Accelerating Ohio Technology

Written by Erin Hummeldorf.

The entrepreneurial support and community in Ohio are gaining national attention, accelerating innovation and technology in the heart of the Midwest. The resources are in place to help driven entrepreneurs with big ideas as they navigate the complex world of getting an idea to the marketplace.

In Cincinnati, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to work with a world-class accelerator. The Brandery was founded in 2010, and was recently selected as a Top 10 accelerator in the 2013 Seed Accelerator Rankings. The rankings are based on criteria such as the success of companies in securing funding, staying in business after leaving the accelerator, feedback from participating entrepreneurs and funding amounts and feedback from venture capitalists and angel investors.

Roadtrippers is a great example of the Brandery’s success. It’s a young company showing customers the quirkier side of travel. Roadtrippers allows travelers to map their domestic route through Google Maps while also pulling up other attractions such as shopping, scenic points and even “offbeat attractions” like Frankenstein’s Castle in Dayton, Ohio or the Pumpkin Water Tower in Circleville. In the fall of 2013, Roadtrippers raised $2.5 million thanks to an investment by Drive Capital and are planning to take their maps international with European and Australian routes.  http://brandery.org/accelerator

Bizdom Cleveland is another accelerator providing entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio valuable resources and tools to be successful. Bizdom was started by serial entrepreneur Dan Gilbert, Majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, General Partner at Detroit Venture Partners and Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures LLC, the umbrella entity for his investments and real estate. Startups accepted into the program receive seed funding, intense mentorship, access to an extensive network and a collaborative workspace for a small percentage of equity.

Their annual “Demo Day” was in March at Quicken Loans Arena, with 11 startups presenting to potential investors. One company presenting was Sprav, which recently took home top honors in a statewide clean energy competition for developing smart meters for home showers Another presenting company was Betchyu, which provides a social wellness platform allowing users to set, share, track and organize personal goals. More information can be found at  http://bizdom.com/

Paul Allen, who leads Dan Gilbert’s Bizdom Cleveland, expressed a big thank you to the Ohio Office of Technology Investment and Ohio Third Frontier for their support through the ONE Fund program. This support has been instrumental in creating an environment for technology startups to launch, fund and grow their businesses in Northeast Ohio.

Ohio Third Frontier currently supports four accelerators in the state. They are mentorship-driven programs that financially invest in startups, help promising entrepreneurs launch scalable technology ventures and raise capital. It’s a sort of boot camp for entrepreneurs, typically lasting three months. The accelerator teams work with industry experts to refine their business plan, tweak their product and create a prototype – with the goal of getting validation customers will buy it. The program ends with a “Demo Day” where startups present to investors and the business community.

Technology and innovation are critical to the growth and health of Ohio’s economy, providing jobs for the future. Within our communities, people and resources are coming together to accelerate the effort – one idea at a time.

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