The Cincinnati startup ecosystem rapidly expanded throughout 2015
, offering opportunities for companies at all stages of development. Downtown data analytics firm 84.51°
launched a Startup in Residence program in June, providing co-working space and mentorship opportunities to four graduates of regional accelerator programs.
“As a more established company, we understand that there is an important role in supporting the future leaders in our space,” says Tony Blankemeyer, Startup Liaison at 84.51°. “We also view this as a learning opportunity for ourselves. By engaging with these companies we see how they approach similar problems and how these small companies are working in a very nimble manner, then we can take those learnings back to some of the work we do.
“Ultimately, by being deliberate about investing resources in emerging technology companies like the ones in our Startup in Residence program, we believe it can be a win for our customers but also for our business and the community at large.”
The first three participating startups — Casamatic
, Hello Parent
— moved into the 84.51° space in June and were joined by HireWheel
in September. At first glance, the connection between those four companies — which address home buying, parent communications, wearables and home contractors, respectively — and 84.51° might not seem clear, but there are common threads.
“When you look at the companies and the true essence of their missions, they’re very similar to some of the foundational components at 84.51°,” Blankemeyer says. “They have the customer at the center of their design or solution. They’re studying human behavior and trying to understand peoples’ influences. And in almost all the cases with the four companies we have here, there is a data science and data informed approach to that solution.”
Participants in the Startup in Residence program not only work in the new state of the art 84.51° headquarters but also receive mentorship from subject-matter experts on staff.
“When we look at, for example Casamatic, they’re doing machine learning and data research for the home buying experience, so they might be able to tap someone on our technology team or our data science team just to give advice or guidance on how they might approach a problem,” Blankemeyer says. “Different perspectives typically help advance projects.”
84.51° also is creating new avenues for testing and prototyping new products.
“I believe one of the most difficult things for a startup is knocking on the doors of larger companies and trying to get that foothold to show what you can do and prove that your solution can be a value,” Blankemeyer says. “So we’re trying to knock down barriers with our program by connecting the right people at the startups to the people within our organization that actually activate and run those pilot programs.”
84.51° plans to start a more formalized mentorship program in 2016 to connect its staff with startups in other regional accelerator programs. The company will also launch an online application process for their Startup in Residence program. Interested companies can submit a letter of intent and complete an interview process.
“We will see where they are on their journey and if it matches up with the interest areas and foundational pieces that we’re seeking,” Blankemeyer says.
Unlike many of the accelerator programs with fixed start and end dates, Startup in Residency participants will be accepted on a rolling admission process.
“The first year was definitely a learning year,” Blankemeyer says. “But we’ve seen some excellent benefits of having the startups here. I would definitely anticipate some additional companies in 2016.”