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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

Quest for the Queen offers adventure and community building for Cincinnatians

On Saturday, April 26, Cincinnati will play host to an “adventure race” throughout the city called Quest for the Queen. The event, the brainchild of proud Cincinnatians Matt Feldhaus and John Klingler, promises to lead participants through several of the city’s 52 neighborhoods while engaging them with Cincinnati’s past, present and future.
Quest for the Queen will run throughout the day. Participants will divide into teams of two and will be given a list of riddles, each one directing teams towards checkpoints around the city. The checkpoints will provide opportunities for participants to engage with the community, discover new neighborhoods and businesses, and learn about the history and character of the city.
Participants will be asked to take a photo at each checkpoint, and the first team to get through all the locations will be declared the winner.
“We both love Cincinnati for different reasons, and we wanted to provide a way to show people some of those things and give them a chance to make new discoveries of their own,” Feldhaus says.
An interesting twist to the race is that participants won’t be allowed to use cars or GPS devices (like cell phones) to help them get from place to place.
“The reason for the rules is that we don’t want people to rely on technology—we want them to get familiar with the neighborhoods and the different things going on in them,” Klingler says. “We’ve got a lot of local businesses on board as well; in the end we just want to engage Cincinnatians with their local communities.”
Feldhaus and Klingler are recommending that participants make their way through the quest by bike and public transportation. To that end, the two have secured a partnership with Metro to guarantee all participants a free day pass to ride the buses throughout the course of the race.
“We got Metro involved because we wanted to show that Cincinnati does have viable and efficient public transit options,” Klingler says. “This provides an easy and fun way for people to try out our city’s bus system.”
Registration for the race is open now. To learn more about Quest for the Queen or to sign up, visit http://questforthequeen.webs.com.

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

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

Reds kick off 2014 season by adding Taste of Belgium and local craft beers

In Cincinnati, April doesn’t only bring showers, it brings baseball (we’ve had a lot of both already). But for the 2014 baseball season, the Cincinnati Reds have announced new partnerships to bring some of the city’s best new local flavors to Great American Ballpark.
As of Opening Day last week, Taste of Belgium announced its status as “the Official Waffle of the Cincinnati Reds.” Reds fans will now be able to enjoy a few of the sweet and savory items that have made Taste of Belgium a fixture of the local food scene since its beginnings at Findlay Market.
“We’ve been making waffles all over town at all kinds of events, so this was not only a logical next step for us, but a tremendous opportunity,” says Taste of Belgium owner Jean-Francois Fletchet. “We are honored to be counted among the Cincinnati brands supported by Great American Ballpark.”
Featured menu items at the stadium include waffles with chocolate or strawberry toppings, Belgium fries and a waffle 'n' chicken.
“We like to be playful with our menu,” Fletchet says. “Since Cincinnatians aren’t as familiar with traditional Belgian fare, we look for interesting combinations of things they know and things they don’t, like our waffle and chicken, which has become a signature dish.”
Taste of Belgium’s signature waffle joins the ranks of longtime Cincinnati favorites, such as LaRosa’s Pizzeria and Skyline Chili, signifying yet another step on the part of the Reds to embrace Cincinnati’s evolving food and beverage culture.
In addition to Taste of Belgium, Great American Ballpark has also added The Reds Brewery District, an 85-foot-long home to 60 taps featuring a dozen local craft beers including selections from Christian Moerlein, MadTree Brewing, Blank Slate Brewing Company, 50 West Brewing Company, Rhinegeist, Mt. Carmel and Rivertown Brewing Company.
To learn more about where these local offerings can be found in the stadium, check out the Reds site here.

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

Metro unveils first ticket vending machine, allowing more flexible public transit

On Thursday, March 27, Metro, Southwest Ohio’s Regional Transit Authority, will unveil its first ticket vending machine. The machine is located at the Government Square information booth near the intersection of Fifth and Walnut in Downtown Cincinnati and provides 24/7 access to Metro passes and stored-value cards.
“This project has been in the works for several years, but it took some planning,” says Jill Dunne, public affairs manager at Metro. “We want to make riding Metro easier, and this is one way we can do just that.”
The machine is similar to standard vending machines, and offers all Metro 30-day rolling passes including Metro/TANK passes, and $10, $20 and $30 stored-value cards. The machine accepts cash (exact amounts only) or credit cards. Up to four passes can be purchased per transaction.
More ticket vending machines will soon be available in the Clifton area near the University of Cincinnati in the new Uptown Transit District and at other high-traffic transit hubs.
“The Uptown Transit District is a big project for Metro this year,” Dunne says. “The new district consists of four distinct areas or hubs that will serve as the major connection and transfer point for many Metro routes and several Uptown shuttles offered by the University of Cincinnati and area employers.”
Currently, Metro is in the construction phase for the shelters in the Uptown area. The machines will be installed later this year once that process is complete.
“This project will better serve the thousands of people riding Metro to and from jobs, education, medical services, and entertainment in Uptown every day,” Dunne says.
Metro is working on additional fare options for customers that will be available in Metro pass sales outlets and ticket vending machines. Metro passes will continue to be sold at a dozen Cincinnati locations and online at www.go-metro.com.
“The good news for Metro is that Cincinnati is talking about public transportation. We are seeing a positive trend with young professionals embracing alternatives to cars. People are seeking green and money-saving alternatives, and Metro fills those needs.”

By Mike Sarason

Cincinnati Center for Adult Music Study opens this week

This week marks the opening of a new music education program in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Center for Adult Music Study (CincyCAMS). Founded by Rachel Kramer, pianist, teacher and arts administrator, and her business partner Mary Chaiken, CincyCAMS will offer programs on all aspects of music in multiple venues around the greater Cincinnati area. 
Chaiken and Kramer have been friends for some time, having made music together as a part of Muse, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, until Kramer retired from the choir in 2013. In 2014, they’ve decided to become business partners.
“I had always wanted to start a program like this,” Kramer says. “Mary had just finished her last grant-based job in medical research—she is a molecular biologist—and was looking to do something new. We got to talking and CincyCAMS is the result.”
The programs offered include more traditional lessons, performance groups, lectures covering a wide range of musical topics and more. Programs are intended to be short (nothing more than six weeks) so students will not only cover several topics throughout the course of the year, but will also visit several different venues in various areas of the city.
“We want to be the community meeting place for people to come, make music and realize a dream come true,” Kramer says. “We want to enrich lives and inspire adults to make their own kind of music.”
CincyCAMS is also looking to collaborate with current music teachers and music professionals in the Greater Cincinnati area.
“We will be using our professional colleagues as facilitators,” Kramer says. “We also would like students of our community teachers to come to CincyCAMS for enrichment classes and performance opportunity, and we would like to send cincyCAMS participants who want further study to our area teachers.”
To that end, CincyCAMS has already partnered with the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, as well as with Northern Kentucky University and the Music Teacher’s National Association.  
To learn more about the program, visit www.cincycams.com.

By Mike Sarason

Class is in Session radio program is Cincinnati's newest forum on education

Cincinnati has a new venue for public dialogue on the topic of education in our city. “Class is in Session” is a weekly radio program on 1230 AM every Saturday from 3-4 p.m., created through a collaboration between the Strive Partnership and Parents for Public Schools of Greater Cincinnati (PPSGC). 
The show, which began at the beginning of March, is set up to be an open forum where listeners are encouraged to call in and voice their opinions on issues related to education in the urban core.
“Our goal is to engage the community and create great discussions in the education sphere,” says Nia Williams, Community Engagement Coordinator for Strive. “This show creates a consistent space for dialogue and provides constant feedback for us that will inform our work.”
Strive, a partnership of Greater Cincinnati businesses, nonprofits, school districts and universities working to improve outcomes for every child in Cincinnati, Covington and Newport, reached out to PPSGC because of their experience engaging the community.
“We thought radio would be a good venue because we get to share what’s happening and people can offer feedback at any point during the program,” Williams says.
So far, topics for Class is in Session have included the achievement gap, poverty, parent involvement and more.
“Parent engagement in the education sphere is crucial,” Williams says. “It can fundamentally change how our education system works; we have to do a better job at reaching out to parents and making that happen. That’s why we’re working with PPSGC in the first place.”
Class is in Session will also act as a method of sharing positive developments that are happening in the urban core.
“We have a lot to talk about as far as early childhood education, the Preschool Promise and more,” Williams says. “We want listeners to be excited and learn how they can get involved.”
The Preschool Promise is a campaign to ensure that every 3-4-year-old has access to quality preschool. This promises to get more children ready for school, reading successfully by the end of 3rd grade, and graduating from high school ready for college and careers.
To learn more about Class is in Session, visit the Strive Partnership website.

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

Xavier University partnership creates Nurse Care Coordinator Program

The Xavier Leadership Center (XLC), the Xavier University School of Nursing and Catholic Health Partners—Ohio’s largest health care organization—have partnered to create the Nurse Care Coordinator Program (NCCP), the first of its kind regionally and one of the first in the country.
The program is responding to a national trend in health care that is shifting toward patient-centered care and addresses the issues of poor communication across the silos of health care delivery that have been increasing since the 1980s.
“A care coordinator is at the core of the communication between the specialists and makes sure the patient’s care is holistically being administered,” says Sue Schmidt, director of Xavier’s School of Nursing. “The typical nurse in a hospital is more task-oriented and does not do risk management as well as work across systems.”
Lynne McCabe, RN, director of Community Care Coordination Programs for Catholic Health Partners, heard about Xavier University from a staff member/care coordinator who had a positive experience while getting her master’s degree in nursing at Xavier. McCabe was already looking to start a training or certificate program for her nursing staff, but found a similar program offered on the East coast to be cost-prohibitive and far away.
Using knowledge and experience acquired through implementing a care coordination program for Catholic Health Partners, McCabe knew that partnering locally would be a better solution. The program began at the beginning of 2014 at the XLC with 15 nurse care coordinators and one dietician.
Mike Leavy, associate director of the XLC, and one of Schmidt’s and McCabe’s co-developers, says, “This is an innovative program for the region, which will enable participants to be leaders and pioneers in serving the needs of all stakeholders in the rapidly changing health care environment. Our goal is to graduate our first cohort in the spring then continue to expand the program in the community and the region.”
By 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

The Garage Group adds training services, hosts innovation workshop

The Garage Group, the Cincinnati-based consultancy that helps larger, corporate companies engage with and activate their entrepreneurial spirit, has begun offering training services in addition to their focus on market research and insights and ideation workshops. In conjunction with these services, they will host a two-day workshop in Cincinnati on April 24-25 entitled “Enabling Corporate Teams to Innovate Like Startups.”
The company, located in the historic Longworth Hall amidst several other startup, design and production companies, was co-founded nearly three years ago by Jason Hauer and Ann Lauer, two entrepreneurs who left small firms to start their own business together.
“Three years ago, when we started, the concept of making a corporation more like a startup was very hard for people to understand,” Lauer says. “It was not common language, and we wrestled a lot with it. We got into the training business because we had to do some education to get people to understand the concept.”
According to The Garage Group, things have changed since then.
“Cincinnati has become a more innovative entrepreneurial region in that time,” Lauer says. “We’ve benefitted from that and hopefully made a contribution to it as well. We sit in an interesting position where we get to bridge between the startups and larger companies.
In those three years, The Garage Group has trained more than 1,000 people from large service and Fortune 1,000 companies nationwide on topics such as skills and behaviors for entrepreneurs and how to develop and collaboratively co-create ideas with stakeholders.
“When we think about a traditional company being more entrepreneurial, it’s on two levels,” Hauer says. “At one level its really about developing and launching new products, services and business models. At another level it’s about getting people within the base organization to think more entrepreneurially in terms of how they approach their day-to-day job and continually improve the value that they are bringing to their company, brand or service they are working on.”
The Garage Group will hold their two-day workshop in Cincinnati in April and will follow it up with an additional workshop in Chicago in June. To learn more, visit their website.

By Mike Sarason

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