Innovation. Disruption. Change. These are just a few of the buzzwords that inevitably surface inside a conversation concerning local startups and the entrepreneurial culture that’s been growing here in Cincinnati. There is one word however, that rarely floats top of mind in these same discussions: [promoting] good.
The common good, that is.
Unbeknownst to much of the country, Cincinnati has become a bustling city full of startups, accelerators and incubators, and a budding ecosystem of innovators in the past several years. So, how do we break through the glass ceiling of innovation-land and let the rest of the country know we are doing it big in the Queen City?
Do something that changes the world for the better or support companies that try.
The only problem with this rationale is that investors oftentimes acknowledge only companies who boast an impressive potential bottom line. The potential good that the success of a company could do for the city, the country, or the world is overlooked, and instead we seem to invest based solely off of perceived monetary gain.
This larger systemic issue is one that we as individuals likely cannot fix. What we can do, however, is choose to raise awareness and public support for those local companies trying to make a positive impact on their communities and its people.
So, which local companies are serving up innovation and promoting the common good?
An app and hardware duo that promotes sustainable water usage and saves its users money? Oh yeah, it’s happening. Lagoon has created sensors for household water mains that sync with Wi-Fi, web and mobile apps to let homeowners monitor water usage. Not only does this new addition to sustainable living alert users of water main leaks, but its real-time tracking system also allows users to decipher exactly which activities are driving up their water bill. In a time when impending clean water shortage is a legitimate worry for a decent proportion of the country, can we really afford not to be smart about our fresh water use?
While on the topic of promoting sustainable living, myActions deserves a shout. Nielsen Reports show that people don’t choose to live sustainably because they don’t know what it is they can personally do to make a difference—i.e., which actions to take—and because they can’t see the tangible impact of their actions. myActions is attempting to tackle both of these issues all within a social, gamified online platform that allows users to track the impact of their small, daily actions and to see how those actions contribute to the collective impact their community has made. With widespread behavior change as a top-level goal, this small company is working hard to make sustainable habits a no-brainer in the minds of as many Americans as possible.
Tinder use is commonplace now and, although I know of two happy couples that met compliments of the application, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories. The same thing goes for Craigslist; a friend of mine was nearly mugged picking up a blender, and I’m still haunted by a failed attempt at purchasing a washer and dryer. Repp was created to mitigate exactly this type of risky interaction between strangers. As a 125-pound, 24-year-old female, Repp most definitely returns plausibility to the thought of using the various two-sided marketplaces available to savvy consumers.
Joining is simple. New users need only request a [free] profile and Repp will automatically run identity verification checks, a criminal background check and a sex offender check on your person. Next time you arrange a blind date, attempt to buy a used bike or rent an AirBnB getaway, share your profile with the opposite party and ask them to do the same. If they won’t share—or if they refuse to take five minutes and create a profile—then you likely don’t want to meet up with them anyway. If successful, Repp will not only provide peace of mind to the millions of collaborative consumers in the U.S., but it just may save a few lives, too.
What Lagoon does for individual water consumption, Citilogics does for citywide water consumption, albeit with an added security feature. Citlogics is a forecasting platform that allows city governments a real-time view of water management data, and a centralized control center for their water distribution.
This engineering and software analytics service also permits users to pinpoint systemic leaks, detect contamination (and its entry point into system), and forecast how particular parts of the city’s water infrastructure would hold up in emergency situations or heavy use periods. Finding water contamination problems before they become real issues will undoubtedly save our local government both time and money, and could allow those resources to be put into solving other issues, like [the lack of] early-childhood education or high infancy mortality rates.
These four startups are making moves to improve the local economy and quality of life for citizens, both here and around the country. If they succeed, humanity will be all the better. So, how can you do your part to make sure these companies thrive and make an impact?
Go to their websites. Read about their stories. Explore their products. If your find them compelling, download their applications; tell your friends to, too. After all, creating a little buzz around the companies fighting for our quality of life seems like the least we can do, right?
REPP, Michael Bergmanl and Adam Daniel
Lagoon Founders from Right to left: Nathan Heidt CTO, William Blum CCO, William Wiebe COO, Eric Elias CEO - Far left is a judge from the University of Dayton Business Plan Competition. (provided)
Lagoon speech (provided)
CitiLogistics Jim and Sam (provided)
My Actions (provided)