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LISNR tech startup partners with CAC for interactive museum experience


Thanks to a new partnership with LISNR audio-technology providers, the Contemporary Arts Center will soon launch a “digital docent” app to help visitors connect more deeply with installations like the current lobby exhibit “Solar Bell Ensemble” by artist Tomás Saraceno, which will run through June 18.

The app will be activated and powered by LISNR and will feature exclusive content, messages and experiences, including a personal greeting from the artist. Visitors can download the app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Pre-loaded content is then unlocked as they explore the exhibit.

“For the visitor, it's about the experience,” says LISNR co-founder Chris Ostoich. “You get to hear directly from the artist, and the app brings to life the exhibit in ways that the physical world won't allow you to. For example, the exhibit that is installed in the lobby is actually built to fly — you can be standing in front of the artwork, and then in the app you can be simultaneously watching video of that same exhibit flying through the sky.”

The idea for the partnership was born from last year’s ArtsWave “tech hackathon,” a problem-solving event that brought together the region’s most talented tech, design, marketing and creative professionals to solve real-time business problems in the arts sector.

“A participant in the event had the idea to use LISNR technology to enhance the visitor experience,” says Ostoich, who co-hosted the event. “We launched version one of the app in the winter and rolled out more formally last month.”

Ostoich and fellow co-founder Rodney Williams started LISNR in early 2012 with four other members of the local startup scene. Since then, the company has raised millions in investments and garnered international recognition, with accolades that include being named among Extreme Tech Challenge’s “Top 25” and Consumer Electronics Show’s “Top Software Product in 2017.”

Similar to Bluetooth, LISNR links digital devices, but instead of relying on radio waves, LISNR’s technology uses inaudible sound waves — a process that proponents say is faster, more efficient and more sustainable, as it requires less battery power than its traditional alternative.

Organizers say the CAC partnership is just the beginning. Whether users are attending a sporting event, visiting a museum or unlocking their car, fairly soon all those experiences could be powered by LISNR technology.

“There are myriad ways organizations can use our technology to revolutionize their business,” says Ostoich. “For example, we are working with arts organizations and venues to re-invent their ticketing process. Instead of spending money on paper tickets or expensive bar code scanners, a Smart Tone could be used as an audio ticket. We replace scanners, paper and the need to wait in line at the box office.”
 


AMA Cincinnati speaker series to feature experts from LaRosa's, Graydon and LPK


On March 22, professional marketers’ group AMA Cincinnati is hosting a speaking engagement that will take attendees beyond catch phrases and theory for a deeper look at “the intersection of employee engagement and brand.”

This installment of AMA’s Signature Speaker Series will present the theme “Passion & Purpose: The role of marketing in culture, employee brand engagement and social advocacy.”

Featured speakers will include:

  • Steve Browne, SHRMSCP, executive director of human resources, LaRosa’s Inc.
  • Paul Darwish, chief business development officer & director of marketing, Graydon Head
  • Matt Fearn, group director, LPK

Based on AMA Cincinnati’s intellectual agenda around the “Seven Big Marketing Problems,” speakers will address key concepts that include capitalizing on or shifting culture as part of rebranding, optimizing change management, using social media effectively, engaging employees and maintaining continuous engagement.

“We select speakers based on a matrix of criteria,” says AMA Cincinnati President Gina Bonar. “We work hard to make every event highly valuable for attendees, bringing them inspiration, ideas, connections and practical takeaways they can apply when the walk out the door.”

AMA Cincinnati was founded in 1937 and has since been recognized numerous times for excellence among AMA’s 76 professional chapters nationwide. According to the group’s mission statement, AMA Cincinnati works to “support growth of our members and the organizations they serve, inspiration for the future of marketing in the short- and long-term and connections that generate business, work, innovation, advancement and fun.”

Past AMA Cincinnati speaker events have featured marketing professionals from diverse and visible area organizations like New Riff/KY Distiller’s Association, Paycor and the Covington Business Council. The series will continue in April with the theme “Digital Transformation,” and a May segment will focus on the customer experience.

“Participants of the AMA Cincinnati community value the direct business and professional development opportunities created by our programming, as well as the frequent, facilitated social and networking events,” Bonar says. “We also serve as a vital connector between hiring managers, recruiters and a strong talent pool, and provide access to extensive thought leadership and practical tools for marketers.”

The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on March 22 at Xavier's Cintas Center. Tickets range from $25-45. Click here to register on Eventbrite.
 


Pipeline H2O member engages in program, continues partnership with University of Kentucky

 

Lexington-based PowerTech Water, part of the inaugural Pipeline H2O class, formed to commercialize a water treatment technology developed at the University of Kentucky.

 

“We are looking forward to exploring Pipeline’s strong network and plugging into the ‘city as lab’ model to further test and validate our systems,” says Cameron Lippert, CEO of PTW.

The water purification system developed by PTW removes dissolved salts, minerals and metals such as sodium, calcium and lead from water supplies through de-ionization. Its proprietary system runs water through stacks of porous carbon and titanium plates where carbon electrodes remove the ions, cleaning the water as it moves through the system.

 

“Our system uses low energy, and has no filters to replace,” Lippert says. “The technology requires less maintenance, requires no anti-foulant chemicals, has a long lifetime and therefore will have substantially lower capital and operational costs than competing solutions.”

PTW is in the process of scaling up its module to be able to process one gallon of water per minute. The startup is also continuing to partner with the University of Kentucky.

“We have access to the scientist and engineers that developed the IP to answer any technical questions we may have, and if need be, we have access to lab space and instrumentation,” Lippert says.

The carbon electrode system can be used to clean water for disposal after being used in industrial processes, as well as reclaim water for re-use. In addition, the process is reversible and the system itself is renewable, providing significant cost savings in energy usage and replacing filters.

“We achieve a lower cost of treatment without the use of added chemicals, membranes or consumables, yielding a 60 percent reduction in cost, a 70 percent reduction in energy consumption, a 90 percent reduction in maintenance time and a 40 percent increase in water efficiency,” Lippert says.

Currently, PTW is targeting clients in the food and beverage industry, particularly distilleries and beverage bottlers.

“We are actively producing commercial prototypes that are being tested by potential customers for pilot and demo testing,” Lippert says. “Meanwhile, we are looking for pilot customers and strategic partners that can help reduce the time it takes to get to market.”

In addition to PTW, the Pipeline cohort includes two other water purification systems, Searen and WEL Enterprise.

“We are talking with both parties to see if we can all do a pilot together,” Lippert says. “Searen targets solids and VOCs, not dissolved solids or ions, and WEL is more of an engineering firm that installs technologies.”

Like several other cohort members, PTW is only on site in Hamilton each month during the week of classes and programming. Pipeline cohort members are then given assignments to work on during their time away from the program.

“Luckily the homework for Pipeline aligns well with the needed duties of running a startup,” Lippert says. “So it is a complementary process.”

Read profiles of other Pipeline members Searen, ANDalyze, kW Hydroelectric and WaterStep International

 


'Engaged' local orgs win big at Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit


Five Cincinnati grassroots organizations each received $10,000 in city grants to fund their innovative ideas at the 2017 Engage Cincy Grant Awards ceremony. The event took place last weekend at Xavier’s Cintas Center as part of the annual Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit.

The annual Neighborhood Summit is presented by Invest in Neighborhoods, in partnership with the City of Cincinnati, the Community Building Institute, LISC and the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati. Hundreds of community leaders, volunteers, city officials and nonprofit professionals were on hand for day-long discussions focused on helping groups work more effectively to improve the quality of life across Greater Cincinnati.

More than 120 applicants submitted proposals for this year’s Engage Cincy grants. The field was then narrowed down to 10 finalists by a selection committee. City Manager Harry Black reviewed the committee’s recommendations before awarding grants of $10,000 each to the following projects:

Healthy Food for All Northsiders
Project leads: Churches Active in Northside (CAIN), Apple Street Market Cooperative Grocery Story and the Northside Farmers Market
This group’s mission is to build community through food-sharing by offering quarterly community meals and cooking demonstrations based on healthy, affordable recipes that use ingredients from community gardens and farmers’ markets.

Just Hire Me
Project lead: Lawrence Jones
This staffing platform offers a website and mobile app that works to connect neighborhood teens with businesses that are looking for employees. Participating teens age 14-18 can take part in a four-week job-readiness “boot camp” that helps them effectively interview, establish their own bank account and secure employment in the community.

Physi
Project lead: Marty Boyer
Physi’s state-of-the-art activity platform uses artificial intelligence to promote active lifestyles by connecting like-minded residents based on activities, interests, physical proximity and availability. Physi is available via mobile app and online.

Bridgeable
Project lead: Dani Isaacsohn
Bridgeable organizers collect community data and feedback and alert leaders to the conversations going on in their communities, thereby enabling conversations that lead to healthier relationships, better decisions and stronger communities.

Faces of Homelessness
Project leads: ArtWorks and Strategies to End Homelessness
This public art, public education and community engagement program was designed to encourage empathy and understanding by engaging local agencies and shelters with the populations they serve. The program pairs paid youth apprentices with professional artists on a variety of art and community-building projects that will include a permanent public art mural on Vine Street, in partnership with the Over-the-Rhine Community Housing’s Recovery Hotel.

“Every year it seems that the submissions become more creative in the ways they want to go about making our neighborhoods more engaging places to live,” says City Manager Black, who received unanimous support from the Mayor and City Council for the awards program. “We want that trend to continue for years to come.”

For photos from the event and more information about the Neighborhood Summit, check out the event’s Facebook page.
 


Nonprofit WaterStep International brings third-world water solutions to the U.S.


WaterStep International isn't the traditional accelerator program participant, as it is the only nonprofit organization in the inaugural cohort of Pipeline H2O.

“We are doing things a little backward,” says Mark Hogg, WaterStep's CEO and founder. “Usually, a corporation eventually forms a nonprofit to give back. We’re trying to figure out how we can sell, market and develop a plan for our products that will bring financial strength to our nonprofit.”

As a nonprofit, WaterStep works in developing countries to help communities get access to safe water solutions by providing water purification systems and health education, and by teaching residents how to repair and maintain their own wells. The solutions offered by WaterStep are often technologies it developed with community partners.

“There are so many engineers and innovators who want to be part of our work,” Hogg says. “During the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, we received a call from Project Hope requesting help obtaining bleach. We had developed a chlorine generator for other purposes, but we were able to work with GE and the University of Louisville to develop the product they needed.”

The chlorine generator, also known as the M-100 Chlorinator, was recognized in 2013 by Sustania as one of the 100 most promising solutions and projects in the world. The small device generates chlorine gas, which can be used to kill pathogens in water.

The portable bleach maker also won the New Product of the Year award from Environmental Protection, an online resource for environmental professionals. The device uses water, salt and a 12-volt car battery to make bleach on demand through electrolysis.

WaterStep came to Pipeline for help forming a business and for assistance in developing its latest product, a portable system that can provide safe drinking water in an emergency or disaster.

“The City of Louisville had a couple of major water main breaks and emergency management came to us asking if we had a response to provide safe water fast,” Hogg says.

The solution is a mini water-chlorination plant, about the size of a housekeeping cart at a hotel. WaterStep has already sold several to regional cities, including Louisville and Indianapolis, and is interested in expanding its market to hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities where access to clean water is critical.

In addition to seeking new clients, WaterStep has several other challenges it is exploring through Pipeline. The culture and language of nonprofits and businesses can be quite different, yet Hogg hopes to form a corporation with a culture that will complement WaterStep's existing nonprofit. In addition, WaterStep is learning how to tell its story to investors rather than philanthropists.

“We’ve proven ourselves in the developing world,” Hogg says. “We manufacture our own products. So we’re not coming to this hat in hand. Pipeline takes us seriously and challenges us. Everyone in Pipeline wants to change the world. This is the greatest moment to be working in the water field when we can do things that impact lives now and could still be making a difference in 100 years."

Read profiles of other Pipeline members Searen, ANDalyze and kW Hydroelectric.


AIGA supports future female leaders with March 31 gallery event


Cincinnati AIGA, the local chapter of a national group that supports female leaders, will extend its message to school-age girls with a Spicefire gallery event later this month.

For the second year, AIGA Cincinnati will honor Women’s History Month by presenting a “Words of Wisdom” gallery show in collaboration with the organization’s 18-month-old WomanUp initiative, which was created to address the challenges women face in obtaining creative leadership positions both locally and nationwide.

“Nationally, women only make up 11 percent of creative director jobs, despite the fact that the majority of designers, marketers and advertisers are female professionals,” says AIGA Cincinnati president and WomanUp co-founder Autumn Heisler. “We’re still having trouble getting women into that highest leadership level.”

“Words of Wisdom” will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on March 31 at Spicefire art gallery in Over-the-Rhine. The exhibit will feature work from established local artists and designers, as well as work by young women from area schools. That portion of the artwork will be presented by Girls with Pearls Cincinnati, a local chapter of the national nonprofit that focuses on empowering underserved girls who are facing challenging situations.

Girls with Pearls was founded locally by Tamie Sullivan. It started at Rockdale Academy in 2016, providing elementary and junior high school girls with a safe space to talk about and work through issues like self-esteem, their bodies and body image, sexuality and healthy relationships. 

"I could not be more excited about this new partnership with WomanUp ‘Words of Wisdom’ and the opportunity to expose girls in our program to professional women in creative fields,” Sullivan says. “These African-American girls are often forced to grow up faster than their counterparts in more affluent communities. They face more difficult life circumstances and increased responsibilities, so allowing them to just be girls and dream about their futures is what it’s all about." 

Sullivan says that she and other GWP organizers are extremely invested in the success of young women in the program. “One of the girls told me she had just been elected class president,” Sullivan says. “I was so proud and excited for her, almost like she were my own daughter.”

The free AIGA “Words of Wisdom” event is open to the public, but make sure to register ahead of time. Artists and designers interested in submitting work for the show should click here for more info.
 


Thrive Impact Sourcing's disruptive methods impact local employment rates


Since Thrive Impact Sourcing started in January 2016, the company has connected 35 unemployed and underemployed local residents with high-quality IT careers.
 
Kelly Dolan and Michael Kroeger started the company to address three realities in our region:
 
  1. Greater Cincinnati has a shortage of IT professionals; there are 3,000 unfilled positions at any given time. Many organizations have looked to offshore IT services or bring offshore resources onshore to fill this IT talent gap. 
  2. This creates a number of challenges in itself, and the challenges are likely to grow exponentially with policies being discussed under the new presidential administration.
  3. Cincinnati has an alarming poverty rate, with one in four residents living in poverty due to unemployment or underemployment.  
Dolan explains that when you look at these three factors combined: “Creating a business to be used as a force for good in being part of the solution is a no-brainer.”
 
Last year, Soapbox explained the disruptive “urban impact sourcing” model that Thrive uses to create high-quality opportunities in low-employment, urban areas. Thrive partners with nonprofit IT trainers Per Scholas — which has 20 years of experience — to give individuals free training they couldn’t receive anywhere else, as well as ongoing mentorship from senior IT professionals.
 
Using this model, Thrive brings a competitive and competent pool of IT talent to the marketplace.
 
“Thrive is fortunate to have mission-aligned, client partners who were early adopters of this disruptive business model,” says Dolan. “Our services also met a real need for their growing organizations.” CareSource and Crossroads are two area employers that have partnered with Thrive in its first year of business.
 
Dolan points to personal stories from Per Scholas graduates as evidence that the program, one of only two of its kind in the nation, is working to transform lives.
 
“I was living my dream as a stay-at-home mom when I found myself widowed at 31 with five young children to raise,” says Thrive software QA analyst and Per Scholas graduate Kelly K. “I had a few part-time jobs paying around $10 per hour and was getting increasingly distressed because I didn’t have any marketable skills to find a job that pays a sustainable wage. The Per Scholas software testing course was my ‘hail Mary,’ and now that I’m working at Thrive, I have a bright future and my family’s lives are changed.”
 

Chamber names new leadership director, starts Alumni Network


"If it's fun, it's never work. And if it isn't fun, it'll never work."

This quote by surfboard entrepreneur Hobie Alter appears in Amy Thompson’s email signature because she feels it accurately represents who she is and what she does. 

Thompson is the new leadership director for the Leadership Cincinnati and Leadership Action development programs within the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber's new Alumni Network is also under her purview, which aims to connect the more than 3,000 diverse alumni of Leadership Cincinnati, Leadership Action, WE Lead, WE Succeed, C-Change and Cincy Next.

Before the network existed, the Chamber had six premier leadership programs under three separate alumni boards. Each group provided great networking events, behind-the-scenes experiences and social outings, but there was a desire to take alumni engagement to a new level: collaborating as one collective.

Thompson participated in both Leadership Cincinnati and WE Lead. Upon leaving those programs, she was energized and motivated.

“There was a strong personal desire to continue learning and connecting with the community, to engage with my new network and to figure out how I could make a difference," Thompson says. “Knowing that many graduates share the desire to continue developing, connecting and engaging, I was thrilled to take on this opportunity to lead the Cincinnati Chamber’s new leadership Alumni Network.”

The Chamber is harnessing the program's momentum, energy and buzz to increase engagement where it’s needed most, providing opportunities in personal leadership development; connecting with leaders of all ages through multi-directional networking; encouraging engagement in community issues and aligning efforts toward our region's greatest challenges and assets.

The network provides the space and connections for meaningful conversations. It also helps promote intentional volunteering and helps further advance projects that come out of its highly successful leadership programs, such as Preschool Promise and Crayons to Computers.

As membership grows, so will scholarships for future leaders who are in need of financial assistance for the Chamber's many programs.

To learn more about the Leadership Network and the Chamber’s leadership programs, click here.
 

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.
 

2017 Neighborhood Summit will feature how-to workshops that prompt big ideas


Greater Cincinnati's distinctive neighborhoods are growing at a remarkable pace, and it's thanks in part to events like the upcoming Neighborhood Summit.

The 15th annual Neighborhood Summit, which will take place March 11 at Xavier's Cintas Center, is presented by Invest in Neighborhoods, in partnership with the City of Cincinnati, the Community Building Institute, LISC and the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati.

The event attracts hundreds of community leaders and volunteers, city officials and nonprofit professionals for a day of discussions focused on helping groups work more effectively to improve the quality of life across Greater Cincinnati. The summit also features grants and awards for community members whose projects and efforts are making a difference or bringing a neighborhood together in a new way.
 
Last year’s Neighborhood Summit drew more than 600 attendees, with the theme of “Making Your Place” that highlighted community gardens, arts festivals, neighborhood beautification projects and other placemaking initiatives.
 
According to Summit chair Elizabeth Bartley, event planners send out a community survey each year in late summer to gauge what is topically important. A steering committee made up of various Cincinnati leaders then compiles that feedback into guideposts for selecting speakers and sessions.
 
“Like everything else, the Summit evolves and changes to fit what’s going on in our city,” Bartley says. “When it was first started, many neighborhoods simply did not know how the city worked and what was available to them.”
 
Bartley says the Summit has evolved to feature a series of how-to workshops where participants can learn about everything from grantwriting and applying for city services to getting insurance. Breakout sessions are subdivided into seven key areas: health, housing, economy, transportation, education, infrastructure and safety. Click here for more information on this year’s workshops.
 
“Anyone can join in at any time to any topic, roll up their sleeves and work in small groups toward brainstorming ideas and identifying actions that can be taken, whether large or small,” Bartley says.
 
Bartley thinks that level of knowledge sharing among leaders is what makes the Summit impactful. “I have heard many exclamations of, ‘I didn’t know you were doing that! What a great idea!’ and that’s the spark that builds collaboration,” she says.

The Summit is free to attend, however registration is encouraged. Click here to RSVP. Anyone wishing to attend the kickoff dinner Friday, March 10 can purchase tickets here
 
Vendor tables are available to non-profits, city departments, and community organizations for $135.
 

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.
 

Brand builders Dooley Media launch Show & Tell marketing series


In this digital age, it seems that everyone uses social media — but very few use it well. For owners of a brand, especially, the endless catalog of social media practices and faux pas can fast become overwhelming.
 
That’s the issue local marketing gurus at Dooley Media hope to tackle with their new Show & Tell event series, which is designed to showcase the people and projects in Cincinnati that are using social media to effectively tell their brand's story.
 
The series format features three timed topics fielded by five Cincinnati thought leaders — as well as complimentary refreshments. Planners say that going forward, crowd participation will be a major focus, with planned topics that include visual storytelling, community building and customer acquisition.
 
"Social media is still considered pretty new for a lot of companies," says Dooley Media spokesperson Autumn Heisler. "We organized Show & Tell to get back to the roots of researching in a more collaborative space. That’s what social media is all about. We think it’s still best done face to face, and we want to bring together people who have lots of experience sharing ideas in an organic way."
 
The first event in the series took place last December at Cintrifuse's Union Hall and featured an open forum and panel made up of members of marketing teams for Crossroads Church, Rhinegeist and Procter & Gamble.
 
Panelist Jeremy K Smith from P&G kicked off the last session by describing a social media marketing "fail" that got a lot of negative attention last year.
 
“Red Lobster got a shout-out in Beyonce’s newest album, and everyone thought they’d respond to it right away,” Smith explained. “But they waited and came out with a cheesy joke, which led to an unsuccessful social media opportunity. Don’t be a cornball and don’t try too hard. Always be authentic with the content you’re publishing.”
 
Heisler says the idea outcome for the Show & Tell series is sharing resources and best practices. "If people who are smaller entrepreneurs or startups are feeling like, 'Oh, I can’t participate in social media because I’m not a copywriter or I’m not a graphic designer,' then we want them to know there are a lot of ways they can create content that matters to the people they’re trying to reach. The hope is that this series will empower them to take risks and create some different new things."
 
Show & Tell continues from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 27 at Union Hall, with speakers Levi Bethune from local fashion startup Cladwell, Christina Duccilli from Rookwood Pottery and others. General admission is $20; student tickets are available for $10. Click here to RSVP.
 

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.
 

Hyperloop UC team advances in final round of SpaceX competition


University of Cincinnati students were on one of 29 teams to compete in the Official SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. The competition was held on Jan. 29 in Hawthorne, Cali., just outside of the SpaceX headquarters.
 
The team ultimately ran out of time, along with 25 other finalists, to pass final testing to be approved for the mile-long Hypertube Competition. Only three teams managed to pass all final approval testing: Delft University from the Netherlands, Technical University from Munich and M.I.T.
 
"It is great to reach so far in the competition," says Hyperloop UC president Dhaval Shiyani. "When we started the project, we never imagined to get the phenomenal support and attention that we have gotten. That keeps us motivated to achieve more and pushes us to make our supporters and the community proud."

The team was placed in the top half of the competition based on scoring and will continue to refine the design and go forward.

"The company at the competition was an icing on the cake," Shiyani continues. "When people from such esteemed backgrounds praise your work, it is definitely a morale booster. We exchanged ideas on what the Hyperloop can be and we hope to keep doing that moving forward. The competition was a great celebration in how great technology can work toward improving human lives."
 
The Hyperloop UC team is in the process of examining the information it has collected thus far in Competition I, and preparing an entry for Competition II this summer.

"We will keep working toward refining our prototype and bringing a strong design to Competition II," Shiyani says. "The team is excited about our future prospects and the experiences of Competition I will go a long way to streamline our Competition II design."
 
In 2013, renowned engineer and inventor Elon Musk introduced the concept for a high-speed transport unit that would connect cities within a 900-mile radius in a matter of minutes — using this technology, the trip from Cincinnati to Chicago, for example, could be made in just 30 minutes.
 
The Hyperloop soon gained attention from technology manufacturer SpaceX, and the resulting competition drew applicants from more than 1,200 universities, high schools and companies around the world.
 
Due to overwhelming interest, Musk has announced that there will be numerous Hyperloop competitions.
 
The competitions are designed to engage the world’s foremost engineering talent to create a mode of everyday transportation that is safer, faster, cheaper, more convenient, more sustainable and less susceptible to weather than today’s options.

"Hyperloop is closer to reality than anyone would imagine," Shiyani says. "The SpaceX competition generated a lot of attention around the idea and it only goes to highlight that a lot of smart people are working actively toward making Hyperloop a reality."
 
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