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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.
 

Sustainability advocate Rob Richardson joins Cincinnati mayoral race


Amidst a period of unprecedented growth for downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Cincinnati as a whole, sustainability advocate Rob Richardson, Jr. recently announced that he will join the 2017 mayoral race. His "One Cincinnati" platform emphasizes innovation, inclusion and a personal belief in the city motto of “Juncta Juvant” (Strength in Unity).
 
“Rob’s ultimate goal,” says campaign manager Daniel O’Connor, “is to leverage the expansive variety of talent and resources our city offers to provide and expand opportunities to all people that live here, regardless of race, gender or neighborhood.”
 
As chairman of the Board of Trustees for UC — the second-largest university in the state and the city’s largest employer — Richardson has forged relationships with leading sectors that include business, education, local startups, technology, community activism and more. It's an integrative approach that has allowed him to move outside the political realm, and one that he feels will enable him to leverage Cincinnati’s ever-growing pool of talent.
 
A teacher once told a 13-year-old Richardson that he was not intelligent enough to go to college. In response, his mother instilled in him the belief that limited expectations don't matter, reminding him at every turn that, “You define yourself, for yourself, by yourself.”

How does Richardson define himself? As an innovator and a person who actively pushes back against the status quo to find unique and effective solutions to any problem.
 
Richardson reinforced that conviction at the press conference where he announced his decision to run. He said that the election is not about the streetcar, west side vs. east side or a battle between political parties, genders or races. Instead, Richardson said, the election is about the type of city that we want Cincinnati to be, now and in the future.
 
To learn more about Richardson — the person and the candidate — visit www.robforcincinnati.com or his campaign’s Facebook page.
 

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."
 

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.”
 

Local tech startup tilr receives job-creation city grant


Last month, the City of Cincinnati granted a Job Creation Tax Credit to tilr, a company that will use the funds to hire 150 employees over the next three years.
 
The tech startup uses a patent-pending algorithm to connect qualified workers with area companies on an as-needed, on-demand basis. tilr endeavors to save time for both candidates and employers by streamlining the job application process and eliminating the need for cover letters and lengthy interviews.
 
Interested employers can visit tilr’s website and browse hundreds of vetted, trusted workers to meet a variety of short- and long-term placement needs. For employees, tilr provides a background check, introductory phone call and membership in the online community.

The company was incorporated in October of 2015 by five co-founders: Carisa Miklusak, Summer Crenshaw, Luke Vigeant, Sam Pillersdorf and Stephen Shefsky.

"Not only is tilr a local direct employer that will grow to a projected 100-plus jobs over the next three years," says Crenshaw, who, along with her team has grown the company to 17 employees since launching. "It is also a marketplace with over 13,000 community members in the Cincinnati area placing individuals with companies for work opportunities."
 
tilr recently moved into a new space at 308 E. 8th Str. downtown.

"As tilr launched beta and market release of the product in the Cincinnati region, Cincinnati rose to the top as a premier destination for a tilr office," Crenshaw says. "After months of working in the market (and one of the co-founders being a Cincinnati native), the co-founders agreed that Cincinnati would become the operational headquarters for the organization. Working with REDI Cincinnati, tilr was able to secure an incentive package that encourages tilr’s growth and expansion."

Its partnership with the city involves a 12-year tax credit that is based on future job creation with an average salary of $55,000 per year.
 

WEL Enterprise receives $25,000 in funding from Bad Girl Ventures


On Dec. 6, the fall Bad Girl Ventures LAUNCH class graduated, with WEL Enterprise taking home $25,000 in funding.
 
“All the money is going entirely towards my pilot project, which has a total cost of $100,000,” said Katrina Eckard, CEO of WEL Enterprise. “So now I will be pursuing other funds to complete the total, then I will be able to immediately build the first WEL system for wastewater treatment and reclamation of its kind. I have an incredible team of experts in place who have been working with me in my research and development over that past couple of years so we are ready to go!”
 
BGV Executive Director Nancy Aichholz said that the selection committee faced a difficult decision in choosing a winner from the cohort but expressed her confidence in the entire class to secure capital and move forward with their businesses.

Douglas Craven, director of corporate advancement for the Economic Community Development Institute, who served on the selection committee, said that ECDI will offer financing to another cohort member, Chica Sport.
 
“We plan to utilize the funding from ECDI to dramatically increase our inventory of our flagship product, the Seat Hero, in order to grow our retail partnerships, as well as open our own retail space for all of our athletic accessories,” said Meredith Finn, president and owner of Chica Sport. “Thanks to BGV and ECDI, Chica Sport is ready for our next big step.”
 
The graduation event, which was held at Rhinegeist, was the culmination of a big year for BGV, starting with the implementation of its new curriculum: EXPLORE, LAUNCH and GROW. The organization also moved into its new office space in Covington, and held its first open-to-the-public pitch night in November.
 
“We expected 50 people, and we had over 80 in attendance from the startup and business community from both sides of the river,” said Angela Ozar, BGV program manager. “It was a strategic move for BGV going forward, and was great exposure for the cohort to gain recognition and connections from our network." 
 
The LAUNCH accelerator program focuses on established, women-owned businesses that are looking to expand. The fall 2016 cohort included Chica Sport, Cinfully Sweet, Dry Moon Pillowcases, SecondNurture and WEL Enterprise. BGV is accepting applications for the next LAUNCH class through Feb. 10.
 
“I learned so much that I am able to apply to my business right away and in the future,” Finn said. “I know I am part of the BGV family, and with that comes an invaluable network of fellow women entrepreneurs.”
 
LAUNCH cohort member Debra Mooney of Dry Moon Pillowcases completed the EXPLORE program earlier this year, and is helping BGV with the GROW program that will begin next year.
 
“BGV is as much about process as it is content,” Mooney said. “The network of motivated, energetic, creative, diverse and supportive women is terrific.”
 
Mooney is using her LAUNCH experience to move her product into local retail locations, supplementing her online operation. She will facilitate a GROW seminar, Entreleadership, Mastery and Moxie, on Jan. 18 at BGV’s Mentor Avenue offices.
 
"Our GROW program is designed to help all entrepreneurs further their knowledge and skills to grow their business,” Ozar said. “The program will feature a la carte monthly workshops on a topic relevant to entrepreneurs.”
 
The first BGV GROW workshop, a partnership with VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm, takes place Feb. 14 on HR & Risk Management, registration is required. The next EXPLORE class will begin in the spring.
 

Brandery grad Soundstr nabs over $1 million in funding


Cincinnati-based music tech startup Soundstr has secured $1.1 million in seed financing from investors that include entertainment data and technology companies Gracenote and Accelerant, as well as unnamed angel investors.

Soundstr was founded by Eron Bucciarelli-Tieger, the former drummer for indie punk band Hawthorne Heights.
 
In May, Soundstr was awarded an initial investment from CincyTech, which the startup used to launch the production of its tablet-like devices.

The devices plug directly into a venue’s sound system. It uses music recognition technology to identify songs and catalog actual music usage, which in turn helps venues and other businesses to negotiate fairer licensing/usage fees that are charged by performing rights organizations.
 
“Disruption is an overused term, but in this case, it truly fits,” said CincyTech's director, Doug Groh. “We cannot imagine many areas more ready for disruption than this. We saw that the current methods of determining music licensing fees and royalty payments were both grossly unfair and highly inefficient. (Soundstr founder) Eron (Bucciarelli-Tieger) showed a deep understanding of all of the players involved — artists, venues, music publishers and fans — and their motivations.”
 
Soundstr is currently being used in several pilot venues nationally. The company is now taking pre-orders for a planned official launch in January 2017. Visit Soundstr's website for more information and a free trial.
 

MORTAR debuts Iron Chest Fund loans for entrepreneurs


On Nov. 15, MORTAR kicked off its Iron Chest Fund with a #100for100 campaign. The entrepreneurship hub is looking for 100 people to donate between $100-1,000 to help small business owners launch their ideas.
 
MORTAR was inspired by Mayor John Cranley’s State of the City speech this year, which highlighted the importance of having a vibrant and diverse ecosystem where everyone, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status, has a chance to participate.
 
The goal is to raise $100,000, but Iron Chest Fund’s Managing Director Derrick Braziel said he’s shooting for $300,000. The fund has already been pledged a $50,000 matching grant from Matt Butler, Signature Hardware’s president, by Jan. 1.
 
The fund will provide zero percent interest micro-loans of up to $10,000 to local entrepreneurs who typically wouldn’t be qualified for a loan through a traditional bank. Every potential recipient will take a financial literacy and money management course before receiving a loan.
 
Nine local entrepreneurs have already been chosen to receive loans through the Iron Chest Fund. Recipients include apparel companies, a men’s consignment shop and a paleo-friendly restaurant.
 
You can donate to the Iron Chest Fund here.
 
MORTAR is also having its seventh Life’s a Pitch-Mortar Pitch Night and Graduation at 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the Lindner YMCA at 1425 Linn St., 45214. Admission is $5.
 

Engage Cincy now accepting applications for innovation and engagement grants


Engage Cincy, the community engagement innovation challenge sponsored by the city manager’s office, is now accepting applications for round two of the grant competition.
 
“A thriving, vibrant city requires continuous fostering of constructive engagement between people of diverse backgrounds, views and circumstance,” said City Manager Harry Black. “Our intention with this program is to encourage creative ideas that will have real and positive impact, furthering those priorities.”
 
Four Engage Cincy grants were awarded in 2016:“I’m very pleased with the outcome of those projects as they came to fruition over the past months,” Black said. “The potential for continuing and growing these projects is very encouraging, especially the Cincinnati Neighborhood Games, which proved to be a hit right out of the gate.”
 
The first year of the program was intentionally broad in scope, and the city received 188 applications — over three times what they expected. For round two of Engage Cincy, the city manager’s office has focused the guidelines on three areas where engagement and innovation could make a critical impact: healthy food access, civic connections through technology and improving livability.
 
“An ongoing challenge for Cincinnati, and for a lot of cities, is providing healthy, robust food options for people in all neighborhoods,” Black said. “Some real creativity is needed here because the profit margins are so thin for fresh food retailers. How do we ensure everybody, regardless of easy access to transportation/mobility, socioeconomic status, etc., has access to, and is encouraged to make, healthier food choices?”
 
Applicants who have an idea that can be implemented within the grant period are preferred, but grants can be used to cover ideation and development, in addition to activation expenses.
 
“We know there are a lot of very savvy people who are finding all kinds of new ways to use social media, meta-data, smart technologies, etc., to solve problems and to entertain,” Black said. ‘We are looking for creative ways to tie this together and better engage city government with people, and connect people with each other.”
 
The Engage Cincy submissions can be focused on a specific community or address the city as a whole.
 
“We want to enhance the quality of life for an area or a group of people,” Black said. “This could mean any number of things — it depends on the challenges someone may see in front of them that they want to positively impact. This could be blight, crime, education or a whole myriad of things. How can engagement move the needle on these serious issues?”
 
Applications will be accepted online through Dec. 11, and are open to individuals, nonprofit organizations and companies based in Cincinnati, although collaborative efforts are encouraged. A selection committee of city staff and community leaders will narrow down the finalists for further interviews over the winter. The winners, each receiving up to $10,000, will be announced at the Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit in March.
 
“Our program is unique and we feel it could act as a best practice for other cities looking for fresh ideas,” Black said. “We are excited to continue the program, and we encourage everyone out there to check out the website and work with your friends to submit an application.”
 

Startup community invited to Cincinnati's Startup Weekend


This fall’s Startup Weekend will begin with a pitch night on Nov. 18, and will culminate in a demo night on Nov. 22. The 54-hour event will bring together Cincinnati designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts from all sectors of the startup community.
 
Anyone is welcome to pitch their idea and receive feedback from their peers. Once ideas are pitched, teams will form around the top ideas, which are determined by popular vote. The following three days will involve business model creation, coding, designing and market validation of the project.
 
The last step in the process is a demo, where the teams will present their projects to a panel of local entrepreneurial leaders, who will provide feedback.
 
The panel will be made up of five entrepreneurs from around Greater Cincinnati: Nancy Aichholz, executive director, BGV, Inc.; Tony Alexander, general manager, The Brandery; Miranda Millard, chaos coordinator and development assistant, MORTAR; Scott Weiss, CEO, OCEAN Accelerator; and JB Woodruff, program director, UpTech.
 
A number of speakers will present throughout the weekend, including Wendy Lea, CEO, Cintrifuse; Renee Murphy, research consultant, The Garage Group; Keith Romer, research consultant, The Garage Group; and Jake Rouse, cofounder and CEO, Braxton Brewing.
 
Teams will be able to seek advice from a group of coaches and mentors, including startup founders, designers, marketing specialists and business managers.
 
Registration is still open for Startup Weekend; tickets range from $75-99, with seats for Sunday’s demo night available free of charge.
 

Seventh annual Midwest UX Conference announces Cincinnati is 2017 host city


On Oct. 12-14, 2017, Cincinnati will host the seventh annual Midwest UX Conference. The regional conference celebrates the growing practice of user experience design, and since its inception in 2011, has been held in Columbus, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Louisville and Pittsburgh.
 
“The conference is a reflection of the host city and the UX community within it,” said Jessica Schomaker, Cincinnati MWUX chair. “It’s really refreshing to get to go to all of these cities and see the UX communities there.”
 
The three-day event will feature hands-on workshops, keynote speakers, city excursions and networking events. Keynotes will be held at Memorial Hall, workshops will be at Cintrifuse and other locations in Over-the-Rhine and the closing party will be held at the Contemporary Arts Center.
 
Day one of the conference is workshop-based. Attendees will be able to go into the sessions and meet with international industry leaders who will teach skills needed for UX design.
 
“I moved here not too long ago and took a UX job,” Schomaker said. “The UX community in Cincinnati is remarkable, and the quality of people and conversations I’ve had are remarkable. It would be surprising to people outside of the Midwest that these conversations and groups are here because the perception is that good design happens on the coast. But good design is happening in the Midwest too.”
 
She feels that with the renaissance of OTR and downtown, Cincinnati is in the middle of redefining itself. “It’s a reflection of what UX does — it improves user experience, just like Cincinnati is doing.”
 
The Midwest UX Conference is entirely volunteer-based. With each new host city, new conference chairs are chosen from the local UX community, which allows each city to put on the best conference possible for the region.
 
“We get to highlight things that are happening in the city and highlight our favorite places,” Schomaker said.
 
That being said, the conference is still looking for volunteers and sponsors to help shape the event. If you’re interested in either role, send an email to hello@midwestuxconference.com.  
 
Early bird tickets are on sale now for $350, and can be purchased here.
 

Local social intelligence startup forms partnership with Ford Motor Company


Spatial, a Cincinnati-based startup that launched less than a year ago, has recently partnered with Ford to bring its navigation technology to Ford’s cars. The partnership has allowed Spatial to relocate to Detroit, and to focus on taking its social intelligence technology and embed it into car GPS and navigation systems.
 
Earlier this year, 12 startups were chosen to be part of Techstars Mobility class, including Spatial. Launched in 2015, the mentorship-driven accelerator program focuses on next-gen mobility solutions.
 
Each startup received $120,000 in funding, plus three months of intensive guidance on business development, customer acquisition and developing relationships within the auto industry, as well as support from top business leaders. The class started June 13, and ended on Sept. 8 with a demo day at the Detroit Opera House.
 
From that experience, Spatial formed a relationship with Ford — the company chose three startups that are working on tech products for autonomous and connected cars. All of the startups were from Techstars Mobility’s second class: Cargo, HAAS Alert and Spatial.
 
The startups have been working on projects in key areas that are of interest to Ford: consumer experience; information technology and data analytics; multimodal trip integration; flexible ownership and user experience; and autonomous and safety technologies.
 
“We have multiple projects running with Ford currently, and each of them aligns with our mission: helping people navigate like a local, anywhere on Earth,” said Lyden Foust, CEO of Spatial.
 
The details of the specific projects are underwraps, but Foust says that Spatial’s contract with Ford has put momentum in the company.
 
“We’re starting to get a lot of inbound requests from customers working with autonomous cars and AI assistants, all the way to real estate websites that want to help their users understand an area and sort through home options quickly,” he said.
 
Fortune named Spatial one of the top 10 automotive startups of 2016. Read that article here.
 

CincyTech scores $13 million grant for startups


Last week, Ohio Third Frontier announced $67.4 million in funding awards across the state, including grants to two key organizations in the StartupCincy community. Grant money will be used to help encourage innovation and regional entrepreneurs. As Cincinnati’s dynamic startup ecosystem continues to expand, Ohio Third Frontier funding provides an important resource for the organizations supporting the thriving entrepreneurial community.

CincyTech
received about $13.5 million through 2019 from the Entrepreneurial Services Program to disburse to partner organizations Cintrifuse, the Brandery, HCDC and the U.C. accelerator while the University of Cincinnati’s Technology Accelerator for Commercialization received $500,000 from the Technology Validation and Startup Fund Program.
 
Ohio Third Frontier, which is administered by a commission and advisory board, allocates General Assembly funds to encourage the growth of startup and technology companies throughout the state. In addition to the two programs announced last week, the commission also operates a Commercial Acceleration Loan Fund and a Capitalization Program.
 
The Entrepreneurial Services Program focuses on four organizations that are supporting early-stage companies, attracting outside investment capital and encouraging regional collaboration around entrepreneurship: CincyTech (Southwest Ohio), JumpStart (Northeast Ohio), Rev1 Ventures (Central Ohio) and TechGROWTH Ohio (Southwest Ohio). The commission hired Urban Venture Group to conduct an evaluation of the four organizations supported by the ESP since the last award cycle.
 
CincyTech and its partners exceeded the requirements in all four areas of evaluation: regional focus and identity, ESP structure and management plan, client services and capital access and funding pipeline. The report noted several key strengths for the organization, particularly that the “’separate but interconnected network has achieved effective cooperation and coordination among partner organizations.”

The report also commended them for “high-quality services, especially mentor networks, customer access and capital access” and “deep ties with investors, regional corporations.” The only organizational weakness listed was a “low emphasis on reporting of metrics and costs.”

Previous funding from Ohio Third Frontier has also funded Imagining Grants, which support entrepreneurs and pre-seed companies as they develop sufficiently to attract outside funding.
 
The Technology Validation and Startup Fund Program supports colleges and universities as well as nonprofit research institutions in licensing their technological discoveries. The companies and agencies purchasing those licenses generate economic growth for the state as they develop commercial products.
 
UC submitted a proposal for Round 12 of the TVSF for its Technology Accelerator for Commercialization, which “provides seed funding, commercialization expertise and business connections to launch potentially high-impact entrepreneurial initiatives” to technologies developed at UC by full-time faculty and staff. The award will encourage multiple projects to transition from the lab into commercial ventures.
 
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