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ANDalyze analyzes water contaminants through portable unit


Pipeline H2O, a new water technology accelerator program based at The Hamilton Mill, welcomed its first class last week. The eight cohort members represent local and national companies, including Champaign, Ill.,-based ANDalyze.

“ANDalyze is always on the lookout for ways to build awareness of its technology and meet new customers and water industry VIPs,” says Marty Dugan, the company's chief marketing officer. “We found the application submission invitation online and thought Pipeline looked like something ANDalyze was a great fit for.”

The company grew from technology developed in the chemistry labs at the University of Illinois. Using DNA enzymes, ANDalyze devices can detect and measure water contaminants with portable testing units.

“Existing field test kits are notoriously inaccurate and difficult to use," Dugan says. "You really need to be a trained chemist to use the old-style kits. ANDalyze products are used by water quality professionals in a variety of industries, including municipal drinking water, industrial water processes, environmental water, mining and laboratory testing. The value to these customers is the speed and accuracy of the measurement of testing water on site and the cost savings as compared to testing in a laboratory.”

The U.S. EPA provided a testing and validation report for the portable meters and its sensors in 2014. Since then, ANDalyze has sold 200 meters and more than 100,000 sensors. They're hoping Pipeline will help them grow their existing product, as well as roll out a new product.

“In 2017, we will launch an automated system that can test for two metals concurrently and send test data through a network to warn cities and towns of unacceptable levels of heavy metals in their drinking water,” Dugan says. “Trials are taking place in school systems around the country.”
 
The automated system would be installed at a specific site and run water tests on a set schedule. The results of the tests would be reported through a computer network to the system owner, allowing for consistent monitoring of water safety.
 
“Small companies like ANDalyze always struggle to get noticed,” Dugan says. “We are hoping to learn ways to better use our limited resources to get exposure to customers and strategic partner companies from the Pipeline H2O experience. We are confident that after customers try our product, it will become an integral part of their water quality operations to identify heavy metals in their drinking water supply network and in school buildings.”
 
ANDalyze is also hoping Pipeline’s “region as lab” philosophy will help them find a partner municipality or industrial customer to test their new product.
 
“We hope to understand better the needs of the water utility market,” Dugan says. “We are also looking for insight on how to develop partnerships with larger water technology companies who may be interested in ANDalyze products to sell in their sales channels.”

Read last week's profile of Searen, another Pipeline cohort member, here.
 

UC to host three-day innovation event in March


Starting Thursday, March 2, University of Cincinnati will host a three-day NEXTLIVESHERE: Social Change Innovation Summit. The event, which is the second of its kind to date, will bring together more than 200 local and national thought leaders using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to gain a deeper understanding of the power of "backbone organizations" — groups that drive cross-sector, creative partnerships for collective impact.

NEXTLIVESHERE is unique among conferences. Instead of using the platform to simply disseminate information, the summit pools the collective knowledge of participants to showcase talents, align goals, spark imagination and shape social change.

The conference will break attendees into small groups to better understand what is working and what the contributing problems are in each community and organization. The revelations from these mini sessions will help discover new ways of thinking and involving people, then using those discoveries to design practical actions.

UC’s position in the community places it firmly as a unifier, able to engage existing partners and recruit new ones from a broad spectrum of innovators from the fields of business, industry, philanthropy and community organizations to solve pressing and complex social problems.

Community participants will include representatives from the United Way, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, P&G, Green Umbrella, Success by 6, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Skyward and Cincinnati Public Schools.

A $250,000 National Science Foundation Includes grant will help cover registration and meal costs for participants. Attendees will also receive free parking. For out of town attendees, a two-night stay at the hotel will also be provided.

For more information and to see the full three-day schedule, visit cech.uc.edu or call 513-556-5745. To request an NLH application, email Kaitlyn.Johnson@uc.edu.

Searen develops new technology to remove waste and pollutants from water


Searen is no stranger to the #StartupCincy scene. A graduate of OCEAN’s inaugural class, Searen is now joining the first cohort of the Pipeline H2O water-tech accelerator program based at The Hamilton Mill.

“The OCEAN experience was amazing,” says Emmanuel Briquet, Searen's president and co-founder. “In addition to the extremely inspiring classes, they helped us to build Searen's spiritual identity. Since then, we’ve been busy building the business. Now with Pipeline, we’ll find the best path to market, plus make connections with other startups in our sector.”
 
Searen’s origins go back to when Briquet was stymied by the constant need to remove algae and other pollutants from the water at the fish farm he operated.
 
“In the wild, the density of fish is low and the ecosystem auto regulates itself as water flows,” Briquet says. “In a fish farm, they eat, breathe and excrete in the same water. So you have to keep the water clean so they can thrive.
 
His solution to the problem of waste removal and re-oxygenation evolved into VAL, or the Vacuum AirLift. This technology developed by Searen provides low-energy, low-maintenance water treatment. The device uses vacuums and air pressure to remove particles and toxins from water. There are no filters, no moving parts and no chemicals.
 
“The VAL is a brand new technology, and is one of the rare cases when a more advanced technology is simpler than any of its predecessors,” Briquet says. “Our purely physical and multifunctional technology harnesses the power of nature, making obsolete the use of chemicals, replacing complicated tools, simplifying industrial processes and saving both energy and cost.”
 
The system is ideal for the fish farm and microalgae industries because with one device, users can circulate water, remove particles and carbon dioxide while adding oxygen back into the water.
 
“The VAL has different modes for different applications,” Briquet explains. “The slow mode is used for particle extraction and can process up to two million gallons a day. The fast mode provides gas stripping and insertion and can handle up to seven million gallons a day. These are both mono-tube systems. In the future with a multi-tube system, we believe we will be able to treat 100 million gallons a day.”
 
Briquet, along with co-founder and CFO John Brooks and investor Tom Andrews, developed a multi-pronged approach to advancing the company.
 
“Our first focus is on getting VAL into aquaculture throughout North America,” Bruiquet says. “As a former owner of a fish farming company, I know the concerns and I also know I have the solutions.”
 
Searen’s second area of development is cultivating relationships with companies in the Cincinnati region that rely on significant water usage for their business.
 
“If we come across an industry that has a need that we may be able to fulfill, we will work to develop a solution or to partner with another company to integrate our equipment into their solution,” Briquet says.
 
Searen has partnered with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati on a trial project with the VAL at their test beds. They are also collaborating with WEL Enterprise, another Pipeline member, on the treatment of brewery wastewater.

“As an entrepreneur, I’m trying to push the limits,” Briquet says. “We are focusing on what we know we can achieve.
 

People's Liberty marks Valentine's Day with storefront launch and public brainstorming session


Today, People's Liberty launched a new storefront space, called the D.O.I.T.: The Department of Implementing Things, and invited the community to share resources, connections and brainpower with others.

The idea was to showcase the relationships and partnerships that make Cincinnati great. The launch goes beyond the projects and people who have benefited from People's Liberty funds in the past to include residents, entrepreneurs and the Greater Cincinnati public at large.

The purpose of the event was two-fold: organizers invited local residents and entrepreneurs to celebrate the new storefront and offered an opportunity for residents to share ideas, ask questions and connect with resources available through People’s Liberty’s powerful network of givers.

D.O.I.T. will also help People's Liberty reach further than just its grantees and fellows. For example, the nonprofit plans to launch a magazine later this year that will showcase the people who are moving Cincinnati forward. Those people don't have to be former grantees, and in most cases, won't be. 

The storefront is also a way for People's Liberty to continue activating a space along Elm Street. It used to house the Play Library, and now, it will be up to the community to decide what it will be used for. 
 
 

P&G brings new focus to its brands with entrepreneurial retail shop in OTR


One of the unique aspects of Cincinnati’s startup ecosystem is the deep involvement of big companies in mentoring, developing and supporting new companies. P&G’s Tide division has taken that commitment to a new level with the opening of Preneur, its new retail space on Walnut Street in Over-the-Rhine that will sell products developed or manufactured by local entrepreneurs.

“While it is unusual, it makes sense,” says store manager Stephanie Bohanon. “P&G is a company started by entrepreneurs in Cincinnati. Now a department of that company is celebrating the very essence of innovation in Cincinnati through small businesses. Tide benefits by displaying some of its newer products to sell and receive feedback as well.”
 
Preneur will feature regional small businesses and entrepreneurs that are looking for a space to showcase and sell their products. The store also boasts a commissioned graffiti piece by Max Thomas of the Midwest artist collective Often Seen Rarely Spoken.
 
Ten local businesses are currently featured at Preneur:
  • Arkadiance is an integrated skin care collection that includes traditional lotions and creams, as well as nutraceuticals and teas.
  • Craftastically Made is an Etsy shop that creates fashion items, including hair accessories and baby items.
  • Funky Artsy uses natural stones in one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.
  • Handzy designs colorful stationery items, including greeting cards, art prints, invitations and gift wrap.
  • Jumper Threads rebooted the basic men’s undershirt with a comfortable, well-made and fitted design.
  • Kaya Leather features unisex leather bracelets, cuffs and earrings, featuring unique stained colors and patterns.
  • Koch Sporting Goods offers a range of sports apparel, specifically an FC Cincinnati line.
  • Native Brand produces casual clothing with Cincinnati-centric themes.
  • Rhinomed developed nasal technology products to improve athletic performance and reduce snoring.
  • Urban Blooms is a social enterprise that produces living wall features that make an artistic statement while improving indoor air quality.
The products currently for sale at Preneur are an eclectic mix. Going forward, the store intends to keep a wide range of goods but is considering organizing the featured businesses around themes.
 
“We will be rotating our partners on a one- to two-month basis, with potential to come back at a later time,” says Bohanon. “Moving forward, I'm reaching out to different companies to partner with us.”
 
In addition to the guest companies, Tide is also featuring some of its new products at Preneur, including Tide Studio detergents. The product line is formulated to clean specific fabrics including denim, activewear, prints and delicates.
 
“These are concentrated formulas for your one-off pieces that need a little extra attention,” says Bohanon. “One cap full per piece does the job. We also have mytide.com, where you can log on, take a survey and create your own bottle of Tide detergent. Questions range from fabric type to boosters, to custom scent and labeling the bottle as well. The detergent is then shipped to your house.”
 
Preneur, located at 1333 Walnut, is open Tuesday-Sunday.
 

Center for Great Neighborhoods awards $22K for community projects


Last week, Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods awarded five grants to local creatives, totaling $22,000 in the fifth round of its Creative Community Grant program.
 
The program awards grants of up to $5,000 to creatives who presented projects focused on small business growth, entrepreneurship, workforce development and creative placemaking.
 
CGN has completed five cycles of Creative Community Grants over the program's three-year period, with the sixth and final round to be announced this spring. Each round of funding addresses a different community issue, as determined by The Center's neighborhood focus group surveys, resident-led community groups and existing neighborhood plans.
 
Below is a snapshot of fifth-round recipients and their projects:
  • Local design firm Eye Candy will provide brand management resources for a new, existing or pop-up organization located on Covington’s Westside.
     
  • Owners Joe and Suzanne Fessler, along with residents, patrons and local artist Bret Schulte, will create a mural depicting the history of Herb & Thelma’s Tavern, which dates back to 1939.
     
  • The Kenton County Public Library will create Forge, a community makerspace and embedded library within The Center's Hellmann Creative Center. The space will provide free access to digital library content, technology, instruction, mentoring and collaborative projects.
     
  • Community & Restorative Justice volunteers will introduce Covington ESP, a creative therapeutic project designed to help unemployed residents find a healing path to employment.
     
  • Printmakers from around the region will be able to sell prints and demonstrate their medium at PRINTER: FAIRE, an artists event produced by grant recipients Art Machine, Inc. The event will be held at Hellmann Creative Center and will feature printmaking using a steamroller on the street outside. Details TBA. 
"Every round I think our applicants and their projects get better and better," says program manager Shannon Ratterman. "As people become more familiar with the program and see what other projects have gotten awards before them, they learn what we're looking for and how to put together a really great project. We want projects that aren't just great works of art and aren't just cool or fun, but that truly engage on a deep level and collectively transform the community."

Stay tuned to The Center and project social media channels, and visit greatneighborhoods.org to learn more about the Creative Community Grant program.
 

Pipeline H2O announces first class of water tech companies


Pipeline H2O, the region’s first water technology accelerator program, recently announced the members of its first cohort, which will begin work in February at The Hamilton Mill.
 
“We received 66 applications from 14 countries on five continents,” says Rahul Bawa, board chairman of Pipeline H2O and The Hamilton Mill. “Our selection committee chose companies where we could really make an impact and that represented a cross section of the water technology sector.”
 
The eight members of the inaugural cohort are:
  • Champaign, Ill.-based, ANDalyze, which offers products for testing heavy metal levels in water using DNA technology.
  • AguaClara — from Cornell University — provides gravity-driven, large-scale surface water treatment technologies to underserved communities.
  • Hamilton's own kW River Hydroelectric, which is working to further develop and commercialize the Williams Cross-Flow Turbine. 
  • PowerTech Water out of Lexington offers a new low-cost low-waste water treatment technology that removes salts, minerals and toxic metals.
  • Searen uses sustainable technologies to create water treatment solutions right here in Greater Cincinnati.
  • Slipstream ZLD from Albuquerque manufactures a crystallization system that eliminates wastewater for low-volume manufacturing facilities and metal finishing shops.
  • Waterstep, which is based in Louisville, developed a rapid-response mini-water treatment plant that can be used in disasters and for system safety redundancies.
  • WEL Enterprise, also from Hamilton, created a platform that handles both treatment and reclamation of wastewater. It can currently be seen in action at Municiple Brew Works.
The members of the first Pipeline class are all well beyond the ideation stage, with either functioning prototypes or pilot projects. The program, which runs from February-May, includes an intensive week each month that mixes curriculum from the Village Capital model and project-specific field work. The remaining weeks of each month will be devoted to mentoring, homework and continuing to test and improve products.
 
“The city-as-lab model at The Hamilton Mill has grown to the region-as-lab thanks to support from city and county municipalities,” Bawa says. “Pipeline participants will access pilots, customers and revenue, while leveraging local expertise in the water sector. We will adapt the Mill’s concierge-level mentoring to create a targeted experience that fits the needs of each member of the class. We are still building a mentor network with help from The Brandery, Cintrifuse and Confluence.”
 
Regulation of water technology is one area where all cohort members are seeking guidance. The complicated interactions of federal, state and local regulations can be daunting for a startup wanting to enter the water sector.
 
“We are fortunate the EPA has a water research and development facility in Cincinnati,” Bawa says. “The state and federal EPA staff and our partners at Confluence will help the class understand the specific categories of water technology regulation and how to navigate the process.”
 
Pipeline’s first cohort will be featured in a pitch competition during the first week of the program, as part of the OVALS Water Technologies: The Wave of the Future program at the University of Cincinnati on Feb. 16. The two-day conference will feature presentations by University and industry experts, and is organized by Indiana University, Ohio University, The Ohio State University, UC, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. For those unable to attend the OVALS pitch competition, Pipeline’s end-of-program Demo Day in May will be open to the public.
 
“The projects in development by our first Pipeline class can make a real difference in the world,” Bawa says. “Our region has the expertise to be a leader in the water technology sector.”
 

UpTech to host Demo Day for fifth cohort on Feb. 9


A GPS for your health. Pothole data and workplace incident reports used to improve safety nationwide. Efficient alternatives to printing on physical paper.

What do these things have in common?
 
They’re all startups in the fifth year of UpTech’s Accelerator program — and all will showcase their businesses via pitch format to an audience of community partners, investors and startup enthusiasts on Feb. 9.
 
Each year, UpTech selects up to 10 startups for the six-month Accelerator program, where the curriculum is driven by intensive entrepreneurship education, one-on-one mentoring, up to $50,000 in seed capital and access to best business model development methods, customer acquisition strategies, project management principles and product development practices.
 
The 2017 StartupCincy Demo Day will be hosted at 84.51° on the fifth floor. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. and the demos begin at 6 p.m. A reception showcasing local food vendors and breweries will follow the pitch event, where attendees can network with UpTech companies.
 
This year’s Demo Day features nine data-driven startups from all around the world. Demo Day is their opportunity to share their vision for the future with the public.
 
Healthcast
Founders: Glenn Lawyer, Tobias Theobald, Tariq Khaleeq
Provides technology that can help you see how bad a cold or flu will get and when you’ll be better. It also provides personalized, clinically validated guidance to get you back on your feet.
 
iReportSource
Founders: Christi Brown, Brad Brown
Gives companies the ability to simplify and streamline entire safety programs and data collection by gathering all incident reports the same way, every time, regardless of when and where. Allows for insight to data analytics, risk identification and cost drivers all in one place.
 
Papr
Founders: Josh Israel, Devin Serago, Aayush Kothari, Amardeep Kaur
A solution that provides businesses an efficient alternative to printing on physical paper.
 
ROAD-AID
Founder: James Bridgers
A road data analytics company that captures and productizes collected road data for a wide range of customers. One of its first data products focuses on pothole data that is being tailored for governments, drivers and insurers.
 
Rescoper
Founders: Robert Clark, Shane Young
Project management software with artificial intelligence that makes your team more productive. Provides context to your work and allows for maximization of time and to-do lists.
 
Shogooru
Founder: Elias Jureidini, Arlette Saliba, Amy Tatielle Marticorena, Rodrigo Tagle, Jose Blanco, Sebastian Soffia, Dante Maldonado
A discovery and streaming platform for podcasts and radio stations that allows producers to highlight content within their shows and for listeners to find and interact with it.
 
SOCIAL/ARCADE
Founders: Mariano DiMurro, Zafer Balbous
An online drag-and-drop template service for launching branded apps, quizzes and games that is aimed at creative agencies, digital marketing agencies and SMEs.
 
SuppleMENTAL
Founders: Tim Mielke, Greg Buns, Nick Moore
A mobile app for the nutritional supplement industry to help consumers make better-informed decisions when purchasing supplements
 
TheMonetizr
Founders: Andris Merkulovs, Marins Bratuskins, Reinis Skorovs
Helps game developers monetize their mobile games by turning design assets into branded merchandise, providing high returns and automation.
 
Demo Day is already sold out, but if you're interested in attending, you can add your name to a waiting list here.
 

Bunbury founder launches event management tool for organizers


Cincinnati event planners will soon have access to a new organization tool from Bill Donabedian, the creator of popular local festivals like Bunbury Music Festival, Buckle Up, MidPoint Music Festival and the PNC Summer Music Series.
 
In 2015, Donabedian and partner Olivier Fischer founded DiaZam LLC, a company that specializes in event-management software. The result is DiaZam.com, a cloud-based tool for creating, organizing and managing layouts for large-scale events.
 
"DiaZam was designed by an event planner (me) for event planners," Donabedian says. "It doesn’t matter if it’s a small food truck festival on a city block or a huge music festival in a city park, DiaZam makes designing a layout fast and easy. Event layouts change over time and DiaZam also helps manage that process."
 
Donabedian and Fischer tweaked their software model for 18 months before testing it at last year’s Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic and Bunbury.
 
“I developed a technology for Bill years ago for the MidPoint Music Festival,” Fischer says. “I was able to leverage that same technology to help solve his problem with event layouts. Now users can do layouts using their web browser — no technical or design skills needed — and there is no need for expensive or complex software like Illustrator or CAD.”

The pair explains that since buying and learning programs like Adobe Illustrator and CAD can be daunting for the average person, a major selling point of DiaZam is that it works in any web browser and is intuitive to use. The tool also tracks everything about every object in the layout, so event layouts are always up to date.

"When we say it's fast and easy, we mean it," Donabedian says.
 

Cincinnati makerspace offerings expand to meet creative demand


Earlier this month, Soapbox introduced readers to the city’s newest crop of co-working spots — places where independent professionals can meet, network and swap ideas. Typically, such spaces are designed to mimic traditional office life — with amenities like fast internet and teleconferencing — but a wholly different set of so-called makerspaces caters to artists, mechanics, chemists, brewers and a wide range of other hands-on professions.
 
Know of another great makerspace? Let us know and we’ll add it to our list. 
 
Boone County Makerspace
7056 Burlington Pk., Burlington, KY
Located within Boone County High School, it is the result of a partnership between Leadership Northern Kentucky, the Brainy Bots & Junior Brainy Bots and Boone County Schools.

Hellmann Creative Center
321 12th St., Covington
The Center for Great Neighborhoods' headquarters offers opportunities for residents to gather and work on creating placemaking endeavors with the goal of improving the neighborhood.

Hilltop Glass Creations
1592 Compton Rd., Mt. Healthy
Offers opportunities for community members and visitors alike to gather, take classes, learn something new and be creative.

Hive13
2929 Spring Grove Ave., Northside
Provides an open framework for hackers of all stripes to exchange ideas, skills and information. Hive13 encourages its creatives to learn from each other as well as teach.
 
Main Library Makerspace
800 Vine St., Downtown
A place where creative people can gather, create, invent and learn using 3D printers, audio and visual equipment, laser cutters and engravers, sewing machines, cameras and other hardware and software tools.
 
The Manufactory
12055 Mosteller Rd., Sharonville
A 17,000-square-foot, membership-only workshop for makers, artisans, engineers, inventors, prototype builders, crafters, stage and prop builders, DIY-ers, restorers, entrepreneurs and repair technicians.
 
Shotgun Row artist collective
Orchard Street, Covington
Five rehabilitated houses offer space for artists-in-residence, which means the shotgun-style houses have studio or retail space toward the front and residential toward the back. Shotgun Row is owned and operated by Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods.
 
Xavier University Library Makerspace
3800 Victory Pkwy., Avondale
Open to all students, faculty and staff to explore their creativity, access disruptive technologies like 3D printers and scanners, use tools for constructing projects and imagine solutions to problems with real-world applications.
 

Founder Institute Cincinnati will graduate its first class on Feb. 1


Founder Institute, the newest cultivator of entrepreneurship on the StartupCincy scene, graduates its first local cohort with a public showcase on Feb. 1.
 
“We are graduating top level talent for the entrepreneurial ecosystem here,” says Michael Hiles, founder of Intellig8 and one of the directors of Founder Institute Cincinnati. “We worked hard to be very inclusive, and a third of our graduates are minority-led businesses.”
 
Founder Institute recruits entrepreneurs that are working on the ideation stage of their company or product for a rigorous 14-week program that's designed to challenge the viability of ideas and the resilience of the founders. The first Cincinnati cohort will graduate nine founders from eight companies — two members of the class had similar ideas and decided to join forces to create one company.
 
  • Brad Birck: Virtual Lens will use a virtual/augmented reality application for consumer experiences, including virtual property showings for real estate agents and their clients.
  • Doron Katriel: The Holistic Experience will produce WetDryes, a two-sided toilet paper that is moist on one side and dry on the other.
  • John Bentley and Sam Malik: MeeLance provides a platform to match freelance professionals with clients based on skills and work style. Once matched, the system will support the relationship from proposal submission to product delivery.
  • Keliyah Yisrael: Boonbee will create an engaging social platform for giving monetary gifts for birthdays, weddings and other special occasions.
  • Lawrence Jones: Just Hire Me is a staffing platform for teenagers who are available for light chores, small projects and day work. It then matches them with the business and individuals who are looking to hire.
  • Matthew Thomas: Fiero gamifies the career discovery process for college students, using their strengths, weaknesses and motivators to help them explore professional options.
  • Steve French: Invest Your Faith helps Christians find companies that match their beliefs so they can have piece of mind about their investments and earn a competitive rate of return.
  • Yogesh Kadiyala: Gyftsense utilizes social profiles and interests to recommend the perfect gift for any occasion.
“We expect to see our graduates active in the StartupCincy ecosystem,” Hiles says. “Some are considering applying to other accelerator programs, while others are already meeting with angel investors. We are very focused on building community and support among the cohort. They will also stay engaged with Founder Institute and we hope some will attend FounderX, the global Founder Institute alumni conference.”
 
The Graduate Showcase is open to anyone, and Founder Institute Cincinnati is hoping to draw a crowd that includes those who are interested in startups and entrepreneurship, service providers, other founders and investors. Each founder will present their company to the audience in a pitch-style program.

During the event, Founder Institute Cincinnati will also provide an overview of its program, which is currently recruiting for the spring cohort with early admission ending March 5 and final applications due by April 2. The application fee is waived for anyone who attends the Graduate Showcase. The second class will run from April 19-July 19, and a fall cohort will be offered as well.
 
Registration is required for the Graduate Showcase. The event, held at Cintrifuse, begins with networking at 6:30 p.m. followed by the pitches.
 

Beer and wine startup and hybrid retail bar coming to The Gantry in Northside


The options are often overwhelming at specialty beer and liquor stores. If a customer doesn’t know what they’re looking for, they tend to settle for something they’re familiar with. Nick Belleman and Jason Parnes are hoping to alleviate some of the stress associated with these decisions with their new startup, Higher Gravity.
 
“We’re really excited about this opportunity, and we feel that Higher Gravity fits in well with other businesses in Northside,” Parnes says. “There are places popping up in the neighborhood that aren’t corporate brands but local people who are starting their first thing, and that’s what we’re doing too.”
 
Belleman and Parnes are accountants by trade — they’ve traveled all over the world for work and have tried different beers everywhere they’ve been. About four years ago, Parnes started dabbling in homebrewing. Their love for different beers and learning different aspects of the craft beer industry are what lead them to start Higher Gravity. 
 
The craft beer and wine startup will open in May next to Melt’s new location in The Gantry. The 2,214-square-foot space will have 14 rotating taps designated for craft beer, 700 different beers and 200 different wines that will be available to enjoy in store or to take home. Customers will be able to create their own six packs or purchase 22-oz. crowlers or growlers of beer.
 
A minimal corking and capping fee will apply to all bottled or canned products enjoyed in store, but Parnes says that those items will still cost less per glass than going to a typical bar.
 
Higher Gravity will have a heavy focus on educating customers about what they’re drinking. The educational program is still in the works, but there will be iPads around the store so customers can research what they’re looking at.
 
“We want the consumer to understand the art behind what they’re drinking,” Belleman says. “There are reasons why special glasses are used and what flavors you’re tasting, and I think understanding that brings a new level of enjoyment.”
 
Although Belleman and Parnes are going to be educating others about beer and wine, they don’t claim to know everything.
 
“We’ll be learning right along with our customers, which is what’s really cool,” Parnes says.
 
When customers walk into the space, they will be drawn toward the white bar. A beer cooler will hold more popular, everyday beers, while the more specialty brews will be toward the front of the store. Higher Gravity isn’t a sports bar, but three big screen TVs will show big games and will also be used for educating customers.
 
Higher Gravity won’t have a kitchen, but small snacks will be available for purchase. Customers will also be encouraged to place orders from nearby restaurants.
 

Cintrifuse CEO joins world's largest startup accelerator board


In a move that could have national implications for Cincinnati’s tech scene, Cintrifuse CEO Wendy Lea will join the board of directors for Denver-based Techstars, the world’s largest tech startup accelerator network.

Lea’s involvement with Techstars can be traced back to the accelerator’s founding in Boulder, Colo., in 2006. She became CEO of Cintrifuse in 2014 and worked in 2016 to establish Cincinnati as a host for FounderCon, an annual gathering of Techstars alumni.
 
“As a Techstars mentor since 2007, Wendy understands the value of our mission,” says Techstars co-founder and co-CEO David Cohen. “In 2016, she was instrumental in bringing the most recent Techstars founder event, FounderCon, to Cincinnati, an emerging startup hub in the Midwest. We plan to lean on Wendy for strategies that make this a win-win for founders, startup communities and corporations with a desire for innovation.”
 
In addition to growing entrepreneurial endeavors, Techstars is a philanthropic foundation. Lea will help steer the organization as one of seven directors.
 
To date, more than 1100 entrepreneurs — including a few Cincinnati companies — have completed the Techstars accelerator program.
 
Cincinnati leaders like CincyTech president Mike Venerable hope that Lea’s addition to the Techstars board will mean opportunities for Cincinnati and growth for our tech scene.
 
"Wendy's energy and experience have already had a great impact here, capped by her work to bring Techstars' FounderCon to Cincinnati late last year," Venerable says. "Her seat on the Techstars board gives our region the collected wisdom and learnings of the Techstars global community and connections that are unmatched in the startup space."
 

Faith-based startup accelerator OCEAN announces third class

 
Oakley-based OCEAN Accelerator recently named the third class of entrepreneurs to enter its business-incubation program. OCEAN is the first faith-based business accelerator in the nation, and is located at the Crossroads Church campus in Oakley.
 
Since its founding in 2014, OCEAN has accepted up to 10 startups each year, taking participants on a five-month global journey where their business ideas receive faith-based mentoring and support.
 
The 2017 OCEAN class will run Jan. 16 through the end of May. While OCEAN has always offered seed investment opportunities, the amount has increased this year to $50,000.
 
Visit OCEAN's website to learn more about the 2017 class of startups, which includes:
  • AraJoy Inc. Software: enables drones to film sporting events without a human operator.
  • Bundle: a mobile inventory, low-price tracking tool.
  • Cloverleaf.me: a visualization and scenario-planning tool for team management.
  • ConsultMates: healthcare consulting marketplace and info-sharing tool.
  • FLX: financial software for farmland rental contracting.
  • Kwema: emergency alert system that connects smart bracelet to a mobile app.
  • Owl Labs: a research and development lab that facilitates human-machine interaction. 
2017 participants hail from as nearby as Cincinnati, Illinois and Georgia, and as far away as Sudan, Chile and Australia. The class is comprised of 43 percent female and 25 percent minority founders.
 

UC law students provide free legal counsel to 230 local entrepreneurs


The University of Cincinnati College of Law is giving its students real-world experience with Cincinnati entrepreneurs through a partnership with the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) and MORTAR.

“One of the best ways for our law students to learn how to practice law is by actually doing it,” says Lew Goldfarb, director of the ECDC. “In the clinic, law students assume responsibility for managing attorney-client relationships from start to finish, an experience that cannot be duplicated in the classroom.”

The ECDC opened in 2010 to provide hands-on training for law students and to provide free legal services to local entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations that might otherwise be unable to afford professional counsel. In the past six years, 147 students have provided over $1 million in free legal help to 230 local businesses and organizations.

“The ECDC is different than most other business clinics due to its extensive community involvement,” Goldfarb says. “We partner with many local business organizations, law firms and local lawyers, which helps enhance our impact on local entrepreneurs and law students alike.”
 
Under the supervision of Goldfarb and attorneys from local law firms, students prepare and review contracts, work on trademarks and copyrights and handle issues around corporate governance and employment practices, as well as prepare applications for tax-exempt status. Fellowships with ECDC are offered each semester and over the summer.
 
In addition to ECDC’s relationship with MORTAR, students have worked with other local incubators like Bad Girl Ventures, The Brandery, First Batch, the Hamilton County Business Center and OCEAN Accelerator. The students' experience with each accelerator program is similar, but their work must be tailored to the varied needs of their clients.
 
“Most MORTAR business owners are starting lifestyle businesses and not high-growth, venture track tech businesses, like those participating in The Brandery program,” Goldfarb says. “Students sometimes must adjust their legal priorities and how certain agreements are drafted.”
 
Goldfarb’s commitment to support and strengthen the local entrepreneurial community extends to serving as a member of MORTAR’s board.
 
“I was thrilled when I read about the launch of MORTAR,” Goldfarb says. “I believe its mission met a significant, unmet need in the entrepreneurship community. I reached out to Derrick Braziel to find out more about their plans and to discuss a potential partnership with the ECDC.”
 
ECDC also works with independent clients that are not affiliated with one of the local accelerator or incubator programs. Community partners refer businesses that are in need of assistance, and other clients reach out for assistance directly through an application on the group's website.

With the tremendous growth in the local entrepreneurial community and redevelopment efforts underway in many Cincinnati neighborhoods, ECDC anticipates there will be an increasing need for its services.
 
“I am open to collaborations with other organizations in the community as long as it will benefit our students and our resources allow it,” Goldfarb says. “By working together, I believe we can make a big difference in the community.”
 
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