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Local entrepreneur invents new iPad case that doubles as battery, hotspot

A local entrepreneur recently revealed a new iPad case that expands wireless networking capabilities. The case, called FiiV, functions as a battery backup and enables users to insert a prepaid data SIM card to establish a WiFi hotspot. 
 
"I came up with this concept back in 2010 after getting an iPod touch for a Christmas gift," says FiiV founder Nathan Ellis. "And much like an iPad, it doesn't really work [to its full functionality] outside of a data connection or wireless network."
 
Ellis wanted to create a solution to purchasing multiple iPad accessories while maintaining the extra benefits, and also give customers the option to switch between wireless data carriers.
 
"The real value is the all-in-one solution. Customers are virtually spending around the same amount, if not less, than they would normally," Ellis says. Most folks don't actually get the choice once they get to a point where they don't like those data rates or terms. "
 
Other devices can also use FiiV's WiFi hotspots.
 
"[The WiFi network] is not just for the iPad connected to the actual case," Ellis says. "It also accommodates other devices as well: cell phones, laptops, other tablets that may be around. It also functions as battery backup."
 
Local design firm The Launch Werks designed the case, which will be released by the brand Viaggi. Ellis plans to launch an indiegogo campaign November 2. 
 
"The goal is to raise enough funds to go ahead and do an initial manufacturing run," Ellis says. 
 
If all goes as planned, Viaggi will launch the first line of FiiV cases by May 2015. Currently, the retail price is set at $149, and the product will come in red, white and black, and also navy blue and brown during the campaign. 

Zipscene announces new hires, renovation plans

Data analytics company Zipscene recently announced six new hires to its leadership team, in addition to its current office renovation plan downtown, which adds more than 10,000 square feet to its current space. Zipscene, which relocated from Short Vine in February, will soon occupy the entire ninth floor of the Gwynne Building on Main Street.
 
The Cincinnati-based company, which began in 2011, delivers data to restaurants nationally, focusing on restaurant specific data, as well as how and why people decide where they go out to eat.
 
"We have been doubling our headcount and revenue for the last three years, and it's been primarily driven by our client growth," says Tony Blankemeyer, Zipscene's director of strategic marketing. "A lot of that growth is on the technology side, as we build our development team."
 
With its recent success, Zipscene is now looking to expand its clientele and serve the growing number of restaurants looking to partner.
 
"The more clients we bring on board, the larger the demand there is, the more we want to be able to service that demand with strategic partnership from our account team, and then also from technology development to build the next best product," Blankemeyer says.
 
The company's new hires come from technology, restaurant and account backgrounds, including additions from dunnhumby, Boston Market, PF Changs, NTN Buzztime and PointRoll-Gannet, among others.
 
"We're bringing people with a proven track record in both restaurants and also consumer knowledge," Blankemeyer says. "I think by having a data background as well as a restaurant background, that's a winning combination for Zipscene and the reason we've identified those people."
 
The new hires include Lane Cardwell, Rick Lamy, Jenny Sanning, Brandon Hull, Brandy Sanger and Sanjiv Karani.

Museum Center hosts Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire

Power tool drag races, Ping Pong ball explosions, robots and … bellydancing? Yes, you read that right, and no, this isn’t “guess which one of these things doesn’t fit.” In fact, you can find all of these and much more at the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire, taking place Sept. 13 and 14 at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
 
Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire is a community-organized event and is part of the national Maker Faire created by MAKE Magazine. MAKE describes the event as "the greatest show (and tell) on Earth—a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement."
 
“It’s about the act of creating, celebrating that, and getting people excited about science and arts as spectacle, in the same way they might get excited going to a sports event,” says Jason Langdon, founder of the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire. “We’re bringing together different groups of creative types and cross-pollinating them, and you can never really know what’s going to happen.”
 
This year’s faire will feature more than 30 makers of all ages and backgrounds showing off their inventions, as well as focused workshops and communal interactive experiences. After a somewhat rainy Maker Faire last year outside at Washington Park, this year’s location at the Cincinnati Museum Center will further emphasize the idea of craftsmanship.
 
“This year, we find ourselves in a location with tremendous historical significance for the maker movement," Langdon says. "Cincinnati Museum Center shares our mission of providing a forum for discovery, creativity and invention, so we anticipate one incredible party."
 
The event is free, but tickets are required to be reserved by visiting http://www.cincymuseum.org/events/cincinnati-mini-maker-faire.
 
 

Local architect Kickstarts her way to one of the world's largest art festivals

Local artist and architect Catherine Richards has been invited to build and exhibit Valance, a site-specific installation at this year’s ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Mich.
 
ArtPrize is an international art competition, taking place from September 24 to October 12, 2014. For 19 days, art from around the world will pop up in every inch of downtown, and it’s all free and open to the public. Two grand prizes worth $400,000 are awarded, along with eight category awards worth $160,000. More than 500,000 people are expected to attend this year’s ArtPrize.
 
Richards, who came to Cincinnati several years ago from Cleveland to attend UC’s DAAP program, was recruited to be involved with ArtPrize when participating in a separate competition.
 
“I was in a competition at the 21c Museum Hotel as one of five finalists,” Richards says. “I’d used rapid prototyping at DAAP to create these patterned mirrors, and at the competition I met a curator who asked me to use this idea for ArtPrize.”
 
 Richards committed to building the project, called Valance, but after pricing it out, she realized she would need some extra funds.
 
“I realized it’s going to be an expensive project; I’m working with industrial designers, a structural engineer and a mechanical designer on this,” she says.
 
So earlier this summer, Richards launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the Valance. In just three weeks, she raised more than $8,000 for the project.
 
“Valance will engage architectural theory, the problems of public space and the private experience of art,” Richards says. “The treatment of a mirror as textile is something I haven’t seen before, and this is going to be installed on Grand Rapids’ Blue Bridge, so there will be lots of pedestrian interaction with the piece.”
 
Richards will drive up to Grand Rapids on September 20 to install the piece. In the meantime, she continues to be dedicated to the Cincinnati community, teaching at DAAP, working on a project called Popup Cincy and Modern Makers

Bad Girl Ventures expands to Covington, opens next door to UpTech

Earlier this month, The Covington City commission unanimously approved a deal that allows Bad Girl Ventures (BGV) to expand its reach to Covington, Ky., where it will move into a space on Pike Street next door to the tech accelerator Uptech. The space will be used as office headquarters for BGV and as a hub of entrepreneurial support and advocacy for female entrepreneurs by offering co-working space to Bad Girls, access to mentorship, and workshop and networking events.
 
“We’ve been trying to find the right space for about a year,” says Corey Drushal, BGV Executive Director. “We noticed that 30 percent of our entrepreneurs were from Northern Kentucky; we even had some driving up from Louisville and Lexington. Covington is where we want to be.”
 
The BGV and UpTech co-working spaces will connect, allowing the entrepreneurs from both programs to collaborate in new ways and learn with entrepreneurs from different industries.
 
“BGV is excited to become part of another strong community where entrepreneurs of all kinds are being nurtured. With BGV, UpTech and BioLogic on the same block, entrepreneurs have every resource at their fingertips. BGV will better help female-owned companies find a stronghold in the community by expanding our presence to Northern Kentucky,” Drushal says.
 
Currently, BGV is active in Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland, and has trained 521 female entrepreneurs. In Cincinnati, they are going into their 10th class and have given out $510,000 in loans in the state of Ohio thus far.
 
“Now that we have our new space, for this next year we’re going to focus less on physical expansion of the program and more on expansion of our services, redeveloping curricula and providing more resources for our Bad Girls,” Durshal says.
 
 
 

UpTech announces seven new startups for its third class

UpTech, the Covington-based business accelerator focused on supporting informatics startups, has announced the seven startups that will form its third class. The startups will each receive up to $50,000 in equity funding, office space in UpTech’s Covington headquarters, a team of support partners, and a mentor and access to applied research from Northern Kentucky University.
 
“We look for companies that have big, disruptive ideas in the tech industry, are scalable and can provide great returns,” says Amanda Greenwell, UpTech Program Director. “We could not be more excited to welcome entrepreneurs whose game-changing commercial ideas show promise to transform many industries—from education to real estate and more.”
 
UpTech is unique among accelerators in that the portfolio companies go through a six-month program (many other accelerators run three-four months), with its demo day at the conclusion of the six months, this year set to begin on September 8.
 
“Now in our third year, we’re really focused on building a culture here, the UpTech family,” Greenwell says. “This is the first year that we’ve had a space that has included both current and alumni companies. Every year we’re enhancing it for the companies; for our new startups to interact with our alumni is going to be great.”
 
The seven new portfolio companies are:
  • Dr. Scribbles, which makes medical exam room bench paper that has fun facts, health tips and games like tic-tac-toe and word search, as well as interactive features that can be accessed on a smartphone.
  • Hapzing, whose publishing platform helps users find and track their favorite events while helping businesses build brand loyalty and grow customers.
  • Linkedü, a social network for K-12 teachers that helps them share content and plan lessons.
  • Nekst, a real estate web application that helps simplify the closing process.
  • Seesaw, which gives parents a way to plan playdates, parties and other special events.
  • Travel Notes, an app that communicates users’ travel plans to financial institutions to prevent credit cards from being denied while traveling.
  • Wayger, which allows friends to earn rewards while betting on the outcomes of sporting events.

Organic feeding tube meal developer closes $1.6M investment for Functional Formularies

Functional Formularies, makers of Liquid Hope, the first and only whole food, all-organic feeding tube meal, announced a $1.6 million investment raise, secured only two days after opening the funding round. In the past year, CEO and founder Robin Gentry McGee has seen production double, warehouse space triple and her employees grow from one to six. To trace the rapid success of her company means to go back almost a decade.
 
In 2005, after a career as a chef and restaurant owner, Gentry McGee was searching for something new when her father suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was left in a coma for a several weeks and started to develop infections while in the hospital. Gentry McGee had been studying the concept of food as medicine for some time and noticed that the nutrition her father was getting via his feeding tube was severely lacking in important nutrients.
 
“I was appalled,” Gentry McGee says. “It had a lot of corn syrup solids, some other sugars, whey, a lot of chemical, synthetic vitamins. I realized that he wasn’t getting adequate nutrition, and I started looking around for a healthier formula; I looked all over the world and couldn’t find one.”
 
This led to the initial creation of what has come to be called “Liquid Hope” in 2006, her own recipe of whole foods combined together to serve as a nutritionally dense meal replacement feeding tube formula. Since then, she has spent years working with a dietician on a version of the formula that could be produced on a commercial level and still retain its profile as an all-organic recipe.
 
“We had to find a very specific blend,” Gentry McGee says. “It took us almost eight years to perfect.”
 
In 2011, she entered Functional Formularies into the second class of Cincinnati’s Bad Girl Ventures (BGV), an educational and micro-financing organization for female entrepreneurs.
 
“I would never have been able to take the business this far without help from BGV,” she says. “I’m like an artist—numbers are not what I’m compelled to understand. But when I walked out of there, I had a business plan in hand and a $25,000 loan to keep everything moving.”
 
The recipe was completed around the end of 2012, and the first test shipments of the product were sent in the first quarter of 2013. Both of the first two full production runs sold out before any of the product actually made it to the warehouse.
 
“Since then, we just recently ran the numbers and our sales are up 459 percent since this time last year,” Gentry McGee says. “We’re on track to do about $1 million with no marketing. People have found us through word of mouth. Our customers have been using our product consistently and they’re doing very well, and the doctors are starting to pay attention, we’re getting referrals and dieticians.”
 
Now, Functional Formularies is in the process of creating another version of the product for children who are on feeding tubes. In the end, Gentry McGee hopes not only to grow her company, but more important, to continue to educate the public and the medical world as well on the concept of food as medicine and the importance of knowing what we choose to put in our bodies.

UC Blue Ash student's paper earns rare placement in top radiologic technology journal

UC Blue Ash student Abbey Christman is not your average college junior. She’s also a radiologic technologist working at Tri-Health Bethesda North and just had an article published in Radiologic Technology, the official journal of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists. It was the first paper Christman wrote as a student in the Radiologic Technology program.
 
Christman wrote such an effective and comprehensive paper about communicating with elderly patients that her professors thought it was worthy of a submission to the journal. They were all a bit surprised when it was selected for publication in the May/June issue.
 
“Although the Radiologic Technology editor welcomes manuscripts from students, very few students take the time to follow through with the rigor of editing their manuscript and converting it to the American Medical Association format—it’s a lot of work,” says Julie Gill, associate professor and chair of the Allied Health Department at UC Blue Ash. “This is only the second year we’ve ever had one of our students get published.”
 
The article deals with preserving patient dignity, understanding communication disabilities and creating a positive environment for communication.
 
“I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals around the elderly, and you often hear hospital workers speaking to them as if they are babies,” Christman says. “I was pulling information also from a previous psychology course I took on adulthood aging; I wanted to present an alternative method.”
 
Now that Christman has one publication under her belt, she and Gill hope to collaborate on additional articles.
 
“She’s got the writing bug, and as a professional educator, I want to push her to focus on that and encourage her to expand on it," Gill says.
 
To view the article, click here.

Roadtrippers employees launch Side Project Cincinnati, start urban garden

Roadtrippers, the Cincinnati travel-based startup, can’t seem to stay out of the news. The app-based company was recently named one of Time Magazine’s 50 best websites of 2014 for its easy-to-use interface that allows users to plan trips and includes curated descriptions of hidden gems along the way. It also recently raised $2.8 million in venture funding and is now up to 47 total employees, making it one of the largest companies to graduate from the local accelerator the Brandery.
 
Now, two Roadtrippers employees, Chelsea Koglmeier and Matt Fulton, have partnered together to create Side Project Cincinnati, a meetup group for the rapidly expanding tech and entrepreneur community in Cincinnati.
 
“We decided that we want Roadtrippers to be more of a focal point for innovation discussion happening in Cincinnati right now,” Koglmeier says. “We want to open up our space and create an environment, not just for Roadtrippers employees, where people can share and explore creative ideas.”
 
Koglmeier is not looking to create another avenue for businesses to pitch ideas, but rather wants hackers, tinkerers and creative thinkers to come share their side projects and ideas.
 
“We’re doing these meetings about every quarter,” Koglmeier says. “We give each presenter five minutes to talk about their project and then 10 minutes to answer questions. We want to help foster that creative community and maybe even help people find collaborators for their projects.”
 
After doing very little advertising, the group has already grown to more than 150 online members, and meetings have drawn 40 to 60 people. The next meeting for Side Project Cincinnati is Tuesday, August 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Roadtrippers headquarters.
 
As if this weren’t enough, the actual building Roadtrippers occupies, on McMicken in the Brewery District of Over-the-Rhine, has recently gotten a bit of an upgrade. First, Artworks has just finished a brand new mural on the building. Second, Koglmeier, with the help of friends and family, has planted a garden right next to the mural.
 
“We were going to just pave over the lot, and I asked our CEO, James, to give me until the winter to try to turn it into a garden,” Koglmeier says. “Thankfully, he said yes. So I raised money to build it out and had a lot of help setting it up. Now, every few days I harvest kale, chard, hot and sweet peppers, rosemary and more and just leave them on the counter for our employees to take home.” Even neighborhood kids have pitched in to help tend the garden.
 
Koglmeier created a group to chart the progress of the garden; you can follow it here.

Scripps launches in-house startup to connect parents with youth sports organizations

As the entrepreneurial scene grows not only in Cincinnati, but nationwide, different sectors of the business community are getting involved in all sorts of ways. The E.W. Scripps Company, a national media group headquartered in Cincinnati, has begun incubating startup companies and ideas within the structure of the company.
 
Launched in April by Scripps, Youthletic is an online tool for parents in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky to help them find the best sports organizations for their kids. Youthletic allows parents to search through options based on location, age, cost and reviews.
 
“Within Cincinnati alone, there are over 1,500 organizations,” says Bo Schuerman, director of digital solutions and new business development Scripps and Founder and CEO of Youthletic. “If you are just Googling sports organizations in your area, the results are pretty overwhelming. The parents want to have confidence in their decision-making; what we want to do is build that confidence in the selection process and help them figure out what’s right for their family.”
 
Youthletic promises that it has done extensive research on these organizations so that parents don’t have to worry vetting them themselves. Though launched in the spring, the team spent six to eight months not only on developing the product, but also on building a comprehensive list that so far includes more than 1,200 organizations in the region. The platform allows registered users to set up reminders and alerts as well as rate organizations and send messages.  
 
“We’ve also brought in local experts to provide guidance and expertise to parents,” Schuerman says. “The site has all sorts of helpful content on youth athletics, including the benefits for childhood development such as leadership, character, sportsmanship and time management. We chose to include this type of content after talking with many parents about what they need.”
 
The Youthletic team is still small, with four or five employees working on it at the moment, so it still functions like a small startup. The main difference is that has access to Scripps' vast array of resources and doesn’t have to scramble for funding. Schuerman says it’s like having a “built-in” venture capital firm.
 
“This division launched about a year and a half ago,” Schuerman says. “It’s really the best of both worlds.”

Cincinnati startup Lagoon aims to change how we view water usage

A good idea can come at any time, as long as you’re ready to listen to it. There may be no group in town that knows this better than the founders of Lagoon, the Cincinnati startup that seeks to help homeowners understand and reduce their water usage.
 
Late in the fall of 2013, good friends, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts Eric Elias and Nathan Heidt wanted to work on a side project together. The two got together, along with Heidt’s lifelong friend Will Wiebe, and began working on ideas to submit to the University of Dayton’s Business Plan Competition.
 
“An hour before the application was due, we really weren’t passionate about anything,” says Elias, now CEO of Lagoon. “We wanted a market that wasn’t already over-saturated and, ultimately, an idea that we cared about.”
 
Heidt, now CTO, had just finished a cross-country bicycle trip. Along the way, he saw the impact a drought was having in regions of Texas and California on its farmers and citizens and became inspired to learn more about water usage. The group started thinking about a product that could educate and inspire others around the issue of water usage.
 
“I just asked Nathan and Will if it would be possible to measure water usage from the outside of a pipe,” Elias says. “They said it could work, and we all knew immediately that we were on to something.”
 
Fast forward to the present and Lagoon has made major strides forward, and is no longer a side project being worked on out of a barn. The team ended up winning third prize at the UD Business Plan competition and receiving $10,000. The startup has also since been accepted into the 2014 class of the Brandery, the top 10 nationally ranked accelerator located in Over-the-Rhine.
 
The technology for Lagoon is similar to that of the Nest model in that it reinvents home automation for the digital age. A Lagoon sensor is placed around the outside of a home’s main water line and a Lagoon base station is placed in the home. Using the home’s wi-fi network, the two devices communicate with each other to monitor and track water usage and then send information to the user’s smartphone.  
 
“As a homeowner, I never really understood my water bill,” Elias says. “It’s like receiving your credit card bill with a single line item—it’s very unclear. Plus, right now, you get a water bill 30 days later. That’s a long feedback loop. We want to bring it closer, to the week, to the hour, to the minute, so you can understand your water usage even for your morning shower you just took.”
 
Already, Lagoon has entered into a partnership with the Hamilton Mill and the city of Hamilton, Ohio, to pilot its technology with the city’s residents.
 
“Hamilton is a city that is focused on being eco-friendly and sustainable. Having a smart home water system within their homes fits that,” Elias says.
 
Lagoon is poised to make even bigger moves as the year progresses. The team urges residents to check out its site and explore how having a Lagoon in their home can help them save money and save the planet.  

New co-working space merges work and play

Cincinnati’s newest co-working office, MOVE, is opening early next month and hopes to stimulate its clients both mentally and physically. The workspace is attached the Foundation Fitness gym and promises to be full of energy, motivation and “people taking breaks to climb ropes, sneak in a few squats or flip the tires a few times.”
 
Located at the intersection of the Brighton, Over-the-Rhine and West End neighborhoods in Cincinnati’s Historic Brewery District, MOVE sits less than half a mile from Findlay Market. Co-founders Patrick Hitches and Ryan Meo say they opened MOVE because they saw a need for collaborative workspace in the city.
 
“I was looking around town and was honestly shocked at how few co-working spaces there were, especially in and around downtown,” Hitches says. “At MOVE, we’re looking to cultivate the local entrepreneur/soloprenuer scene, and the idea is that being active and healthy helps to spark creativity, productivity and innovation. We merge work and play to help our members reach their own personal potential in both body and career.”
 
But the founders emphasize that MOVE is not just for the physically fit. “I have been running an online company for seven years now, and it did no favors at all to my body and health,” Meo says. “I sat all the time, worked long hours and inadvertently ended up in terrible shape; I needed a change without sacrificing my growing business. MOVE was the change I needed and why Patrick and I came together to offer this opportunity to those in the same position I was.”
 
MOVE will feature a variety of amenities including Commercial Broadband Wifi, 24/7 access, showers, lounge area, indoor hanging bike racks and more. Move will have its soft opening on August 6 before launching fully at the beginning of September. 

Frameri wins $100K from AOL founder Steve Case, moves into OTR office

To say that the Frameri has been busy would be an understatement.
 
Since entering the Brandery a year ago, the versatile eyewear startup company has grown from a team of two co-founders to five full-time employees and four part-time employees—with a few more new hires in the pipeline. In May, after having split his team between Chicago and Cincinnati, CEO Konrad Billetz decided to move the entire team back to Cincinnati and just last week signed a lease on a new office in Over-the-Rhine that will put his entire team under one roof.
 
In June, Billetz, along with seven other entrepreneurs, pitched in front of a packed crowd at the Know Theatre that included AOL founder Steve Case. The pitch event was part of Case’s Rise of the Rest Tour in which local startups competed for funding (highlights from Case’s Cincinnati stop can be found here). After a brief deliberation, Billetz was named the winner and took home a $100,000 investment from Case’s venture capital firm Revolution.
 
“It was really great to get selected as the winner and receive the investment, but for us that was more about validation than anything else,” Billetz says. “It helps to get more people to know what were doing; now we just need to get out there, work our assess off and prove that they were right to pick us.”
 
If the past year is any indication, Billetz and his team are ready to put their collective noses to the proverbial grindstone. This week marks the official launch of the Frameri’s first line of product, which is based around creating quality, crafted frames with interchangeable lenses to bring style into the industry and waste out of it.
 
“We’ve had three goals since we started,” Billetz says. “First, to shake the eyewear industry up, which we see as really boring. Second, to make people smile by delivering really awesome product that genuinely deserves to exist. Third, to add lots of jobs and create a really cool culture. We want to be one of those jobs that people really want to work at—not just in Cincinnati, but nationwide.”
 
To that end, Frameri is currently on the lookout for designers, digital marketers and web developers. 

GoSun ships first solar cookers, launches online community

GoSun, the Cincinnati startup that developed a portable, high-efficiency and fuel-free solar cooker of the same name, has just begun shipping their first line of products around the world.
 
The cookers come in two variations, called the GoSun Sport, which can cook up to 3 lbs of food and weigh only 5 lbs itself, and the GoSun Mini, which weighs about 1.5 lbs and can cook 9.5 oz of food. Soapbox profiled GoSun in the fall of 2013, when they were in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign ended with GoSun raising over $200,000, making it the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever in Cincinnati. Since that time, things have been happening fast for the GoSun team.
 
“We’ve already sent out over 1,000 products to 22 countries around the world, making these the first batch of American made high efficiency solar cookers,” says Patrick Sherwin, Founder and President of GoSun.
 
Additionally, GoSun has launched an online community via Facebook called the GoSun Community Kitchen, where early adopters of the technology can post and view pictures and recipes using the solar cooker.
 
“We love that people are so excited about the GoSun and are constantly thinking up new ways to use it,” says Social Designer Matt Gillespie.
 
With the rapid expansion of the company, GoSun has hired six fulltime employees since the fall and that number will likely grow through the end of 2014. At the beginning of the year, they were even offered a spot on the coveted entrepreneurial-themed TV show, Shark Tank.
 
“They actually approached us and suggested we apply for the show,” says Sherwin. “We seriously considered it for a long time, but in the end, we decided that we’d rather grow our company based on the steady input of users we’ve built up over time, as opposed to hoping for an overnight success.”
 
To read about the decision in greater detail, you can find the blog post on GoSun’s site here. Whichever way they choose to go, GoSun’s future looks undoubtedly bright. 

Manufacturing accelerator First Batch announces 2014 class

First Batch, a Cincinnati-based accelerator aimed at taking entrepreneurs from prototype to production, has announced its 2014 class of companies.
 
The companies, which represent a wide spectrum of business ideas, also display First Batch’s aim to not only accelerate participating companies but to promote a unique set of resources that position Cincinnati as a great place to start a physical product company. The companies are:
 
3D Kitbash, founded by Quincy Robinson and Natalie Mathis, offers professionally sculpted digital models online for the 3D printing market.
 
Ampersand, founded by Tim Karoleff and Greg Lutz, utilizes awareness and empathy to design unique furniture, home goods, and artworks, delighting users with unexpected cleverness and practical pleasure.
 
Switcher, founded by Ken Addison, is made to help provide professional-level video studio control for the growing internet video studio or consumers. The switches are able to control multiple cameras in a software environment and provide lighting indicators (called “tally”) to direct the on-screen talent.
 
Ohio Valley Beard Supply, founded by Patrick Brown and Scott Ponder, is a line of beard care products and beard elixirs that come in five natural scents.
 
“This year we wanted to bring in a mix of companies that was both a good fit for our manufacturing and production strengths as a city, but also offered diversity and the ability to learn a lot from each other,” says Matt Anthony, program coordinator for First Batch. “We have companies that have been running successfully for a few years and are using First Batch as an opportunity to launch a new product (Ampersand, 3DKitbash), a completely new concept that is just now forming as a company through our UC law partnership (Switcher), and a company that launched a few short months to early success and has found a fast need for scaling up (Ohio Valley Beard Supply).”
 
Cincinnati has a well-documented history of industrial production, which First Batch hopes to tap in to.
 
“We think the resources here are perfect and feel like we've picked a broad range of companies that should showcase what is possible here,” Anthony says. “We want to start building momentum and a movement behind both First Batch and Cincinnati Made and are hoping to bring along anyone who wants to grow or contribute.
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