| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Innovation + Job News

1515 Articles | Page: | Show All

AAF Cincinnati revamps this week's ADDY awards event


Cincinnati advertising and marketing enthusiasts gather every year to celebrate the most talented members of the industry. This year, the team of volunteers behind the event are catering specifically to the feedback from past years’ attendees, which means better presentations, better entertainment and — wait for it — an open bar Feb. 27 at Memorial Hall.

The American Advertising Awards (“ADDYs”) are sponsored by the American Advertising Federation and involve a three-tiered competition that begins at the local level. Winners of the city competitions move on to regionals and then nationals.

The Cincinnati ADDYs have recruited judges from all over the country, including past ADDY award recipients, advertising executives and even a morning radio personality.

Tara Pettit, volunteer chair of this year’s ceremony, says that this year’s local entries — submitted by everyone from big local agency experts to DAAP students — have serious potential for national recognition. As an AAF volunteer, Petit’s role is to make this event a true celebration of Cincinnati’s particular flavor of media.

“There are a ton of Fortune 500 companies in Cincinnati,” event Vice-Chair Jaclyn Smith says. “The city attracts a lot of talent, and we want (the big companies) to know that we’re utilizing that talent.”

Celebration of advertising specialists is hardly new in Cincinnati. The Advertising Club of Cincinnati emerged in 1904 and evolved into AAF-Cincinnati in the 1980s. Judy Thompson as been executive director of AAF-Cincinnati — and therefore responsible for all ADDY volunteers — since 1982.

This year, the Cincinnati ADDYs are making a point to show all of their local submissions, not just this year’s winners.

“(The artists) were proud enough to submit it, so we’re going to put it on display,” Petit says.

Other adjustments include the ability to see the submissions in their proper medium. For example, instead of displaying audio visual work on a 2D-printed panel, 50-inch monitors will be installed throughout the venue.

Finally, the entertainment. Petit and Smith have managed to secure Second City veteran comedian TJ Shanoff as their MC. Local jazz ensemble Burning Caravan will be providing live music as well. The $75 ticket ($65 for AAF members, $45 for students) also covers unique appetizers from Cuisine East West catering as well as a full open bar.

Winners at all levels of the ADDYs competition are chosen using a points-based system. There are 200 categories of work — ranging from print magazine ads to graphic design to package design — and each piece is judged on its own merit, not in comparison with other submissions. Not every category is represented, and not all of them claim a winner. 

Competition aside, Friday's awards ceremony will help give advertising professionals a reason to stay in the Cincinnati market. Through community events, plenty of help with job placement and formal recognition on a national scale, Thompson and her team of volunteers hope to maintain Cincinnati’s place as an advertising hot spot.

“Our job is to keep the talent here,” Smith says.

The event takes place 6-10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Attendees are encouraged to come as they are; there's no specific dress code. Register here.
 

Cintrifuse deepens partnership with Techstars Ventures to boost startup mentor and support options


Techstars Ventures, the Boulder, Colo.-based accelerator known for investments in companies like Uber and GroupMe, has teamed up with Cintrifuse to add to their network of successful, fast-growing companies across the country.

Cintrifuse is making its sixth major venture investment in Techstars Ventures due to the accelerator’s reputation as a company builder, not to mention their $150 million Seed and Series A fund. Techstars was attracted to the Cintrifuse mission due to the success of the Cincinnati ecosystem in recent years.

“Cincinnati has large, high-caliber corporations and a thriving startup community,” says David Cohen, Techstars co-founder and managing partner of Techstars Ventures, “so partnering with Cintrifuse will just continue to bolster the region’s flourishing startup ecosystem.”

Techstars Ventures is known for co-investing in companies that have graduated from the Techstars accelerator or are otherwise connected with the Techstars alumni network. Major Techstars players like Cohen are constantly looking to expand that reach, and the Cincinnati ecosystem proved just the market they were looking for.

“Bringing the attention of this Boulder-based startup stalwart to Cincinnati is a testament to the impact of our strategy,” says Eric Weissmann, director of marketing for Cintrifuse.
.
The investment in Techstars Ventures comes from Cintrifuse’s Fund of Funds, a for-profit fund that invests solely in other venture funds. With this fund, Cintrifuse hopes to increase venture capital activity in the region.

“Building a startup ecosystem around a fund of funds that’s supported by major corporations is very unique and already garnering national attention for the access it’s providing to both startups and corporates alike,” Weissmann says.

The investment means that Cincinnati startup companies, particular those connected with Cintrifuse, will see their network of mentors and investors expand tremendously. With the implementation of Techstars Ventures’ regional engagement plan, Cincinnati startups will see the benefits of the partnership quite quickly.
 

wineCRAFT and Riverghost forge partnership based on mutual respect


Two power players in the region’s libation world have decided to join forces.

Kentucky beer and wine distributor Riverghost Distributing  and wineCRAFT, an Ohio wholesaler and importer of fine wine from around the world, reached an agreement last week to bring wineCRAFT’s expansive selection across the river.
 
Riverghost, responsible for Rhinegeist’s craft beer distribution, is more than familiar with wineCRAFT’s reputation and connections to wineries and producers around the world, making them an ideal addition to Riverghost’s team. The distributing reach of Riverghost means wineCRAFT’s wines will soon be found in Kentucky restaurants and stores.
 
In the past, wineCRAFT has used brokers to distribute their products across Kentucky, which has somewhat limited their reach.
 
“This effort marks a more fully realized presence of our portfolio in Kentucky supported by a sales team excited about our products and educated on their provenance,” says Sebastien Hue, marketing and purchasing lead for wineCRAFT. “With regard to product, it’s a slam dunk. wineCRAFT and Riverghost are passionate about high quality libations and the value they offer.”
 
Hue credits the partnership’s predicted success to the Riverghost team.
 
“We have worked closely in the past with Zack Moscow, Riverghost’s Director of Sales,” Hue says. “He is a bright forward-thinker with an insatiable appetite for growth. And of course there are Bob Bonder and Bryant Goulding (of Rhinegeist), impressive gentlemen who have proven themselves to be fresh pillars of Cincinnati’s business community.”
 
Though pending legislation in Kentucky has thrown a wrench into the future of the Rhinegeist/Riverghost distributing model, the wineCRAFT partnership is an independent strategic operation the state hasn't directly challenged. The looming legislation aside, the market for fine wines is growing in Kentucky and the timing could not be better.
 
“The partnership makes sense because we share a similar value proposition to the market, one that is easily communicated: affordable, high value products with lots of wow,” Hue says. “To us it’s not ‘why now,’ it’s a celebration of a partnership realized that will move both of these dynamic brands forward in the market.”
 

"Making Space for Makers" brings urban development specialist to Cincinnati this week


The “Maker Movement” has found its way back to the Midwest, and an expert in the field comes to Cincinnati this week to make sure we're ready for it.

Ilana Preuss, former VP and chief of staff for Smart Growth America, is coming to town Feb. 25 to offer her input on small scale manufacturing in Cincinnati and how it has the potential to strengthen our neighborhoods and enhance our overall economy.

While Preuss is in town, she'll give a presentation on the importance of space, planning and policy within the Maker Movement at the 21C Museum Hotel at 6 p.m. Wednesday. At 9 a.m. the following day, Preuss will lead a workshop at the UC Community Design Center that hopes to foster discussion on the steps necessary to expand the manufacturing sector of Cincinnati’s business community.

The Haile Foundation and Cincinnati Made, a local nonprofit dedicated to such a vision, bring Preuss to town as a consultant from Recast City. She concocted the idea for Recast City after working extensively with small scale producers in a community development context.

“(My work) led me to look at development projects where small scale manufacturers are being put in a position to bring life back to old buildings and bring life to a neighborhood,” Preuss says.

In cities like Brooklyn and San Francisco, she says, big companies and nonprofits are backing manufacturing innovation in a way that allows small-scale producers, and the communities surrounding them, to truly succeed. For instance, in Brooklyn a six-building space has developed into a manufacturer haven. As a result, the community surrounding the businesses has been revitalized. Perhaps above all else, the space is providing jobs for surrounding community members, 40 percent of whom don't have a college or advanced degree.

Preuss sees the Midwest as prime territory for those kinds of results.

“The Midwest has a history of manufacturing,” she says. “The people who are drawn back are risk takers, they want to make a difference in the space.”

With the cost of living being so low here, particularly in comparison to cities on the coasts, Preuss believes that small businesses can see a kind of success that may be harder to grasp in a larger market. The best thing we can do for our region is create a manufacturing-friendly environment.

In a lot of ways, the region is already doing that. Cincinnati Made and local manufacturing accelerator First Batch are already promoting small batch makers. Indianapolis has seen significant investment in their budding textiles industry. And in Louisville, GE-backed First Build is creating an innovation space for appliances and electronics. 

With Preuss’ help and continued financial support from private investors and nonprofit interests, Cincinnati has a lot of potential that expands beyond business development.

“The places with the most success have nonprofit and private sector leadership leading the way,” she says. “The piece I find most the most exciting is where economic development intersects with real estate development and reinvestment.”

When Preuss’ work is done on Thursday, she plans to take a tour of Over-the-Rhine, our city’s prime example of where economic development and real estate reinvestment meet. With adequate planning, Cincinnati will hopefully see a similar revitalization surrounding small-scale manufacturing. 

You can find more details on the event's Facebook page.
 

Bad Girl Ventures announces new curriculum


Bad Girl Ventures has been supporting our region's female entrepreneurs for almost five years now and, with a constantly expanding alumni and mentor network, is more popular than ever. Last year, the organization welcomed a class of 45, their largest class yet.
 
With a growing number of applicants entering the program, the BGV team has decided to cater their program to women at every single stage of business development — from expanding on a simple idea to planning an exit strategy — by implementing a brand new curriculum. The driving force behind BGV's refreshed approach is Rani Boukerrou, whose primary focus is maintaining BGV's involvement with the community.
 
"Our course was one size fits all," says Corey Drushal, executive director of BGV. "It was targeted toward just launching companies, not exactly to the community. (Rani) set out to solve that."
 
The committee in charge of the new curriculum settled on a three-phase approach: explore, launch and develop.
 
Phase 1 of BGV's new curriculum is meant for the entrepreneur who is looking to transform an idea into a business plan. Anyone can sign up for the 9 week course and choose to stay on with BGV for the next phase or go on their merry way.
 
The second phase, described as the launch phase, is similar to the course BGV has offered for the past five years. This 10-week course is targeted to those who have already established a business plan, have launched in the last year and are looking for financing. BGV is doing away with their "finalists" model, instead offering the opportunity for funding to any company that is accepted into the course.
 
"This opens up the opportunity for us to fund more women," Drushal says.
 
Phase 3 of the new curriculum is workshop-based. Participants can choose different workshops on an a la carte basis based on their needs. This phase hopes to attract companies looking to expand and grow beyond the startup phase. BGV alumni will be actively involved in this phase, offering advice on everything from advanced HR to marketing to exit strategy.
 
"This is a really big undertaking," Drushal says. "But we are so excited to harness the energy (from our alumni) and truly engage the community."
 
All courses will be held at HCDC, Inc. in Norwood even after BGV's new building in Covington opens in April.
 
"It's important to us to still be a part of Cincinnati, even after we move into the Covington space," Drushal says.
 

2015 Green Home Tour kicks off this Saturday


With migraine-inducing heating bills becoming the norm this season, it's nice to know that green technology is out there — and on the rise.
 
Though the movement is a slow one, more and more buildings across the tristate area are attempting LEED certification, a green building designation that requires an examination into the design, construction, maintenance and neighborhood development (among other factors) of a certain property or building. A primary focus in LEED certification is energy efficiency, though the prestigious label goes much farther than that.
 
Fortunately, many LEED-certified building, residential and not, are popping up in neighborhoods across town. Thanks to the U.S. Green Building Council and its local Green Living Member Circle, Cincinnati residents have the opportunity to tour some of these properties during the year-long "This is a Green Home" tour, which kicks off this Saturday, Feb. 21.
 
The first stop along the tour is in the Mt. Airy/Northside area, a green home known as the Wright House. With a Gold LEED Certification under its belt, the house also received the City of Cincinnati's CRA Tax Abatement, which is offered as an incentive to pursue such certification. The abatement will save the owners over $40,000 in a five-year period.
 
This particular home received bonus points for limiting the use of turf in the yard, sustainable design of the building itself, regionally-sourced building materials, durability, low VOC coatings and sealants, low water usage, tight insulation, thick air filters and a geothermal heat pump that sends waste heat back into the water heater, among other features.
 
Edward Wright of Wright Design and Pete Subach of Graybach are responsible for the contemporary design and sustainable features of the residence. The tour accommodates 20 people and is already sold out.
 
Additional tours will feature a number of houses like the Wright House. A tour of the Nutter House, featuring the city's only known rainwater flush toilet system, will take place on March 21. There will be a tour of the Imago for the Earth community in Price Hill on April 25, while the Boulter House in Clifton, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, opens its doors in May.
 
For a complete list of stops on the tour, check out the Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy website.
 

Young scientists unite: UC Blue Ash hosts Science Olympiad March 7


Since 2007, the University of Cincinnati's Blue Ash campus has hosted the Cincinnati Science Olympiad Tournament, a yearly competition that brings together hundreds of junior and senior high school students to show off their skills in several science-related events. The Olympiad comes to UC Blue Ash once again on March 7, featuring 23 events requiring expertise in everything from meteorology to anatomy.
 
Students race against the clock to complete several experiments, both in teams and individually. After six hours of competition, awards are offered to both individual students and the participating school with the highest point tally, though the focus of the tournament is more on highlighting the talents of each individual student.
 
The Cincinnati tournament is one of eight regional tournaments and one of dozens of competitions taking place across the country. If students are successful, they have a chance to compete at the national level. The Science Olympiad is a national non-profit organization that hopes to encourage STEM subject prowess in high schools across the nation.
 
In 2013, the Cincinnati Olympiad joined iSPACE, an organization that offers student, teacher and corporate development courses to promote STEM-related career awareness. The Cincinnati tournament's involvement with iSPACE secures its position as a part of the national Olympiad and reinforces UC Blue Ash's mission to maintain a strong focus on STEM-focused career paths.
 
The March 7 tournament in Blue Ash hopes to achieve a similar goal by providing an entertaining atmosphere and fostering a competitive spirit. It offers young students the opportunity to flex their intellectual muscles in front of a live audience. Depending on their skill sets, participants will have the opportunity to build robots, construct gliders and even collect forensic evidence.
 
The Cincinnati Science Olympiad is open to the public and still looking for volunteers. Contact Steve Schrantz, tournament coordinator, if you'd like to learn more or Danielle Schrantz to volunteer.
 

UK fans bring small batch toy manufacturing to Cincinnati


Two University of Kentucky fans have embarked on a journey to bring locally made collectibles to the region's sports fans.
 
Their business, Monster Mascots, is a small-batch production toy company that draws inspiration from the Japanese monsters of lore. Monster Mascots uses 3D printing technology to create molds for 9-inch mascot figurines which are manufactured and hand-assembled in the United States.

Founders Natalie Mathis and Quincy Robinson are no strangers to the 3D printing game. Their other company, 3DKitbash.com, has established itself as a source for 3D printable toy designs and 3D printer test kits. The company hopes to make 3D printing at home easy and affordable.
 
With a successful company under their belts, the idea for Monster Mascots emerged when Robinson and Mathis were enrolled at First Batch, a Cincinnati manufacturing accelerator.
 
"Since we were already working in this space, we had a natural curiosity for seeing whether we could discover a new process that could push the limits of traditional manufacturing," Mathis says.
 
First Batch helped the team to establish their concept of an American-made series of plastic mascots that mimicked the Japanese tradition of battling monsters. Mathis and Robinson graduated from the program in 2014 and now have a prototype of their product. As die-hard University of Kentucky fans, their first mascot is a bright blue Wildcat.
 
"The idea is that mascots will battle it out, as you see in Japanese monster movies, on a national level in online communities," Mathis says. "We think fans will get a kick out of posting selfies with the Mascot online with messages for UK and for their rivals."
 
The online community aside, Mathis and Quincy see a growing market for sports memorabilia in general. They do recognize, however, that they face a lot of competition.
 
"UK's brand is strong, and we know that fans clamor for UK-related items that represent their personal relationship with one of the most unstoppable teams in history," Mathis says. "The market for this sort of item is also crowded, which is why we differentiated our Monster Mascots using the Japanese monster narrative."
 
Mathis and Robinson first attempted a campaign on Kickstarter, but the idea has yet to pick up steam on the crowd-funding website. While 3DKitbash.com found success with Kickstarter, Monster Mascots needs to find another source of funding.
 
"We've proven that Kickstarter is not where UK fans buy UK-related figures, not yet anyway," Mathis says. "It just isn't the right fit."
 
Instead, Monster Mascots will begin selling their bright blue wildcats through more traditional routes, both on their website and in several brick-and-mortar stores. They will look to obtain licenses from other universities based on the success of their Wildcat prototype.
 
"We're proud of what we've accomplished so far, and we have a vision for the future," Mathis says. "There's a lot yet to do in the space. We're grateful and excited."
 

Roadtrippers alum launches international bike donation company


Two weeks ago, Cincinnati native and Roadtrippers veteran Chelsea Koglmeier decided to pursue her dream.
 
Part of the original team of six who turned Roadtrippers from a startup to a success story, she decided to leave her position at the growing Cincinnati company in order to pursue an idea she had while studying in Uganda in college.
 
While in Africa, Koglmeier noticed a staggering problem with transportation. The lack of viable transport between areas could mean the difference between employed and not employed, fed or unfed.

Koglmeier also noticed how empowering something as simple as a bicycle could be for people in these developing countries.
 
"I began to see the power of bicycles to unlock opportunities," she says.
 
Then, after being accepted into the Clinton Global Initiative Conference while at Duke University, Koglmeier had the opportunity to hear a speech by the founder of Tom's shoes, Blake Mycoskie.
 
"I heard him speak and immediately thought, 'What a wonderful place the world would be if every company had a double bottom line,'" Koglmeier says.
 
The double bottom line Koglmeier speaks of involves a company's commitment to both for-profit and non-profit missions. Tom's has done it with their "buy a pair, give a pair" shoes model; Warby Parker has done it with eyewear.
 
Koglmeier left her Roadtrippers position and is now working full-time to accomplish the same thing that Tom's and Warby Parker did, only with bicycles. Her company is Bikes O.R.O.: Bikes of Reckless Optimism.
 
"Because of the rise of the socially conscious consumer," she says, "why not create a sustainable link of capital between one side of the spectrum (the for-profit) and the other (non-profit)?"
 
Koglmeier is currently in the process of establishing a L3C business — a unique fusion of an LLC and a 501c3 non-profit. Ohio doesn't recognize the model yet, but states like Vermont have long embraced the unique business category. Though she may file in another state, Koglmeier does intend to be in Cincinnati for a while to establish the business.
 
So far, she has a simple website that outlines the company's bottom line and informs interested parties as to how they can get involved. By mid-summer, she plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to start acquiring bikes.
 
Bikes O.R.O. will start with three commuter bicycles of high quality and affordability made by a skilled Australian bike maker with whom Koglmeier has worked before. Intrigued customers buy a bike through Bikes O.R.O., and the profits from that purchase are immediately donated to a non-profit organization in Africa (Koglmeier is already working with several of them). That organization would then present a recycled, fully-functioning bike to a person in need.
 
Koglmeier recognizes the hurdles involved — bike production has a much higher overhead than shoes or sunglasses — but she's more than prepared for the risk and the challenge. Plus she was invited to the Y Combinator Female Founders Conference in San Francisco on Feb. 21 — an entire event dedicated to encouraging women in tech.
 
"If people want to send extra resources to me because I'm a girl, I'm super down," she says.
 
For now, Koglmeier is working full-time on getting the business off the ground. Though she's not selling bikes yet, the process is moving quickly and we should be hearing more from Bikes O.R.O. in the coming months.
 

West End nonprofit ToolBank USA earns $50,000 in web help from Rockfish


Two companies with a Cincinnati presence are joining forces to improve the community.
 
As a part of their 2015 corporate giving program, Mt. Adams-based Rockfish — the full-service digital innovation company with offices across the world — has offered $50,0000 worth of digital support to two nonprofits. The Cincinnati Rockfish office, along with the Atlanta branch, will be handling the pro bono work for the program.

One of the winning organizations is ToolBank USA, which was established in Cincinnati in 2011 and opened in 2012.
 
This is the second time that Rockfish's Cincinnati office led a pro bono project for the company. Last year, they helped Josh Cares with its social media strategy.
 
ToolBank USA facilitates tool donation to its affiliates across the country. The organization has offices across the country that work on maintaining a constant source of funding to meet local need, helping local charities cut expenses involved in purchasing and maintaining a supply of tools. Charities can borrow certain tools for 3% of the retail value of the tool. Cincinnati Community Council is an avid user of those services.
 
ToolBank USA has more than doubled in size in the past year. The Cincinnati branch alone meets the needs of 189 local organizations. Kat Pepmeyer runs the organization's Cincinnati branch, based in the West End, and has found that her biggest challenge is dealing with an archaic, difficult-to-manage website.
 
"It's really important to make sure that, as we grow, we have a great website that's functional and accurately presents what we do in the community," Pepmeyer says.
 
As it stands now, the national website for ToolBank USA is challenging to edit. Each ToolBank affiliate also uses a different web platform, causing a lack of consistency.
 
That's where Rockfish digital media specialists come in, having worked with clients across the country to develop a compelling web presence. When it comes to ToolBank USA, Rockfish will do a complete overhaul of the national website and create a web template for their affiliates across the country. They'll create a more uniform system that's easy to edit, making the lives of Executive Directors like Pepmeyer much easier.
 
Pepmeyer was the first member of the organization to learn of the grant opportunity. She encouraged the national chapter to apply in the hopes that every ToolBank affiliate could benefit from Rockfish's services.
 
"This really seems like a natural fit," Pepmeyer says of the new partnership. "When companies offer pro bono work, it doesn't always complete the job. This is a really good sized grant, and they can do a lot more for us."
 

NASA to coach UC students on technology commercialization


If you mention NASA in casual conversation, it's almost guaranteed that you'll get a reaction — a good one at that.
 
This year, those enrolled in undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship classes at the University of Cincinnati's Lindner College of Business will be able to add that impressive acronym to their resumes.
 
UC's Center for Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (CEC), a part of the business school, has teamed up with NASA's Ames Research Center to bring NASA scientists into UC classrooms. With a focus on technology commercialization, the entrepreneurship courses will connect students with the globe-trotting NASA scientists via webcam or telephone.
 
The term "technology commercialization" encompasses the varying processes that occurs after certain technology has been patented. That technology could end up sparking the creation of a startup, encourage a partnership with a certain organization or be released into the marketplace.
 
Through this program and partnership, UC students will learn to assess the commercialization of some NASA patents. They'll examine investor options and possible business plans and consult with NASA specialists along the way.
 
CEC Executive Director Tom Dalziel sees this program as unique in that students are able to plan a future for these technologies as opposed to examining the past. Before their careers have even started, UC students will be able to see the immediate effects on their work.
 
"These plans aren’t meant to sit on the shelf," Dalziel says. "The best plans will garner the attention of investors, entrepreneurs and key constituents in the Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurship ecosystem who will want to bring people and resources together to enact them."
 
The NASA partnership isn't the only thing UC is doing to increase their students' post-graduation connections. UC's Small Business Institute allows students to work with startups and other small businesses looking to put together a solid business plan.
 
"This gives our students the opportunity to learn and support company efforts to bring cutting-edge technologies to market," Dalziel says.
 
With practical experience under their belts, it won't be surprising to see UC students flooding the marketplace in the coming years.
 

Introducing UCrush, the "missed connections" of mobile apps


In a frantic rush to fund a snuggle buddy for Valentine's Day? You might be in luck via a new Cincinnati-based app.
 
The recent release of UCrush, a new dating app created by Xavier University alum and HCDC resident Anthony Breen, means that college students can now find that guy or girl they couldn't stop staring at in Astronomy class.
 
UCrush is a geolocation-based app whose database is limited to those who attend the same school or are currently located in the same geographic area. The app is designed for those who see an intriguing person and immediately want to know how to get in touch with him or her. It's kind of like Craiglist's Missed Connections but better — not to mention safer.
 
All information is kept confidential until a connection is made. Even then, the users can communicate through the app — sending messages, pictures — and no identifying information needs to be shared.
 
The app finds people using an identification system that asks the "crusher" to list gender, hair color and clothing style as well as a description of the encounter. The app identifies the location of the user immediately, which helps identify where the sighting may have taken place.
 
UCrush CEO Anthony Breen is a Boston native and a 2014 Xavier grad. Breen came to Cincinnati for college in the hopes of gaining corporate experience before jumping into the startup world. Fortunately for him, he caught the entrepreneurship bug a little early.

The company was born during a brainstorming session with his buddies from back home, Kyle Garvan and Danny O'Connell. Last winter break, Garvan and O'Connell pitched him the idea of a dating website that allows the user to connect with crushes. They looked to Breen to take it one step further.
 
The three were looking for an alternative to the bar hookup scene on college campuses, wanting to create a platform that helps crushes break the ice.
 
"UCrush is here to say that we are giving you the opportunity to be heard, noticed and found," Breen says. "We want to try and take the awkwardness out of that first hello."
 
Unlike Tinder, UCrush requires an actual connection of some sort. Instead of randomly swiping through photos, users will undoubtedly share something in common with the person crushing on them, whether it's the same school, the same workout class or the same sporting event.
 
The app also allows users to rate the "genuineness" level of other users. That rating appears on each user's profile along with photos of the user's "life crushes," which could be anything from a Starbucks latte to a view of Great American Ball Park.
 
"This is not an app for one-night stands," Breen says. "This is for people who are moving toward a date."
 
Though Breen recognizes the potential for abuse, so far the app has been successful. Since its launch in mid-January, UCrush boasts a 90 percent success rate with a 2 percent abuse rate among its 15,000 users. Right now, the app is in active use at Ohio State, University of Cincinnati and Xavier. The UCrush team has plans to expand to over 150 campuses nationwide in the next three months.
 
UCrush is currently headquartered at HCDC's incubator in Norwood. 
 

Mercy Health Cincinnati offers anti-gravity treadmill to rehab patients


Anti-gravity treadmills are nothing new. In fact, most big sports universities have one in their training facility. You can even find a YouTube video of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant trying one out.
 
Fortunately for Greater Cincinnati residents, these machines — which can reduce a user's actual weight by 20-99 percent — are now available at Mercy Health. The Orthopedic Sports and Medicine Center in Anderson Township recently acquired an AlterG state-of-the-art treadmill for their physical therapy patients.
 
Developed first by NASA, anti-gravity treadmills use an inflatable air chamber that surrounds the runner's lower body and actually lifts them as they run. As the runner becomes lighter, the impact on their muscles and joints is lessened. From a physical therapy standpoint, that's a really good thing.
 
Normally, physical therapy patients have to postpone weight-bearing exercise at the risk of causing further injury. With the anti-gravity technology, patients can begin the rehabilitation process more quickly and with far less pain.
 
The treadmills also allow the user to adjust their weight to whatever they'd like. A runner can learn what it would feel like to be 20 pounds lighter just by adjusting the settings.
 
As much as the average physical therapy clinic would love to have one of these machines on its floor, the high price tag keeps that from happening. The recent addition to Mercy Health is therefore indicative of the organization's strong commitment to staying on the cutting edge of rehab technology.
 
AlterG, the company responsible for Mercy Health's particular machine, is based in California. In 2013, the company added a bionic leg to its list of products.
 

Science rules: High school paves the way for tech-oriented careers


The recent technology boom has brought a newfound appreciation for science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) courses in high school classes, including at Cincinnati's Mount Notre Dame.
 
Several young women at the all-girls Reading school have already made a name for themselves with their recent Best in State recognition in a national mobile app competition.
 
The app, called Do It, was designed to prevent procrastination by blocking certain social media applications from the user and incentivizing focus on a particular task. Though the six girls responsible for the app concept didn't make it past the regional round of the competition, the experience — combined with MND's curriculum — has some of these girls looking toward careers in the tech sector.
 
And let's face it: The technology sector could use a few more girls.
 
Mount Notre Dame offers a relatively flexible curriculum after freshman year with a plethora of STEM-related options, including engineering. With a focus on hands-on science courses, students interested in the STEM fields also find themselves in a lab at least once per week.
 
Christine Clark is a senior at MND and member of the award-winning team. She feels that the wide variety of courses and freedom to choose allowed her to determine which path she wants to follow next year.
 
"Before I took engineering I thought I wanted to go into the biomedical field," Clark says. "I'm glad I was able to take that because now I know that it isn't for me."

Clark will be studying biology at Miami University next year.
 
Not all of the girls on the Do It team are pursuing STEM-related fields after graduation. Maggie Dolan hopes to go into electronic media and broadcasting and says the STEM courses were the perfect way to test her academic limits.
 
"(Science and math courses) challenge the kind of people who want to be challenged but aren't sure if they're up to par," Dolan says. "When I started at MND, I finally felt challenged."
 
Though the app competition is over, every girl on the team expressed a desire to learn more about mobile app development. With a strong foundational background in STEM courses from their time at MND, chances are good that the tech world will be seeing more from them.
 

Startup jobs in Cincinnati and where to find them


Finding jobs in the startup world can be tricky. The postings are rarely found on traditional job search websites, and many companies hire from within.

The good news for job hunters is that the startup world in Cincinnati is hiring ... and hiring often. Some of the available openings are posted online and some require a little more digging. Here's a list of startup hiring resources, from helpful job boards to career fairs to investment portfolio pages at some of the areas key startup investor groups.

UpTech
If you're looking for a startup job in Northern Kentucky, look no further than the Feb. 9 UpLink career event at UpTech's offices, 112 West Pike St., Covington. In addition to numerous internships, UpTech's startups will be looking to hire candidates for over 30 openings, from sales to design to project management to web development.

The Brandery
The all-star accelerator organization keeps a running list of job openings for their graduate companies on their website. The accelerator's companies are hiring everything from social media managers to designers to front end developers. Part- and full-time positions are available immediately.

Cintrifuse
Runs a constantly updated job board that posts openings from startups across the tristate area.
 
CincyTech
This huge financial supporter of area startups in the area hosts a portfolio page offering a long list of companies that are likely looking for talent.
 
Queen City Angels
The investor group has an impressive roster of companies that have already proved themselves worthy of investor support. QCA's portfolio page, featuring over 40 companies, is another great job resource.
 
The Hamilton Mill
Though the startups at The Mill aren't currently hiring, the incubator will be welcoming Municipal Brew Works in the coming months, a brewery that deserves a second look for career opportunities. 

HCDC, Inc.
Formerly called the Hamilton County Development Co., this Norwood-based group has a large number of companies in their accelerator. Though not all of them are hiring, this list of the companies currently housed there can provide a good lead on who to contact.
 
1515 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts