A startup based in Over-the-Rhine has received a big boost from the king of the digital world — Google.
The business is called Ocusell, and its team has developed an app designed to turn smartphone photography into professional-looking, high-quality pictures.
Ocusell was recently accepted into Google’s AppDev program, which means the $135 billion powerhouse will work with the Ocusell to help drive installations of the app.
“You get a specialized team to really push your product on all of their various platforms, like Google Search and YouTube,” says Hayden Rieveschl, the company founder.
Rieveschl is a 32-year-old former manager of a hedge fund in the oil and gas industry in Houston. His idea for Ocusell came about when a friend in the real estate business complained about the cost and delays involved in getting quality photographs of properties that were on the market. He saw an opportunity to develop a new idea.
He recruited a lead engineer who worked in the Department of Defense and specialized in satellite imaging, a couple of people from Ernst & Young who had experience in large-scale implementations, and a professional photographer.
“We allow the user to take a professional photo instantly,” Rieveschl says. “Our algorithms read the scenario, adjust the parameters like exposure and contrast, and what you end up with is a picture that is edited beautifully in under two seconds.”
The product was launched late in 2018, and in January, the team received the invitation from Google to join the AppDev program. That came with a 75-page letter outlining the requirements of the deal and suggestions for improvement.
The accelerator program includes access to Google engineers, intensive mentoring, training in public relations, and essentially a close partnership with Google for a period of 90 days.
It’s welcome support for a startup. “No matter how good your product is, you have to get it in front of people, you have to understand your audience and message them appropriately,” Rieveschl says.
He grew up in New Orleans, but became familiar with Cincinnati from many trips to visit his grandfather, George Rieveschl, a Cincinnatian and chemical engineer who developed an antihistamine that eventually became the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl. George Rieveschl passed away in 2007.
The Ocusell team is based at the Cintrifuse headquarters in Union Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Ocusell is available on Google’s app store, Google Play, and on Apple’s App Store.
Hayden remembered Cincinnati when deciding where to locate his startup. “It’s about a tenth of the cost of New York or California, where most people decide to start this kind of business,” he says.