. “They are both incredible places to be, but in both areas we noticed that there were people who wanted to be civically engaged but don’t know how. We wanted to create something fun, easy and accessible that can have a real impact.”
The idea for Cincy Sundaes came after taking a trip to Detroit in the fall of 2013 curated by Eric Avner of The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Fiola and French, who both were part of the trip, were inspired by much of what they saw and in particular latched on to a similar program called Detroit Soup.
“We want Cincy Sundaes to be a place where people and organizations can come to get involved and democratically engage with ideas,” Fiola says. “It can be difficult to get funding sometimes, especially if you’re not registered as a 501c3, but we want this to be something simple.”
Fiola and Frech have partnered with several organizations along the way. HYPE, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's young professional organization, has signed on to be the “toppings” sponsor. Legacy, Northern Kentucky’s young professional organization, is the “spoon” sponsor. And as of this past week, Cincy Sundaes will receive a one-to-one match from the Big Idea Challenge of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, so each winner will receive double the prize money.
To learn more about Cincy Sundaes, visit www.cincysundaes.com

By Mike Sarason

Reds kick off 2014 season by adding Taste of Belgium and local craft beers

In Cincinnati, April doesn’t only bring showers, it brings baseball (we’ve had a lot of both already). But for the 2014 baseball season, the Cincinnati Reds have announced new partnerships to bring some of the city’s best new local flavors to Great American Ballpark.
As of Opening Day last week, Taste of Belgium announced its status as “the Official Waffle of the Cincinnati Reds.” Reds fans will now be able to enjoy a few of the sweet and savory items that have made Taste of Belgium a fixture of the local food scene since its beginnings at Findlay Market.
“We’ve been making waffles all over town at all kinds of events, so this was not only a logical next step for us, but a tremendous opportunity,” says Taste of Belgium owner Jean-Francois Fletchet. “We are honored to be counted among the Cincinnati brands supported by Great American Ballpark.”
Featured menu items at the stadium include waffles with chocolate or strawberry toppings, Belgium fries and a waffle 'n' chicken.
“We like to be playful with our menu,” Fletchet says. “Since Cincinnatians aren’t as familiar with traditional Belgian fare, we look for interesting combinations of things they know and things they don’t, like our waffle and chicken, which has become a signature dish.”
Taste of Belgium’s signature waffle joins the ranks of longtime Cincinnati favorites, such as LaRosa’s Pizzeria and Skyline Chili, signifying yet another step on the part of the Reds to embrace Cincinnati’s evolving food and beverage culture.
In addition to Taste of Belgium, Great American Ballpark has also added The Reds Brewery District, an 85-foot-long home to 60 taps featuring a dozen local craft beers including selections from Christian Moerlein, MadTree Brewing, Blank Slate Brewing Company, 50 West Brewing Company, Rhinegeist, Mt. Carmel and Rivertown Brewing Company.
To learn more about where these local offerings can be found in the stadium, check out the Reds site here.

By Mike Sarason

Kandid.ly helps connect photographers and clients

For some, the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the year for 2013, “selfie,” meant little more than an inane desire for people to capture themselves looking cool. For Sam Ulu, founder of Cincinnati-based startup Kandid.ly, it was a revelation and an opportunity.
Kandid.ly is an online resource for photographers to list their work and book gigs. Similarly, it acts as a resource for customers who want to book photographers for any type of event. The streamlined setup allows for quick analysis by customers to find the right photographer based on rates, locations and recommendations, and also adds a social “gamification” element where photographers can receive badges from checking in at events, similar to Foursquare. Ulu cemented the concept for the company just as the selfie era was beginning.
“People are craving richer experiences, and they want to be able to remember those moments. That’s why the selfie is so popular,” Ulu says. “The selfie is our quest to capture ourselves being in the moment.”
Rather than attempt to capture ourselves, Ulu bet that he could develop a means to have more experienced photographers capture those moments at a price point affordable to anyone. After reading a 2012 Wall Street Journal called “Don’t Forget to Pack a Photographer” that descrived what astronomical rates hotels and vacation services were charging for this, Ulu knew there was a better way.
“Nobody had figured how to best monetize this process,” he says. “So I spent a lot of time talking to consumers, interviewing photographers; in the end I talked to more than 600 photographers from 2012-2013.”
Now, after taking time to build his team up (Kandid.ly is currently run by a team of seven), Ulu has his company poised to get things rolling.
“We’re working on closing a $500,000 investment from Queen City Angels, Cincytech and Accelerant,” Ulu says. “That will enable us to run Kandid.ly in public beta for 12 months, start validating our customer acquisition strategy, revenue model and many other things before we actually scale it.”
Ulu is passionate and excited to build his company here in Cincinnati.
“People have that Midwest pride here and want to help, even if they are not investing in your company; everyone wants to see you succeed,” Ulu says. “Cincinnati is positioned the be the next hub for entrepreneurs. In the near future, a couple companies are going to bust onto the national scene to literally announce that the Midwest has arrived, and we believe that Kandid.ly is going to be one of those companies.”
By Mike Sarason

Metro unveils first ticket vending machine, allowing more flexible public transit

On Thursday, March 27, Metro, Southwest Ohio’s Regional Transit Authority, will unveil its first ticket vending machine. The machine is located at the Government Square information booth near the intersection of Fifth and Walnut in Downtown Cincinnati and provides 24/7 access to Metro passes and stored-value cards.
“This project has been in the works for several years, but it took some planning,” says Jill Dunne, public affairs manager at Metro. “We want to make riding Metro easier, and this is one way we can do just that.”
The machine is similar to standard vending machines, and offers all Metro 30-day rolling passes including Metro/TANK passes, and $10, $20 and $30 stored-value cards. The machine accepts cash (exact amounts only) or credit cards. Up to four passes can be purchased per transaction.
More ticket vending machines will soon be available in the Clifton area near the University of Cincinnati in the new Uptown Transit District and at other high-traffic transit hubs.
“The Uptown Transit District is a big project for Metro this year,” Dunne says. “The new district consists of four distinct areas or hubs that will serve as the major connection and transfer point for many Metro routes and several Uptown shuttles offered by the University of Cincinnati and area employers.”
Currently, Metro is in the construction phase for the shelters in the Uptown area. The machines will be installed later this year once that process is complete.
“This project will better serve the thousands of people riding Metro to and from jobs, education, medical services, and entertainment in Uptown every day,” Dunne says.
Metro is working on additional fare options for customers that will be available in Metro pass sales outlets and ticket vending machines. Metro passes will continue to be sold at a dozen Cincinnati locations and online at www.go-metro.com.
“The good news for Metro is that Cincinnati is talking about public transportation. We are seeing a positive trend with young professionals embracing alternatives to cars. People are seeking green and money-saving alternatives, and Metro fills those needs.”

By Mike Sarason

Cincinnati Center for Adult Music Study opens this week

This week marks the opening of a new music education program in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Center for Adult Music Study (CincyCAMS). Founded by Rachel Kramer, pianist, teacher and arts administrator, and her business partner Mary Chaiken, CincyCAMS will offer programs on all aspects of music in multiple venues around the greater Cincinnati area. 
Chaiken and Kramer have been friends for some time, having made music together as a part of Muse, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, until Kramer retired from the choir in 2013. In 2014, they’ve decided to become business partners.
“I had always wanted to start a program like this,” Kramer says. “Mary had just finished her last grant-based job in medical research—she is a molecular biologist—and was looking to do something new. We got to talking and CincyCAMS is the result.”
The programs offered include more traditional lessons, performance groups, lectures covering a wide range of musical topics and more. Programs are intended to be short (nothing more than six weeks) so students will not only cover several topics throughout the course of the year, but will also visit several different venues in various areas of the city.
“We want to be the community meeting place for people to come, make music and realize a dream come true,” Kramer says. “We want to enrich lives and inspire adults to make their own kind of music.”
CincyCAMS is also looking to collaborate with current music teachers and music professionals in the Greater Cincinnati area.
“We will be using our professional colleagues as facilitators,” Kramer says. “We also would like students of our community teachers to come to CincyCAMS for enrichment classes and performance opportunity, and we would like to send cincyCAMS participants who want further study to our area teachers.”
To that end, CincyCAMS has already partnered with the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, as well as with Northern Kentucky University and the Music Teacher’s National Association.  
To learn more about the program, visit www.cincycams.com.

By Mike Sarason

The Carnegie takes inspiration from local farming, adopts Community Supported Art program

The Carnegie, Northern Kentucky’s largest multidisciplinary arts venue located in Covington, has announced the inaugural season of Carnegie Community Supported Art (Carnegie CSA), which will allow arts enthusiasts to buy “farm boxes” filled with works of art created by local artists.
Inspired by Community Supported Agriculture initiatives (CSAs), which allow consumers to buy food directly from local farmers, The Carnegie’s CSA program applies the same “buy local” ethic to art and seeks to enrich the experience for artists and collectors at all levels.
“We hope that this program will bring new collectors in and make it easier for collectors to discover new artists,” says Matt Distel, exhibitions director at the Carnegie. “We included a diverse array of local artists so that no matter what your level of experience buying art is, everyone will wind up with something new.”
Local artists whose work will be featured include Antonio Adams, Keith Benjamin, Carmel Buckley, Barbara Houghton, Casey Riordan Millard, Marcia Shortt, Michael Stillion/Katie Labmeier, Chris Vorhees and Joseph Winterhalter.
Individuals interested in supporting the Carnegie CSA will purchase a “share” for $350 and in return will receive a “farm box” consisting of nine pieces of locally produced artwork. Featured works could include items such as mixed media prints, a run of photographs or small original ceramics.
The actual works created will vary and will be kept secret until July when participants will pick up their “shares” during the Carnegie CSA harvest party. The program is modeled on a similar program created by mnartists.org and Springboard for the Arts in Minneapolis.
“It’s a very innovative way of thinking about how we create a community spirit that is supportive of local artists,” Distel says. “We’re looking to make this an ongoing program so that we can continue to include all kind of artists from the area and cultivate new collectors.”
Member shares for the Carnegie CSA will go on sale Thursday, May 1, 2014, and will be available for purchase by contacting (859) 491-2030. To learn more about the program, visit www.thecarnegie.com.  
 By Mike Sarason

Cincinnati-based Brighton Technologies expands product line and workforce

Cincinnati-based engineering technology company Brighton Technologies Group (BTG) is expanding its product line and workforce in 2014. The company will debut its new Android-based Surface Analyst handheld unit later this year and is currently in the process of developing a robotic version for automated assembly lines.
After debuting it’s hand-held Surface Analyst technology in 2010 (touched on in Soapbox here), the company has expanded its client base to include customers in a variety of industries. The technology assesses a surface's readiness for bonding, coating, or printing; thus far BTG’s clients include Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, GM, Apple, Honda, Johnson & Johnson and more.
“Essentially, our tools are about reducing costs, saving time and building in a higher margin of safety,” says Lucas Dillingham, Marketing Sales Director for BTG. “It’s about quality control and knowing what’s going on with your product during each step of the manufacturing process.”
While the older version of the handheld Surface Analyst was equipped with a computer process running Windows XP, the new Android instrument has 5 times greater battery life, new UX/UI design for smoother operation, and custom built integrated circuit boards to ensure greater reliability in manufacturing applications as well as easier manufacture. All instruments are built and serviced through the BTG’s St. Bernard based facility.
“Cincinnati has a history as a manufacturing town, which is definitely an advantage for us,” says Dillingham. “There’s a really strong core network of people who build things here.”
BTG is looking to add to this network of people in 2014, as its growth has necessitated the need for it to look for additional sales representatives and product managers.
“We’re working on some of our biggest projects this year, including an NSF grant for the development of our robotic technology,” says Dillingham.
In 2013, BTG was awarded a $150,000 grant to develop a prototype of the technology, which would have huge benefits for the automotive industry. Now they are aiming to receive a $750,000 phase 2 grant to turn the prototype into a product. BTG already partnered with GM for some of the prototype work and has several other clients interested in the as of yet unreleased technology.
To learn more, visit http://btgnow.com.

Class is in Session radio program is Cincinnati's newest forum on education

Cincinnati has a new venue for public dialogue on the topic of education in our city. “Class is in Session” is a weekly radio program on 1230 AM every Saturday from 3-4 p.m., created through a collaboration between the Strive Partnership and Parents for Public Schools of Greater Cincinnati (PPSGC). 
The show, which began at the beginning of March, is set up to be an open forum where listeners are encouraged to call in and voice their opinions on issues related to education in the urban core.
“Our goal is to engage the community and create great discussions in the education sphere,” says Nia Williams, Community Engagement Coordinator for Strive. “This show creates a consistent space for dialogue and provides constant feedback for us that will inform our work.”
Strive, a partnership of Greater Cincinnati businesses, nonprofits, school districts and universities working to improve outcomes for every child in Cincinnati, Covington and Newport, reached out to PPSGC because of their experience engaging the community.
“We thought radio would be a good venue because we get to share what’s happening and people can offer feedback at any point during the program,” Williams says.
So far, topics for Class is in Session have included the achievement gap, poverty, parent involvement and more.
“Parent engagement in the education sphere is crucial,” Williams says. “It can fundamentally change how our education system works; we have to do a better job at reaching out to parents and making that happen. That’s why we’re working with PPSGC in the first place.”
Class is in Session will also act as a method of sharing positive developments that are happening in the urban core.
“We have a lot to talk about as far as early childhood education, the Preschool Promise and more,” Williams says. “We want listeners to be excited and learn how they can get involved.”
The Preschool Promise is a campaign to ensure that every 3-4-year-old has access to quality preschool. This promises to get more children ready for school, reading successfully by the end of 3rd grade, and graduating from high school ready for college and careers.
To learn more about Class is in Session, visit the Strive Partnership website.

By Mike Sarason
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