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AAF Cincinnati revamps this week's ADDY awards event


Cincinnati advertising and marketing enthusiasts gather every year to celebrate the most talented members of the industry. This year, the team of volunteers behind the event are catering specifically to the feedback from past years’ attendees, which means better presentations, better entertainment and — wait for it — an open bar Feb. 27 at Memorial Hall.

The American Advertising Awards (“ADDYs”) are sponsored by the American Advertising Federation and involve a three-tiered competition that begins at the local level. Winners of the city competitions move on to regionals and then nationals.

The Cincinnati ADDYs have recruited judges from all over the country, including past ADDY award recipients, advertising executives and even a morning radio personality.

Tara Pettit, volunteer chair of this year’s ceremony, says that this year’s local entries — submitted by everyone from big local agency experts to DAAP students — have serious potential for national recognition. As an AAF volunteer, Petit’s role is to make this event a true celebration of Cincinnati’s particular flavor of media.

“There are a ton of Fortune 500 companies in Cincinnati,” event Vice-Chair Jaclyn Smith says. “The city attracts a lot of talent, and we want (the big companies) to know that we’re utilizing that talent.”

Celebration of advertising specialists is hardly new in Cincinnati. The Advertising Club of Cincinnati emerged in 1904 and evolved into AAF-Cincinnati in the 1980s. Judy Thompson as been executive director of AAF-Cincinnati — and therefore responsible for all ADDY volunteers — since 1982.

This year, the Cincinnati ADDYs are making a point to show all of their local submissions, not just this year’s winners.

“(The artists) were proud enough to submit it, so we’re going to put it on display,” Petit says.

Other adjustments include the ability to see the submissions in their proper medium. For example, instead of displaying audio visual work on a 2D-printed panel, 50-inch monitors will be installed throughout the venue.

Finally, the entertainment. Petit and Smith have managed to secure Second City veteran comedian TJ Shanoff as their MC. Local jazz ensemble Burning Caravan will be providing live music as well. The $75 ticket ($65 for AAF members, $45 for students) also covers unique appetizers from Cuisine East West catering as well as a full open bar.

Winners at all levels of the ADDYs competition are chosen using a points-based system. There are 200 categories of work — ranging from print magazine ads to graphic design to package design — and each piece is judged on its own merit, not in comparison with other submissions. Not every category is represented, and not all of them claim a winner. 

Competition aside, Friday's awards ceremony will help give advertising professionals a reason to stay in the Cincinnati market. Through community events, plenty of help with job placement and formal recognition on a national scale, Thompson and her team of volunteers hope to maintain Cincinnati’s place as an advertising hot spot.

“Our job is to keep the talent here,” Smith says.

The event takes place 6-10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine. Attendees are encouraged to come as they are; there's no specific dress code. Register here.
 

Cintrifuse deepens partnership with Techstars Ventures to boost startup mentor and support options


Techstars Ventures, the Boulder, Colo.-based accelerator known for investments in companies like Uber and GroupMe, has teamed up with Cintrifuse to add to their network of successful, fast-growing companies across the country.

Cintrifuse is making its sixth major venture investment in Techstars Ventures due to the accelerator’s reputation as a company builder, not to mention their $150 million Seed and Series A fund. Techstars was attracted to the Cintrifuse mission due to the success of the Cincinnati ecosystem in recent years.

“Cincinnati has large, high-caliber corporations and a thriving startup community,” says David Cohen, Techstars co-founder and managing partner of Techstars Ventures, “so partnering with Cintrifuse will just continue to bolster the region’s flourishing startup ecosystem.”

Techstars Ventures is known for co-investing in companies that have graduated from the Techstars accelerator or are otherwise connected with the Techstars alumni network. Major Techstars players like Cohen are constantly looking to expand that reach, and the Cincinnati ecosystem proved just the market they were looking for.

“Bringing the attention of this Boulder-based startup stalwart to Cincinnati is a testament to the impact of our strategy,” says Eric Weissmann, director of marketing for Cintrifuse.
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The investment in Techstars Ventures comes from Cintrifuse’s Fund of Funds, a for-profit fund that invests solely in other venture funds. With this fund, Cintrifuse hopes to increase venture capital activity in the region.

“Building a startup ecosystem around a fund of funds that’s supported by major corporations is very unique and already garnering national attention for the access it’s providing to both startups and corporates alike,” Weissmann says.

The investment means that Cincinnati startup companies, particular those connected with Cintrifuse, will see their network of mentors and investors expand tremendously. With the implementation of Techstars Ventures’ regional engagement plan, Cincinnati startups will see the benefits of the partnership quite quickly.
 

Young scientists unite: UC Blue Ash hosts Science Olympiad March 7


Since 2007, the University of Cincinnati's Blue Ash campus has hosted the Cincinnati Science Olympiad Tournament, a yearly competition that brings together hundreds of junior and senior high school students to show off their skills in several science-related events. The Olympiad comes to UC Blue Ash once again on March 7, featuring 23 events requiring expertise in everything from meteorology to anatomy.
 
Students race against the clock to complete several experiments, both in teams and individually. After six hours of competition, awards are offered to both individual students and the participating school with the highest point tally, though the focus of the tournament is more on highlighting the talents of each individual student.
 
The Cincinnati tournament is one of eight regional tournaments and one of dozens of competitions taking place across the country. If students are successful, they have a chance to compete at the national level. The Science Olympiad is a national non-profit organization that hopes to encourage STEM subject prowess in high schools across the nation.
 
In 2013, the Cincinnati Olympiad joined iSPACE, an organization that offers student, teacher and corporate development courses to promote STEM-related career awareness. The Cincinnati tournament's involvement with iSPACE secures its position as a part of the national Olympiad and reinforces UC Blue Ash's mission to maintain a strong focus on STEM-focused career paths.
 
The March 7 tournament in Blue Ash hopes to achieve a similar goal by providing an entertaining atmosphere and fostering a competitive spirit. It offers young students the opportunity to flex their intellectual muscles in front of a live audience. Depending on their skill sets, participants will have the opportunity to build robots, construct gliders and even collect forensic evidence.
 
The Cincinnati Science Olympiad is open to the public and still looking for volunteers. Contact Steve Schrantz, tournament coordinator, if you'd like to learn more or Danielle Schrantz to volunteer.
 

UK fans bring small batch toy manufacturing to Cincinnati


Two University of Kentucky fans have embarked on a journey to bring locally made collectibles to the region's sports fans.
 
Their business, Monster Mascots, is a small-batch production toy company that draws inspiration from the Japanese monsters of lore. Monster Mascots uses 3D printing technology to create molds for 9-inch mascot figurines which are manufactured and hand-assembled in the United States.

Founders Natalie Mathis and Quincy Robinson are no strangers to the 3D printing game. Their other company, 3DKitbash.com, has established itself as a source for 3D printable toy designs and 3D printer test kits. The company hopes to make 3D printing at home easy and affordable.
 
With a successful company under their belts, the idea for Monster Mascots emerged when Robinson and Mathis were enrolled at First Batch, a Cincinnati manufacturing accelerator.
 
"Since we were already working in this space, we had a natural curiosity for seeing whether we could discover a new process that could push the limits of traditional manufacturing," Mathis says.
 
First Batch helped the team to establish their concept of an American-made series of plastic mascots that mimicked the Japanese tradition of battling monsters. Mathis and Robinson graduated from the program in 2014 and now have a prototype of their product. As die-hard University of Kentucky fans, their first mascot is a bright blue Wildcat.
 
"The idea is that mascots will battle it out, as you see in Japanese monster movies, on a national level in online communities," Mathis says. "We think fans will get a kick out of posting selfies with the Mascot online with messages for UK and for their rivals."
 
The online community aside, Mathis and Quincy see a growing market for sports memorabilia in general. They do recognize, however, that they face a lot of competition.
 
"UK's brand is strong, and we know that fans clamor for UK-related items that represent their personal relationship with one of the most unstoppable teams in history," Mathis says. "The market for this sort of item is also crowded, which is why we differentiated our Monster Mascots using the Japanese monster narrative."
 
Mathis and Robinson first attempted a campaign on Kickstarter, but the idea has yet to pick up steam on the crowd-funding website. While 3DKitbash.com found success with Kickstarter, Monster Mascots needs to find another source of funding.
 
"We've proven that Kickstarter is not where UK fans buy UK-related figures, not yet anyway," Mathis says. "It just isn't the right fit."
 
Instead, Monster Mascots will begin selling their bright blue wildcats through more traditional routes, both on their website and in several brick-and-mortar stores. They will look to obtain licenses from other universities based on the success of their Wildcat prototype.
 
"We're proud of what we've accomplished so far, and we have a vision for the future," Mathis says. "There's a lot yet to do in the space. We're grateful and excited."
 

NASA to coach UC students on technology commercialization


If you mention NASA in casual conversation, it's almost guaranteed that you'll get a reaction — a good one at that.
 
This year, those enrolled in undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship classes at the University of Cincinnati's Lindner College of Business will be able to add that impressive acronym to their resumes.
 
UC's Center for Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (CEC), a part of the business school, has teamed up with NASA's Ames Research Center to bring NASA scientists into UC classrooms. With a focus on technology commercialization, the entrepreneurship courses will connect students with the globe-trotting NASA scientists via webcam or telephone.
 
The term "technology commercialization" encompasses the varying processes that occurs after certain technology has been patented. That technology could end up sparking the creation of a startup, encourage a partnership with a certain organization or be released into the marketplace.
 
Through this program and partnership, UC students will learn to assess the commercialization of some NASA patents. They'll examine investor options and possible business plans and consult with NASA specialists along the way.
 
CEC Executive Director Tom Dalziel sees this program as unique in that students are able to plan a future for these technologies as opposed to examining the past. Before their careers have even started, UC students will be able to see the immediate effects on their work.
 
"These plans aren’t meant to sit on the shelf," Dalziel says. "The best plans will garner the attention of investors, entrepreneurs and key constituents in the Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurship ecosystem who will want to bring people and resources together to enact them."
 
The NASA partnership isn't the only thing UC is doing to increase their students' post-graduation connections. UC's Small Business Institute allows students to work with startups and other small businesses looking to put together a solid business plan.
 
"This gives our students the opportunity to learn and support company efforts to bring cutting-edge technologies to market," Dalziel says.
 
With practical experience under their belts, it won't be surprising to see UC students flooding the marketplace in the coming years.
 

Science rules: High school paves the way for tech-oriented careers


The recent technology boom has brought a newfound appreciation for science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) courses in high school classes, including at Cincinnati's Mount Notre Dame.
 
Several young women at the all-girls Reading school have already made a name for themselves with their recent Best in State recognition in a national mobile app competition.
 
The app, called Do It, was designed to prevent procrastination by blocking certain social media applications from the user and incentivizing focus on a particular task. Though the six girls responsible for the app concept didn't make it past the regional round of the competition, the experience — combined with MND's curriculum — has some of these girls looking toward careers in the tech sector.
 
And let's face it: The technology sector could use a few more girls.
 
Mount Notre Dame offers a relatively flexible curriculum after freshman year with a plethora of STEM-related options, including engineering. With a focus on hands-on science courses, students interested in the STEM fields also find themselves in a lab at least once per week.
 
Christine Clark is a senior at MND and member of the award-winning team. She feels that the wide variety of courses and freedom to choose allowed her to determine which path she wants to follow next year.
 
"Before I took engineering I thought I wanted to go into the biomedical field," Clark says. "I'm glad I was able to take that because now I know that it isn't for me."

Clark will be studying biology at Miami University next year.
 
Not all of the girls on the Do It team are pursuing STEM-related fields after graduation. Maggie Dolan hopes to go into electronic media and broadcasting and says the STEM courses were the perfect way to test her academic limits.
 
"(Science and math courses) challenge the kind of people who want to be challenged but aren't sure if they're up to par," Dolan says. "When I started at MND, I finally felt challenged."
 
Though the app competition is over, every girl on the team expressed a desire to learn more about mobile app development. With a strong foundational background in STEM courses from their time at MND, chances are good that the tech world will be seeing more from them.
 

Startup jobs in Cincinnati and where to find them


Finding jobs in the startup world can be tricky. The postings are rarely found on traditional job search websites, and many companies hire from within.

The good news for job hunters is that the startup world in Cincinnati is hiring ... and hiring often. Some of the available openings are posted online and some require a little more digging. Here's a list of startup hiring resources, from helpful job boards to career fairs to investment portfolio pages at some of the areas key startup investor groups.

UpTech
If you're looking for a startup job in Northern Kentucky, look no further than the Feb. 9 UpLink career event at UpTech's offices, 112 West Pike St., Covington. In addition to numerous internships, UpTech's startups will be looking to hire candidates for over 30 openings, from sales to design to project management to web development.

The Brandery
The all-star accelerator organization keeps a running list of job openings for their graduate companies on their website. The accelerator's companies are hiring everything from social media managers to designers to front end developers. Part- and full-time positions are available immediately.

Cintrifuse
Runs a constantly updated job board that posts openings from startups across the tristate area.
 
CincyTech
This huge financial supporter of area startups in the area hosts a portfolio page offering a long list of companies that are likely looking for talent.
 
Queen City Angels
The investor group has an impressive roster of companies that have already proved themselves worthy of investor support. QCA's portfolio page, featuring over 40 companies, is another great job resource.
 
The Hamilton Mill
Though the startups at The Mill aren't currently hiring, the incubator will be welcoming Municipal Brew Works in the coming months, a brewery that deserves a second look for career opportunities. 

HCDC, Inc.
Formerly called the Hamilton County Development Co., this Norwood-based group has a large number of companies in their accelerator. Though not all of them are hiring, this list of the companies currently housed there can provide a good lead on who to contact.
 

Hamilton County Development Center changes name, honors champion of minority entrepreneurs


The Hamilton County Development Company has rebranded once again. The Norwood center, which encompasses an incubator (the HCDC Business Center) as well as economic development and lending service providers, will now be known as HCDC, Inc.
 
"We are branding as a single entity instead of having three names for our three different economic development programs," says Bridget Doherty, marketing and communications director.
 
On the same day they announced the rebranding, Jan. 16, HCDC, Inc. honored Mel Gravely, longtime supporter of minority entrepreneurs, with the Larry Albice Entrepreneurship Award. The award is given yearly to successful entrepreneurs who have given back to the community and is named after former HCDC chairman and board member Larry Albice, who played a considerable role in the expansion of the Business Center and received the award in 1998.
 
Gravely, who is responsible for starting the Minority Business Accelerator, is a published author on the topic of race in business. His passion for supporting women and minorities in their business ventures has characterized his work for decades. He's currently the majority shareholder, president and CEO of TriVersity Construction Company, which specializes in construction management, contracting and design. He also founded the Institute for Entrepreneurial Thinking, a think tank for minority business initiatives. And he's the immediate past chair of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce. The list goes on.
 
"Mel is the type of leader who puts others in the limelight," says David Main, president of HCDC, Inc. "We thought we would shed some light on him and his outstanding contributions to entrepreneurship. He has dedicated his life to helping others innovate and achieve."
 
Gravely's recognition came at HCDC's annual meeting, where the organization presented its annual business awards, including awards for lending, economic development and HCDC resident company of the year. Startup Get Noticed Get Found received the resident of the year award, with lending awards going to Fifth Third, Huntington and Listermann Brewing Co.
 

New Findlay Market public art project seeking artist proposals


Findlay Market is next in line for a major public art installation.

The site is the western plaza and esplanade of Findlay Market, next to Elm Street and steps away from the site of a future streetcar stop.

An artist for the permanent work is expected to be selected this summer, with installation in Spring 2016.

"Hopefully it will become something that people everywhere will recognize as Cincinnati’s icon, something we’re all proud to share with the world," says Tim Maloney, president of The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.

In late 2013, Maloney announced the Haile Foundation would spend $600,000 for three public art projects over three years. He was inspired  by public art he had seen in other places — Denver’s "I See What You Mean" by Lawrence Argent, a large blue bear peeking into that city’s Convention Center, and Chicago’s Millennium Park "Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor, also known as "the Bean" — and believed Cincinnati needed public art that would be a strong symbol for the city.

The first of the three Cincinnati projects, Tony Luensman’s neon "CAMPGROUND," was installed on the western wall of the Cincinnati Art Museum last fall. It was supported by both the Haile Foundation and Macy’s.

ArtWorks Cincinnati, which is administering the Haile Public Art Fund, has put out a call for artists’ concepts for the $150,000 project, with proposals due Feb. 15. Two to three artists or teams of artists will be selected as finalists and paid $500 to develop design proposals. 

Criteria for the Findlay Market project: It should complement the market and its iconic status in Cincinnati, it should delight and leave a lasting impression, it should have "visual gravity" and it should be made of durable materials. The chosen project will have a budget of $140,000 for full design, fabrication and installation, plus $10,000 in a maintenance fund.

See the project's "call for artists" website for more details.
 

New accelerator Ocean sets the record straight on religious affiliations


Since Cincinnati accelerator Ocean announced its flagship class of startup companies in December, the phrase "faith-based" has been bounced around quite a bit. Though the accelerator's website uses the term and local media have deemed them a "faith-based venture," co-founder Tim Brunk says that the term may be getting more attention than it should.
 
"This is a high-tech accelerator," Brunk says. "This is not a mission. We are here to bring jobs. We're here to help the kind of people who are going to build hospitals and create jobs."
 
If anything, Ocean seems to be more of a faith-integrated startup accelerator. Though the founders — Brunk, Tim Metzner and Chad Reynolds — are all Crossroads church members, Ocean isn't a church program. The accelerator has partnered with Crossroads due to the overwhelming support the three got from the 25,000-plus congregation members and the organization itself. Ocean also uses space on the Crossroads campus in Oakley to conduct its operations.

Though the founders may feel a theological tie to Crossroads' mission, such a tie or connection isn't required when recruiting startups and definitely not when recruiting investors.
 
In fact, Ocean's new class actually includes two self-proclaimed agnostics.
 
"All we ask is that they are willing to explore," Brunk says. "Religious involvement is not a requirement."
 
The accelerator's main goal is to create startup founders with character — ones that investors can truly trust with their money. Generosity, honor, intelligence and integrity are all qualities Ocean hopes to foster alongside their business-related curriculum.
 
"Faith is a foundation, not a guarantee," Brunk says. "We foster a belief in respect, of not taking advantage of or exploiting others."
 
When asked if the companies that come out of Ocean would perhaps be at a disadvantage without the dog-eat-dog mentality that can lead to Fortune-500 status, Brunk shakes his head.
 
"There's a perception that good people are naïve, and a lot of times, unfortunately, that assumption is true," Brunk says. "But I see (our program) as putting our companies at a significant advantage, not a disadvantage."
 
To the Ocean team, success is measured by more than money. If its startup founders can find a way to build balanced, successful personal lives alongside their steadily-growing businesses, the accelerator will have done its job.
 
The thing that makes Ocean unique from other accelerators — and the part that earned the term "faith-based" — can be found in its supplemental curriculum. The session speakers include CEOs who have gone through tumultuous marriages due to their never-ending hours at work discussing faith, family and community with startup founders. Some members of the Ocean class go to church, others do not. As for the Ocean founders, all they want to do is open doors.
 
In the meantime, Brunk is tasked with finding the types of investors who are looking for a well-rounded, likable, trustworthy individual or team. He spends his time connecting with investors and making sure that the companies who have signed on are receiving the highest quality business education possible.
 
Though Brunk did quote the Gospel once during our interview, it's apparent that the label following Ocean may not be entirely accurate. Right now, the accelerator is in its second week of what is best described as "business boot camp," getting their companies ready for any investor that could walk through the door.

Just like any accelerator, they're most interested in making sure their companies are poised for success. The accelerator plans to have weekly practice runs with potential investors to make sure their companies stay on their toes. If they emerge as better people, that bodes well for the future.
 
"This is still an experiment," Brunk says. "We still don't know if it is going to work. But if we can succeed in creating a dialogue, well, that's all we can ask for."
 

Mt. Notre Dame students named "Best in State" in national mobile app challenge


A team of young women from Mt. Notre Dame High School in Reading was recognized last week for creating a mobile app concept that helps students with productivity.

Out of 90 teams across the state, the "Do It" app — designed to combat student procrastination and disorganization — proved best in show in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge. In conjunction with the Technology Student Association, the challenge aims to bolster student interest and involvement in science and technology while bringing the winning student-designed apps into the Google Play marketplace. With the constantly growing market for tech-related jobs, Verizon is targeting middle school and high school students in order to pique their interest early on.
 
Mt. Notre Dame's state title earns them a ticket to the regional competition. Winners will be announced Jan. 16 and will each receive $5,000 in grants to allow their respective schools to continue to develop their science, technology, math and science programs.

"Best in Nation" teams will be recognized in early February and awarded with the opportunity to learn coding and app development from MIT App Inventor Master Trainers. The cash prize for the "Best of Nation" teams is $15,000, plus the chance to make their vision a reality.

 

UpTech event to connect startups with jobseekers


For many Cincinnati jobseekers, finding a coveted position at one of the many growing startups here could begin with a simple trip across the river.
 
On Feb. 9, Covington-based UpTech will host an event that everyone at the accelerator hesitates to call a "career fair." Instead it's dubbed UpLink, which will attempt to bring together enthusiastic job seekers and the startups that desperately need them.
 
From 4-7 p.m., attendees will snack on appetizers and wander from booth to booth, checking out what each startup has to offer. Most of the companies are seeking freshly graduated developers, tech specialists or marketing gurus; all of them are looking for creativity.
 
"We want the doers and the innovators," says Abby Ober, Program Associate at UpTech who's organizing the event with Alyssa Jones. "We want the kids who take initiative."
 
The list of startups in attendance in still growing, and UpLink will likely accept company applications until the day of the event. Though several UpTech startups have signed up — Tixers, linkedü?, Seesaw — UpLink hopes to recruit companies from accelerators across the area. Specifically, they're looking for companies in their first five years of existence with a need for paid help.
 
As for the startups themselves, leaders are looking for the kind of people who are moldable, willing to learn and ready for a slew of different responsibilities.
 
"If you can't take punches, then this isn't for you," says Alex Burkhart of Tixers. "You have to have an appetite for risk."
 
Candice Peters of Seesaw is looking for a similar type of candidate. "We want someone outgoing, a jack-of-all-trades who is able to switch gears every 10 minutes," she says.
 
Since the event takes place on a Monday, UpLink organizers say they're catering specifically to students in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.
 
The event promises a casual atmosphere that reflects the startup vibe. That said, students and other jobseekers should dress for an interview. There will be a photographer in attendance offering free LinkedIn headshots.
 
All available jobs are paid but not necessarily full time. Most positions are hourly without benefits, though that's not always the case. Many startup associates, like Ober and Jones, have other jobs on the side. That said, the experience at a small, growing company is invaluable.
 
"Startup culture is awesome," Jones says. "There's really nothing else like it."

UpLink is located at 112 W. Pike St. in Covington.
 

Thinking outside the sandbox: Startup Cintric's journey through The Brandery


Cintric, the Cincinnati-based startup that's created a platform for mobile integration of location services, is a prime example of how much can change when a company joins an accelerator.
 
When Cintric founders Rhett Rainen, Connor Bowlan, Joel Green and Erwan Lent first entered The Brandery last summer, they had two different companies with slightly overlapping goals. Rainen and Bowlan were working on a fashion and beauty advice platform called Lookit that eventually transformed into a location-based notification app; Green and Lent hoped to create an app for location-based chatrooms called Shoutout. When the four creative brains met at The Brandery, it became clear that something bigger was possible.
 
"I think the value of The Brandery for us was less about driving our vision forward and more about providing a sandbox to experiment and clarify what that vision was," Bowlan says. "There’s a pretty unique opportunity to explore when you’re given a small chunk of funding and are surrounded by some of the most creative and intelligent people you’ll ever meet."
 
Rainen and Bowlan were impressed with Green and Lent's remarkable enginnering capabilities and began collaborating on a few side projects. Before long, their friendships evolved into a well-oiled idea machine, and out of that Cintric was born.
 
Cintric's initial goal is to solve the problem many smartphone/mobile device users have when using location services: a draining battery. By using an innovative drag-and-drop interface, Cintric's platform allows developers to build location components into their apps with minimal effort.
 
Cintric is also focused on making it easier for companies with applications to track who and where their users might be by building the apps in a much more efficient way.
 
As for the team itself, Cintric is made up of a French whiz-kid (Lent), an iOS engineer with incredible dental hygiene (Green), a bearded behemoth with mad financial projection skills (Rainen) and Bowlan, who is "terrible at describing himself."
 
"I tend to think of our team as a bunch of mavericks," Bowlan says. "I think a lot of folks were unsure of us at the beginning of The Brandery program due to our age (the oldest is 25) and willingness to take big swings and throw things out if they weren’t working."
 
The company is in the process of closing out its seed round of funding. Over the next few months, the Cintric name is likely to make its way to the forefront in Cincinnati's startup scene.
 
"We’ve got some pretty ambitious and unorthodox projects launching in the next few months that should do a good job of showcasing how we’re not afraid to think outside the box," Bowlan says.
 

Xavier's new Center for Innovation opens for students this week


On Thursday, Jan. 8, Xavier University students will get their first peek at the newly-completed XU Center for Innovation.
 
Over the past several months, the Physical Plant at Dana and Woodward on Xavier's campus has been transformed into a functioning cross-disciplinary space. This week, Xavier RA students will be the first to use the remodeled building as part of their RA training curriculum, which involves an innovation/problem-solving workshop.
 
The Center's purpose is to provide a home base for a newly rebranded and refocused innovation program at Xavier. The center will include classrooms for students as well as workspace for corporate clients and startup companies who come to Xavier to learn how to make their businesses more innovative.
 
The Center's Executive Director, "man on fire" Shawn Nason, is responsible for creating the training program, which is geared to helping organizations up their game.
 
"Shawn is a black belt in innovation," says Mary Curran-Hackett, Innovation Curator at the Center. "Companies that want to learn how to be more innovative are in good hands with him."
 
These programs aside, the Center will also provide open workspaces for professors and staff who are involved in the new School of Arts and Innovation, directed by Tom Merrill, a longtime Xavier faculty member. As a part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Arts and Innovation will offer classes in Innovation, Art, Digital/Video/Film, Music and Theater and Rapid Prototyping/Human-Centered Making. They also offer a minor in Innovation Engineering for students majoring in other fields.
 
As for the space itself, the Center maintains the minimalist, industrial character of a warehouse. High ceilings, exposed pipes (painted navy blue, white and gray of course) and a utilitarian feel make it ideal as a center for thinking and development. The modern décor includes Ikea furniture assembled by the Center staff themselves. The team's willingness to quite literally put their sweat and tears into this building only further evidences the passion and determination each member feels for the cause.

When all students return to campus on Jan. 12, the Center for Innovation will be ready for them. An Open House for Xavier students, faculty and community members will be held 2-6 p.m. Feb. 4 to provide a formal introduction to what the space has to offer.

 

Makers Megaphone graduates from CO.STARTERS to help other small businesses


When the words "marketing" and "branding" hit a Cincinnatian's ears, a plethora of big names come to mind. As a small business owner, the overwhelming size and high price tag that accompany services from larger marketing firms can prove intimidating. As a craftsman-turned-business owner, that intimidation factor can be even more significant.
 
Enter Ashley Berger. A Pratt Institute graduate and participant in the current fall ArtWorks' CO.STARTERS program, she moved to Cincinnati after 11 years in Brooklyn. Her background is in art, but she's worked and specialized in marketing, advertising and branding as the years have gone by.
 
Berger moved to the area to pursue a job opportunity with Dynamic Catholic in Hebron, and it wasn't long before she noticed the tremendous amount of creative energy in the Cincinnati area. After a year, she decided to quit her job and pursue a goal she had in mind: to help these creative individuals get the word out about what they can do.
 
"Many of these creative small business owners are really good at making things but not at letting people know about them," Berger says.
 
Berger intends to offer small-scale business coaching, website development services and other marketing tools to the kinds of craftspeople who surround her at ArtWorks. Her company name, Makers Megaphone, reflects the idea of providing a metaphorical megaphone through which these "makers" can promote their craft.
 
Berger has found guidance and support through the business-building process at CO.STARTERS. Unlike many of the participants in the program, however, Berger is actually building her business as the class goes along. The questions she asks during the seminars are not hypothetical; the answers are quickly applied to her business in real time.
 
"The week they talked about LLCs and trademarks, I did that," Berger says.
 
As of now, Berger hopes to be open for business by the beginning of 2015. Her website is in its final stages and her business plan is almost complete. Since each step of her company's establishment aligns with the CO.STARTERS curriculum, her final session on Wednesday evening will likely coincide with her business plan's finishing touches.
 
As for clientele, Berger hopes that her creative pricing structure and hands-on experience with other craftspeople through ArtWorks and otherwise will likely attract business owners who could benefit from her expertise.
 
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