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Flywheel's second cohort to present at Demo Day on Feb. 7


The second cohort of Flywheel’s Elevator social enterprise accelerator program will pitch their companies at a demo day on Feb. 7.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature alumni from the first Elevator program; Tamaya Dennard, who was on the leadership team; and former cohort member Katie Nzekwu of Village, as well as a conversation with Joe DeLoss, the social entrepreneur behind Columbus-based Hot Chicken Takeover.

“If you’ve never attended a demo day, it will be an opportunity for a ‘Shark Tank’ look at four companies,” says Bill Tucker, Flywheel's executive director. “If you’ve attended a demo day for another accelerator, it’s an opportunity to learn about the social enterprise space.”

The four members of Elevator’s second cohort are:

  • Dental Access for All works with under-served communities to provide access to dental care
  • Journey to Hope offers affordable coaching and support groups to individuals
  • urbanHive connects employers with potential hires through a skills-based online platform
  • Workforce Connections provides in-house training, coaching and counseling for entry-level employees

Tucker hopes Elevator Demo Day will attract a diverse audience to learn about these companies and get involved with the program.

“Demo Day is for the business leader who wants to improve both her company’s financial ROI and her care for her employees by becoming a customer of one of our companies; the marketing professional at a bigco that can leverage their marketing talent for the benefit of the companies; the high net-worth individual who is reframing his philanthropy as an investment; and individuals who are interested in making our community stronger, ensuring a thriving economy and sustainability for our families,” Tucker says.

The second Elevator cohort experienced a revamped program that included consumer marketing, business development and branding.

“We really ramped up the curriculum, expanded the length of the program from eight weeks to 12 weeks and increased the ‘bench strength’ of mentors,” says Tucker. “We set higher standards for the participating companies, one of the reasons why the cohort is smaller this year. These are not just business ideas, they are businesses with revenue or pilots in place.”

Unlike other accelerator programs, there won’t be a pitch competition or prizes.

“The ‘winner’ is the company that is still standing years from now,” says Tucker. “We’re proud of the fact that five of the seven companies in our first accelerator are still standing."

Although Demo Day is free, registration is required for the event.
 


New restaurant pop-up program to activate downtown space, provide opportunities for biz owners


During a time of great business and economic growth downtown, Downtown Cincinnati Inc. has created a new pop-up program for chefs and potential restaurant owners who want to try their hand at opening a restaurant, rent-free. Bringing together entrepreneurs, artists, makers, small businesses and local property owners to fill vacant spaces and activate downtown will benefit residents, existing businesses and visitors alike.

The City of Cincinnati’s Department of Community and Economic Development, in partnership with DCI, released a Retail Action Plan in 2016 for the Central Business District. The Pop Shop Program is a vital part of implementing the plan. It will help create opportunities for future business owners who have had trouble finding accessible, affordable and flexible spaces, and in turn allow them to create, expand and nurture their small business with relatively low risk.

The term “pop-up” typically refers to a retail, restaurant, event or other business that opens for a short period of time in a vacant space. In downtown Cincinnati, DCI wants to provide business owners an affordable way to test their concepts in a brick-and-mortar location, as well as generate brand awareness and create a new stream of revenue.

The Pop Shop Program was created with the goal of creating a more vibrant street-level environment. According to retail recruiter for DCI, Andrew Naab, the desire is to make downtown an "experience" that can't be replicated in a mall, and is a place for everyone.

“For our restaurant pop shop, done in partnership with Towne Properties, we are looking for those individuals or teams that have experience in the food industry (food trucks, caterers, those that work out of incubation spaces like the Findlay Kitchen) and are interested in taking their concept to the next level,” Naab says.

As for what this will bring to Cincinnati? Naab believes this will give entrepreneurs the drive to continue their business ventures.

“Starting a business is hard, and expensive," he says. "DCI and the City of Cincinnati want to make it as easy as possible to get started, as our small business community provides character, sense of place and quality of life to all in the area.”

The space, 700 Elm St., has almost everything a vendor would need, down to the cookware, plates and utensils. It is over 3,000 square feet, and could be operated collaboratively with two food vendors. Those chosen for the Pop Shop restaurant will receive free rent, but will be responsible for utilities in the space.

The goal is to have each tenant in the space for about a month, starting in January.

Applications are currently being accepted for the program, and people are encouraged to visit DCI's website or contact Naab directly at andrew@downtowncincinnati.com for more information.
 


People's Liberty announces its first round of project grantees for the new year


People’s Liberty, a philanthropic lab that brings together civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Cincinnati, has announced its grant recipients for the first part of 2018.

Launched in August 2014, PL has constructed a philanthropic experiment that will come to a close in 2019. Since its inception, it has awarded grants to 55 people.

Eight grantees are announced per cycle, and there are two cycles per year. Project grantees are awarded $10,000, a six-month series of launch events and access to mentorship and workspace provided by PL. The first round of 2018 winners will implement ideas ranging from artistic basketball courts and care packages to weaving together the community and improving nutrition for local individuals.

Cycle 6 winners and their projects can be found below:

- April Culbreath: Operation Comfy Chair will teach veterans how to reupholster and refinish furniture, which will then be donated to various organizations that help veterans and the homeless.

- Clayton Brizendine: Courts of Art will turn dilapidated, outdoor basketball courts into works of art where people of all ethnicities, religions and racial backgrounds can gather and play.

- Eric Gruenstein: BioChar will teach children and their families how to use charcoal as soil to produce healthy vegetables and to remove greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. His hope is to mitigate the dangers of climate change and to improve nutrition through awareness.

- Jay Kalagayan: MeSseD is an underground installation in a real service tunnel that will create a social “moment” using his comic MeSesD, which features a sewer worker named Lilliput. He hopes his project will create an appreciation for MSD employees who treat, process and provide life-sustaining water to the city.

- Simone Cocks-Charles: Campus Closet is a mobile recourse for college students from low-income households that will provide care packages and other upcycled necessities, making the transition into college life easier.

- Jeffrey Miller: Lunchbox is a lunchtime pop-up destination that will provide a diverse range of meal options using ingredients rescued from local grocery stores and farms. His hope is to educate the community about food waste and “ugly food.”

- Geralyn Sparough: Shelter from the Storm will be a large weaving shelter in a public space in Cincinnati. She hopes this structure will help illustrate and strengthen our ties to each other as a community.

- Tina Dyehouse: She wants to create an ombudsman for the Cincinnati area using social media and a blogging platform called Urban Ombuds. An ombudsman, or ombuds, will investigate, negotiate and resolve problems for individuals with a government or public agency.

On Nov. 16, PL kicked off a celebration for the halfway point in its five-year venture with Intermission. The multi-week celebration includes reflection on past grantees and projects accomplished through PL, as well as conversations about future projects to come, including the opening of a new storefront in Camp Washington next spring.

Intermission will also include an extended program called PL20, which will focus on 20 days of grantee- and resident-led special events and programs. These programs will take place through Dec. 14, and will range from hour-long to day-long projects. More information about PL20 can be found here.

PL is currently accepting residential applications for its Residency Program, including positions in design, digital, writing and more. For more information about PL, its stories and to apply for the residency program, click here.
 


Hamilton Mill wins grant to fund four strategic programs


The Hamilton Mill received a $500,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovative Strategies program, the first award to an applicant from southwest Ohio.

“We are ecstatic about the grant,” says Antony Seppi, director of operations for Hamilton Mill. “The EDA saw our collaborative approach, partnerships and our co-applicant, the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Research, as a good investment.”

During the three-year grant period, Hamilton Mill will apply the funds to four projects. The first two are water-focus: the Pipeline H2O water tech accelerator program and a new web portal for water-space issues. The other two programs of focus are Industrialist in Residence, which pairs Hamilton Mill members with mentors in manufacturing; and the ongoing City as Lab partnership with the City of Hamilton.

“One of our first milestones will be the Industrialist xChange Portal to identify and catalog the challenges regional businesses are facing in the water space,” says Seppi. “This platform will allow water startups to search the problems and see if their technology could offer a solution.”

UC will be working closely with Hamilton Mill on the programs supported by the Regional Innovation Strategies grant, bringing their water center and technology commercialization arm to the table.

“Our water center is an informal group of over 30 faculty members working in the water space,” says Phil Taylor, assistant vice president for Research Strategic Implementation. “They are researching water treatment, reuse, distribution, conservation and aquifer structure, and represent many disciplines, including engineering, biology, geography, planning, physics and design.”

The subject-matter experts at UC will work primarily with the Pipeline H2O participants, offering mentorship, research and applied research.

“This collaboration provides faculty with first-hand experience of what is involved in being an entrepreneur and lets them learn what it’s like to work with industry,” Taylor says.

In addition to faculty assistance, UC’s technology commercialization experts will provide entrepreneurial support to Hamilton Mill members and Pipeline startups.

“It’s important to work together on these issues,” says Taylor. “The collaboration between UC, Pipeline and the EPA is just starting and will evolve as we partner more effectively. This regional initiative could have global impact.”

The Hamilton Mill is coordinating with the EDA regional office in Chicago on the grant implementation and will be tracking startups coming into their programs and graduating, and the number of jobs created from those outcomes.

“We have come a long way in three years,” says Seppi. “This grant will transform us moving forward. It is a huge opportunity to take Hamilton Mill to the next level.”


Fifth Third program helps prepare Shroder students for financial success


Juniors and seniors at Shroder High School are the first in the nation to receive online education on finance and entrepreneurship through a new partnership with Fifth Third Bank. Shroder received a $10,000 technology grant to fund its Finance Academy.

Fifth Third and EVERFI created Finance Academy as an interactive online development tool to help teens better understand how to manage their money and how to become an entrepreneur.

The program is an extension of Fifth Third's $30 billion Community Commitment Plan — it's part of Fifth Third’s Lives Improved Through Financial Empowerment, or L.I.F.E., program.

Launched Oct. 16, the program will teach students about a variety of elements, including banking and investing in their future.

“We're helping young students learn those basic skills in high school,” says Fifth Third spokesperson Brian Lamb.

The program will be offered in class, and students will be able to use their mobile devices to complete the program. There will also be business classes that will focus on building capital, hiring and managing a budget.

One of the guest speakers, former Bengals player Dhani Jones, illustrated to the students how he was not one of the 80 percent of NFL players that have gone broke.

"They understand the value of the game," says Jones, "but they don’t necessarily understand the value of the dollar.”

Jones says that understanding the value of money and guidance all comes from teachers and education. “If you don’t take the proper planning, have the proper mindset and understand the direction of where you’re going to go, then you’re going to be lost."

Shroder faculty members will be able to track each student's score reports and help guide them to a path of success.

“There are a lot of finances when it comes to college, like getting loans," says student Mikaela Wormley. "I feel like if we know what to do now, you have a step above everyone else when it comes to college, and then after college and knowing which job to choose versus the benefits."
 


Powderkeg's impending launch highlights Cincy's startup culture


New to Cincinnati this year, Powderkeg is a community-driven organization that hosts bimonthly pitch nights for scaling technology founders. The community helps members move up in their companies through education, media exposure, resources and technologies.

The events are formatted for three scale-ups to pitch their companies to a panel of investors for feedback. After the event, Powderkeg creates a custom piece of content about the scale-ups and their pitch, and then gets them featured in a national publication.

Through events in eight different cities across the country, Powderkeg boasts over 10,000 members; since the program's inception, $576 million in capital has been raised from 421 pitches. Pitches have been featured in national publications like Forbes, VentureBeat and Huffington Post.

Erika Kotterer, events lead for Powderkeg, believes that featuring the startups in a national media outlet helps to get the word out there about startup companies and their growth in the last decade. “We are currently in Kansas City, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham and Indianapolis. We are trying to expose what's going on in these cities to the nation.”

In true Shark Tank fashion, Powderkeg Cincinnati's launch event on Wednesday will feature three rising-star startups — FarmFlx, Cloverleaf and Spatial, all of which are allowed five minutes on stage to pitch their business to advisors (Dave Knox, a brand marketer; Wendy Lea, CEO of Cintrifuse; and Derrick Braziel, co-founder of MORTAR).

FarmFlx is a financial engineering software firm focused on farmland rental contracts. Cloverleaf builds great teams using assessment and other employee data to provide insight into the right people in the right roles for increased team productivity. Spatial is a location data company that uses conversations from social networks to understand how humans move and experience the world around them using AI.

Pitch nights run far and wide, and the Powderkeg staff believes that this model of startup culture will be more sustainable over time.

“Powderkeg has been hosting pitch nights for the last eight years,” Kotterer says. “A lot of pitch and tech nights attract early stage founders, whereas Powderkeg is for scaling tech founders. Powderkeg is also entertaining and fun.”

The Powderkeg launch event will be held this Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Woodward Theater. Early bird tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets can still be purchased here for $15. Tickets are limited to the first 150 buyers.
 


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.
 

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