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Hacking Heroin winners embarking on real-time implementation


The Hacking Heroin winners recently updated the Cincinnati City Council's Education & Entrepreneurship Committee and IX Health attendees on the status of their projects.

“It was fantastic to see these two teams share their tireless work with their elected leaders,” says Colleen Reynolds, director of community affairs, Office of Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld. “I'm a big believer in the collaboration between government and the tech community, especially when a tech-based solution can help us make a dent in solving a real, challenging problem such as the opioid epidemic.”

Two of the winners, Give Simply (formerly Give Hope) and Crosswave Health (formerly Window), are actively preparing their products for market. Give Simply uses crowdfunding concepts to connect individuals with local organizations fighting the heroin epidemic; Crosswave Health created a platform to match individuals with community resources for treatment.

The third Hacking Heroin winner, Lazarus, is on hold but hopes to continue working with its on-demand service platform soon.

“These teams are building tools focused on fixing local problems, but that could also be useful nationally,” says Annie Rittgers, 17A founder and one of the Hacking Heroin organizers. “Now that they are real organizations, they have much more tailored needs and are looking for mentors, funders and partners who know the markets they are building in.”

The City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County recently announced each entity would commit an additional $200,000 to fighting the opioid epidemic. These funds will be allocated to building the capacity of the Addiction Services Hotline, expanding Quick Response Teams, increasing community education and training and Narcan distribution. The City also allocated $5,000 to support further development of the Hacking Heroin solutions.

“I don't think this will be the last of a city investment in ensuring the success of these projects,” says Reynolds. “As the epidemic continues to plague our community, our Council office — along with our many community partners — believes an all-hands-on-deck response is required.”

“The June hackathon is proof that a small push like a weekend event can have enormous impact,” Rittgers adds. “The world now has two more businesses focused on making a dent in the problem, and we have a whole community here in Cincinnati collaborating in new ways that will contribute to better outcomes for everyone.”

Hacking Heroin successfully engaged the business and tech communities in the fight to end the opiate crisis. With two of the winners ready to implement their solutions, 17A is focusing on how to leverage the momentum from the June event to magnify the impact of Hacking Heroin locally and nationally.
 


CincyTech's Big Breakfast not about food but startup showcases


On Nov. 8, CincyTech’s Big Breakfast + Startup Showcase will return to the Duke Energy Convention Center.

“We offer something that you won't find at any other event on the Cincinnati startup ecosystem calendar: It puts all of our portfolio companies, as well as other startups connected to our ecosystem partners, including HCDC, Cintrifuse and The Brandery, in one room tradeshow-style,” says Peg Rusconi, CincyTech's director of communications. “You can get a great sense of the regional startup landscape and meet the entrepreneurs who are building promising digital and life science companies. In some cases, you feel like you're seeing the future.”

The Big Breakfast has expanded from a hallway of displays into one of the large ballrooms, representing not only the growth of Cincinnati’s startup sector but the number of people interested and invested in it.

“We've drawn about 700 people in each of the last couple of years,” says Rusconi. “It's really a celebration of our startup community. It's great energy and it's a great way to plug into the startup scene in one location.”

The Big Breakfast is not a sit-down, keynote speaker event. Although there will be plenty of coffee and portable breakfast food, attendees spend their time in the Startup Showcase.

“We encourage people to walk around, learn about our portfolio companies, their technology and the people behind them, and also network with others, whether they're investors, business leaders or interested members of the community,” Rusconi says.

There will be a brief presentation at 8:30 a.m. to reveal CincyTech’s annual video, highlight event sponsors and hear from an entrepreneur. Mike Venerable, president of CincyTech, will share the organization's recent accomplishments and upcoming plans.

“CincyTech was created to help entrepreneurs get access to capital, to build their businesses here and to grow the regional tech economy,” says Rusconi. “We'll share our metrics and highlights from the past year, but as an organization, we are always looking ahead. As a seed stage investor, we always have an eye on the future.”

The event will be held from 7:30 to 9 a.m., and is free and open to the public; pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

“This is a fun, high-energy mingle-fest,” says Rusconi. “It’s a great opportunity to see how much promise there is in these startups, and that our region is home to companies working on real problems and developing solutions that will improve our world.”
 


Local chef introduces variety, one cookbook at a time


One local chef is bringing adults of all ages together for a travel-themed potluck dinner once a month in Over-the-Rhine.

Chef and owner of the Tablespoon Cooking Co., Jordan Hamons, came up with the idea for a cookbook club from articles she read on Serious Eats and Food 52. She based her business model on other successful platforms she's read about.

Those that join, as well as the chefs, make dishes from a different cookbook each month and bring their dishes to Revel OTR Urban Winery and share with others.

“I wanted a space that was welcoming and friendly and promoted conversation,” Hamons says.

In September, the theme was French cooking. Everyone made a dish from the cookbook My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. It was about more than just the food — it was about the conversations that took place.

People started to talk about the book, the recipes they made and their travels to France or their hopes to travel to France. “You meet new people and it really encourages that type of conversation,” Hamons says.

Last month's 33-member group included adults of all ages with little to very advanced cooking backgrounds. Hamons encourages people of all kinds to cook food from the cookbooks that they would not normally cook from.

“It's like a no-risk way to try a lot from the book and find some new foods that maybe you would not have expected to like,” she says.

Hamons and some of the other chefs involved provide a few of the main dishes and pair them with tasteful wines. Anyone can sign up on Tablespoon's website and pick a dish to cook, which range from easy to very advanced. The cookbook potlucks are $30, and cover the cost of the main dishes, the rented space at Revel and three glasses of wine. The cookbooks have to be purchased separately.

The cookbook club will meet again on Nov. 7 for a Lebanese themed potluck. This time, the cookbook is Orange Blossoms and Rose Water by Maureen Abood.

“She's a friend of mine and it's an amazing book,” Hamons says. “The food is so good."

The last day to meet for this year will be the potluck on Nov. 7, but after the New Year, the potluck will return once every month. Next year, Hamons will be working on the cookbook club as well as more cooking classes and a series of tasting events with Tablespoon.

To check out what she has in the works, click here.
 


Cincy hosts nationally recognized TechStars Startup Week Oct. 9-13


During the week of Oct. 9-13, #StartupCincy will host Techstars Startup Week Cincinnati powered by CincyTech — a first of its kind for the city. The five-day event is free and open to the public. Denver-based Techstars is a worldwide network that helps cultivate relationships among entrepreneurs, bigcos and startups in order to help them all succeed.

In years past, NewCo and FounderCon have showcased Cincinnati’s capability and talent as a startup hub, but for Cintrifuse’s Marketing and Public Relations Manager Henry Molski, the local startup scene has never seen an event quite like this.

“This year's event rides on the momentum of last years’ successes and pushes us into a new territory, but now we're telling our own story — that #StartupCincy has some of the best tools in the Midwest for you to launch a successful business,” says Molski. “Five full days of events: more than 60 speakers, 50 sessions, five happy hours, two demo days and a pitch competition. It's a big week.”

Each day, the public is invited to see what the local startup community is all about. The entire week is free and open to anyone who is interested. It’s a time to engage with others, source talent and learn best practices, all while creating opportunities for collaboration and growth.

And it’s all happening the same week as BLINK and Music Hall’s grand re-opening, which is no coincidence, says Eric Weissmann, Cintrifuse’s director of marketing, as the arts and innovation go hand-in-hand.

It was just a few years ago that event organizers were encouraged to space things out in the city, but Molski says the concentration of events this year “is a function of how much our city has grown and continues to work together.”

One of the 60 speakers at Startup Week is Alicia Kintner, CEO of ArtsWave, who will be speaking about the arts’ role in the innovation and entrepreneurship community.

“It was our intent to overlap with the [various arts-related] openings because it shows the energy that is pumping through our arts and innovation district in Over-the-Rhine,” Molski says. “It's very vibrant.”

For him, it’s impossible to walk the sidewalks of OTR without bumping into members of the arts and entrepreneurial communities every few steps, but there are still individuals he says who may not be in-the-know when it comes to the other community.

“With all of this happening at once though, it's impossible to miss out on the connection,” Molski says. “If you're involved in one, you're involved in the other.”

Check out Startup Week’s complete schedule of events, and read about another startup-related event in this week's issue that's happening later in October.


ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalists: Brookes & Hyde and Ohio Valley Beard Supply


Brookes & Hyde

Brookes & Hyde is an accessory brand that was started and founded on crafting the finest leather goods from the best materials in the world for life’s everyday adventures. It's a brand that sells quality and aesthetically pleasing designs to enrich the lives of each of its customers, all while creating a sense of ownership and pride when the products are used or worn.


Brookes & Hyde began as the college senior thesis of founder Connor Sambrookes, who was then studying at UC's DAAP program.

“During my final year of school, I returned to Chicago for a second internship and started to develop my senior thesis: a small batch brand focused on sourcing the highest quality leather and materials to create a product line of premium goods, made in-house, that gave the consumer a product worth their money,” Sambrookes says.

The brand was launched in 2015 and still operates out of the family garage, but Sambrookes is slowly growing and expanding the operations, constantly designing and innovating new products.

Brookes & Hyde is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where Sambrookes will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

During the Big Pitch process, Brookes & Hyde will be mentored by Allison Pape, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Django Kroner from the Canopy Crew.

“I plan on growing the brand locally and becoming a staple within the city of Cincinnati,” says Sambrookes. “I believe that Cincinnati is home to some of the greatest makers and artisans in the country, and I want to be part of building upon that.”

Sambrookes would use the prize money to move into a larger space that would ultimately allow him to increase production capabilities. It’s currently the biggest obstacle holding the company back.

“Instead of making one belt every hour, I would be able to produce 3-4 belts every hour,” he says. “It would allow me to increase my manufacturing, which in turn would lead to more sales, which in turn would lead to hiring of local talent and the growth of the brand.”

Brookes & Hyde makes a variety of products, including belts, wallets, toiletry kits, valet trays, coasters, dog collars and some smaller lifestyle accessories. Sambrookes plans to launch a women’s line later this year and will release a bag line in 2018.

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Ohio Valley Beard Supply

Patrick Brown and Scott Ponder, the co-founders of Ohio Valley Beard Supply, have created a line of natural beard products comprised of beard elixirs, finishing balms, washes and conditioners — oh, and mustache wax.

They will tell you that they are turning porcupines into kittens, one beard at a time.

“We want men with beards to be 100 percent more attractive to whoever they want to be attracted to,” Brown says.

Ohio Valley Beard Supply is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

Throughout the Big Pitch process, Ohio Valley Beard Supply will be mentored by Reuben Johnson, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Matt Madison of Madisono’s Gelato.

According to Brown, the business' current challenge is distribution and all that goes with shipping product and creating retail relationships. Ohio Valley Beard Supply products are in dozens of Fresh Thyme locations in the Midwest, plus a number of local boutiques.

“Our company has the potential to become something much larger,” says Brown. “We want to be in every single beard we can be in.”

With a win at the Big Pitch, the duo would be able to hire another employee to manage the distribution process so they can work on creating new retail relationships and opportunities.


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How to Attend ArtWorks Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank:

ArtWorks Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Seven of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

Tickets start at $10 and are available here
.

Read about the other five finalists here, here and here.
 


ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalist: Circus Mojo


Circus Mojo’s Paul Miller says “there’s no business like show business,” and he should know. He has performed as a clown with the “Greatest Show on Earth,” also known as the Ringling Bros.-Barnum and Bailey Circus, as well as Off Broadway shows and soap opera gigs.

He is now channeling his inner (and outer) PT Barnum to start a new venture called BIRCUS Brewing Co., which is located in Ludlow. This idea is about 20 years in the making and dates back to when Miller first arrived in Cincinnati.

In 2009, Miller relocated to Ludlow and founded Circus Mojo to offer circus classes, corporate team building opportunities and special events, and to create and run the Circus Wellness Program for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

That same year, Miller also bought a former Ludlow movie theater built in 1946 to provide a home base for Circus Mojo and a venue for homegrown, non-site-specific events and productions. Now known as The Ludlow Theatre, a venue for music, comedy, plays and circus, it was recently named to The National Register of Historic Places.

From 2009-2014, the space was successful as a venue for showcases and events produced by Circus Mojo, as well as a space for private rental until it became the temporary incubator/brewing space for BIRCUS. Today, the space is under construction to better accomodate BIRCUS.

Circus Mojo is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

The "Big Pitch" that Circus Mojo is making is to use the potential $20,000 award to take the plastic kegs that BIRCUS is made in and have them shredded, melted and poured into a mold that will be converted into spinning plates. These plates will be distributed during Circus Mojo's performances and classes, as well as to its nursing home clients and the kids at Cincinnati Children's. 

“The concept of taking our own plastic kegs and recycling them into a product that I have been buying for 20 years is gigantic,” says Miller. “Our kegs that hold our fantastic beer will be transformed into circus props and given away to people who will be entertained by our performers.”

During the Big Pitch process, Circus Mojo will be mentored by Vance Marshall, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Mike Zorn.

“Oh and another thing: Don't be afraid of clowns,” Miller says. “We have existed since the dawn of time and our goal is to make people laugh while subverting authority.”


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How to Attend the ArtWorks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank:

ArtWorks Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Seven of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

Tickets start at $10 and are available here.

Read the previous profiles of 
Waterfields LLC and Handzy Shop + Studio and CGCERAMICS and Untold Content LLC.
 


Creativity and innovation to be highlighted at upcoming Maker Faire


Cincinnati prides itself on local talent, craftsmen and creatives who make, create and hone their craft all over the region. There are designers, artists, homebrewers, screenprinters, textile makers and writes a-plenty, and on Oct. 7 & 8, the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire will highlight many of these individuals at a "show-and-tell" type event.

The Maker Faire is organized by the Cincinnati Museum Center as part of the global Maker Faire network, which was created by MAKE Magazine. Maker Faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and is a celebration of the greater Maker Movement. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community by incorporating local crafters, collectors, tech enthusiasts, scientists and more.

In sharing their skills with other community members, makers not only enhance the variability of their craft but also the reach. Maker Faire uses the opportunity to showcase individual crafts among amateurs and professionals alike so that they may continue to pass those skills along to others.

Some of the makers included in this year’s festival are Careers in Welding, Choitek Megamark, OKILUG, OpenHeart Creatures, Project Build It (via the CAC) and Shari the Bag Lady.

For the second consecutive year, the fair will be held at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, and the Cincinnati Museum Center's media relations manager Cody Hefner hopes that the event will push the limits of the location this year and use it to its full potential.

Makers can still apply for a booth to showcase their chosen skill and share what they have learned through their craft. There's a separate event for filmmakers, the CurioCity Series: ShakesBEERean Film Festival, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7. 

For ages 21 and up, this includes a Shakespearean film festival, opportunities to meet with some of the festival’s makers and some of Cincinnati's finest beers.

Tickets for Saturday and Sunday, the ShakesBEERean film festival or all three can be purchased here. For more information, visit the Maker Faire homepage or Facebook page.
 


ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalists: CGCERAMICS and Untold Content LLC


CGCERAMICS, a company started by Christie Goodfellow, creates wheel-thrown pottery with an appreciation for design, materials and process. The functional pottery, such as dinnerware and planters, can be found regionally at top-rated restaurants and well-curated shops.

“I think I realized I was passionate about making pottery because I kept finding it,” says Goodfellow, who turned her passion of pottery into her full-time profession just four years ago. “I was drawn to the process and connected with the idea of making something that is just itself.”

Goodfellow, a Pittsburgh native, moved to Cincinnati when she was working in retail merchandising a few years ago. Serendipitously, her apartment was just five minutes from a large ceramics studio where she began spending evenings and weekends honing her craft of wheel-throwing. In 2009, she began selling her work online and at local art fairs and shops.

She makes custom tableware for restaurants and individuals, as well as garden and home décor for direct orders and wholesale. Each piece is crafted with mid-range or high-fire stoneware that has a warm, earthy palette. The straightforward designs and warm tactile feel of the wares complement an artful, farm-to-table approach, just as the ware’s meditative attention to detail and minimal finishes appeal to those who fill their spaces intentionally and highly regard the beauty and purpose of simplicity.

CGCERAMICS is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

During the Big Pitch process, CGCERAMICS will be mentored by Kaylyn Gast, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Steve Doehler, an industrial designer.

CGCERAMICS has been working out of a small backyard studio for the past five years and is looking to move into a larger space to support increased production. The $20,000 prize from the Big Pitch would enable CGCERAMICS to increase production capacity through the purchase of equipment, hiring employees and moving into a larger space. With the ability to create additional inventory, CGCERAMICS could take on more accounts and begin to create a more sustainable workflow.

“CGCERAMICS has grown organically over the past several years, and last year’s sales impressively doubled those in 2015,” says Goodfellow. “With 25 percent of inquiries discouraged with long lead times, now is the time for us to expand.”



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Untold Content, LLC


Untold Content, LLC, created by Katie Trauth Taylor, is a national writing consultancy that helps innovative organizations share their insights and establish their thought leadership through clear, thought-provoking content.

It serves government agencies, healthcare systems, scientific and technical companies, academic and research institutions and other innovative organizations that seek to establish fan bases to follow their thought leadership. Its team of expert writing consultants collaborates together with clients to think strategically and creatively about content development.

Two years ago, Trauth Taylor left her tenure-track teaching position at Miami University to focus on building Untold. Today, the Untold team creates everything from white papers and research reports to website content and book manuscripts. The range of its professional writing capabilities allows it to reach many disciplines and industries.

“This time last year, Untold was a one-woman company serving one major client,” Trauth Taylor says. “Now, we are a five-woman company serving more than 20 clients. We have proof-of-concept for our idea of a writing consultancy. There’s a definite need for writing consultants in Cincinnati and beyond.”

Her vision is to establish the company as a well-loved brand of storytellers here in Cincinnati and to work with clients at the national level. Five years from now, Taylor believes Untold will be a 10-15 member company serving clients within key centers of innovation across the United States and locally.

The emerging company is one of seven finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

During the Big Pitch process, Untold will be mentored by Robert Sparks, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Jim Stahly of Score.

The real opportunity for Untold is to tell great stories of the work being done by experts and innovators.

“It’s simply incredible to see the number of scientific and tech startups forming here in Cincinnati,” Trauth Taylor says. “So many wise, hardworking innovators are popping up in our community, and yet many of them aren’t taking the time to pause, look up from their work and tell the world about it. My strong belief is that there are endless good stories that need telling. That’s what Untold is here to do.”


Winning the Big Pitch would allow Untold to invest in a local “home” office space and to start a focused marketing campaign to inform the Greater Cincinnati business and nonprofit communities of its creative, strategic approach to organizational storytelling.

“We need an energetic, collaborative space to call home,” says Trauth Taylor. “Underwriting on WVXU, pushing a brand video on social media and hosting brand storytelling meetups in our new space will all help us inspire more innovation within and beyond Cincinnati.”

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How to Attend the
ArtWorks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank:


ArtWorks Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Seven of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

Tickets start at $10 and are available here.

Read last week's profiles of Waterfields LLC and Handzy Shop + Studio.
 


ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalists: Waterfields LLC and Handzy Shop


Waterfields LLC

 

Waterfields LLC is a collection of improbable partners brought together by CoreChange, which is led by Dr. Victor Garcia, who has long advocated for changes to systemic poverty and its effects on many of the negative statistics in our city.

 

Five bright minds who shared a passion for social causes held early morning meetings at Xavier University and grew a seed of an idea into Waterfields, a specialty produce grower that employs neighborhood residents with meaningful, living-wage work. Today, chefs all across the Midwest use their products, including more than 135 in Cincinnati alone.
 

The emerging company is one of eight finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall.

During the Big Pitch process, Waterfields will be mentored by Victor Hernandez, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist, and Paul Picton of Maverick Chocolate Co.

 

The collection of partners — or growers — of the business are an impressive bunch. Each had a full plate as they built the plan for Waterfields: Dan Divelbiss was working on his doctorate and as a student contractor for the U.S. EPA; Ben Matthews was getting his MBA and working as a regulatory affairs manager for P&G; Paul Leffler is a retired IT guy; Sam Dunlap was working at the Civic Garden Center; and Dan Klemens was getting his MBA and working for the India U.S. Business Network on the marketing/sales side.

 

Klemens admits that on paper, the group didn't really belong together, but Dunlap and Divelbiss had worked on various projects, including an aquaponics setup in Norwood, and they were all 110 percent committed to doing something in urban agriculture to create meaningful, living-wage jobs as a means to positively affect poverty in our city.

The ideal customers for Waterfields are creatives in the food/beverage space. They sell their products to everyone from restaurant chefs to bartenders to food stylists/photographers.

 

The client base of chefs is one part inspirational and another part demanding.

 

“I'm inspired by our customers,” says Klemens. “Restaurant kitchens demand folks who are 10 percent artist, 90 percent machine. It's a tough industry to work in. But when that 10 percent can really shine, the food is life-changing. I've had multiple life-changing meals in Cincinnati and I'm damn proud to be able to supply those folks with whatever plants they want.”

 

And the growth strategy that Klemens and crew will work on during their Big Pitch mentorship is to take market share from California products that are often grown for shelf life and flown in overnight for logistics.

 

“If a Nashville chef is buying California products and we can offer higher quality, year-round and more local alternatives, that's a home run for us, and that’s our growth strategy,” Klemens says.

 

The Big Pitch prize of $20,000 would help the company with an expansion plan.

 

“That $20,000 cash prize means more grow rigs, which means more living wage jobs, which means more lives changed,” says Klemens. “It would be huge. We've proven the ability to sell and execute, we just need cash to do it quicker and bigger. “

 

Specifically, Waterfields is adding about 10,000 square feet of additional indoor growing space in October, and they’re working to double their capacity to meet projected sales demand and have some large relationships in the hopper. That's where they need the extra cash.
 

 

 


Handzy Shop + Studio
 

Suzy King and Brittney Braemer want you to never underestimate the power of a nice card and a handwritten note.

The design duo started Handzy Shop + Studio in 2015 after meeting at UC’s DAAP when they were sophomores. After graduation, they parted ways — Braemer was working as a corporate graphic designer and King as a canoeing instructor. Braemer soon realized the corporate world wasn’t for her and King couldn’t work a seasonal job forever, so they joined forces.

Their growing design and retail outfit is another of eight finalists in the fourth annual ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank, competing for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on Sept. 28 at Memorial Hall. King and Braemer will be mentored by Keith Jackson, a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist and Emily Merkle of Blue & Co.

The duo started Handzy in a dingy warehouse studio doing freelance graphic design and making stationery to sell on Etsy and at the City Flea. They share a love for paper and the tangible — especially greeting cards and the sentiments they hold — so developing their own stationery line only made sense.

King and Braemer soon learned that only selling greeting cards at craft fairs wouldn’t keep them afloat, so the pair focused primarily on graphic design work to make money and grow the business. This approach allowed them to open a retail shop last July in a sweet little spot in historic downtown Covington, and is focused on three key areas: retail, custom design and the Handzy stationery line.

Retail sales are consistently increasing as foot traffic in Covington picks up and Handzy's social media presence grows. Their custom design projects are steady and recurring. With both of those segments in a good place, King and Braemer have identified wholesaling of their in-ho­use stationery line as the most lucrative opportunity.

If they win the $20,000 grant, Handzy will exhibit at the 2018 National Stationery Show in NYC.

“NSS is hands down the best way to get our personal stationery line in front of 10,000-plus industry professionals and buyers,” says King. “This show will set the stage for Handzy’s long-term growth — landing our cards on the shelves of shops around the United States.”

 


How to Attend the ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank:

 

ArtWorks “Big Pitch” presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fourth year at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Memorial Hall. Eight of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and a $5,000 Audience Choice Award.

 

Tickets start at $10 and are available at here.
 


Former Cincinnati Bengal gains attention from startup community with $1.88M in seed funding


ActionStreamer, a wearable technology platform that can livestream point-of-view video off of athletes in action, has secured $1.88M in seed financing from CincyTech and its network of investors.

ActionStreamer pairs patented software and networking technology with ultra-lightweight hardware to deliver an engaging new source of content to live sports coverage: POV video from inside-the-game. The wireless system streams high-definition video from a miniature camera and other custom components embedded into a wearable outfit, such as a player’s helmet or a referee’s hat, in congested, bandwidth-constrained environments like crowded stadiums.

As another example of the incredible startup culture in Greater Cincinnati, ActionStreamer has strong roots here. Former Cincinnati Bengal Dhani Jones partnered with Ilesfay co-founder and technologist Chris McLennan (a Cincinnati native) and business development leader Max Eisenberg, who returned to Cincinnati in May after three years in San Francisco.

Each member of the trio has contributed something unique to the business. While Jones’ relationships and network helped relay what professionals in the industry were looking for, McLennan used his technical knowledge from a career spent solving data transfer-type issues for clients and Eisenberg drew from his business development experience and passion for sports and entrepreneurship.

The real movement behind ActionStreamer?

Connecting players and fans on a deeper level. “Dhani’s drive to further connect players and fans in meaningful ways, a passion that resonated strongly with me as a lifelong sports fan, led to ActionStreamer’s founding in 2015,” says Eisenberg, CEO. “Our mission is to bring fans closer to the action than ever before. We’re facilitating a path to premium content and an unprecedented fan engagement model that's revolutionizing sports broadcast and coverage.”

As for how the Average Joe can experience this innovative technology, live, in-game field-level perspectives are available in the Arena Football League this season and are expected to come online in other leagues and sports this fall.

“Imagine being able to see what an MLB curveball looks like from the batter, catcher or umpire's perspective; what a bunker shot at Augusta National looks like from a PGA Tour golfer’s or caddy’s perspective; or what a leaping touchdown catch looks like from an NFL player’s or referee’s perspective,” says Greg Roberts, head of strategic partnerships & development at ActionStreamer. “Not just what they look like, but also being able to live the moments with the athletes, to experience it through their lenses.”

ActionStreamer strives to enable teams, leagues, networks and media companies to showcase these moments for their fans and viewers — and not just on television, as many fans now turn to social media and other mobile platforms for their entertainment. The founders consider ActionStreamer very fortunate to be opening doors at this exciting time in media.

“Everyone wants more content, more access, more engagement, and they want it now,” Jones says. "ActionStreamer is the advancement necessary to facilitate the transfer of real-time data from the field to the fans. We’re the train tracks or pipes from the field, if you will, that make it all happen.”

“We do source our own cameras, procure custom-made chipsets, design, 3D print and manufacture form-factors or product enclosures, which all makes ActionStreamer even more valuable to the teams, leagues, networks and media companies we’re working with,” McLennan adds. “But what truly sets us apart is our use of patented approaches to wirelessly transmit data from wearables and other miniature gadgets and to deal with networking and bandwidth challenges.”

Of course, with the ever-changing and rapidly advancing nature of technology, it is often times hard to maintain pace, as any business may find.

“Technology startups are always hard-pressed to make improvements rapidly,” says Eisenberg. “Chris built the first set of prototypes himself, then set out to garner help from experts in a variety of fields, en route to drastically improving all aspects of the ActionStreamer technology stack and obtaining three patents on it. We're proud of what we've built, but we strive to make it better every day in order to continue delivering the most value possible.”

ActionStreamer is proud to be a CincyTech portfolio company and to have received follow-on funding from some of Cincinnati’s most prominent angel investors. For more information on the latest advancements and integrations from ActionStreamer, click here.
 


Four UC entrepreneurial law students are using their knowledge to help other entrepreneurs

 

Four University of Cincinnati entrepreneurial law students are gaining experience and valuable mentorship as they work to provide eight startup clients with free legal assistance through HCDC. The startups applied for assistance in the spring; all eight businesses are HCDC entrepreneurs.

The students’ work consists of everything from preparing service contracts to website terms and conditions — legal work that is often difficult for small startups to afford.

“Everyone really benefits from this,” says Thomas Cuni, supervising attorney and mentor to the four students placed at HCDC this summer. “The attractiveness is that students get to deal with clients. This isn’t mock trial — not that there’s anything wrong with mock trial — but they gain practice learning how to interview, which is most important.”

This is the fourth summer that students have collaborated with HCDC, which is touted as one of the top business incubators in Ohio. However, the program has been around since 2011, when UC’s College of Law opened the doors to its Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic under the directorship of Prof. Lewis Goldfarb.

While the program occurs on a year-round basis, summer sessions are more intensive, as students work full-time for their clients.

For Maximilian DeLeon, working at HCDC has been his favorite experience as a law student.

"Some highlights I’ve had this summer include forming a Delaware C Corporation, drafting a convertible note for an investor and drafting a service agreement that will be used across the whole country," he says.

Alex Valdes, another student placed at HCDC, shares similar sentiments."I have noticed my own personal growth this summer, but the most rewarding aspect of working at the HCDC has been the relationships forged with my clients who are incredibly passionate small business owners who would not be able to afford legal work if it were not for the services of the clinic. I am proud to play my small, humble role in the growth of Cincinnati."

Check out this story from earlier this year that explains more about the partnership between UC and MORTAR.
 


NKU's Inkubator invests in people rather than their ideas


Right now, six teams of NKU students and recent alumni are “inkubating” their business ideas at Northern Kentucky University’s Inkubator.

Rodney D’Souza is the director for the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which houses the Inkubator as part of the Haile U.S. Bank College of Business. In 2012, D’Souza was working with a lot of existing business accelerators but discovered a missing link in the process.

“We found that there was a lack of a good feeder system to existing accelerators,” he says.

After a study of the best practices of university business incubators across the country, NKU’s Inkubator was founded in 2012. Now the program is ranked in the top 5 in North America by UBI Global, an organization that aggregates data on universities and their business incubators.

“It’s very selective,” D’Souza says. Of the 55 applications that were submitted to the Inkubator this year, only six teams were selected. The Inkubator tries to recruit students from all disciplines, not just business students.

“This year, we decided to put teams through boot camp so they understand what it takes to be a part of this process,” says D’Souza. “Not everyone understands what’s going to come up in these 12 weeks.”

The teams that proved their commitment are currently participating in the Inkubator’s 12-week summer program. D’Souza says that the program is different from other incubators with its focus on workshops rather than lectures. “Right now, we focus on how to get them the right tools to succeed."

In the five years since its inception, the Inkubator has seen a lot of success. 16 businesses have been launched as a result of the Inkubator and 10 remain in business. In addition to successful business launches, 57 jobs have been created.

One of the biggest success stories is Vegy Vida, a 100-percent natural dip to entice kids to eat their vegetables. Now Vegy Vida can be found in 1,400 Walmart stores all over the country.

D’Souza says that the Inkubator is successful because it invests in people rather than ideas. “We value them and their team rather than the idea. It’s very gratifying to see the transformation.”
 


Environmentally conscious store occupying PL storefront until July 23


If you haven’t yet visited The Green Store Cincy, you have until July 23 to stop by the pop-up shop to gain insight, purchase sustainable clothing or perhaps engage in Namast’ay Green — a community yoga class.

The Green Store is the result of Joi Sears’ innovative idea made possible by People’s Liberty and one of its three annual Globe grants.

With $15,000 in funding and a free space to utilize (PL's storefront, the Dept. of Doing), Sears operates her shop from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturdays, and hosts special events on Sundays. She opened her shop at the end of June, and will occupy the storefront on Elm for six weeks.

She says she would love to look into expansion. “I'd love to see a Green Store New York, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and/or Berlin in the future. But in the near future, I would love to find a permanent home for The Green Store in the ‘Nati — and I already have a bunch of ideas on what that could look like.”

The shop currently houses Sears’ own sustainable clothing brand — Amsterdamage — in addition to other local and international brands.

Events she’s hosted so far include everything from workshops and classes like Recycling 101 and Zero Waste Cooking to a “Sunday Funday” event called Waves, which served as a fundraiser for Charity Water.

According to Sears, the average American produces nearly 1,700 pounds of waste each year, and the reason so many individuals — particularly millennials — say they care about the environment but don’t necessarily shop sustainably is because they don’t understand what eco-fashion is. They don’t think they can afford it or they simply don’t know where to find sustainably stylish items.

Sears is here to change that. She’s conducted her research and is now putting her ideas into action via creative placemaking and the support of her community.

Learn more about The Green Store Cincy here.

 


Fill up on great convo and food! tomorrow as Soapbox goes to Findlay Market


This Wednesday, June 28, it’s all about scale, as Soapbox returns to host Cincinnati’s foremost foodies for the annual Food Innovation Economy speaker series at Findlay Market.

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. in the Farm Shed (located in Findlay Market’s north parking lot) and will feature big bites and big ideas from Pho Lang Thang, LaSoupe, Hen of the Wood and Babushka Pierogies.

Wash it all down with craft beer from local favorite The Woodburn Brewery, tangy kombucha from Fab Ferments and a Rhubarb Shrub Punch and signature mocktail from Queen City Shrub made for this one-night-only event.

Click here to purchase tickets for this year’s event, where you'll meet five talented local food producers and hear why it's the right time to scale and how Cincinnati's growing food ecosystem is helping them get there.

All ticket holders will be automatically entered to win two passes to the 2017 Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic — a value of $480! Plus, you'll be partying with a purpose: proceeds benefit Findlay Market, now open Wednesdays until 8 p.m. all summer long.

Come hungry and enjoy the menu as follows:

6 p.m. Check in at the Farm Shed, located in Findlay Market's North parking lot
6:15 p.m. Welcome from Soapbox's publisher, Patrice Watson
6:20 p.m. Food Innovation District overview from Joe Hansbauer, CEO of Findlay Market
6:30 to 8 p.m. Breakout talks and tasting stations

Station #1 (Farm Shed) presented by Findlay Market, featuring:

  • Duy Nguyen, Pho Lang Thang
  • Kombucha pairings from Fab Ferments

Station #2 (OTR Biergarten) presented by Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic, featuring:

  • Suzy DeYoung, LaSoupe; Nick Markwald, Hen of the Woods; Donna Covrett, CFWC
  • Beer pairings from The Woodburn Brewery -"Red, White, and Brew" traditional American wheat ale and "Salmon Shorts Sightings" blonde ale with strawberries and Rooibus Tea

Station #3 (Findlay Kitchen) presented by Findlay Kitchen, featuring:

  • Pierogie/cocktail pairings from Sarah Dworak of Babushka Pierogies and Justin Frazer of Queen City Shrub

Seating is limited, so reserve your ticket today and check out the full schedule of Findlay Market events and featured vendors here.
 


Entrepreneur of the Year gala to highlight entrepreneurial spirit in Ohio Valley Region


The 2017 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year season is underway, and on Thursday, Cincinnati will honor about 30 Ohio Valley Region finalists for their innovation, financial performance and commitment to their businesses and communities.

Now in its 31st year, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year is considered to be the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, and it has grown to reach 25 U.S. cities and more than 60 countries around the globe. Regional winners are eligible for the Entrepreneur of the Year national program, which convenes Nov. 18 in Palm Springs, with a winner then selected to compete for World Entrepreneur of the Year in June 2018.

Nine of this year’s Ohio Valley Region finalists are making a difference right here in Cincinnati. Soapbox sat down with one of those nine — Mary Miller of JANCOA Janitorial Services — to discuss the honor and to learn more about how she’s changing the landscape of her business and of the community.

How do envision yourself and your role at JANCOA?
Being a family business, I wear many hats: CEO, wife, mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and chief Dream Manager! I have the best role in the company.

I get to let everyone know just how great our team is and create more opportunity for them and their families. I love each one and look for ways everyday to make the lives of our 600+ team members, their families and the community better for all the tomorrows to come. JANCOA has become an international example of what businesses can do to be successful and care about the people that make that happen.

Once I heard that Warren Buffet said the most important job a CEO has is to be the cheerleader for their team members — that was when I knew I was in the right job.

What is a Dream Manager, and how did the idea come about?
In the late '90s, JANCOA was an average “mom-and-pop” cleaning company with the average turnover of team members at about 400 percent. We decided (after being fired by a consultant) to stop being average and decided to become “the best in the world” at taking care of our people so they can take care of our customers. We used our entrepreneurial spirit to try a lot of ways that had never been tested previously, including creating our own transportation system to get employees to work. The program has evolved into an international model that changes the culture of the company, and that creates results of quality of service, retention of team members, employee engagement and profitability.

By nature we are a service business cleaning up after other people. Our work, though, is helping people build the courage to overcome obstacles and reach for their dreams of a bigger future. This is a model people can connect with and frequently believe is too good to be true. The best selling book The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly has popularized the programs we began years ago to build a business of value, and today we are focused on creating value for the people we work with everyday.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs wanting to make a difference?
There are a lot of resources available to entrepreneurs with best practices in many areas of business. I believe the true value entrepreneurs create is when they look at these practices and add their unique talent and natural gift to the mixture. This is when we are being true to ourselves and to the world. Trying to be what others tell us to be will always miss the mark of possibility. Being true to what we are made to be will create the difference the world is craving to receive and believe.

How does it feel to be selected for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program?
The EYEOY feels like the Oscars for entrepreneurs. I have been aware of the award for more than 20 years but never really put that down as something within my grasp. I think entrepreneurs have a drive within that pushes us constantly to make things better (in our business and everything we see), and being recognized by EYEOY builds a sense of confidence that I have done some things right and gives me energy to keep moving forward and go after those ideas I have that no one else seems to understand.

I would like to believe that seeing me recognized by EYEOY will encourage many other entrepreneurs to trust what they know to be true, without any proof, and go after the big opportunities even when no one understands what they are trying to do.

Click here to see the other Ohio Valley Region finalists.

Thursday's awards gala will be held at the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati, 151 W. Fifth St., downtown.
 

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