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Angelhack will provide free local opportunity for developers to build skills

Angelhack, a global series of hackathon events, is coming to the Cincinnati area for the first time next month. The hackathon will take place the weekend of May 3-4 in Covington at local accelerator Uptech.
 
At the hackathon, developers will come together to create projects from scratch, usually working through the night. At the end of the weekend, projects are presented to a set of judges (Angelhack boasts an impressive list of judges including Dave Knox of Rockfish, Mike Bott of the Brandery and Chris Bergman of Choremonster) and the most unique and interesting project wins, similar to the recent Startup Weekend held at Uptech.  
 
“Where Angelhack differs from Startup Weekend is that this is really about making a working product,” says Alex Bowman, director of marketing at Choremonster and organizer of the local Angelhack event. “Startup Weekend is more focused on creating viable business ideas. This is more developer-focused.”
 
Before joining Choremonster, Bowman attended two Angelhack events while working for Amazon and recognized not only the value, but also the fun involved in attending the event.
 
“I emailed the CEO and convinced her that we needed to bring this event to Cincinnati,” Bowman says. “With the community we’ve created here in the past few years, I knew it was the right time. I want to show that this city can hold a really strong and coordinated event and give our developers here a chance to build new skills and work with new tools.”
 
To that end, Bowman worked with Angelhack to make the event free for all participants. The winning team will be granted acceptance into the HACKcelerator program, a global pre-accelerator program designed to help top hackathon teams turn their hacks into market-ready products.
 
“I want our local developer community to check this event out and leave feeling like they’ve improved their craft,” Bowman says.
 
To register for the free event, visit http://www.angelhack.com/event/angelhack-cincinnati-spring-2014/.

By Mike Sarason

Local Startup Liquid simplifies data collection and analysis

Jacob Shidler was actually trying not to be an entrepreneur. Both his father and grandfather started businesses; Jacob rebelled by studying science, eventually receiving his masters in environmental science at the University of Cincinnati with a focus on rainwater.
 
Fast forward a few years and he has now started his own company, Liquid, which streamlines the process of data collection and analysis for the 21st century, allowing custom forms to collect data from anywhere in the world and then sync with an online database that can be shared and worked on collaboratively in real time. For Shidler, as with many entrepreneurs, it all started with a problem.
 
“I was working on a project in the Comoros Islands, which is an island chain between Mozambique and Madagascar,” he says. “There’s no water infrastructure there—they are nearly 100% dependent on rainwater. I was interested to see how the materials of their gutter system would affect the overall quality of the water.”
 
Shidler was working on the project sans grant money and thus had very limited funds. He had 10 days to collect a large number of sample data, catalogue it and include pictures.
 
“Many of the sciences are still stuck in a paper system, which I found too time-consuming, wasteful and filled with error,” Shidler says. “I couldn’t afford to use those methods, so I came up with my own.”
 
Shidler’s method was to mix and match different technologies like digital photography, iPad apps and services such as Dropbox to bring his data into the digital realm.
 
“We hacked together a system for the whole collection portion of my project, and it worked great,” Shidler says. “My advisors ended up being more excited about my collection methods than my actual research.”
 
Upon hearing this feedback, Shidler realized he had a serious opportunity on his hands and began working on creating a tool that could do everything he’d patched together for his research, only more easily and efficiently.
 
In January 2014, Liquid released a free alpha version of the product to a small test group.
 
“We’re now up to about 180 users, including researchers at UC, NKU and in Ghana, and the feedback we’re getting is great,” Shidler says. “People are finding the tool organically because the need is real. We’re still refining it, but we’re excited about what’s to come.” 

By Mike Sarason


Creatives can compete for cash and services in Big Pitch contest

For creative business owners looking to grow their business in Cincinnati, there is no time like the present. Announced this month, Artworks Big Pitch, presented by U.S. Bank, offers artists, makers, designers and creative entrepreneurs a chance to claim up to $20,000 in cash prizes, as well as pro-bono professional services.
 
Applications for the Big Pitch are open now and will be accepted through May 16. Applicants will then be narrowed down to eight finalists, each of whom will have five minutes to deliver their pitch to a live audience and panel of experts at the ArtWorks Big Pitch event on Aug. 27, 2014 at the American Sign Museum in downtown Cincinnati.
 
The business with the best pitch will be awarded a grand prize of $15,000 cash. The finalists also will have the opportunity to be awarded an additional $5,000 by popular vote. Two runners-up will be awarded professional services such as legal, accounting and branding support.
 
The Big Pitch is yet another transformative project presented by Artworks' Creative Enterprise division, which also manages CO.STARTERS (formerly Springboard).
 
“A stronger creative community builds a better Cincinnati,” says Caitlin Behle, Creative Enterprise manager for Artworks. “This funding is a huge stepping stone to supporting the greater Cincinnati community. So far the biggest hurdle for us is that it sounds too good to be true.”
 
To provide opportunities for interested applicants to ask questions in person, ArtWorks is hosting two events—the Creative Enterprise Open House on April 24, and ArtWorks Big Pitch Q&A Info Session on May 7.
 
“We’ve been seeing more and more opportunities for web/tech/app-based companies in Cincinnati, but we felt like the handmade creative community was getting overlooked,” says Katie Garber, director of Creative Enterprise for Artworks.
 
As a sponsor and collaborator on the event, U.S. Bank will provide each of the eight finalists with a mentor who will coach them for the 10 weeks leading up to the event. For more information on the event, visit http://www.artworkscincinnati.org/creative-enterprise/artworksbigpitch/
 
 By Mike Sarason

Cladwell makes fashion easy, fast and affordable for men

The Office’s Dwight Schrute may not seem like the best fictitious personality to base a business on, but for Cladwell co-founder Blake Smith, the inspiration was there. Cladwell is an online fashion resource for men that provides customized wardrobe recommendations for everything from casual to business attire, scouring through thousands of name brands and returning the three best options instantly based on user input data.
 
“For me, the epiphany came when my co-founder, Tim Brunk, and I were working for an entertainment startup and we had a meeting with an LA billionaire,” Smith says. “He had two assistants with him, one dressed in a super sharp, slim-cut suit and the other dressed like Dwight Schrute.”
 
After the meeting concluded, the sharply dressed man was shaking everyone’s hands while the Dwight lookalike was literally left packing up the cords from the PowerPoint presentation.
 
“That’s when I started thinking, ‘Which one of those guys am I?’” Smith says. “There’s a conversation going on around us based on what our clothes say even before we speak; I wasn’t sure if my clothes were consistent with who I am.”
 
Like many men, however, Smith isn’t a big fan of mall shopping, so he called his friend Chris Merchich (now the third co-founder of Cladwell), who was working the floor at Macy’s, to ask for recommendations. Merchich, knowing Smith’s general size and style, sent him a personal email listing a handful of items to buy online. Then Smith had another “aha” moment.
 
“I wondered, ‘What if everyone had a service like Chris in their lives, something that could take the hassle out of shopping?’” Smith says.
 
Based on that idea, Smith, Brunk and Merchich quit their jobs in mid-2012, spent nine months capturing fashion rules from sources like GQ, Askmen, Dress for Success and Color Me Beautiful, and converted them to thousands of style algorithms for the tool that would become Cladwell.
 
“Everyone else in fashion is pushing for perpetual shopping,” Smith says. “With Cladwell, we’re saying instead that there’s a finish line for men that’s probably less than 50 articles of clothing based on individual preferences. With Cladwell, we want to help guys shop faster, cheaper and more efficiently.”

By Mike Sarason


New CampFinder tool helps parents find camps for kids

JB Woodruff and Brennan Sweeney, ex-technology consultants turned entrepreneurs, have launched CampFinder, a new online resource for information on local camps and programs.
 
CampFinder features a comprehensive list of camp programs and user reviews with focused program searches and social media capabilities. The site lets parents “shop online” for the best program for their child’s specific personality, needs and interests while eliminating the need to visit multiple camp fairs or scour the internet for information.
 
Woodruff and Sweeney decided to launch the business after working together as mentors at Northern Kentucky Unversity’s INKUBATOR program. Sweeney proposed the idea that became CampFinder as a result of his own struggles finding a place online that not only offered a comprehensive listing, but also one that shared reviews and shed light on the experience his son might have.
 
“Our region is home to so many great camps, we want to help those camps get noticed, and at the same time we want to make it easier for parents find the perfect camps for their kids,” Sweeney says.
 
“My passions are helping people, solving problems, challenging myself and learning,” Woodruff says. “There was a natural fit working with the INKUBATOR, and that’s what drew me in to working with CampFinder.”
 
Previously, both Woodruff and Sweeney had worked as consultants. Both came to discover their love and knack for entrepreneurialism in different ways.
 
“Brennan began by creating a company where he did property management software,” Woodruff says. “In 2012, I quit my job here and went to Africa and got involved with an accelerator over there called 88MPH. I can honestly say I’m a lot happier now than I ever was in my previous career.”
 
Currently, there are around 450 camp programs listed on CampFinder.Co, with more camps being added each week. Camps run the gamut from arts, sports, outdoors, science and more, and camp locations span the Tri-State.
 
“We’re currently exploring different models to find out how we can bring the most value to the camps as well as the parents,” Woodruff says.
 
To explore programs through CampFinder, visit www.Campfinder.co

Open Data Startup Weekend pulls in new ideas, new entrepreneurs

Innovation, talent and resourcefulness were all on display this weekend in Covington as local accelerator Uptech played host to the Open Data Startup Weekend. This year, Cincinnati Startup Weekend partnered with Code for America, the nonprofit aimed at connecting citizens with better design and tech services, and Open Data Cincy, a regional initiative to use public data to encourage transparency, innovation and civic engagement.
 
The goal of the event was to foster social entrepreneurship by accessing public data to launch new ventures, analyze patterns and trends, make data-driven decisions, and solve complex problems in our community.
 
A diverse crowd of participants turned up for Startup Weekend, which asks participants to split into groups and create viable startup ideas over 48 hours. Among their ranks were high school and college students, lawyers, engineers, techies, and designers representing several age groups and varying experience levels, from complete newbies to previous Startup Weekend attendees.
 
“I enjoy the fact that people come from diverse backgrounds and working together really intensely,” says Racquel Redwood, who was participating in her second Startup Weekend on an idea called Potholer.
 
“While I work for a large company here, its great that there are opportunities here to explore the entrepreneurial space as well,” says Benjamin Danzinger, R&D engineer at Johnson & Johnson.
 
After spending the weekend refining their ideas, getting advice from the event organizers (who themselves also represent local startups like Choremonster, Lisnr, BlackbookHR and more), running focus groups and scouring data, each group presented Sunday evening to a duo of judges—Eric Avner of the The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and Elizabeth Naramore of GitHub, which provides powerful collaboration, code review, and code management for open source and private projects.
 
First place went to UMO, which addresses “the achievement gap” and is a platform for prospecting students to learn about the true cost of a college education at various universities based on scholarships available, average ROI of the degree they’re interested in and actual published attendance costs. For winning, they received six months of desk space at Cintrifuse, a meeting with a local venture capitalist, and a GitHub gold account—all things to help continue their startup. 
 
Second place was kNOwait, an app that publishes drive times along with wait times at local urgent cares, DMVs, etc. to help users determine the actual fastest option near them. They received desk space at Cintrifuse, legal advice from Taft, and a GitHub bronze account. The next Startup Weekend will take place in November; visit www.cincinnati.startupweekend.org to stay updated.
 
By Mike Sarason

Cincy Sundaes combines micro-grant funding and delicious sundae making

While they may not be the first, Erika Fiola and Kristine Frech may be the most recent duo to put the “fun” back in funding. The two enterprising young women have begun a new program in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area called Cincy Sundaes, which combines an ice cream social event with a forum to present, listen to and award micro-grants for innovative ideas from the local community.
 
The premise and structure is purposely simple. Cincy Sundaes is a series of ice cream socials that take place from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, with the first taking place Sunday, April 13 at Rhinegeist Brewery in Over-the-Rhine. The events are open to the public, cost $5 to attend and feature four presenters with innovative ideas intended to improve the Greater Cincinnati area. Each attendee receives one sundae, featuring Dojo Gelato, and one vote. After the presentations, attendees vote for their favorite idea and 100% of the money collected at the door goes directly to the idea that receives the most votes.
 
“I’ve spent most of my life living in Cincinnati and much of my adult career working in Northern Kentucky,” Frech says. “They are both incredible places to be, but in both areas we noticed that there were people who wanted to be civically engaged but don’t know how. We wanted to create something fun, easy and accessible that can have a real impact.”
 
The idea for Cincy Sundaes came after taking a trip to Detroit in the fall of 2013 curated by Eric Avner of The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Fiola and French, who both were part of the trip, were inspired by much of what they saw and in particular latched on to a similar program called Detroit Soup.
 
“We want Cincy Sundaes to be a place where people and organizations can come to get involved and democratically engage with ideas,” Fiola says. “It can be difficult to get funding sometimes, especially if you’re not registered as a 501c3, but we want this to be something simple.”
 
Fiola and Frech have partnered with several organizations along the way. HYPE, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's young professional organization, has signed on to be the “toppings” sponsor. Legacy, Northern Kentucky’s young professional organization, is the “spoon” sponsor. And as of this past week, Cincy Sundaes will receive a one-to-one match from the Big Idea Challenge of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, so each winner will receive double the prize money.
 
To learn more about Cincy Sundaes, visit www.cincysundaes.com

By Mike Sarason
 

Kandid.ly helps connect photographers and clients

For some, the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the year for 2013, “selfie,” meant little more than an inane desire for people to capture themselves looking cool. For Sam Ulu, founder of Cincinnati-based startup Kandid.ly, it was a revelation and an opportunity.
 
Kandid.ly is an online resource for photographers to list their work and book gigs. Similarly, it acts as a resource for customers who want to book photographers for any type of event. The streamlined setup allows for quick analysis by customers to find the right photographer based on rates, locations and recommendations, and also adds a social “gamification” element where photographers can receive badges from checking in at events, similar to Foursquare. Ulu cemented the concept for the company just as the selfie era was beginning.
 
“People are craving richer experiences, and they want to be able to remember those moments. That’s why the selfie is so popular,” Ulu says. “The selfie is our quest to capture ourselves being in the moment.”
 
Rather than attempt to capture ourselves, Ulu bet that he could develop a means to have more experienced photographers capture those moments at a price point affordable to anyone. After reading a 2012 Wall Street Journal called “Don’t Forget to Pack a Photographer” that descrived what astronomical rates hotels and vacation services were charging for this, Ulu knew there was a better way.
 
“Nobody had figured how to best monetize this process,” he says. “So I spent a lot of time talking to consumers, interviewing photographers; in the end I talked to more than 600 photographers from 2012-2013.”
 
Now, after taking time to build his team up (Kandid.ly is currently run by a team of seven), Ulu has his company poised to get things rolling.
 
“We’re working on closing a $500,000 investment from Queen City Angels, Cincytech and Accelerant,” Ulu says. “That will enable us to run Kandid.ly in public beta for 12 months, start validating our customer acquisition strategy, revenue model and many other things before we actually scale it.”
 
Ulu is passionate and excited to build his company here in Cincinnati.
 
“People have that Midwest pride here and want to help, even if they are not investing in your company; everyone wants to see you succeed,” Ulu says. “Cincinnati is positioned the be the next hub for entrepreneurs. In the near future, a couple companies are going to bust onto the national scene to literally announce that the Midwest has arrived, and we believe that Kandid.ly is going to be one of those companies.”
 
By Mike Sarason


The Carnegie takes inspiration from local farming, adopts Community Supported Art program

The Carnegie, Northern Kentucky’s largest multidisciplinary arts venue located in Covington, has announced the inaugural season of Carnegie Community Supported Art (Carnegie CSA), which will allow arts enthusiasts to buy “farm boxes” filled with works of art created by local artists.
 
Inspired by Community Supported Agriculture initiatives (CSAs), which allow consumers to buy food directly from local farmers, The Carnegie’s CSA program applies the same “buy local” ethic to art and seeks to enrich the experience for artists and collectors at all levels.
 
“We hope that this program will bring new collectors in and make it easier for collectors to discover new artists,” says Matt Distel, exhibitions director at the Carnegie. “We included a diverse array of local artists so that no matter what your level of experience buying art is, everyone will wind up with something new.”
 
Local artists whose work will be featured include Antonio Adams, Keith Benjamin, Carmel Buckley, Barbara Houghton, Casey Riordan Millard, Marcia Shortt, Michael Stillion/Katie Labmeier, Chris Vorhees and Joseph Winterhalter.
 
Individuals interested in supporting the Carnegie CSA will purchase a “share” for $350 and in return will receive a “farm box” consisting of nine pieces of locally produced artwork. Featured works could include items such as mixed media prints, a run of photographs or small original ceramics.
 
The actual works created will vary and will be kept secret until July when participants will pick up their “shares” during the Carnegie CSA harvest party. The program is modeled on a similar program created by mnartists.org and Springboard for the Arts in Minneapolis.
 
“It’s a very innovative way of thinking about how we create a community spirit that is supportive of local artists,” Distel says. “We’re looking to make this an ongoing program so that we can continue to include all kind of artists from the area and cultivate new collectors.”
 
Member shares for the Carnegie CSA will go on sale Thursday, May 1, 2014, and will be available for purchase by contacting (859) 491-2030. To learn more about the program, visit www.thecarnegie.com.  
 
 By Mike Sarason

Complete Set offers virtual treasure map for collectors, fans and discoverers

Gary Darna, founder of CompleteSet, an online marketplace for collectibles, may be your new best friend, especially if you’ve always been looking for that Darth Vader cake pan to round out your collection.
 
CompleteSet is an invite-only community that allows collectors and fans to showcase, discover and exchange curated collectibles from the popular to the obscure. The company was founded in 2012 by Darna and Jaime Rump and has since participated in Northern Kentucky University’s INKUBATOR program and won the Cincinnati Innovates competition in 2012.
 
What’s more is that Darna wasn’t following a trajectory to become an entrepreneur in the first place; he was supposed to attend West Point. But when circumstances intervened, Darna found himself starting a company at the age of 19.
 
“I fell into being an entrepreneur kind of by mistake and by necessity when I was medically disqualified from attending West Point,” Darna says. “I lost scholarships and had to find a way to pay for college myself. I figured I’d make websites for people.”
 
That’s exactly what he did, enrolling in the entrepreneurship program at NKU and paying his way by creating websites for student clubs, small businesses, parents of friends and anyone else that came to him.
 
“At the time (in the early 2000s), websites weren’t as simple of a commodity as they are now,” Darna says. “It was like magic if you could make a website for people.”
 
As time went on, Darna learned more about the process of running a business, finding funding and more. He had been kicking around the idea for his collectibles website for several years, having started collecting Star Wars toys of his own in 1995.
 
“I applied to the INKUBATOR because I knew I needed a team to make my idea for CompleteSet a reality,” Darna says. “They helped me find my co-founder, Jaime, and they helped us challenge and refine our idea, build our team and then execute.”
 
“I think the best advice I’ve received has just been the importance of talking to your customer,” Darna says. “We attended a lot of fan conventions like Cincy Comicon, Chicago’s C2E2, and talked to people about how they collect, how much they spend a month, all types of market research info. It gave us invaluable insight into how to gear our company.”
 
After launching in September of 2012, the beta version of CompleteSet was launched in May of 2013. Currently, they are working on an iPhone application and are in the process of applying to different accelerators across the country.

CompleteSet has been nice enough to offer a way for Soapbox readers to join without requesting an invite; simply visit www.completeset.com/join and enter the code soapbox

By Mike Sarason

Northern Kentucky Tri-ED reports on expanding local economy in 2013, aims for big 2014

Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-ED) has released its annual economic impact study of primary growth for 2013, reporting that in 2013, 21 companies announced new locations or expansions in the Boone, Campbell and Kenton County region and that 1,181 new direct jobs are projected as a result of these announcements. The announcement was made at Tri-ED’s annual recognition event, the Northern Kentucky Thoroughbreds, which honored those companies that located, expanded or were launched in the region in 2013.
 
“E-commerce, logistics and advanced manufacturing were all strong sectors in 2013,” says Dan Tobergte, President and CEO of Tri-ED. “With DHL’s strong presence at CVG and Northern Kentucky’s proximity to over 60 percent of the U.S. population within 600 miles, we expect more new e-commerce companies to locate in Northern Kentucky.”
 
“The influence of the College of Informatics at Northern Kentucky University is taking hold in our region,” Tobergte says. “With the location of Clear Measures and Xcelerated Learning Dynamics in Covington in 2013, Northern Kentucky is building a high-tech, informatics-based corridor. Both companies, in addition to ZoomEssence and Jacobs Automation, got their start in the Northern Kentucky ezone. We’re proud of these homegrown technology success stories.”
 
The Northern Kentucky ezone is a division of Tri-ED, which provides a support program for businesses ranging from startup entrepreneurs to established companies commercializing a new product, technology or process.
 
“In addition to the ezone, we are paying more attention to our existing businesses through the NKY Boost program, a regular visitation and survey program to Northern Kentucky’s 500+ primary industries,” Tobergte says. “And Boost is paying dividends: Four existing company expansion projects were the result of this program in 2013, and we have a better handle on issues affecting the business climate in Northern Kentucky.”
 
Looking forward to 2014, Tri-ED has made sure to set expectations even higher and looks to have a lot on its plate.
 
“We will strive to have over 20 new projects announced in 2014 with a total of approximately $200 million in capital investment, more than 2,000 new jobs with at least $8 million raised in capital for startup companies through the NKY ezone,” Tobergte says.
 
Additionally Tri-ED looks to continue to expand its cooperation and partnership with several organizations across many industries such as the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Northern Kentucky University, Cintrifuse, Gateway Community  & Technical College and more.
 
“We want to make sure there’s an educated and technical workforce available to our business community, and we want to keep talented individuals in Northern Kentucky,” Tobergte says. “That only happens when there is a great deal of cooperation and coordination between the business and education communities.” 
 
Mike Sarason

Sanger & Eby grows teams, expands services

With more than 25 years in business, strategic design and technology firm Sanger & Eby continues to grow as it announced the addition of three new members to its team: Adeline Ledford as Director of New Business, Kevin Roesch as Strategic Planning Associate and Michael Klaas as Web Development Co-op.
 
“We’re thrilled to have these new additions to the team,” says founding partner Donna Eby. “Two of these are new positions we’ve created. With the expansion of our talented staff, each in different divisions, we’re able to extend more opportunities to new and existing clients, as well as our own team.”
 
All three of the hires come from within the region, Roesch and Klaas both from the University of Cincinnati and Ledford from Miami University at Oxford.
 
“Cincinnati has always been somewhat of an unexpected hotbed for creative talent, which is a great thing for the city as well as our business,” Eby says. “We’ve hired creative thinkers and writers who also possess a skill for research, something we can’t get enough of in this business.
 
Although it’s one of the largest women-owned businesses in Cincinnati, Sanger & Eby is poised to enter new areas of business through this staff expansion. Clients include Macy's, Fifth Third Bank, Luxottica and Roto-Rooter.
 
“For years, we’ve worked on talent communications, and recently we’ve developed an expertise for education branding as well,” Eby says. “We needed a Director of New Business to help in saturating these markets. Our clients also have growing needs for new methods of strategic thinking, so we carved out a position for an associate strategist.”
 
In addition to these areas, Sanger & Eby has expanded its suite of strategic resources for clients, including the area of content creation.
 
“We recognize we have a talented staff of thought leaders in their own right that help us expand and propel forward," Eby says. "Our commitment is to our staff, our city and, of course, our clients. Throughout our 25 years, we’ve made sure to execute the best strategy to give them lasting results.”
 
 By Mike Sarason


TiER1's Doug Arthur spreads successful Cincinnati community engagement model nationwide

TiER1 Performance Solutions, the Covington-based business consulting/design/strategy/training company, has Doug Arthur, its director of Community Engagement Services, on the run. In 2005, Arthur co-founded a nonprofit collaboration between business and educators called the INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati. With help from Procter & Gamble, the University of Cincinnati and many others, INTERalliance connects students, jobs and education. With the program running successfully in Cincinnati, TiER1 has sent Arthur across the country to replicate the results in different communities.
 
Arthur initially started the INTERalliance to respond to the lack talent being fostered locally in the IT field.
 
“I was working for a company called ATOS and wanted to hire a co-op from UC, but was told that they didn’t have enough students going into computer science,” Arthur says. “In the Cincinnati area, it turns out that there will be as many as 6,000 unfilled IT jobs in the next five years.”
 
By bringing together the largest companies in the city, including P&G, Kroger and Macys, and partnering with local universities and high schools, Arthur helped create a pipeline for the city to address its employment gap and retain top talent. INTERalliance launched IT Career Camps in 2006 and, in addition to reaching 3,500 students since then, spawned the TechOlympics Expo, a three-day celebration of technology and innovation.
 
This month, Arthur has been commuting to Fort Wayne, Ind., to replicate the model, helping the Northeast Indiana Tech Coalition produce its own “TechFest 2014” in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College, Greater Fort Wayne Inc., the City of Fort Wayne, Allen County and Atos. He has also worked in a similar capacity in cities like Cleveland and San Diego.
 
“At the end of the day, every city is dealing with similar problems,” Arthur says. “How do they retain the current companies they have and attract new ones? One of the biggest parts of doing that is having an employer-ready workforce with the right skill. What we do is call on the employers, the high schools and the universities, bring them together using a common methodology, listen to their unique needs in each city and help build a framework that addresses those issues.”

By Mike Sarason

Uptech graduates second class at Demo Day this week

UpTech, the Northern Kentucky accelerator affiliated with Northern Kentucky University and several economic development agencies, will graduate its second class at its upcoming Demo Day 2014 event on Thursday, March 6. Seven companies will showcase their product or service through interactive presentations held at the NKU Digitorium from 6-8 p.m. and will be streaming live on the internet as well.
 
UpTech was launched in 2012 as a way to connect talent, funding and ideas to spur the economy by helping to launch informatics-related businesses in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. Companies accepted into UpTech have access to a unique set of resources.
 
“Each company is provided access to intensive, weekly education and interaction with national and regional experts,” says Amanda Greenwell, program manager of UpTech. “Additionally, UpTech provides each startup with a dedicated team of business professionals and mentors that have an area of expertise relevant to their line of business; we have a list of 200 volunteers who are willing to give their time, and make connections for our companies.”
 
The seven companies presenting at Demo Day are 3DLT, New Home Marketing Services, Bearhug Technologies, Tixers, Inteo, Touritz and Liquid. They range from dealing with health care to tourism to data collection to 3D print design. These companies will present to a room of investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs alike.
 
“Demo day provides an opportunity to remind UpTech's current supporters the value of their investment in addition to attracting new investors into the UpTech ecosystem,” Greenwell says.
 
The UpTech ecosystem has continued to expand and invest into the Northern Kentucky community. In November 2013, UpTech made a $1.5 million investment by moving into its new headquarters in Covington.
 
“The space validates our program's mission—create an informatics cluster in Northern Kentucky—and it enables the change we are trying to make in our community,” Greenwell says.  “We will continue to embolden the angel investor community in Northern Kentucky, make investing fun by offering opportunities to engage and mentor our startups, and ultimately provide a return on investment for UpTech investors and the region at large.”
 
To attend UpTech’s Demo Day 2014, RSVP here or request a link for the live stream here.

By Mike Sarason

SCORE celebrates 50 years of helping small businesses

SCORE, the nonprofit business counseling organization, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Cincinnati chapter of the national organization was initiated in 1964, originally offering free business counseling through retired executive members, primarily focusing on businesses with 25 employees or less.
 
SCORE’s purpose today is still to provide free business counseling through its members, who include working and retired executives, with the Cincinnati chapter counting 100 volunteer executives and specialists who donate their time. Most chapters also offer business seminars at a nominal cost.
 
In Cincinnati, SCORE helped more than 1,500 clients in 2013, leading to more thab 350 new jobs in the area. The local chapter was also picked as the runner-up for Chapter of the Year out of 360 chapters nationally. SCORE held 47 free or low-cost workshops for 938 attendees locally, covering topics such as business plan development, startup basics, marketing and sales strategies, and more.
 
“Even though we are considered a small market city, we as a chapter consistently out-perform the major cities, such as LA, New York City, Chicago, etc.,” says Dennis Murphy, SCORE counselor for the last six years and chair of the SCORE fundraising committee. We have been a Top 5 Performing Chapter ever year that I’ve been with SCORE Cincinnati.”
 
One of Murphy’s clients, Mary Helen Boedekker, owner of Mary Helen Clothing, began working with SCORE a year ago.
 
“After my first meeting with my mentor, I knew this organization was special,” Boedekker says. “SCORE gives small business owners the opportunity to move beyond being a small business and get to the next level. Their ability to guide me in the right direction has helped more than I could have imagined. Any time I have a question or need help, I call Dennis and he helps me find a solution.”
 
“The time is right for the Greater Cincinnati area,” Murphy says. “Cincinnati is well-positioned to lead the Midwest as a hub for entrepreneurs and startups. The investors are here, the support is here; I don’t see any deterrents to huge area business growth on the horizon in 2014 and beyond.”
 
To learn more about SCORE Cincinnati, visit www.greatercincinnati.score.org.

By Mike Sarason
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