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Blegalbloss takes on clunky office document storage with innovative design

The old cardboard document storage box is getting a makeover, complete with ergonomic design, through the work of a Cincinnati startup.

Blegalbloss founder and president Will Scott has created a line of office products that make document storage, organization and use easier.

The company's signature product, BOXIE, is an ergonomic, lockable file box. The tough, rip-resistant boxes have a handle that is curved and slanted to make the box easy to pick up and carry. The box also has a locking feature, is made from 65 percent recycled materials, and is 100 percent recyclable.

Scott, a Northern Kentuckian, previously owned a record management company, and had worked in the financial service industry in sales and accounting.

"When I was in the record management industry, I had some time to think about how people use these storage items, and had a little black book of ideas," Scott says. "Looking at the boxes themselves, I realize they hadn't changed in nearly 100 years."

That's when he went to work and began making the boxes better through design.

"I went about the task to redesign these sorts of things, and to make them stronger," he says. "It wasn't until I watched someone carrying the box that I realized that had been designed totally wrong."

Blegalbloss (pronounced Blee-guhl-bloss) was launched in early 2011, and the BOXIE was first delivered in January. In addition to boxes, the company sells Roo brand document organizers and DominoTwin office supply organizers.

The products are sold through 2,700 retailers. The company's goal is to be in 4,000 retail stores by year's end and 10,000 by 2014, Scott says. Blegalbloss is working to expand the brand globally, and launch other products.

Among Blegalbloss retailers are GoEvolved.comAmazoneBay and Office Depot.

Since most of the innovation is in the products' design, their costs are competitive with traditional storage boxes, Scott says. His company currently has about 45 patents pending and 10 already issued.

"We've built a better mousetrap," Scott says. "We're selling this at the same pricing (as competitors) in the marketplace, with better value and features."

By Feoshia H. Davis

Design Impact for Change Makers uses design thinking to help nonprofits

Design isn't just about how something—like a mobile phone or a vacuum cleaner—looks, but how it works and how users receive and interact with it.

Creative design is most often applied in the consumer marketing world in product development, including packaging and marketing. But a Cincinnati couple is taking design thinking into the nonprofit world through their own nonprofit, Design Impact.

The organization works with social change organizations to help address local and global social issues through creative design thinking. Design Impact has applied this concept to organizations both here in Cincinnati and in rural India where the founders first began testing their ideas.

Design Impact was founded by husband-and-wife team Kate Hanisian and Ramsey Ford. Hanisian's background is in the nonprofit and education sectors, and Ford is a designer with extensive consumer product experience.

Design thinking can help nonprofits meet challenges by giving them a different way to solve, test and measure ideas, says Ford.

There are several key aspects to Design thinking:
  • Identify opportunities to innovate 
  • Apply empathy and creativity to change problems into breakthroughs
  • Uncover hidden insights and unarticulated needs from your customers
  • Quickly and inexpensively prototype new ideas
  • Initiate design thinking in your business, organization or community
Design Impact is holding a two-day seminar for nonprofits that are interested in learning more about incorporating design thinking in their own solving challenges. Design Impact for Change Makers is Aug. 1 and 2, at the Kaleidoscope building downtown, which is located at 205 W. Fourth St., Suite 1140.

Design Impact for Change Makers will be workshop-based and participants are being asked to bring a real challenge they'd like to solve or idea they'd like to explore. It could be anything from offering a new service to better engaging donors, Ford says.

"It's about idea generation, and staying in a creative state of mind so you don't always rely on the same old solutions," he says. "We'll be working through the entire creative process from discovery to creation and verification."

You can register for the event here, and the cost is $275 for both days.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Share local history with Touritz

Are you empowered with an abundance of knowledge on a particular area—say, your old stomping grounds? Does downtown's infinite wealth of stories sway you to study up and make a cohesive tour? Then Touritz is your new outlet. By allowing you to share walking guides and videos, this format is bound to uncover little-known facts about our city (and beyond).

Created by Steve Oldfield and Sean Thomas, two local entrepreneurs with a passion for history, Touritz aims to help increase interest in local lore. They also hope it will be a resource for history buffs who want to expand their knowledge base.

Touritz enables everyone who is willing to put in some work to share their own historical observations. 

Though the service is not yet available, anyone interested can sign up for email reminders and updates on launch dates.

By Sean Peters

 

From Cincinnati to New Orleans, riverboat style


Kyle Rouse and his best friends, Bill, Turner and Alex Ross, set out on a river adventure in October 2011. Rouse, a native of Piqua, Ohio, and the Ross brothers, who are from the nearby town of Sidney, traveled on a pontoon boat named the “Rosemarie,” and made the trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. 

The trip lasted nearly a month—they arrived in New Orleans just in time for Halloween. The idea was hatched and planned while Rouse and the Rosses were in Texas shooting a documentary film for their aptly named 
Ross Bros film company. One of their most recent works, entitled Tchoupitoulas, was one of the last films to be picked up by the late Adam Yauch’s (aka MCA of Beastie Boys fame) Oscilloscope distribution company before he passed away.  

Rouse is now offering the public a unique way to experience this journey for themselves through his self-published book, titled simply, Cincinnati to New Orleans.

The book is primarily made up of images that Rouse took along the way using an old-school film camera instead of a newer digital model.

“Using film instead of a digital camera made me learn to see things intuitively,” Rouse says. “Because I knew I only had a set number of pictures to take, I learned to be more aware of what was happening around me and how to capture something really unique.” 


Along with the pictures, the story of the trip to New Orleans is told via journal entries typed on an old typewriter by Rouse. The journal entries take readers into the minds of the travelers and paint vivid pictures of American life along the forgotten backwaters and rusted-out small towns. 

“You learn a lot about yourself living 24 hours a day around the same people in a small boat stuck out on the water,” Rouse says. “But then, we also learned a lot about the people of America, and I’ll tell you what, that Credence song is right, people on the river are happy to give (referencing the song “Proud Mary”)."

More than two thirds of the way through their voyage, the Rosemarie wrecked and had to be left behind. Despite that setback, the crew did make it to New Orleans. 

After spending several months reviewing his pictures, Rouse began to compile them in order to tell a story. “The images in this book aren’t perfect, but they show emotion, which I think is more important,” he says. Self-published only this past spring, the initial short-run of Cincinnati to New Orleans has already sold out and a second press run is being planned now.

In addition to Rouse’s book, the Ross brothers made a film about the trip, entitled River, which aired initially in eight segments on the Internet. Since then, the four-man crew was invited to Toronto’s Hot Docs film festival to screen the film in its entirety there, where it became one of the surprise favorites.

Rouse says that perhaps the reason why the trip has resonated with people is the longing for adventure within all of us. “In situations like that, you understand just what you yourself can do as a person.” 

Learn more about “Cincinnati to New Orleans” which is also on Facebook. “River” will screen in Cincinnati on Sept. 30 at Washington Park

By Michael Sarason


Empower MediaMarketing creates Disruptive Media Fellowship

Independent media agency Empower MediaMarketing recently created a new Disruptive Media Fellowship at The Brandery, Cincinnati's consumer brand business accelerator.

The $10,000 fellowship will go to a Brandery startup whose idea is most disruptive to the media landscape. The fellowship recipient will be announced later this month, as The Brandery's incoming 2013 class begins, says Empower MediaMarketing's Director of Content Strategy Kevin Dugan.

"It seems that disruptions are taking place almost every day as consumer habits change," Dugan says. "We feel that for companies reacting to that is really more of an opportunity than anything else. If you are helping create the disruptions, it can become a competitive advantage."

Empower MediaMarketing is an independent media agency that plans, buys, creates and proves media impact for its clients. Dugan and CEO Jim Price are also Brandery mentors.

The Brandery launched in 2010 to offer funding, mentoring and partnerships for consumer marketing businesses. Brandery companies receive $20,000 in startup funding, and pitch their companies to potential investors at a Demo Day at the end of the four-month program.

The Brandery is a member of the Global Accelerator Network, and companies from across the country apply to the emerging accelerator. It is annually recognized as one of the elite startup accelerators in the country.

More than 60 mentors work with the companies, which each receive $20,000 in seed money. Leading Cincinnati-based agencies offer free marketing and media guidance to each of the startups.

"As a company, we have been mentoring startups since 2010," Dugan says. "We really enjoy the process and wanted to increase our support (of The Brandery). This allows us to increase commitment and help startups."

By Feoshia H. Davis

Zooted Delivery now available every day

Zooted Delivery brings food to your front door from restaurants around the city that don’t typically deliver. While it was only a weekend operation from the beginning, Zooted now offers service seven days a week, with their delivery radius spanning Hyde Park, the downtown business district, the Banks, Clifton and Norwood.

Created by Sheroz Zindani, a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s business program, Zooted Delivery works in conjunction with more than a dozen restaurants to bring their menu items to hungry customers’ homes. 

The company has a recurring message that it reiterates to customers: “You drink, we drive.” This message targets the late night crowd, which is why Zooted Delivery operates until 3 a.m. on weekends.

Registration is not necessary to use the service—you only need to have access to Zooted’s website. The order is placed online, “zooted” to the restaurant automatically, and the customer need only “sign and dine.” Payments can be made with cash or credit cards. The service and delivery fee is nominal and the convenience is unparalleled. 

Offering a broad range of restaurants, this added service is sure to accommodate nearly every type of palate. If not, it’s likely that whatever type of food they would want already delivers directly, so it’s a win-win for homebodies. 

Interview by Sean Peters

CincyMusic Spotlight hits airwaves

CincyMusic Spotlight is a new radio show dedicated to highlighting new and exciting music in the Queen City. Featured on The Project 100.7 and 106.3, the show’s format provides a much-needed outlet for local musicians. Hosted by veteran band promoters and DJs Venomous Valdez and Joe Long, the show’s end goal is to help expose new local artists to the general public.

“The Project already has added a handful of bands hailing from Cincinnati in their established playlist," says Valdez. "If a song does really well on the show, it has the ability to live in regular rotation. The Project would love nothing more than to help break a Cincinnati band."

Valdez, who is known by just about every venue owner as the booking agent and promoter for Wussy and The Sundresses, is a longtime ally to Cincinnati musicians.

“Cincinnati has a deep, rich musical history," she says. "For many generations, this has been a music town, so it’s in our blood. We have more genres available, more venues catering to original music than most cities larger than us. Overall, I think we have a great support system with musicians, promoters, booking agents and venues that encourages and nurtures the creative outlet."

Listeners can tune in Sunday nights at midnight on The Project 100.7 FM and 106.3 FM. Podcasts will be available on cincymusic.com and cincinnatiproject.com.

By Sean Peters

Relive the glory days with Legit Vintage

Sports fans all have defining moments in their lives that are linked with a favorite team. What Bobby Goodwin does with Legit Vintage is offer direct links to those cherished memories with his ever-growing collection of classic sports clothing.

With his inventory comprised of mostly professional football, baseball, hockey and basketball items, it’s natural for Goodwin to see spikes in particular teams’ sales depending on the season and the success of the teams. For example, right now there are two similar jackets he's offering -- a  Charlotte Hornets and a Cleveland Browns starter jacket. Not surprisingly, the Hornets jacket is five times more valuable.

Starting in March 2012, the 26 year old Miami University graduate has dedicated most of his spare cash to financing his retail venture, which is mostly online for now, though he does sell his wares at events that appeal to his fans.

What makes Legit Vintage a unique retailer is the hand-picked, stylish selections Goodwin himself chooses. His aesthetic makes it very easy to find the perfect vintage piece of clothing—from shoes to hats.

While you can find his inventory on etsy, Goodwin continues to look for a brick-and-mortar site to appeal to casual browsers as well as sports aficionados.

By Sean Peters

LOC Card to replace the need for store loyalty cards

Today, it seems that every retailer has a loyalty card leading to wallets stuffed with disparate loyalty cards and the potential for confusion. Local startup LOC Enterprises hopes to replace the need for store loyalty cards with the launch of its LOC Card.
 
The LOC Card is the first truly universal loyalty card that will not only allow consumers to stop carrying around handfuls of loyalty cards, but it will also allow them to manage all of their loyalty programs on one website.
 
While shopping for his now 12-year-old son around Christmas 2011, LOC’s CEO and founder Jack Kennamer realized the hangups of loyalty cards.
 
“I was standing in line at a sporting goods store, and I heard the cashier ask customer after customer if they had the store’s loyalty card,” Kennamer says. “Most people didn’t want one, but one lady decided to sign up for it, and I could see the guy behind her huffing and puffing while she filled out the registration form. And when the guy in front of me was asked if he had the store’s card, he held up his keychain and said ‘No room for you.’ I figured there had to be a better way.”
 
After that experience, Kennamer spent hours researching loyalty cards and programs, and found that there wasn’t a “universal” loyalty card.
 
“Consumers love to feel special and get free stuff and discounts, but it’s getting to the point where they have to work so hard to participate in loyalty programs,” he says.
 
Kennamer’s company developed a 100-percent consumer-centric card that allows consumers to tailor how they want to engage with each retailer. For example, a consumer may want to interact with Kroger one way and Best Buy another, so they can pick and choose which retailers to provide with their email address.
 
When a consumer signs up for the LOC Card, they’ll set up an account online, and anytime they go to a retailer that accepts the card, they swipe it once and they’re enrolled in that loyalty program. LOC’s website manages all of the loyalty programs for the consumer, so there’s only one email address and password instead of 100.
 
LOC is working with the companies that handle the analytic side of loyalty programs to better service consumers. The company is also building relationships with individual merchants and getting great feedback about the LOC Card.
 
The LOC Card isn’t just tailored to large businesses, though. “The problem small businesses have is they don’t stand a chance because they’re so far down the totem pole when it comes to loyalty,” says Kennamer. “With the LOC Card, you swipe your card at the retailer once and you’re signed up for their loyalty program. After that, it’s up to the consumer to come back, and the retailer can reach out and give the consumer personalized offers to start repeat behaviors.”
 
The LOC Card isn’t available to consumers yet, but you can pre-register on LOC’s website.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter

Local startup hosts design competition

Greater Cincinnati’s creative community is being called on for a first-of-its-kind design challenge, aimed at flexing the region’s altruistic muscle and branding brilliance.

In partnership with tech entrepreneur Tarek Kamil, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s
C-Change program is requesting proposals from designers from across the region to help craft an unforgettable brand experience for users of the newly launched website, Cerkl.

“This is an ideal opportunity to participate in a high-profile project for one of the largest non-profit organizations in the Greater Cincinnati region,” says Kamil, Cerkl’s creator. 

Launched in February, the website expedites serendipitous connections between talented individuals and local organizations that are working to improve Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Its online platform serves as a catalyst for offline community engagement by empowering organizations and individuals to cut through the "noise" from existing networks to easily find organizations and opportunities to give back using time and talent.

Intuitive tools and search functions allow organizations to find the right people with specific skills - and help individuals leverage their unique talents and engage meaningfully with organizations they care about. Best of all, the site’s tools and platform are completely free. Cerkl is a gift to Cincinnati from Kamil, who while serving in his own community of Madeira saw the need for an online intervention to help non-profits make meaningful connections with their supporters.

But still in its infancy, the website is ready for its brand to be polished.

In step with Cerkl’s mission, Kamil and C-Change are looking to tap engaged design professionals who want to share their talents with their community in a meaningful way. 

“No other city has a higher caliber or concentration of branding and design talent than ours,” Kamil says. “We want to leverage those assets to bring Cerkl to its full potential. When we’re successful, Cincinnati will be home to the go-to tool created to empower non-profits, inspire individuals and improve communities.”

Designers participating in the request for proposals are asked to develop a refreshed visual look for the nonprofit, specifically a new brandmark and homepage redesign. Responses are due by June 21, and finalists will be notified in the beginning of July. 

The chosen designer or team will have the opportunity to establish a working relationship with one of the region’s most successful startup entrepreneurs. The involved parties will actively promote the contracting designer or firm through the website, social media, at events, marketing campaigns, etc. 

The winner of the competition will receive special recognition from C-Change and Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce, as well as a year’s subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud service or a $600 DCI (Downtown Cincinnati Inc.) Gift Card.

The digital version of the RFP and brand guidelines can be found at tinyurl.com/cerklproject.

To receive a copy of request for proposal, email your submissions or for questions, email virtual.submission@gmail.com by June 21, 2013. 

By Jenny Kessler

Band artist Lindsay Nehls mixes art, photography

It’s a good thing for everyone involved when artists find their niche. In Lindsay Nehls’ case, the Cincinnati music community provides the perfect home for her artwork.

Poster illustration and photography have been her chief projects as a commissioned artist. There’s a psychedelic joyousness to her drawings, which lends itself well to some of the bands she’s worked with. SHADOWRAPTR, her first album art client, recently released “Love a Good Mystery.” Nehls’ cover art is a mixture of hand-illustrated and digital art, a fitting accompaniment to SHADOWRAPTR’s jazzy, experimental rock music that, like Nehls’ work, is beyond convenient classification.

Nehls has worked with a number of other musicians, including locals like The Happy Maladies, Gorges, Whitfield Crocker and Majestic Man and Chicago’s Zamin

Nehls works out of her garage, which is heated by a potbelly stove in the winter. She’s currently working to master screenprinting, since T-shirt designs go hand in hand with album cover art. Nehls wants to be able to be a one-stop shop for bands.

Some of her fine art illustrations are available on Tumblr, which serves as her primary online portfolio. 

By Sean Peters

dunnhumby, AAF Cincinnati start Cincinnati Digital Dialogue

A new partnership between the American Advertising Federation Cincinnati and dunnhumbyUSA is setting the stage for the city's first consumer-focused digital marketing conference.

D2, or Cincinnati Digital Dialogue, will be held Sept. 11 and 12 at the Horseshoe Casino downtown. The conference will focus on putting consumers at the center of digital marketing and business planning.

"If the customer is not at the center of your marketing, then what is?" says dunnhumbyUSA Executive Vice President of Communications and Media Matt Nitzberg. "I think people can get caught up in technology and technique because of the interesting things that can be done. But the techniques that will work are the ones that will connect with customers."

Digital marketing through websites, social media and video has been more accessible and available than ever. And businesses large and small are using digital media to promote their brands to varying levels of success. The conference will help businesses and agencies focus those efforts to their particular customers.

"This is for professionals who want to put the consumer at the center of their digital marketing strategy," Nitzberg says. "It's for everyone, from the big retailer to the small ad agency."

The conference is a good fit for the Queen City, which has the highest per-capita concentration of branding professionals in the world. It's home to P&G, to the largest consumer goods manufacturer; Kroger, the country's largest supermarket retailer; and Macy's, the country's largest department store chain.

Organizers will spend the summer ironing out conference details, including speakers, session topics and registration information. To stay updated on the latest news, or for more information on speaker and sponsor packages, go to www.d2cincinnati.com or follow D2 Cincinnati on Twitter @d2Cincinnati #d2Cincy.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

'Big idea challenge' offers rewards for innovative solutions

Part crowd-sourcing, part-buzz-generating and all focused on civic progress and innovation, the Greater Cincinnati's Foundation's freshly launched "The Big Idea Challenge" guarantees funding for big ideas with community support and the potential for high impact.

Envisioned as a way to engage the broader community in problem-solving and program development, the Challenge offers a public platform for anyone with an idea that could make the city a more vibrant and healthy place. Online submissions answering the question, "What's your Big Idea for a more prosperous Greater Cincinnati?" will be accepted from June 3 through July 29. In August, the field will be narrowed to 21 finalists; in September, public voting will determine the winners in each of seven categories.

"This is a groundbreaking way for one of the largest funders in our region to connect with the entire community," says Elizabeth Edwards, CEO of Metro Innovation and founder of Cincinnati Innovates. Her web platform, CrowdSpark, which hosts the Challenge. She's also part of the Big Idea Brain Trust, local thought-leaders who helped shape and refine the project with Greater Cincinnati Foundation leaders.

GCF is looking for ideas that will impact Cincinnati in one or more of seven categories:
• Strong Communities
• Cultural Vibrancy
• Job Creation
• Environmental Stewardship
• Educational Success
• Health & Wellness
• Economic Opportunity

The application process is streamlined — applicants, aged 18 and up, need only submit their contact information, a title, a 140-character description (great for Twitter) and a 2,000-character detailed description. Applicants whose ideas are chosen as winners will receive cash prizes; then, GCF will award $5,000 grants to area non-profits with the capacity to implement the winning "Big Ideas." One overall "Big Idea" will add a $50,000 grant to a complementary non-profit's coffers to "kickstart" the implementation of the idea.

By Elissa Yancey
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Local craftsman makes jewelry from old silverware

Local craftsman Dave Behle and his wife Deb started Spoonin’ Jewelry soon after their retirement. The couple repurposes silverware into unique rings, pendants and bracelets. At first glance, it’s hard to tell that the pieces were originally used at dinner time.

Deb Behle worked in the University of Cincinnati registrar's office, while her husband taught industrial education classes. They were prompted to expand their business by their daughter, Caitlin Behle, who is a blogger and coordinator for SpringBoard ArtWorks. With her encouragement, Spoonin' Jewlery found its identity.

After a few years of perfecting his tools and technique, Dave felt confident enough to stand behind their offerings.

“Anybody can bend a fork,” he says. “The real challenge is finding the right way.”

According to Dave, Deb is in charge of polishing the silverware before he bends and twists the metal into jewelry.

There are so many challenges associated with this practice that Dave customized his own tools to help shape and size each piece. After years of practice, he says he can craft any ring to a specific size.

From floral rings to lavish silver bracelets with insets, the pieces are in no way kitschy or whimsical. They are, however, environmentally friendly — Spoonin' Jewlery really does reduce, reuse and recycle.

“A lot of silverware ends up at the junkyard because nobody wants to polish it,” Deb says. Instead, the Behles take forgotten pieces of silverware and turn them into beautiful and practical keepsakes.

After spreading their business through craft and trade shows — their next show will be in Paducah — Spoonin’ Jewelry has also found sellers, including Spotted Magpie in Over-The-Rhine and Fabricate in Northside. The Behles also operate their own small mom-and-pop shop on Etsy

By Sean Peters

3DLT launches online 3D printing template market, gains national attention

3D printing is fast becoming an accessible, affordable way to create products, pieces and prototypes. Machine parts, toys and even jewelry can be printed quickly and with precision using 3D printing.

A new Cincinnati company is leading in the industry—3DLT—an online marketplace where users can purchase and download 3D printer templates. Using home printers or 3DLT's printer network, users can print pre-designed products in a variety of materials—from plastic to metal and even leather.

"We work with industrial designers across the world," says 3DLT's founder, Pablo Arellano, Jr. "They love to design, and we have them build these templates."

Arellano launched 3DLT at TechCrunch Disrupt NY in early May. The Cincinnati native is working with a team of co-founders to get the company off the ground. Arellano has founded several other startups, and is a former Procter & Gamble brand manager.

Arellano described the company as the iStockphoto of 3D printing.

"I'm a big fan of iStockphoto," he says. "I thought the next thing you can potentially download is 3D templates, and I wanted to be in that space. I've been working on this full-time for the past four months."

3DLT templates include bracelets, rings, mesh lampshades, eyeglass frames, shoes and iPhone 4S protectors.

The self-funded company is beginning to seek investors. 3DLT already has gotten national attention, and has been featured in TechCrunch, Wired, The Verge, Fast Company, Venture Beat and Popular Science. It's also a winner of the 2012 X-LAB competition, and has moved into the new Cintrifuse incubator.

Arellano believes most of the companies initial users will be commercial, but as 3D printer prices drop, more consumers will begin to print their own products.

"The prices are dropping very quickly," he says. "It's already happening."

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter
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