Launch Werks prototypes help inventors attract funding

With big names in branding hovering in an around Cincinnati, it can start to seem like the brand is everything, and intangible products are the only thing that can really sell – and scale.

However, two industrial designers pairing up in Over-the-Rhine are challenging that assumption, combining their skills in design, engineering, and budding knowledge of manufacturing and sourcing materials at a start-up they call “The Launch Werks.”

As the name implies, The Launch Werks not only offers its own, tangible products, but helps small businesses and
innovators create prototypes from their ideas. That means doing everything from helping to design prototypes that consumers will rush to engage with to planning the look of the final object, imagining how people might interact with it, and even specifying the materials it should be manufactured from and where to purchase them.

Co-founders Noel Gauthier and Matt Anthony met as industrial design students at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) and quickly realized a shared interested in what happens after the design phase of a new product.

“The leap it takes to to go from an idea to a real product fascinates us," Gauthier explains. "So much happens when an idea is translated into a made thing. … Having worked in various product design firms around the country, we never had a close connection with where and how the products we designed were being made.”

So he and Anthony began to connect Cincinnati-area product development with high-quality manufacturing, filling a niche for companies that weren’t ready for large-scale production, but needed something to show potential investors.

Anthony says he sees an opening right now for foodie-friendly items. “I think we’re going to see more local stores and products follow developments in the food movement: making unique products and doing it well. But we want to see some of them scale the way that Jeni’s Ice Cream or Taste of Belgium has.”

For a city already big on branding, it might just be a tasty step in the right direction.

By Robin Donovan

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