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Cintrifuse invests in major New York City venture capital fund

Cintrifuse, the downtown-based company that develops and supports entrepreneurialism in Cincinnati, has announced that its newest investment is New York City-based Lerer Hippeau Ventures IV (LHV), a top tier venture capital fund, to increase seed and early stage venture leadership in Cincinnati.
 
With more than $130 million under management, Lerer Hippeau invests in the earliest stages of a startup’s life—a complementary strategy for the growing startup ecysystem in Cincinnati and a piece of the puzzle that Cintrifuse saw as a crucial addition.
 
“Seed stage investment is very important here in Cincinnati,” says Tim Schigel, Cintrifuse fund manager. “CincyTech and Queen City Angels are doing a great job, but we need more. Lerer is a great firm and very compatible with our region.”
 
LHV is widely viewed as one of the top firms in NYC with investments in such companies as Buzzfeed, Birchbox, Thrillist Media Group and nearly 200 others. With this specialization in digital media and publishing, particularly in the tech world, Cintrifuse is betting that this will continue to bring attention and, more important, investment to the Cincinnati region.
 
“Since our founding four years ago, we’ve been focused primarily on fueling the New York and West Coast tech scenes,” says Eric Hippeau, managaing director at LHV and former CEO of the Huffington Post. “With our fourth fund, we’re looking forward to selectively seeking investment opportunities outside these regions. Cincinnati is particularly interesting with a great deal of startup growth potential, and we are extremely excited to be partnering with Cintrifuse, which sits at the center of innovation in the city.”
 
Schigel is excited for what this means for the city, and while it is not yet certain how this specific relationship will play out, he is optimistic for the future.
 
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Schigel sats. “We could go for two years without anything happening, but the good thing is that it is already happening. There are already investments imminent. The question is, how does it continue and at what kind of pace. We’re building relationships and multiple touch points for those venture firms within the community and will continue to build resources and connections for our entrepreneurs.”
 

Cincinnati Chamber's Minority Business Accelerator grows portfolio with three new firms

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) has had a busy year. This month, the MBA has announced the addition of three local corporations to the organization’s current portfolio of 34 companies, ensuring those minority-owned enterprises the MBA’s assistance with working with larger companies of substance. 
 
Additionally, two new MBA Corporate Goal Setters were unveiled today, joining the ranks of 37 regional organizations that have pledged a significant commitment to using a diverse group of suppliers.
 
Joining the MBA as Portfolio Companies are K-COR, LLC, a specialty subcontractor specializing in reinforced steel led by former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Kevin Walker; PAK/TEEM Acquisition Company, Inc., a dust control technology leader; and Business Technical Services, LLC, an infrastructure company specializing in pipeline integrity management.
 
“The Cincinnati region is made up of somewhere around 20 percent minorities. We want to make sure that they, as individuals and companies, are given every opportunity to grow to their fullest potential,” says Crystal German, vice president of the MBA and economic inclusion at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “These three portfolio additions are not only examples of the measured growth of our MBA, but represent strong minority advancement in manufacturing, one of our region’s most significant industry sectors.”
 
In addition to this, the MBA announced last week at its 2014 Annual Stakeholder meeting that the Goal Setters companies spent $1.04 billion with local minority-owned companies in 2013, the highest level in the MBA’s 11-year history. Goal Setters are local corporations and nonprofit organizations that commit to an annual spend goal. Also announced at the meeting, average revenues for the MBA’s 34 Portfolio Firms reached $32 million in 2013, a 10 percent increase from 2012, and a 100 percent increase from 2009.
 
“Thirteen years ago, there was major racial tension here, and one of the biggest issues was a lack of opportunities for minorities, specifically in business,” says Lance Barry, public relations manager at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “To be able to say that now we have one of the leading minority business accelerators in the entire country is incredible.”
 
Indeed, since the MBA’s formation 11 years ago, the cities of Dayton, Ohio, Lexington, Ky., Greensville, S.C., and Charlotte, N.C., have all begun similar programs in their respective cities and have modeled them on Cincinnati’s MBA program

River Cities Capital closes largest fund to date, celebrates 20th anniversary

River Cities Capital Funds (RCCF), a growth equity firm investing in high-potential health care and IT companies, announced today the final closing of its fifth fund. The RCCF Fund V capped at $200 million, surpassing its $150 million goal, with the continued support from many longtime limited partners as well as new participation from several large national and international institutions. The firm, based in Cincinnati and Raleigh, N.C., has raised more than $500 million to date.
 
“With Fund V, we’ll continue to build market-segment leaders that combine disruptive technologies, innovative business practices and disciplined sales and marketing expansion to become frontrunners in their target markets,” says Dan Fleming, managing director of RCCF.
 
The Fund V portfolio includes three companies to date: Trax Technologies, a Saas provider of logistics-spend management solutions; TissueTech, a pioneer in regenerative tissue-based products; and StepLeader, a business-to-business provider of mobile technology platform and data-driven mobile ad networks for local media outlets. With robust deal flow and fundraising completed, new investment activity is expected to accelerate over the coming year.
 
“We see thousands of companies each year and, as always, our mission is to provide our investors with premium returns, while building strong communities that make a positive impact in the market and create job opportunities in the areas of the country that are often underserved by larger VC and PE firms,” Fleming says.
 
After 20 years in business, RCCF has seen the industry change quite a bit.
 
“When we started, the whole investment ecosystem was starting from scratch,” Fleming says. “Now, CincyTech, the Brandery, Queen City Angels, Uptech and Cintrifuse, our region has a tremendous amount of resources focused on new company formation. We currently have two portfolio companies in Cincinnati, and we’ve helped build more than 20 companies in Ohio over the years. We’d of course love the opportunity to put more money to work locally, and we make a concerted effort to track early companies to be ready if they need growth capital.”

Food truck festival on Fountain Square grows, benefits local charity

Local nonprofit Josh Cares, an organization within Cincinnati Children’s Hospital designed to benefit hospitalized children who are alone or in need of support, will take over Fountain Square on June 18 for Food Truckin’ for Josh Cares: Presented by General Mills and Kroger.
 
The lunchtime event is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature more than 10 diverse food trucks from around Cincinnati including Eli’s BBQ, Dojo Gelato, C’est Cheese, Red Sesame, Street Pops, Blue Ash Chili and more. Frank Marzulo of Fox 19 will emcee the event, which culminates with a “Golden Spatula Awards” contest, with best entree and best sweet treat chosen by a celebrity panel that includes Elizabeth Mariner, co-publisher and creative director for "Express Cincinnati;" Ilene Ross, chef and editor of 513Eats.com; and Jeremy Lieb, executive chef at Boca. Judging will be headed up by Warm 98 hosts Bob Goen and Marianne Curan, who will be broadcasting live from the event.
 
“If you look at just how many people have come together to build this event and make it successful, it’s truly a testament to our city as a whole,” says Tom Howard, member of the Josh Cares Young Professional Council. “We also couldn’t have made this happen without the support of Rockfish, who selected us to be the recipient of $50,000 of pro-bono digital marketing and branding services.”
 
The Josh Cares program began as a grassroots initiative within Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Today, there are six Josh Cares Child Life Specialists at the hospital to ensure that no critically ill child endures a lengthy hospitalization alone, feeling afraid and abandoned. Food Truckin’ for Josh Cares has become the organization’s biggest public event and awareness builder.
 
“Last year, we raised $17,000; this year our goal is to more than double that,” says Joy Blang, executive director of Josh Cares. “The bottom line is that ,while it will be a great day celebrating the great food truck scene here, it’s really all about making these children a little happier.”

Want to learn more about Cincinnati street food? Check out "30 Must-Try Cincinnati Food Trucks."

Joe Thirty provides new format, opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect

In May, a new series of morning networking events called Joe Thirty kicked off on the 20th floor of the Cincinnati Enquirer building downtown. The series holds events every second Wednesday of the month at 8 a.m., and offers individual entrepreneurs/companies a chance to present to a group of their peers, make connections and receive feedback.
 
At each event, only one local entrepreneur is selected to speak. They are given six minutes to present and talk about any issues they are dealing with or help they may need. The remaining 24 minutes are reserved for community feedback (totaling 30 minutes for the entire event). The main organizers of the event are the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association (GCVA) and local startup and entrepreneurial partner Differential.
 
“GCVA and Differential have been getting together to think about how we could create a program that gathers together the startup community and gives one company at a time the chance to make a pitch to them, not for money, but for resources,” says GCVA volunteer Jake Hodesh. “Our goal is that hopefully by the end of that 30 minute event, that startup leaves with at least one, if not multiple, connections, whether they be to mentors, developers, beta testers or anything else.”
 
The next event will be held on Wednesday, June 11 and will feature Sue Reynolds of ArtifactTree. ArtifactTree is a tool that lets users log and track family heirlooms and other rare items in their possession. This tool is aimed to make it easy for families to share who has what, add notes, and even tap a network of specialists within ArtifactTree to have your possessions rated, commented on and appraised. 
 
“There’s still a very real need for startups to access mentors and connections in a general sense,” Hodesh says. “We held the first event, and we had a really good crowd, so it was pretty obvious that there are people who are still hungry to participate and to help.”
 
Since the first event, GCVA and Differential have received a flurry of inquires from various startups about presenting at Joe Thirty. Hodesh says they plan to roll out an application process to evaluate each company and determine whether or not Joe Thirty will be able to connect them with the resources they need.
 
“Cincinnati is a resource-rich environment for entrepreneurs right now,” Hodesh says. “The greatest opportunity is that there are so many opportunities. We’re just doing our part to connect people with them.” 

FORCAM receives New Product Innovation Award for global plant software solution

FORCAM, a technology and consulting company based in downtown Cincinnati, received the 2014 Global Plant Software Solutions New Product Innovation Leadership Award, awarded by global market research from Frost & Sullivan.
 
FORCAM earned the award for its Factory Framework V5 product, which enables an improvement process at all production stages for factories and plants by connecting and analyzing real-time data from many varying machine controls resulting in transparent and reliable performance data.
 
“We have a unique software technology that can monitor factories in a global way,” says FORCAM COO Mohamed Abuali. “If your company has factories in different parts of the globe, our vision is for you to be able to look at the performance of every plant at one time via a single device, such as a cell phone or computer, and easily pick out relevant data on things like speed and quality.”
 
FORCAM is headquartered in Germany, but opened its Cincinnati office in 2012. Frost & Sullivan chose FORCAM for its award partly because the company exemplifies the concept of Industry 4.0.
 
“Industry 4.0 is a concept that acknowledges that we have entered a new (fourth) industrial revolution,” Abuali says. “The first revolution was around manufacturing, then assembly line, then automation. Industry 4.0 presents the idea of Cyber Physical Produciton Systems. It means that any device, any factory could be mirrored in the IT world.”
 
Currently, companies like BMW and Daimler, as well as others in the aerospace and medical technology fields, have adopted FORCAM’s Factory Framework solution. Looking to the future, Abuali hopes to build a client base in other industry sectors, as well as focus on smaller and midsize manufacturers.
 
“Our solution will be cloud-based by 2015, so small and midsize companies won’t have to buy servers that they can’t afford,” Abuali says.
 
The investment, research and development of Factory Framework was started in 2008, during the recession.
 
“We didn’t stop R&D during the financial crisis,” Abuali says. “We perfected the system in 2013, deployed it at four beta clients, and the system will be ready for U.S. release by the end of this year or early 2015.”
 

Main Library stokes maker culture, offers free access to 3D printer

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County just installed its first 3D printer in the TechCenter at the Main Library. The printer, which uses plastic filament to build objects layer by layer, can print just about any object that can be designed.
 
The printer is just one step in the public library’s efforts to give members access to current technology and develop the maker culture in the region.
 
“We’re planning to have maker spaces, along with 3D printers, at our new Reading and St. Bernard locations; this is a way for us to test the concept out,” says Maelynn Foster Hudson, marketing communications strategist for the library. “As a library, we’ve always been about more than just books—it’s about connecting people with a world of ideas and information.”
 
The printer is located on the second floor of the Main Library’s South building. TechCenter staff will be on hand to assist new and experienced users with their projects. In addition, there are several premade designs that can be downloaded and printed.
 
Websites such as Thingiverse provide design-ready objects for printing. Customers can simply save the custom or selected design on a flash drive, bring it to the Main Library and talk to a TechCenter staff member for assistance with printing it.
 
“Soon, we’ll also offer programming around the use of the 3D printer, such as how to create and patent designs,” Foster Hudson says. “We want people to come in with ideas and we’ll help them to materialize them. That’s why we offer things like computers at all of our branches; it’s about growth, innovation and meeting our customers’ needs.”

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

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

The Garage Group adds training services, hosts innovation workshop

The Garage Group, the Cincinnati-based consultancy that helps larger, corporate companies engage with and activate their entrepreneurial spirit, has begun offering training services in addition to their focus on market research and insights and ideation workshops. In conjunction with these services, they will host a two-day workshop in Cincinnati on April 24-25 entitled “Enabling Corporate Teams to Innovate Like Startups.”
 
The company, located in the historic Longworth Hall amidst several other startup, design and production companies, was co-founded nearly three years ago by Jason Hauer and Ann Lauer, two entrepreneurs who left small firms to start their own business together.
 
“Three years ago, when we started, the concept of making a corporation more like a startup was very hard for people to understand,” Lauer says. “It was not common language, and we wrestled a lot with it. We got into the training business because we had to do some education to get people to understand the concept.”
 
According to The Garage Group, things have changed since then.
 
“Cincinnati has become a more innovative entrepreneurial region in that time,” Lauer says. “We’ve benefitted from that and hopefully made a contribution to it as well. We sit in an interesting position where we get to bridge between the startups and larger companies.
 
In those three years, The Garage Group has trained more than 1,000 people from large service and Fortune 1,000 companies nationwide on topics such as skills and behaviors for entrepreneurs and how to develop and collaboratively co-create ideas with stakeholders.
 
“When we think about a traditional company being more entrepreneurial, it’s on two levels,” Hauer says. “At one level its really about developing and launching new products, services and business models. At another level it’s about getting people within the base organization to think more entrepreneurially in terms of how they approach their day-to-day job and continually improve the value that they are bringing to their company, brand or service they are working on.”
 
The Garage Group will hold their two-day workshop in Cincinnati in April and will follow it up with an additional workshop in Chicago in June. To learn more, visit their website.

By Mike Sarason


SCORE celebrates 50 years of helping small businesses

SCORE, the nonprofit business counseling organization, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Cincinnati chapter of the national organization was initiated in 1964, originally offering free business counseling through retired executive members, primarily focusing on businesses with 25 employees or less.
 
SCORE’s purpose today is still to provide free business counseling through its members, who include working and retired executives, with the Cincinnati chapter counting 100 volunteer executives and specialists who donate their time. Most chapters also offer business seminars at a nominal cost.
 
In Cincinnati, SCORE helped more than 1,500 clients in 2013, leading to more thab 350 new jobs in the area. The local chapter was also picked as the runner-up for Chapter of the Year out of 360 chapters nationally. SCORE held 47 free or low-cost workshops for 938 attendees locally, covering topics such as business plan development, startup basics, marketing and sales strategies, and more.
 
“Even though we are considered a small market city, we as a chapter consistently out-perform the major cities, such as LA, New York City, Chicago, etc.,” says Dennis Murphy, SCORE counselor for the last six years and chair of the SCORE fundraising committee. We have been a Top 5 Performing Chapter ever year that I’ve been with SCORE Cincinnati.”
 
One of Murphy’s clients, Mary Helen Boedekker, owner of Mary Helen Clothing, began working with SCORE a year ago.
 
“After my first meeting with my mentor, I knew this organization was special,” Boedekker says. “SCORE gives small business owners the opportunity to move beyond being a small business and get to the next level. Their ability to guide me in the right direction has helped more than I could have imagined. Any time I have a question or need help, I call Dennis and he helps me find a solution.”
 
“The time is right for the Greater Cincinnati area,” Murphy says. “Cincinnati is well-positioned to lead the Midwest as a hub for entrepreneurs and startups. The investors are here, the support is here; I don’t see any deterrents to huge area business growth on the horizon in 2014 and beyond.”
 
To learn more about SCORE Cincinnati, visit www.greatercincinnati.score.org.

By Mike Sarason

Cincinnati Chamber launches $1.7M minority business funding campaign

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) announced the launch of the first phase of funding for the L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund. The MBA is the Chamber’s economic-development initiative focused on growing sizeable minority firms.
 
The fund will provide flexible debt capital to finance growth projects of established, highly competitive African-American and Hispanic-owned firms in the region. The average loan size will be $175,000. It is anticipated that three to four loans will be made per year. Once they are, they will be the first of their kind in the country.
 
“The combination of the target market, the geographic focus and the financial product makes the L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund unique,” says Crystal German, vice president of the MBA and economic inclusion at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “The fund will help us grow our impact, the number of firms we touch, and continue to help us fundamentally change the conversation about economic inclusion.”
 
The fund was named in memory of media owner L. Ross Love. The entrepreneur, philanthropist, former Procter & Gamble executive and founder of Blue Chip Broadcasting was dedicated to minority entrepreneurship. During his career, Love created Blue Chip Enterprises, a company that helped African Americans start their own businesses.
 
The fund has raised more than $1.7 million from 28 investors since being announced in June 2013, representing both corporations and private commitments.
 
“The opportunity to make the L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund come to fruition was seeded by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, who was looking for opportunities where they could provide financial investments that also created positive social impact,” German says.
 
Since its inception in 2003, the MBA has created 1,800 jobs in Cincinnati. The success of the Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator has served as a catalyst across the country including in Charlotte, Cleveland, Lexington, Dayton and Greenville, where MBAs have since been launched. Learn more about the history of Cincinnati's MBA and how it has become a model for other MBAs throughout the country.

By Mike Sarason

New downtown law firm is geared toward startups and small businesses

The Law Office of Paul H. Spitz announced the opening of its new office in the Cintrifuse space at 299 E. Sixth St. in downtown Cincinnati. Headed up by attorney Paul Spitz, the boutique business law firm opened its doors in December 2013, offering entrepreneurs, startups, and small and mid-sized businesses legal counsel for their business law and transactional needs.
 
Cintrifuse is an innovation network designed to successfully launch high-growth startups, specifically focusing on tech companies, and also offers a co-work space for entrepreneurs, programs, mentors and business consultants in its downtown office. Spitz, who had been living and working in San Francisco for the past 14 years, is excited not only by the substantially cheaper cost of doing business here, but also by being a part of the nascent entrepreneurial community in Cincinnati.
 
“Working out of Cintrifuse puts me right in the center of the startup scene,” Spitz says. “I'm able to interact with the other people using the Cintrifuse space to launch their businesses. I see a lot of enthusiasm from people, a real desire to build something and make an impact. I also see them struggling to find resources that are abundant in the Bay Area, like software people and access to capital. But the community as a whole seems really dedicated to working together to provide mentorship and other assistance to entrepreneurs.”
 
The law firm provides services such as startup counseling, business formation, choice of entity, founder agreements, contract review and negotiation, commercial real estate leasing, non-disclosure agreements, consulting agreements, employment agreements, corporate governance, and other business law services.
 
Recognizing that many startups and small businesses are priced out of the market for legal services by high billing rates, Spitz designed his firm to be lean, with very low overhead, so that he can pass those savings on to clients through lower rates and flexible billing arrangements.
 
"My firm is also just starting up, so I share many of the same experiences and struggles of my clients, giving me a unique empathy as I serve their needs,” Spitz says.
 
 By Mike Sarason
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