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SocialPoint simplifies online interaction

SocialPoint is a new web-based service that combines major forms of social media into one feed. Users can control what services they’re accessing with simple clicks, which helps make the management of personal profiles much simpler.

Created in Cincinnati, SocialPoint was developed by a local team of techies who wanted to make the social media experience more efficient.

“We found that we were spending a lot of time every day checking in with our friends on all our various social media sites, and that we needed a solution for ourselves, so we developed SocialPoint.Me,” says Chris Burnett, SocialPoint’s vice president of marketing.

SocialPoint makes it very easy to navigate between different profiles on connected accounts, which still provide the standard features offered by the original sites. For example, if you wanted to check your Facebook account, SocialPoint gives you the option to filter specific categories. If you are just interested in seeing photos uploaded by your friends, you’d select the preset on the easy-to-navigate sidebar. Your search can be as specific as you want. Plus, you're still able to chat with your Facebook friends with SocialPoint. 

Similar features are also available for Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare and AT&T.

While most social media apps are aimed at business owners who are more interested in tidying up their “online estates,” SocialPoint is intended for personal users who want to continue sharing and keeping up with friends in the many ways the expanding idea of “social media” allows.

A mobile app will soon be available, along with an early summer update with additional social media customization options.

SocialPoint’s office is in the heart of downtown, and all of their funding comes from Chicago West Pullman LLC, which is headquartered at 600 Vine Street. 

By Sean Peters

Dooley Media serves as one-stop shop for companies' online presences

Xavier University graduate Matthew Dooley started his company, Dooley Media, in 2011. And on March 18, Dooley made his first full-time hire, Kirsten Lecky, whose focus is on client management.
Dooley Media specializes in all things social media, from strategy development and execution to measurement and education. It brings together some of the best and most creative minds in graphic design, development, copywriting and videography to work on social media campaigns.
“Our goal is to take what companies already do well and bring it online to shareable platforms that extend the reach and impact of their brands,” Dooley says.
After graduating from college, Dooley was a social media strategist for a local insurance company. As time went on, Dooley’s interest in social media grew, as did his client list, which he was managing on top of his insurance job and a course he teaches at XU about social media. After five years, he decided to take a leap of faith and start his own business.
Dooley Media works with both small businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

“While larger companies are blazing trails and have great success stories about using social media, smaller companies are underserved,” says Dooley. “They’re the ones that need the most help when it comes to social media. They don’t have the technical know-how or the money to invest in a social media strategist. It’s a unique opportunity for us to service them.”
Dooley comes from a family of entrepreneurs—his aunt and uncle both own businesses in Cincinnati, and his uncle was actually his first client back in 2010. And Dooley isn’t a stranger to starting businesses: He and his twin sister opened Flix, a DVD rental at XU, during their undergraduate years. He’s also part of nugg-it, a Cincinnati-based startup that is working on a wearable tech device that records “nuggets” of conversations, which will launch later this year.
“Dooley Media’s goal is to serve local businesses and optimize the conversations of those businesses, which will allow them to compete on a level playing field with larger companies,” Dooley says.
Dooley Media dabbles in all types of social media: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedInYouTubePinterest, blogging, etc. But the platform differs from client to client, depending on the audience they’re trying to reach, says Dooley.
And when Dooley Media sends out proposals to potential clients, they do something a little out of the ordinary. “One of my friends does cakes, and we send along a customized cake with the company’s logo and the phrase ‘Life is sweeter with Dooley Media,’” Dooley says.

To him, it’s a way to get the conversation started, and puts the ball in the client’s court.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Proposal could boost solar panel manufacturing, reduce city's carbon footprint

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls introduced a motion that could change the way residents and businesses pay for powering their spaces with solar energy.

She says the benefits are two-fold: increasing the demand for solar panel manufacturing and lowering the city's reliance on fossil fuels.

This plan is one of several energy-saving initiatives introduced since City Council adopted the Green Cincinnati Plan in 2008. That plan included a goal of one in every five Cincinnati buildings incorporating rooftop panels fueled by solar power by 2028.

"There's an emerging solar manufacturing sector here, and we would be creating a financing mechanism that would allow the demand to emerge for solar energy," Qualls says. "It's not a viable option for many property owners right now."

Qualls introduced a measure that directs the city to look into working with local environmental organizations like Green Umbrella, the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to help create a Property Assisted Clean Energy, or PACE, financing program.

PACE programs is a public/private initiative that are enabled by legislatures in nearly three dozen states across the country—including Ohio—which help business and homeowners pay for energy upgrades to existing buildings. Typically, participating property owners can finance those upgrades as a property tax assessment for up to 20 years.

"It's tax neutral, promotes 'going green' and reduces our carbon footprint," Qualls says.

The city has used the property tax assessment mechanism before for property owners who have been responsible for other large fixes, Qualls says.

"It has been done to pay for costly repairs over time—that's the same principle PACE follows," she says.

Ohio passed its PACE law in 2009. In 2012, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority issued the first PACE bonds in Ohio for a project to upgrade the City of Toledo’s municipal buildings.

Cincinnati must pass its own legislation for a local PACE program. Quall's motion directs the administration to bring the legislation back to Council within 60 days.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Applied Decision Science aims to improve decision-making

Applied Decision Science is a field-based research and development company that specializes in the the study and development of new ways to improve decision-making in high stress situations.

Founded by Steve Wolf, along with Laura Militello and Dr. Gary Klein—two authorities in the fields of human cognition and the budding study of naturalistic decision-making—Applied Decision Science is dedicated to improving the choices made by people in arduous situations (medics, soldiers, firefighters, etc).

By obtaining their data firsthand from the field and by interviewing pertinent subjects, Applied Decision Science can create protocol applications that enhance the chances of successful and beneficial decisions. This is a distinct difference from lab-based research, which separates the researcher from the core of their study.

While their military work is confidential, the work the company has done for the healthcare sector continues to enhance peoples’ lives. Their most recent efforts for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention involve an application that helps healthcare providers identify patients at a higher risk of colorectal cancer, one of the deadliest iterations of the disease.     

Rooted in Wolf’s work of studying the potential for enhanced decision-making, and coupled with Dr. Militello and Klein’s expertise, Applied Decision Science was started largely thanks to the Hamilton County Development Company in Norwood. Through the business incubator, Applied Decision Science has overcome many of the struggles similarly sized startups encounter.

By Sean Peters

Talent Management LLC releases Talent Snapshot

A local company has just released a web-based employee evaluation tool that goes beyond mere checklists. Talent Snapshot is designed for mid-sized companies that are looking to develop existing talent, which is specific to job type. Think of it as employee evaluation 2.0.

"It's really designed for employee development," says Jackie Messersmith, president of Anderson-based Talent Management LCC. "It sets benchmarks, such as 'Where am I today and what do I need to work on?' Employees can be evaluated quarterly, semi-annually or however often you need."

The seven-year-old HR consultant company created Talent Snapshot from its real-world experience with clients. Many companies where dissatisfied with assessment tools currently in the market, Messersmith says.

"There are various tools and evaluations out there, and usually they're done because it's a company policy," she says. "They don't take a long-term view. It has nothing to do with training or coaching, or what you need to do to become a better employee. At the core of the system is how to make employees become more productive. It looks at competencies required for certain jobs, and areas that people can shore up."

Talent Management is a three-person partnership, and Messersmith has more than 16 years experience in workflow improvement projects as president of Workflow Dynamics. Vice President of Product Development and Vendor Relationships Allan Payne was a top human resources executive for Cincom Systems and Kahn’s. And Vice President of Marketing and IT Infrastructure Mike Meszaros is a software and marketing entrepreneur who created PPC Communications.

Talent Snapshot is the company's first software product. It was released in January, and the company is working to sell it through an affiliate network of HR-related professionals.

The company, which has been self-funded, is also preparing for an investment round, Messersmith says.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Cincinnati Chapter of CreativeMornings hosts event March 22

A small group of creatives have launched a Cincinnati chapter of CreativeMornings, which will host its first monthly breakfast and lecture March 22 at 21c Museum Hotel.

CreativeMornings was founded in 2009 in New York City by Tina Roth Eisenberg who owns Swissmiss, a design studio and blog. The concept brings together a wide variety of creative people—from solo entrepreneurs to large agency talent—once a month for breakfast.

Each chapter is organized by volunteers and supported by the community, which includes donated meeting space, coffee and food. Each month's breakfast features a global topic (March's is Reuse) and each chapter invites a speaker to talk on that topic. The lectures are recorded and streamed on the main CreativeMornings website.

CreativeMornings is growing, with nearly 50 chapters around the world. Among the newest are those in Cincinnati, Lima, Warsaw and Dublin. You can see the Cincinnati chapter's video application here.

Jeremy Thobe, from web design firm US Digital Partners, is the lead organizer for the Cincinnati chapter. CreativeMornings is a way to get creative folks across industries together before the workday starts, he says.

"There are a lot of events around here that are industry-specific or sales pitchy," says Thobe. "A lot of them are in the evenings. We thought this was a way to start the day on a high note, and meet people around our industries. We are very interested in what surrounds what we do, and that's harder for us to find here."

A group of about eight people are helping get the Cincinnati chapter off the ground. They've chosen this month's speaker, Bill Donabedian, co-founder of the MPMF and Bunbury Music Festival.

Organizers plan to bring in speakers from a wide variety of professional backgrounds from music, education, healthcare, writing and science. The breakfasts are free, but space is limited, so you have to register. The first breakfast has already sold out, so you'll have to wait for the next one or add yourself to the waitlist.

"We're only limited by our space—we want to keep this as accessible as possible," Thobe says.

CreativeMornings Cincinnati is seeking additional volunteers, speakers and sponsors. If you're interested, you can find the organizers online or by Facebook and Twitter.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Cincinnati-based Infintech partners with Liturgical Publications to grow client base

At the end of last year, Liturgical Publications acquired Infintech’s PledgeConnect service, which is the company’s online donation division for the religious world. Through the partnership, Infintech will continue its work with its current clients, but will also be offering credit card processing to the 100,000 businesses that advertise in LPi publications (mainly church bulletins).
Over the next eight months, Infintech will be converting its customers from PledgeConnect to LPi’s WeShare, which has more bells and whistles than PledgeConnect, says Ryan Rybolt, president of Infintech.
“We want to see our company grow through marketing our services and getting into the organizations that LPi supports,” says Rybolt. “It’s the perfect partnership because it allows Infintech to do what we’re best at—credit card processing—and it allows LPi to do what they do best, which is its new donation platform.”
WeShare doesn’t just allow for donations to multiple bank accounts, but it also allows churches and other nonprofits to sell event tickets, to accept credit or debit cards without the cost and risk associated with managing a merchant account, and to simplify financial reporting for the church and the individual who made the donation.
Milwaukee-based LPi was founded in 1972, and since then has offered churches and nonprofits across the United States custom communication solutions. It has worked with over 4,000 congregations and organizations, plus 100,000 businesses around the country.
Infintech, founded in 2005, is ranked as one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies. Infintech’s payment processing solutions include retail, commercial card, mobile and online processing, and supports integration with nearly all POS systems, smartphone payments and e-commerce and shopping cart integration.
If you’re a current PledgeConnect customer or you’re interested in learning more about online donations, visit LPi’s website, where you can sign up to attend a webinar about WeShare.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Intern in Ohio program launches today, connects students with internships

Today, Detroit-based Digerati launches its Intern in Ohio program to the public, which is sponsored by the University of Toledo. Like eHarmony, the program uses an advanced matching algorithm to match students with internship opportunities.
Intern in Ohio is free to both students who are looking for internships and businesses who want to post internships. To register, students and employers visit Intern in Ohio’s website to sign up and create a profile or post internship opportunities. Students fill out a short questionnaire about their preferences, and employers share information about the position. The system then identifies the top seven matches for each student, as well as for each position. When the match is made, both the student and employer are notified, and they must show interest before any contact information is shared.
“We encourage diverse companies—large and small, for-profit and nonprofit, government and corporate,” says Wendy Pittman, director of Digerati’s Classroom to Career. “It’s a great chance for employers to broadcast their company and internship program across the state and reach a larger pool of applicants.”
Only companies in Ohio can post opportunities to the Intern in Ohio website, but all types of internships are welcome. There are posts for marketing, engineering and social media, among others, says Pittman.
The program is open to all students who live in Ohio, whether they’re in-state or out-of-state students. Research shows that not only do internships often lead employment offers after graduation, but that students are more likely to remain in an area where they held and internship.
“This is the first replication of the Classroom to Career technology from Michigan to Ohio,” says Pittman. “Experiential learning is a game-changer; and we’re looking forward to working with smaller communities to make a difference.”
In 2011, Digerati launched its Intern in Michigan program, which has resulted in more than 127,000 matches and introductions between students and employers. Over 1,000 Michigan businesses have posted 4,824 internship opportunities, and 1,049 colleges and universities in the state use the site.
Full disclosure: Soapbox’s parent company, IMG, supplies content to Intern in Ohio on a contractual basis.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Busken OTR pop-up shop, low-cal treats grow business by reaching urban consumers

Busken, an 85-year-old Cincinnati baking institution, is reaching a younger, urban consumer with a new low-cal donut and modern marketing techniques.

Busken debuted its new Lite-Hearted donut on Valentine's Day. That day, the company gave away 16,000 of the heart-shaped glazed donuts at its 10 stores, regional United Dairy Farmers and Remke-Biggs markets. The company has also set up a pop-up shop on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine, where they give away free donuts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights to people who are soaking up the neighborhood's emerging night life.

Busken developed the Lite-Hearted donut as an alternative to its original glazed donut. The Lite-Hearted donut has half the calories (140) of the original, with zero trans fats and zero saturated fats. Busken President and CEO Dan Busken says the donut follows the standard set by the bakers's reduced-fat skinny cookie. The iced cookie launched three years ago and has sold one million servings, he says.

The key to the cookie's success was retaining the original flavor in a lower fat version.

"When we launched the skinny cookie, we had such amazing results," Busken says. "We're in the business of flavor and indulgence and carbs, and people are really shying away from carbs or are eating less of them. We wanted to develop a product we could sell that had the full flavor of the original iced cookie, with less fat and calories."

Originally, the bakery believed their traditional customers would buy more of the lighter cookies, substituting it for the indulgent treats. But something happened they didn't expect.

"Actually, a whole new consumer started buying our cookies," Busken says. "They still have the desire to indulge, but in a healthier way. We thought, If we can do that with a cookie, why don't we do it with a donut. We are really convinced people can't tell the difference."

The donut pop-up shop is a way to let consumer's taste for themselves. It's set up as an art gallery, and has a fun little video booth where pop-up shoppers can record video snippets that will be posted on the Busken's YouTube channel. But it's set to close March 16, so get them while you can.

"(OTR) is really a hip, growing part of Cincinnati," Busken says. "We're looking for a way to be part of that and to reach the type of people visiting the restaurants there. We really are trying to reach a younger demographic."

The company also reached out to local bloggers who sampled the donuts and wrote about them. It's given the company a lot of web press.

The donuts will be sold year-round, and plans are to add more flavors to the low-cal lineup, Busken says.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Cincinnati enters wearable tech market with Nugg-it recording band

Wearable tech is emerging as the "next big thing" in consumer technology. And a trio of Cincinnati entrepreneurs are developing Nugg-it, a wristband that will easily record snippets of everyday conversation, and investors are taking notice.

Nugg-it has raised a total of $250,000 raised from CincyTech and Design 2 Matter, a Silicon Valley-based industrial design firm. That's part of an ongoing $600,000 investment seed round. Design 2 Matter is also designing and building the device.

"[Design 2 Matter] has a very successful track record of bringing products from concept to shelf," says Nugg-it's co-founder and social media entrepreneur Matthew Dooley.

Nugg-it is meant to be worn 24 hours a day. It records live conversations on a 60-second loop, continuously saving them in one-minute "nuggets." To save a memorable part of a conversation, the user touches the device to save the last minute of buffered memory. That recording can be sent to a smartphone, and through an app can be edited, saved and shared.

"It's a smaller, lighter weight band," says Dooley. "Right now, we are trying to focus a lot of attention on design. It has to be something that is stylish and comfortable to wear. A lot of the functionality is off the shelf, but we're putting it together in a new way."

Dooley is working with former Procter & Gamble brand marketer and engineer Mike Sarow to develop the device. Plans are to deliver the final concept in March, and introduce it to the market by December, Dooley says.

"It occurred to us that there are a lot of circumstances in life where we want to remember and share something that was just said—a clever phrase in a meeting, something adorable from our 3-year-old, words of wisdom from a mentor—but we can't 'capture' it," Sarow says. "Now you can."

Nugg-it is CincyTech's first consumer electronics device investment.

"With the rise of the Nike FuelBand and smartwatches such as Pebble, wearable technology is projected to be a $7 billion market by 2017," says CincyTech's Executive-in-Residence Doug Groh. "We expect Nugg-it to help drive that growth and to do for short audio files what Twitter has done for 140-character content."

By Feoshia H. Davis
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CAC brings OFFF back to town to inspire, fuel creativity

The Contemporary Arts Center will be playing host to the international creative conference OFFF, which is billed as a "post-digital culture festival," for the second year in a row.

OFFF is an event that encourages innovative and artistic thinkers to join together for collective inspiration. According to OFFF's website, participants will learn from “the most relevant artists of our time.”

“At a glance, what you notice first is the outstanding quality and the international perspective of the presenters,” says Molly O’Toole, director of communications and community engagement for the Contemporary Arts Center. “But it’s also the diversity of the audience. I’ve never been to an event or conference like this where the audience plays such a critical role in the experience.”

The presenters include an array of artists in many fields, “including illustrators, coders, motion graphic designers and more,” according to the event’s press release.

This year's featured presenters include artists James Paterson and James Victore; the acclaimed designer, filmmaker, author, designer and director Onur Senturk, who created animation and visual effects for several high-grossing films (his credits include The Dark Knight Rises).

Though the conference draws big names in the creative industry, its hosts are determined to make the event available to as many people as possible.

“It’s an affordable, accessible price point and fits with both the mission of OFFF and the CAC," says O'Toole. "It’s one of the reasons we felt strongly about bringing OFFF to Cincinnati. The level of access it affords is extraordinary. It’s an event where the region's impressive talent pool—eager students and new and seasoned professionals alike—can mingle and connect with each other and the international figures headlining the conference."

OFFF is an all-day event where creatives of all levels mix, mingle and share inspiration.

Tickets for the event are on sale here.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 6, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (doors and coffee at 8 a.m.)  
WHERE: Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati  
TICKETS: $50 ($30 student)

By Sean Peters

Post-iTunes launch, Impulcity is hiring

The discovery of a great local act or a hot new bar should be shared, says Impulcity founder Hunter Hammonds. Immediately.

And it is. Thousands of smartphone users have downloaded the mobile application of the Brandery-trained startup since it launched on iTunes early last week.

An update to the app could drop as early as Wednesday, which would bring significant improvements to the mobile aggregator of entertainment venues. And the new company is hiring, too. They're looking for an Android app developer and an "artist content intern"—someone to write content about venues and events.

Hammond’s team, which includes co-founder Austin Cameron and iOS developer Eric Ziegler, is fine-tuning a VIP program, which will Impulcity users to check-in at a venue and avoid cover charges or receive other VIP benefits. They’re working on more robust context for events, including the ability to play the music released by a new band and produce background on an entertainer or a venue. The app will offer rankings and suggestions based on users’ past choices and an interactive calendar for entertainment-seekers who plan ahead.

Hammonds and his team maintain strong partnerships with venues—they're always asking how they can make the app more useful. “People are tired of the traditional ways of finding stuff to do,” he says. Impulcity will evolve until it captures each city’s unique culture.

Impulcity's short history is one of long-into-the-night planning. Hammond’s team scrapped the first version of the app in September, and rewrote it in a four-day marathon coding session. Their retooled version received Brandery approval in October, and they continued to tweak it until their Feb. 12 launch in the iTunes App Store.

They've raised a reported $400,000 and are seeking new office space. “Our goal is to build, and to last,” Hammonds says. “We have no plans to be absorbed into anything else.” He’s still not sharing his revenue model, but said Impulcity will approach profit-making differently than other social media products.

“We’d love to hire fresh college kids, but universities are teaching them outdated stuff,” Hammonds says. Advice from Hammonds: Learn to make use of Objective-CJava and jQuery. And hurry. He really wants to find an Android developer to help them expand their reach.

By Gayle Brown

CDF's Create Jobs for USA campaign targets Walnut Hills, Pendleton

The Cincinnati Development Fund is soliciting donations to support urban redevelopment through the Create Jobs for USA program, but time is running out to make a difference.

Specificially, CDF wants to help local businesses in Walnut Hills and Pendleton through the targeted fundraising the crowd-sourcing opportunity provides.

“The funding will allow building owners to improve vacant storefronts,” says Jeanne Golliher, president and CEO of the CDF.

Golliher says the funding will help building owners lease their units at attractive rates, “which will lead to job creation and revitalization of street level business districts.” CDF hopes it will create a snowball effect that spreads through the targeted neighborhoods.

Create Jobs for USA was developed by Starbucks and the Opportunity Finance Network to restore and improve underserved urban areas that have suffered through tumultuous economic times. According to the program's website: “In one year, Create Jobs for USA has turned $15 million in donations into $105 million in loans to community businesses, creating or maintaining 5,000 jobs.”

CDF has raised $230,000 in loan capital that will go toward Create Jobs for USA.

“Our board decided that because it is a relatively small amount, we should focus on bringing life and jobs to vacant storefronts in one or two neighborhoods,” Golliher says. CDF's decision to focus on only a few areas will ultimately make a maximum impact in those neighborhoods.

Three loans have cleared in Walnut Hills that will help businesses capitalize off the reversion of McMillan and Taft Streets back to two-way roads. Discussions are underway for development in Pendleton in anticipation of the new casino, but no deal has yet been made.

Donations are being accepted through CrowdRise.com, a website developed by the OFN. The deadline is March 1.

“If you are one of those people who drive through these neighborhoods and ask ‘why don’t they do something about all this vacancy?’ This is your chance to be part of the change," says Goliher.  

By Sean Peters

Thinking outside the box: Home bakery turns Gail Yisreal into cake boss

Going on maternity leave changed Gail Yisreal’s life in more ways than having a new baby to take care of.
When she returned to work, Yisreal says she learned her position was no longer there, so she began to look for a different job.

As wife and mother to a blended family of nine children, she might bake up to 11 birthday cakes in a year. But she hadn’t considered turning her knack for kneading dough into earning dough until she baked a wedding cake for a couple from her family’s place of worship. Not only did they like the cake, they suggested she start selling them.
Listening to her fans, Yisreal founded A “Mother’s Touch” Cakes with the nurturing tagline, “Making fresh homemade cakes when you don’t have the time.” Celebrating her two-year anniversary as a registered business in August 2012, A “Mother’s Touch” features signature and custom made flavors of fresh, savory gourmet, organic and vegan cakes and cupcakes that are good—and good for you.
“I didn’t know anything about decorating, so I took a class to learn more decorating skills," Yisreal says. "And I was shocked to find out that 95 percent of the cakes you buy are box cakes—because everybody wants the decoration. I started doing some research about the trans-fats and artificial ingredients, and I vowed that everything I baked would always be natural and from scratch.”  
After working as a waitress for two years and in management at Starbucks for six years, Yisreal developed a love for coffee. She jokes that most ex-Starbucks managers feel they know enough about coffee to create their own line, which she actually did for A “Mother’s Touch.”
Having tried organic coffees with weak flavor profiles, she researched and found Dean’s Beans, a fair-trade pioneer that allowed her to design her own custom blends. Her signature A “Mother’s Touch” blend is made with Mexican and Indonesian beans and pairs with her carrot cake as an after-dinner coffee.
“I’m really proud of my coffee and the fact that it really was custom blended for what I wanted to complement my desserts,” Yisreal says. And, true to her mission to serve natural, sustainable goods, she says that her blends are 100 percent organic, fair-trade certified and are shade grown.
Being on the scene without a storefront hasn’t stopped Yisreal. Instead, she’s building her brand as the “cupcake lady” who networks everywhere and invites people to taste samples of her creations. Yisreal also tapped into hidden markets by hosting deals through social media.
“I did a Living Social promotion last year, which was huge,” Yisreal says. “That first day, I think I got 1,500 hits on my website, and probably about 85 deals, which I thought was really good for people who didn’t know who I was.”
And even though she sells more cakes today, the ease of transporting cupcakes built her clientele.
“When I first came out, because of my financial situation, literally, cupcakes were paying my rent,” she says. After she and her husband separated, she remembers what it was like to go from making an annual salary of $60,000 to less than $20,000 a year. But she doesn’t do it all alone.
“I have three almost-teenage girls; 12, soon to be 15 and 17, so they are my preppers,” Yisreal explains. “It’s hilarious because we’ll be in the kitchen and everybody has their big bonnets on, and they’re scraping carrots, mashing fruit, lining the liners. I have a girlfriend who I’ll sometimes sub-contract out to do deliveries. And if it’s a huge event—like for the Autism Foundation, I had to knock out 40 dozen cupcakes—I have two sisters, and at the time I had just split up with my husband so we were in literally an 800-square-foot apartment. The kitchen was all of maybe 150-square-feet, we put out six-foot tables and we were like an assembly line! It was hilarious, but we got it done. It was like an I Love Lucy episode!”
By Mildred Fallen

Ignite Cincinnati celebrates fast-pitch creativity

Ignite Cincinnati, which celebrated its eighth edition Jan. 30, is a fun, enlightening way to interact with creative locals.

Composed of presenters who share their ideas, accompanied only by slides and audio, Ignite Cincinnati takes its format from the larger event that is mirrored in cities across the nation. There’s simply not enough time in a creative informational seminar for everyone to have 15 minutes of fame these days, so Ignite Cincinnati trimmed it down to five. From business pitches to comedic farce, presenters’ subjects are not restricted to any specific themes.

“There have been so many memorable moments,” says Ignite Cincinnati’s organizer and producer, Joe Pantuso. “The most daring 'talk' of the evening was probably Daniel J. Lewis who stood on stage for five minutes and didn't talk.”

The title of Lewis’ presentation? "Five Minutes of Awkward Silence."
Of course, there are many (more enlightening) topics to enjoy. Pantuso says that, after eight events, Ignite Cincinnati has featured more than 100 talks.
“I first discovered the concept when I was doing research into what makes startup ecosystems effective in other towns,” says Pantuso, who heard about the Ignite series from a friend who’d experienced it in another town. “This was in 2009, before the new activity we have around startups in Cincinnati was catalyzed by Cintrifuse and the Brandery.”
Encouraged enough to scout for locations, he found success at the Know Theatre, in Over-the-Rhine.
“I never really know what is going to happen,” Pantuso says. “I have the presentation titles in hand…but I never know exactly what the speakers are going to say, or how the crowd is going to respond. This is probably my favorite aspect of the event, the thing that makes it magic for me.”

Anyone interested in participating in the next Ignite Cincinnati, visit the website at ignitecincinnati.com, where you’ll find all the information you’ll need to give your own presentation. Volunteers are also always welcome to help manage future events.

By Sean Peters
431 Downtown Articles | Page: | Show All
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