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Speed dating event pairs entrepreneurs with designers

On October 3, an innovative twist on speed dating called Meet Your Match will pair Cincinnati-based entrepreneurs with local designers. Hosted at The Brandery—one of the top startup accelerators in the U.S.—the goal of the event is to introduce budding startups to design firms and help them obtain essential services for getting their businesses off the ground.

As part of Cincinnati Design Week, which runs September 30 through October 5, a secondary objective of the matchmaking event is to educate entrepreneurs about what types of services designers can provide; how those services can elevate their business image; and how those services are priced.

The event is sponsored by Artworks' SpringBoard, a business planning and development program that helps artists, artisans and creative entrepreneurs achieve their artistic and economic goals by creating a unique and collaborative learning environment.

During the 90-minute event, entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to interview three designers who are interested in meeting that entrepreneur’s design needs. Rather than paying cash, participating businesses can offer $500 of goods or services in exchange for well-designed collateral that will take their ventures to the next level. Business owners will identify their design needs by selecting from a set menu of services that includes everything from T-shirts and web ads to brochures and business cards. Entrepreneurs will also disclose the goods and services they are prepared to exchange if a match is made at the event.

"Meet Your Match is designed to give entrepreneurs an opportunity to meet multiple designers in 90 minutes," says Sarah Corlett, Director of Creative Enterprise at Artworks. "Finding the right person or firm who can visually represent your company is a bit like finding the right mate. Rather than spending weeks scheduling interviews, this event facilitates those first interactions, saving both the entrepreneur and the designer time and resources."

The event is scheduled from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on October 3. Spaces are still available for both entrepreneurs and designers who want to participate. You can find a simple application form for entreprenuers and application form for designers at the Springboard website. Applications are due September 25 by 5 p.m.

By Sarah Whitman
Sarah is Managing Editor of SoapboxMedia.com.

Sunrise Advertising begins a new day, unveils new branding

Sunrise Advertising, in line with their tenth year anniversary, has unveiled a new look and positioning designed to better reflect their expertise with established brands. The full-service marketing and advertising agency, located in downtown Cincinnati, has rolled out the rebranding throughout the agency’s collateral and unveiled their new website in August. This marks the first time in the company’s history that they have gone through such a process.
“As we prepared for our tenth year in business, we spent a considerable amount of time evaluating our corporate direction and our greatest opportunity for continued growth and success,” explains CEO Brian McHale. “Strategic planning is about making choices—it’s probably more important to agree on what you’re NOT going to do as it is to decide what you will do as a company.”
The new positioning, dubbed "Energizing Established Brands," calls out the agency’s specific area of expertise.
“At Sunrise, we pride ourselves in our ability to help give everyone’s favorite brands succinct messaging and a relatable personality with their key audiences,” McHale says. “It’s only appropriate that we also re-energize our look and feel to reinforce our expertise in helping companies who want to maximize their reach in a timely, relevant way.”
Sunrise’s clients include Skyline Chili, Cintas, US Bank, the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network and more.
“We have a strategic process called a New Day Process that we used to guide us,” McHale says. “Throughout our history, we have had a tremendous amount of success energizing established brands, so it is a natural place for us to live. It is also a position we can own, as we are the only ad agency in the country with this focus. It is a true differentiator for us.”
CEO McHale has owned the company since 2008, but has been in the marketing industry for 25 years. Previously, he worked on the production side in California for the NBC Network, working on TV shows like "The Tonight Show" and "Wheel of Fortune" before returning to the Midwest and getting into the ad agency business. He hasn’t looked back since.
“2014 is already shaping up to be a very interesting year for Sunrise,” McHale says. “It will be a year to continue to fine tune and focus the Sunrise brand. We also have several new clients that have recently committed to work with us, like Ashley Furniture Homestores and Morris Furniture, so next year will be a year where we will get to roll out our initial thinking for those brands. I’m looking forward to our brand’s continued evolution!”

Michael Sarason

Obscura to bring world-class mixology to downtown scene

As the energy around the city’s core continues to grow, Cincinnati will welcome a new addition to the downtown nightlife scene when Obscura opens this fall. The space, located at 645 Walnut street in close proximity to the Aronoff Center, the Contemporary Arts Center and the Westin Gallery, aims to attract the art community as well business community.
“Obscura reinterprets a forgotten classic—‘the cocktail lounge’—offering guests an ideal atmosphere to enjoy intimate conversation, artfully infused libations, elegantly presented aperitifs and sweets, and ambient music styles from around the globe selected to enhance the social experience,” says Courtney DeGeorge, Obscura Hospitality Director.
Obscura will place an emphasis on high-end mixology and, to that end, has enlisted the help of Benjamin Newby, a UK transplant who has made his mark as a mixologist and nightlife expert in Chicago over the last six years. Newby, whose eye for creativity and balance in his cocktails has earned him numerous accolades, was signed as the Hospitality and Cocktail Consultant for Obscura.
“Bringing in Benjamin to help with this project was truly serendipitous,” DeGeorge confesses. “Recruiting talent from outside Cincinnati proved to be much more difficult than originally anticipated—that is, until we met Benjamin. By bringing a cocktail expert of his caliber on board to consult, other mixologists from Chicago, Miami and New Orleans soon followed.”
“Once I had done my research and visited Cincinnati for myself I could see why the team had the perspective they had,” explains Newby. “It is an opportunity to bring a new nightlife experience to the downtown area and really add to the exciting growth and bursting culture that is happening throughout the city.”
Newby is excited not only to bring the latest trends mixology to Cincinnati, but also to honor the history that is already here.
Findlay Market is brilliant and will definitely be an influence on the menu,” Newby says. “It’s such a gift to have local produce, a tea shop and Colonel De's spices in such close proximity. As far as national trends reflected in Obscura, you can expect us to use fresh local produce, have juices pressed daily, syrups made fresh, artisanal liquors, handmade ice and more.”

Obscura is owned and operated by local entrepreneurs Scott Sheridan, Bill Foster and Anthony Huser.

For more information, visit www.obscuracincinnati.com.

By Michael Sarason

New commercial real estate firm fills gap in targeting minority-owned businesses

During his 15-year career in commercial real estate, J.R. Foster didn't see many faces like his in the industry.

As an African-American, Foster found the lack of diversity in commercial real estate particularly striking, considering the changing global marketplace. In many industry sectors, supplier and corporate diversity is considered a business advantage.

"Corporations are spending a great deal of money with minority- and women-owned businesses, but there is virtually zero spend in the corporate real estate space. There are very few minorities who go out and form their own companies after growing their knowledge base," says Foster, who's spent much of his career at Jones Lang LaSalle (formally The Staubach Company), Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan.

That's why this year Foster went out on his own and co-founded Robert Louis Group. The firm is one of the only Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certified commercial real estate firms in the country.

Foster's background includes corporate real estate leasing assignments, sales, acquisition, financing and M&A transactions. The company has a working partnership with Colliers International to provide its clients services globally.

Foster and his co-founder David Hornberger are working with independent real estate contractors and are in the process of growing their leadership team.

Just as corporations depend on diversity in hires and suppliers to grow their businesses, Foster believes diversity in commercial real estate can help companies reach an increasingly diverse consumers base.

The firm offers brokerage, marketing, financing, property management and other services.

"We're not only focused on real estate, but the way our clients do businesses. We take into account the design of space, strategic locations and business objectives," Foster says.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Local startup offers consumers chance to Kapture every moment

If you’ve ever had a brilliant idea, serendipitous conversation or inspirational moment, only to be thwarted by the inability to write down what was said, your worries may be coming to an end.
Kapture, a new wearable audio recording wristband, allows you to save and share what was just said. Buffering 24/7, the wristband saves only the last 60 seconds of audio with a tap of your hand.
“With Kapture, those you-just-had-to-be-there moments are actually available to share with others,” says Mike Sarow, co-founder of Kapture. “Rich conversation can now take a higher spot within our overall communication mix.”
Since the wristband’s recorder is constantly running, users don’t have to worry about disrupting a moment by getting out a smart phone. The device records over itself after each 60-second interval, allowing the user to save only the moments they wish to remember.
“If you never tap the product (there are no buttons or screens - only a tap interface), nothing is ever saved,” Sarow explains. “We want nothing to do with big data or continuous recording. We are about the good stuff.”
Founded here in Cincinnati in 2011 by Mike Sarow and Matthew Dooley, Kapture launched a Kickstarter campaign last week in an effort to gain support from consumers and create a groundswell around the new technology. The campaign runs through October 2, 2013, and seeks to raise $150,000 to help launch the product worldwide. Following the Kapture Kickstarter campaign, the device will go into production, with a planned launch to the public in March 2014.
“Most startups will tell you fund-raising never ends,and because we bit off a tremendously complex project, we're in the same boat," Sarow says.
Sarow and Dooley attribute much of their ability to secure funding and grow their business thus far to being a part of the emerging entrepreneurial scene in Cincinnati and tapping into all of its resources.
“It might be the best part of starting a company in Cincinnati,” Sarrow says. “It is a very closeknit group willing to help at every turn. Cincytech was our first investor and is leading our seed stage funding round. The Brandery has continued to give us ad hoc guidance along the way, and we are now a project working out of Cintrifuse. We love the support Cincinnati has offered, and we love the partnerships we have in place.”
As Kapture has continued to grow, more and more people are taking notice. In less than a week, the Kickstarter campaign has reached more than one third of the target goal and the company has found itself on the front page of the highly touted tech website Mashable. To find out more about Kapture, visit the Kapture Facebook page.

Michael Sarason

World traveler Luisa Mancera lands in Cincinnati, joins Roadtrippers

Chicago, Mexico City, London, Argentina, Spain. Despite what it may look like, this is not a bucket list of cities/countries to travel to. Rather, it is a list of all of the places that Luisa Mancera has called home before returning this past June to Cincinnati to work as the lead designer at Roadtrippers, a Cincinnati-based startup that helps users discover, plan and book the best road trips customized to their own individual preferences.
“For many years, I was always the one in my friend group that was leaving,” Mancera says. She lived in Mexico City for the past three years, working as a designer for a few different companies before eventually teaming up with her cousin to start their own branding and design studio there called Malaca.
“Life in Mexico City was very fast-paced, and I enjoyed befriending people from all over the world,” Mancera recounts. “But it was also very transient, and I think that’s what got to me. I wanted something a little more stable.”
Having grown up in Cincinnati from age 8 through 17, Mancera considers her roots to be here in Cincinnati. “I was back in April for a wedding, and at that point I was considering coming back to Cincinnati for the summer, working remotely and just getting the lay of the land to see how I felt here.”
One of the things she put on her to-do list while in town was to check out the Brandery, which she had not only read about online, but also heard good things from friends.
“I spoke with (Brandery office manager) Mike Bott, and he offered me a free place to work at their office because he thought I could potentially be a resource to the startups there,” Mancera says. “Soon after that ,James Fisher, who started Roadtrippers, was looking to hire a designer and went through the Brandery to look. Mike put us in touch and it just snowballed from there.”
Fast forward to the present, and Mancera is now living in Cincinnati for the first time since her teenage years. “Even though I was excited to come back, I was also a little bit weary,” she admits. “I thought that it might be a little boring or uninteresting, but it’s been very much the opposite. There’s a diversity of experience here that I was not expecting.”
“The biggest surprise is just how incredibly welcoming people are here. … And I think that’s the biggest difference between Cincinnati and anywhere else I’ve lived,” she says.
Mancera has jumped right into the thick of things with Roadtrippers and is happy to be part of a team that is constantly developing new ideas that challenge her along the way.

“Right now, we’re doing a lot of user interface design, which is actually new to me, but James knows a lot about it. It is really exciting work, and we’re growing very quickly. It’s neat to be a part of that. I think it will be a cool process to be a part of the transition from scruffy little startup to something that’s a little more structured, organized and grown up. I feel like that’s sort of what I’m going through as a person too,” Mancera says with a chuckle.
Mancera is also looking forward to witnessing the continued growth of the city and hopes that it continues to bring more young people into the fold. “I’d like to see people from other parts of the country moving to Cincinnati. I think it adds to this scene," she says. "If someone from a city like Seattle is moving to Cincinnati, it’s a big deal because it means there’s something here that’s catching the interest of people on a national level. It’s exciting to think about.”

If and when that person makes the move, you can count on Luisa to plan them the best road trip possible.

By Michael Sarason

Rock Paper Scissors to build on Smartfish Studio's artistic past

Smartfish Studio & Sustainable Supply is planning to make a big splash soon by expanding it offerings beyond its signature footwear and art supplies.

The studio’s owner, Alisha Budkie, has decided to back away from the day-to-day management of the shop and instead focus on her line of handmade shoes and sandals, Smartfish Footwear. The interior of the store, which is located at 1301 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine, will soon be renovated and will become Rock Paper Scissors.  

“We’re not changing Smartfish Studios,” says Lindsay Nehls, co-founder of Rock Paper Scissors. “We’re building on it.”

Nehls, visual artist, partnered with Adam Petersen, a musician and central figure in the local arts community known as the Marburg Collective. The two have exciting plans for their new venture.

While Smartfish Footwear will still be available for sale at Rock Paper Scissors, Budkie has plans to study the making of footwear internationally. She will still be involved with the store, just not as directly as before.

On top of local art on the walls, the team at Rock Paper Scissors looks to provide a nurturing atmosphere for local music— albums will be for sale, along with band T-shirts and posters.

“An opportunity presented itself quite fortuitously,” says Petersen. “Our long-term vision, beyond it simply being music and merchandise consignment, is for [Rock Paper Scissors] to become an informational center for anyone looking to learn about particular Cincinnati-bands. We’ll compile lists of venues and bands and arrange it so everyone’s adequately represented.”

Gallery showings, workshops and other artistic events will continue to be held in the location.

Smartfish Studio will have a transitional Final Friday event Aug. 30. The shop will be closed Sept. 1-7 for Rock Paper Scissors to get settled, and the shop will officially be open for business Sunday, Sept. 8.

If you would like to contribute to Rock Paper Scissors’
Indiegogo fundraising campaign, with all proceeds going toward essential inventory and accoutrement, make sure to donate before time runs out.

By Sean Peters

Metro now offers stored-value cards to riders

Many city-dwellers are continuously faced with the arduous task of budgeting their quarters between two priorities: bus fare and laundromats. While both woes can be remedied with a little planning, some people are forever caught in the cycle of rifling through their pockets at a moment’s notice to either catch the bus or feed the washing machine. But Cincinnatians have been presented with a new method of relieving these tribulations with the new Metro stored-value cards.

The cards can be purchased in prepaid increments of $10, $20 and $30 from Metro’s sales office. They work just like cash in any bus-related payment situations, including transfers and multiple riders. Metro’s stored-value cards are replacing the 10-ride Zone 1 tickets, although those will be honored until the end of 2013.

For those familiar with bus fare rates and simple mathematics, however, things don’t quite add up: with normal inner-city fares set at $1.75, the prepaid increments of $10, $20 and $30 won’t deduct even portions, leaving some untouchable funds on the cards, as they are incapable of being recharged with additional cash. If your card’s balance cannot pay the full fare, the difference can be paid in cash or with an additional stored-value card when paying at the front of the bus.

While it might be possible to budget your stored-value card so as not to have any residual funds before it is redeemed, this discernible anomaly might prove problematic for local bus riders who might be better off with the 30-day rolling pass, which is good for unlimited travel in a zone of your choice for a 30-day period.

The new stored-value cards are available for purchase at Metro’s sales office, which is located in the Mercantile Building arcade downtown, weekdays 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

By Sean Peters

The Happy Maladies want YOU to write their next album

The Happy Maladies has issued an open invitation for composers of all levels to submit original pieces of music for the band to interpret.

The project is titled “MUST LOVE CATS,” and it will be an album of five compositions. The tunes will be featured not only on a professional studio-produced album, but in performances across the Midwest (including Cincinnati). A booklet will also be made, which will profile each of the five selected composers.

“We’ll be accepting any kind of composition until January 1, 2014,” says violinist and vocalist Eddy Kwon in the band’s recently released YouTube video that officially kicked off the exciting new endeavor.

The band, which is comprised of founding members Benjamin Thomas, Peter Gemus, Stephen Patota and Kwon, utilizes the violin, double-bass, guitars, mandolin and banjo.

“We really don’t want composers to try to ‘fit’ our sound, or limit themselves to what they think these instruments sound like,” says Kwon. “We’re really willing to do anything.”

Jazzy, folksy and classically trained, the unique group is hard to classify, but infinitely easy and enjoyable to hear. In the band’s five-year career, they have explored so many genres that they’ve developed an omnipotent musical identity.

“All of us are really, really supportive and advocates for new music,” says Kwon. “We are hoping this project can be a new model for the way composers and bands and performers interact and work together.” 

By Sean Peters

HCDC launches Business Retention Council with 30K Duke Energy grant

The Hamilton County Development Company is tapping local Hamilton County authorities to identify and aid businesses that are ripe for growth or in danger of leaving the area.

With a $30,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, HCDC launched a Business Retention Council. The Council allows HCDC to take a more proactive approach to business growth and retention, says HCDC President David Main.

The Council is comprised of economic development and other officials from most of Hamilton County's cities and suburbs. It held its first meeting this month.

"We are putting together a list of businesses we feel have the potential for expansion or may be at risk of leaving," Main says. "We want these business to stay in their communities. We hate reading in the papers that businesses left or went out of business when we could have done something about it."

HCDC is a 30-year-old nonprofit business development agency. The Norwood-based organization runs a business incubator, and is a small business lender.

HCDC has reached out to businesses in the past, but the Duke grant will allow for a more formal business retention program. Retention efforts are crucial to the local economy, Main says.

"Business expansion and retention tends to be overlooked, but it counts for 80 percent of job creation in any community," he says. "It's important to retain, and if possible, expand existing businesses."

Besides connecting with businesses, the Council wants to create an "early warning" system to alert members of any Hamilton County business that is facing potential challenges. The Council wants to find a way to find businesses before they leave or shut down.

Resources the Council could offer businesses include lending opportunities, business counseling, and marketing and sales support. The Council also wants to facilitate open communication with local government agencies.

"We can't always make a difference, but we want to at least have the chance to do something if a business is considering leaving or in danger of closing," Main says.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

MoveMX to innovate mobile gaming

Cincinnati is home to MoveMX, a video game development team that is creating motion-responsive games for mobile devices.

While current generation console gaming platforms already have the ability to recognize body movement in relation to their game’s generated characters and environments, MoveMX is determined to bring that same vitality and energy to tablets and cell phones. By utilizing the devices’ built-in cameras, the games can be controlled through body movement.

MoveMx was created to provide a more immersive mobile gameplay experience,” says Zak Nordyke, founder of MoveMX. “We wanted to give mobile gamers the opportunity to use their bodies as the gamepad. We didn't like the idea of young gamers craning their necks and tapping buttons as the only way to enjoy content.”

Nordyke’s team is currently developing its first title, “The Chronicles of Glover.” It will be an action platform game centered around a young man named Glover who discovers mysterious body armor that grants him heightened abilities. The game is currently in demo stages and is slated to be available to play late August.

Dedicated to stimulating gamers beyond the simple pressing of buttons, MoveMX is lending a hand to the mobile industry by innovating its current technology.

We wanted to bring the motion gaming experience to mobile,” says Nordyke. "It allows users to play movement tracking games everywhere.”

Healthier and more physically engaging than traditional gamepad-controlled video games of yesteryear, motion-tracking with video games is a step (or swing of the hip) in the right direction for the often sedentary video game industry. 

By Sean Peters

Innovative EPA water challenge offers cash prizes for sewer solutions

The region's fifth annual Cincinnati Innovates competition comes with a federal twist, a global challenge and a $10,000 prize opportunity. 

By partnering with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Innocentive, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District and Northern Kentucky's Sewer District 1, the newly announced Water Challenge competition focuses on the development of low-cost, low-maintenance sensors able to monitor sewer overflows. 

Sewer overflows, which spill untold gallons of raw sewage into waterways after heavy rainfalls, remain a major challenge for cities and a major barrier to compliance with Clean Water Act regulations. Cincinnati Innovates founder Elizabeth Edwards explains this first-ever Cincinnati Innovates/government initiative:

Why is the sewer system ripe for innovation and why Cincinnati?
Cincinnati, like many other major metros, is faced with major infrastructure improvement costs to maintain our 100+ year old sewer system.

Is this the first time you've partnered with a governmental agency and what do you think that signals? Why do you think the EPA is reaching out to basically "crowd source" innovations in how we handle water overflows?
This is the first time Cincinnati Innovates has partnered with a government agency. 

The EPA's Water Research Lab here in Cincinnati is one of the largest in the world. This partnership is just another example of the EPA's efforts to commercialize water technologies in the region.

Contests spur innovation. The EPA's partnership with Innocentive and Cincinnati Innovates is just one way the EPA is sourcing innovation.

How did this partnership come about and what was the process? 
We've been working for several months together with Innocentive to create a prize and a process that makes sense. In defining the prize, we worked with water utility experts on both sides of the river.

What impact could this competition, and the products it support, have on the people of Cincinnati--and beyond?
This competition could save Cincinnati and cities like it millions of dollars a year - and improve safety and water quality. 

The competition is open and online now.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter

Gaslight leads effort to create training program for Ruby app developers

Tech talent in Cincinnati is in high demand but in short supply in some areas. And as the local tech startup economy grows, so does the need for cutting-edge developer talent.

One local mobile and web app development company is leading an effort to develop talent in its corner of the tech world. Blue Ash-based Gaslight is teaming up with Cincinnati-area industry and entrepreneurial leaders to start a training program for app developers using the Ruby on Rails platform.

Gaslight specializes in developing apps through Ruby on Rails. The growing company, which has more than a dozen developers, creates apps and other software applications for growing startups and established brands.

Gaslight co-founder and Ruby developer Bill Barnett says the idea is a practical one. Ruby has become a popular app development platform, and it's become harder for Ruby developers, including Gaslight, to keep up with client demand.

"There is a need for Ruby on Rails support that the market is not meeting at the moment," he says.

The training program is aimed at bringing new developers into the field, and would last about six months. This type of web development school is emerging in several cities across the United States—gSchool in Denver is one of the best known. GSchool is a model for Cincinnati to follow, Barnett says.

"We want to create an avenue for people who want to get into software development, and maybe come from other disciplines," Barnett says. "They might be a recent college graduate who has a degree in medicine or law but has an entrepreneurial inkling. They could be returning from overseas, transitioning from a military career."

Gaslight is still in the planning stages, but it has a record of leadership in the Cincinnati web community, and has hosted several developer Meetups and is the lead organizer of the Queen City Merge conference. Gaslight is working with a number of interested groups to get it off the ground, including NeoGirl Develop It and The Brandery.

No firm date has been set for the training program's launch, but a goal is to start a group of 20-25 students by late this year or early next.

Find out more about Gaslight and what it has to offer at Web School Cincinnati.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Cincinnati Digital Xchange explores latest strategies, techniques in digital marketing

Top digital marketing trends, techniques and strategies are ever-evolving. New tools, networks, devices and technologies make the rapidly changing space competitive and dynamic. You master one (or five) techniques, and then a new one comes along.

Keeping up with those tools and getting the best out of them is the foundation of a new group, Cincinnati Digital Xchange, which meets downtown once a month to explore the ins and outs of the digital marketing space.

The Xchange was founded by a group of local digital marketing experts as an open place where people can learn and swap ideas. It began as a web analytics group but expanded to include other dimensions of digital marketing as well.

"We decided we wanted to bring in more people in the digital industry," says Xchange's co-founder Russ Shirley, a digital marketing consultant. "We'd focus on social, local, mobile—anything trending or coming up."

The group meets the last Tuesday of each month at Cintrifuse, the region's newest corporate-backed startup investment fund and incubator.

The group has had some impressive, on-trend speakers, including inaugural speaker J.B. Kropp, Brandery co-founder and Twitter V.P. of Strategic Partnerships (and Cincinnatian), who spoke about engagement and how brands are leveraging the platform.

Other speakers include marketing pros from Cincinnati powerhouses like dunnhumby, Possible, Empower MediaMarketing, Rockfish Interactive and Procter & Gamble.

The group has grown quickly—some months, meetings attract more than 100 people. The meetings are free, and Xchange receives major support from Cintrifuse, Empower MediaMarketing and CincyTech.

"The main goal is kind of self-serving," Shirley says. "I wanted to get information that I want to learn, find out things that are not usually accessible to anyone who is outside of an agency."

The next meeting is set for July 30. Stay connected with Cincinnati Digital Xchange through its Meetup page.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

OTR Line collects, posts wait times at popular downtown restaurants

Scott Miller doesn’t like waiting in lines. Not for his driver’s license. Not at the doctor’s office. And not for a meal at one of his favorite restaurants in Over the Rhine.

So Miller and fellow software geek Scott Avera designed a new mobile app to leverage the power of crowd-sourcing and help diners get a real-time sense of the minutes they could spend waiting for tables in the city’s popular urban restaurant scene.

After calling OTR restaurants hourly for weeks to gather preliminary wait-time data, OTR Line launced last Friday to the public in both Apple and Android versions. It's a simple, streamlined app that offers information and a process for gathering in put in clear, easy-to-follow formats.

“The app calculates average wait times based upon history,” explains Miller, who grew up in Anderson Township and now lives in Blue Ash. “But we really want people to report. As people report wait times, the app gets better. The more input you get, the better predictability.”

Avera, a Springboro native who now lives in Hyde Park, brings his experience as former owner of Ascent Solutions to the new business venture. 

“We have been software entrepreneurs all of our lives,” says Miller, 52. 

The key to OTR Line’s success lies in users’ willingness to log wait times, he says. 

The app allows users to scroll through a list of eateries and compare wait times, and it also offers space for restaurants to place ads. “The restaurant will get to play the game as well,” he says.

Miller and Avera plan to approach restaurateurs with OTR Line window stickers later this week; the free app is available for download now.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter.

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