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Rockfish seeks applicants for corporate giving program

Digital business accelerator Rockfish is seeking applicants for its 2015 corporate giving program. Two chosen applicants will receive $50,000 of agency time from Rockfish, focusing on topics within the realm of digital communication, such as social media and website development.
 
Aside from being a nonprofit organization, applicants must demonstrate financial need and be headquartered within 50 miles of one of the following cities in which Rockfish operates: Dallas, Cincinnati, Atlanta or Rogers, Ark.
 
"We ask for things like, 'What kind of service are you going to provide to the community and how many people are you reaching?'" says Rockfish associate director Kari Wethington. "But the main part is, 'What will we be helping you with by working with you? Of the $50,000 of agency time that we'll be providing, what can we help you tackle?"
 
Rockfish's selection committee, spread throughout multiple offices nationally, will select the two organizations in January.
 
"By the end of January, companies will know their status," Wethington says. "And we do contact people whether they're chosen or not, so every organization that submits an application will hear from us one way or another."
 
While last year's program attracted about 100 applicants, Wethington expects the number to double for 2015.
 
"The hard thing about this process is that we get such amazing applicants, and very rarely are any of them totally disqualified for some reason," Wethington says. "It really comes down to the details when we're reviewing applicants. You get larger nonprofits, you get some smaller that are newer—it's across the board in terms of the kind of work they're doing."
 
Interested nonprofits must submit their applications by Nov. 17.

First POP-UP Cincy installation set for weekend

The first installment of Uptown Consortium's art and cuisine series, POP-UP Cincy, will take place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24-25 in Avondale. Concept Camp, the first of the series, will focus on the local technology and design sectors.
 
The event aims to provide artists of a variety of backgrounds with a space to work and receive feedback from other people within Cincinnati's creative community, as well as encourage others to articulate and share ideas.
 
"It's kind of about the struggle for a lot of the creative people in the city, that work in different disciplines, to know and have time to share what they do and get feedback from other creative individuals," says POP-UP Cincy organizer Catherine Richards. "There are all these different people working in the city doing amazing things, but they're often times working so hard in their own sphere that they often don't have time to overlap with other spheres of creativity."
 
A group of participating artists plan to make a screen of folded modular paper units that come together, and then install the piece in the storefront window, in which the larger community will collaborate. The event will occupy two storefronts.
 
"At first it was going to be just one space, but we were able to secure another space right across the street, which is where a bunch of artists are going to be working and doing installations," Richards says. "Some people are going to be doing on-site drawings on the wall. We're really taking over these two storefronts with a variety of things."
 
The event will be open to the public Saturday evening, from 5-7 p.m., in Avondale at the corner of Burnet and Rockdale avenues.  

Local entrepreneur invents new iPad case that doubles as battery, hotspot

A local entrepreneur recently revealed a new iPad case that expands wireless networking capabilities. The case, called FiiV, functions as a battery backup and enables users to insert a prepaid data SIM card to establish a WiFi hotspot. 
 
"I came up with this concept back in 2010 after getting an iPod touch for a Christmas gift," says FiiV founder Nathan Ellis. "And much like an iPad, it doesn't really work [to its full functionality] outside of a data connection or wireless network."
 
Ellis wanted to create a solution to purchasing multiple iPad accessories while maintaining the extra benefits, and also give customers the option to switch between wireless data carriers.
 
"The real value is the all-in-one solution. Customers are virtually spending around the same amount, if not less, than they would normally," Ellis says. Most folks don't actually get the choice once they get to a point where they don't like those data rates or terms. "
 
Other devices can also use FiiV's WiFi hotspots.
 
"[The WiFi network] is not just for the iPad connected to the actual case," Ellis says. "It also accommodates other devices as well: cell phones, laptops, other tablets that may be around. It also functions as battery backup."
 
Local design firm The Launch Werks designed the case, which will be released by the brand Viaggi. Ellis plans to launch an indiegogo campaign November 2. 
 
"The goal is to raise enough funds to go ahead and do an initial manufacturing run," Ellis says. 
 
If all goes as planned, Viaggi will launch the first line of FiiV cases by May 2015. Currently, the retail price is set at $149, and the product will come in red, white and black, and also navy blue and brown during the campaign. 

Online photography platform Kandid.ly expands outreach

Since its public launch in August, local photography platform Kandid.ly has been expanding its outreach to cities outside of Cincinnati, recently adding Austin, Denver, Columbus and Detroit.
 
The company, which received the award for best up and coming web tech company at Cincinnati Innovates in late August, aims to streamline the process of connecting photographers with customers.
 
"We actually see an opportunity to change the way moments are meant to be captured," says Kandid.ly founder Sam Ulu. "Folks are going to start realizing that they have a large quantity of photos, but no quality—like selfies, all the grainy photos you take at events where you wish you would have been in it."
 
In an effort to maintain a variety of pricing, quality and availability options, Kandid.ly categorizes photographers into three groups: weekenders, part-timers and full-timers. Users can search for photographers by zip code, which provides portfolios and other details.
 
"We've made it easier for you to actually compare multiple photographers, their work and their pricing all in one place," Ulu says. "Today, it's very challenging to find photographers and then compare their work. You have to open multiple tabs and websites, and even with those multiple websites, it'd be challenging to figure out what each package has and compare them."
 
To make money, Kandid.ly takes commissions, depending on the photographer's skill level.
 
"That commission can go from anywhere between 5-15 percent," Ulu says. "It's kind of like tiers."
 
More established photographers provide Kandid.ly with lower commissions. In addition, for security, Kandid.ly requires photographers to undergo background checks through local startup myrepp.
 
Ulu hopes that Kandid.ly will bring new people interested in photography to use the platform.
 
"We're providing services that might bring folks who love photography, but never really considered doing it as business because of the amount of work it takes."
 

ArtWorks and Cincinnati Metro transform bus shelters into photo exhibit

ArtWorks and Cincinnati Metro recently collaborated on a venture to transform Cincinnati's bus shelters into a photo exhibit. As part of FotoFocus 2014, the project features the work of acclaimed photographer Richard Renaldi, as well as four ArtWorks youth apprentices and two local professional photographers.
 
The idea behind Renaldi's project, titled "Touching Strangers Cincinnati," is to capture interactions between strangers using the public transportation system—in which he encourages the subjects to pose together—and examine the diversity within the community. 
 
Renaldi visited Cincinnati in June to complete the project, and Cincinnati Metro hopes it will encourage people to use public transit.
 
"One of the reasons we agreed to host this display of public art in our shelters is because we wanted to show on public transportation, people can become friends," says Cincinnati Metro public affairs manager Jill Dunne. "We think it's really cool to show that if you put two people together, anything can happen."
 
Cincinnati Metro is hosting a celebration Oct. 16, in front of the Chiquita Center, between 5th and 6th streets. 
 
"It's meant to dedicate and really show off the shelters to the public," Dunne says. "We have some photos that are inside the bus, as well as a wrapped bus with one of the images on it."
 
ArtWorks has provided a map showing where "Touching Strangers Cincinnati" will be displayed. In addition, ArtWorks is hosting a lecture and presentation, featuring Renaldi, at the 21C Hotel at 6 p.m.

Cincinnati hosts first ProductCamp conference

Cincinnati recently hosted its first ProductCamp, a business conference held internationally that focuses on business development. The conference encourages attendees to be the speakers and uses crowd-sourced topics for discussion, including topics on product development, how to market products, brand management and how to run a startup, among others.
 
"One thing that I've noticed, living in Cincinnati, is we have a really good background when it comes to product management or brand management—more traditional practices," says ProductCamp organizer Brian Craft. "And then we have this new wave of tech—and even non-tech—startups. So what I thought would be neat is if we tried to pull together that traditional and new mix into ProductCamp."
 
Much of Craft's inspiration came from similarities he saw between the traditional and startup companies.
 
"Whether you're talking about a small company or a large company, a manufacturer or a software company, a lot of the same challenges [apply]," Craft says. "How do you find the right thing to build and sell, and how do you know that people are going to buy it, and how do you reduce your risk in getting it to market?"
 
More than 100 people attended the event and 15 topics were chosen from a pool of 20 crowd-sourced ideas.
 
Craft says he plans for ProductCamp to become an annual event.
 
"I think the big win was two things," Craft says. "One: seeing how people can have very similar challenges in what they're trying to do, who likely normally don't get to interact with each other, and all got together and hung out on a Saturday afternoon. And two: seeing people trying to build new things in our community, and some of that inspiration came from our event."

Love Bite aims to improve party planning options

As one of Bad Girl Ventures' (BGV) 2014 finalists, one startup is looking to provide people with a one-stop-shop for kitchen and party supplies.
 
Morgan Hamilton and Aris Yowell created Love Bite as a platform to share their love for cooking, hosting and parties. The duo, whose collective experience includes marketing and food industry work, plans to sell a variety of products: cards and invitations, kitchen and cookwear, handmade platters, cocktail supplies and artisanal treats. 
 
"We're trying to highlight people who are making well-made party supplies," Yowell says. "People who are making something unique at affordable prices. We want to have a variety of products and price points so it's accessible." 
 
Hamilton and Yowell believe that offering products and featuring designers established through different mediums—on larger and smaller scales—will help customers find the right products more easily.   
 
"Sometimes it can be really hard to find what you're looking for," Yowell says. "We see an opportunity to do this because [less established designers] often get lost in the mix."
 
In addition to offering brand-name supplies, Love Bite plans to eventually offer proprietary products.
 
"We'll have in-house designed products to cater to our target markets," Yowell says. "When you make it yourself, you can offer it at a lower price."
 
While it's uncertain when Love Bite will begin selling products, the company plans to launch a small collection in spring 2015 through an eCommerce platform.
 
"Our kitchenware will be things you can host with," Hamilton says. "We want to offer unique kitchenware and delicious treats by American makers and designers. 
 
Hamilton and Yowell, as well as the other BGV finalists, are undergoing a nine-week business-planning course at Hamilton County Business Center before making their final pitch to the BGV investment committee.

Sister duo creates superhero-inspired children's book and toy

A local teacher and a graphic designer recently wrote a book and developed a new children's toy that functions as both an alarm clock and nightlight.
 
Annie Richardson was inspired to write the story of SleeperHero as a way to help her son stay in bed at night. Richardson's sister, Meggie Hunley, illustrated the book and created a toy inspired by the story.
 
"The storybook introduces the doll to your kid, so we thought it was a really natural way to introduce the routine," Hunley says. "And most parents are already reading their kids bedtime stories."
 
The toy's timer can be set to a sleep and wake time, and works in conjunction with the nightlight function, as it turns from red to green at wake time.
 
"A few years ago, when [Richardson's] son was trying all the tricks in the book—he wanted a drink, he was scared—she felt like she needed something," Hunley says. "There are things out there on the market, but nothing seems quite special enough."
 
The SleeperHero's timer fits inside the doll, which has a lock on the outside to prevent a child from adjusting it.
 
"We also have some resources on our website," Hunley says. "A sleep chart for your child's progress and a little certificate of courage for when your kids have slept a week, a month, or whatever you feel like is worth rewarding."
 
The duo is currently selling the SleeperHero on their website, and plan to begin selling limited supplies in stores—The Spotted Goose, The Villager, The Blue Marble, Stony's Gift and Toy Shoppe—in November. They'll also be at the City Flea on October 11.

Bad Girl Ventures announces second class of 2014 finalists

Entrepreneurial accelerator and nonprofit organization Bad Girl Ventures (BGV) announced its second group of finalists for 2014 at Mt. Adams Pavilion on Wednesday.
 
The 10 businesses, which comprise Bad Girl Ventures' tenth class in Cincinnati, have the potential to receive funding after undergoing a nine-week course of creating business plans and financial projections. 
 
43 companies applied to compete as finalists. During the selection process, BVG considers a number of factors.
 
"First, we consider the viability of the idea," says BGV executive director Corey Drushal. "We look at whether any testing of the market has been done, what the competition is like, and whether the entrepreneur has the skills or the team to make it work. Beyond this, we look to the entrepreneur herself."
 
Finalists include Linda Aivalotis with Aiva Decor & Remodeling; Barbara and David Gunn with All Care Navigators; Sarah Dworak with Babushka Pierogies; Mary Fennell with Chaddeze; Julie Ball with Get Creative Photo Booths; Aris Yowell and Morgan Hamilton with Love Bite; Erica Norton with Norton Flooring; Lindsay Lescoe with One Fine Day; Kimberly Barach with Poppy; and Davina Eccard and Ryan Sullivan with Tactical Intelligence Group.
 
"We are looking for a more intangible quality in the entrepreneur that shows she is coachable, has the personality to sell her company and has the tenacity it requires to start your own company," Drushal says. "We do not look for someone that knows it all and can answer all the questions from our investment committee correctly. We look for someone that has a good idea and is the right person to make that idea happen."
 
BGV is partnering with NKU's Chase College of Law and UC's College of Law to provide each finalist with legal services during the course.
 
After the nine-week course at Hamilton County Business Center, the finalists will make their final pitch to the investment committee.

Design company chosen as West Elm grant contest finalist

In addition to creating its first line of furniture, design company Such + Such was announced a finalist for the West Elm's "We Love Local Small Businesses Grant" contest.
 
The company began in 2005 during Zach Darmanian-Harris' and Alex Aeschbury's tenure at UC's College of DAAP. The duo was randomly paired as roommates during their freshman year, and continued living together while in school, studying industrial design. For their senior thesis, they decided to pursue an entrepreneurial project, which became known as Such + Such in 2011.
 
"[Such + Such] is based on the idea of using small batch manufacturing and designing toward those processes," Darmanian-Harris says. "After [graduating] we took about a year to plan and get some money together and got our first CNC machine and set up shop in Losantiville."
 
Such + Such's selected pieces include clocks, a low and high stool, shelving unit, coffee tables and wooden record crates. 
 
"It's this nice point on the spectrum from really traditional to really outlandish designs; we're kind of just on the path of a modern contemporary vibe," Aeschbury says.
 
Now located in Cincinnati's West End, Such + Such designs and makes all of its products in Cincinnati and sources all of its materials locally.
 
"We've never really had an opportunity to aggressively market our work and really get it out," Aeschbury says. "And something we're really interested in is max customization, where you have a product line and you produce it in a limited run—10 to 20 pieces—and then you're making small changes every time."
 
One grand-prize winner will receive a $25,000 grant and mentorship from West Elm, and three runner-ups' products will be featured in West Elm during the holiday season.
 
Local PR and design firm PB&J is hosting a voting party Tuesday, October 7, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Contest winners will be announced November 19.

Two Covington artists plan international collaborative project

Two local artists are preparing to leave for a collaborative art venture that will lead them throughout multiple countries.
 
Hilary Nauman and Michael Boyd of the Shrewdness of Apes Gallery + Boutique—which was recently selected as a CoSign Covington winner—plan to use their upcoming experience as a chance to connect to people around the world.
 
The idea for "You and Me Across the Sea" began when Nauman lost a family member, and because the duo was planning the trip, they saw it as a way to include people who aren't there or can't be there, Nauman says.
 
"Everything we plan to do, we're bringing some piece of us, a piece of our friends or people who know us, or people from our hometown across the ocean with us, or taking a little bit and sending it back."
 
For one of the duo's indiegogo perks, "Somebody's Watching Me," Nauman and Boyd will bring back a physical object from their trip to give to the donator.
 
"We're going to look around and find stuff, and we're going to take a photograph of where we found it, and mail it from that country back home," Nauman says. "It became one of those things like, 'How many people can we get involved with?"
 
Nauman and Boyd leave October 13, and plan to travel to Norway, England, Whales, Ireland and Scotland, among other places.  They will host their exhibition at Shrewdness of the Apes in Covington on November 22.
 
"I've never come back from a trip where I didn't find a new artist or new place or something that ends up inspiring you, and that's what I'm looking forward to," Nauman says.

Collectors site adds new features, graduates from startup accelerator

A web developer launched a new iteration of his website to help collectors keep track of and discover collectables.
 
The website, CompleteSet, allows collectors to track their progress of collections and encourages members to contribute to the site's database—much like a wiki. The company graduated from Velocity, a startup accelerator in Jeffersonville, Ind., on Monday.
 
"It's about contributing to the collecting community," says CompleteSet co-founder and CEO Gary Darna. "It's often times very close-knit because there are message boards and stuff surrounding the subject matter."
 
Launched in May 2013 on an invite-only platform, CompleteSet has expanded its membership from 4,000 to 7,000—including users from 31 countries—since the beginning of August.
 
"If you're a collector, for instance, of Star Wars, you can go on there and see everything that's been released—not yet, of course, because not everything has been added, but that's the goal," Darna says. "Our users contribute collectables that they have in their collection and then the curator, who's typically one of our members, will review that and approve it."
 
The newest version of the site utilizes a search engine to help users track collectables, as well as a new interface.
 
"You can use that information, collectors [can] catalog what they have and want, and it allows us to figure out where those things are for sale, like on eBay, Amazon or any other marketplace online," Darna says.
 
CompleteSet is developing an iPhone app, and plans to launch it by the end of the year. The company has recently expanded from the two creators—Darna and Jaime Rump—to five employees and an intern.
 

Grateful Grahams owner organizes Covington festival

A new festival featuring music, food, art and other activities is taking place in October.
 
Grateful Grahams owner Rachael DesRochers created the Good People Festival in an effort to create an all-ages, family experience.  DesRochers came up with the idea with her friend, Ian Mathieu, when the two were at a music festival.
 
"I look at this event as a signature event to Grateful Grahams," DesRochers says. "Something that we can do every year that has our name behind it, that represents our company, our mission and values, and brings the community together."
 
The group partnered with Whole Foods Market and Green BEAN Delivery, who will also host kids activities throughout the day.
 
"We have an entire corner that's dedicated to kids activities," DesRochers says. "So the parents can even just say, 'Hey, let's go do a craft,' and they can take a break."
 
The event will feature more than 20 vendors, including Happy Chicks Bakery, the Delish Dish, Wearable Prayers, Maggie's Farm, Arnold's Bar & Grill and MadTree Brewery, among others.
 
"We've been able to pull from other parts of the city, not just Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky," DesRochers says. "Families can come out the day of the event, they can have lunch there, they can grab a beer, listen to one of seven bands that are going to be playing."
 
Americana/folk band Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle is headlining the event. The festival will also feature a "gratitude wall," on which people can write what they're grateful for.
 
The Good People Festival takes place October 12, at Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center in Covington from 12-6 p.m., and is free to the public.

Xavier University renovates classroom with interactive technology

Xavier University renovated a Williams College of Business room into a interactive "Learning Lab." The effort aims to support multiple teaching and learning styles.
 
The 32-seat room incorporates Eno Boards, touch-screen smart boards that allow online connectivity, and Huddleboards—small, lightweight dry-erase boards—to refocus students from the front of a classroom to groups of different sizes. 
 
"The Eno board has been mostly used to display content from the instructors’ computers to all three boards simultaneously," says Judy Molnar, executive director of infrastructure and technology support at Xavier. "They have also been used for students to display content from their computers when working in small groups by directly connecting to one of the boards."
 
Students are using the boards in other ways, as well.
 
"Dry-erase markers have been used directly on the boards as well as a stylus pen that can make notations, highlights and act as a navigation tool that interacts with the instructor’s computer," Molnar says.
 
Xavier's Center for Teaching Excellence and information technology department held workshops to prepare faculty before classes began fall semester.
 
"The workshops included both methods of teaching that could be used in the room as well as how to utilize the various technology installed," Molnar says. "Further workshops will be held to review the room’s capabilities."
 
The university plans to use student surveys that will be sent in late October for feedback and to assist in final planning for Alter Hall, a refurbished room scheduled to re-open in late summer 2015. 
 
"Our Learning Lab is utilized almost 100 percent this fall semester," Molnar says. "Sixteen faculty are teaching 25 courses in the room."
 
Fifth Third Bank funded the project with a $50,000 donation.
 

Four-year old inspires story-based app

A Madeira family recently created an app, inspired by their 7-year old daughter (who was 4 when the app was conceived), that Apple featured on its App Store homepage.
 
The Alexanders were inspired to create the interactive story, "Kalley's Machine Plus Cats," during a job switch, in which Jon, the father, shifted from working as a freelance designer—which allowed him to stay at home much of his work time—to a full-time position that required him to be gone during the day. 
 
Jon and his wife Carrie explained to the then-four-year-old Kalley that the new job would help the family make money to buy food and other necessities. Kalley responded by drawing a picture of a machine that made food so Jon "wouldn't have to go away to work anymore."
 
"We're really impacted by the power of story, so we want to tell a story we need to hear," Jon says. "We want to really care about the things we care about, instead of all the things we seem to spend a lot of time on."
 
Jon and Carrie thought designing the app would be a great outlet for creativity as a family.
 
"[Kalley's Machine is] a story about togetherness, about priorities," Jon says. "It's very subtly about togetherness and priorities, because it's mostly a story about machines and cats, because we thought that's what the kids would like."
 
The family released "Kalley's Machine Plus Cats" through their new app development platform, RocketWagon, which they intend to continue using for future app ideas. 
 
"When you have kids and you start watching all the movies with them that they're watching, you start thinking about what those movies are saying," Jon says. "It makes you think as a parent, 'Well, what kind of stories do I want my kids to hear?'"
 
"Kalley's Machine" is available on iPhone and iPad.
 
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