Spotlight on Accelerators: The 411 on Ohio’s Accelerator Programs

Written by Kevin Volz.

They call it business boot camp for a reason. Up every day at the crack of dawn after burning the midnight oil. Working harder and longer than you ever have in your life. Molding an idea into a solid business plan that sets you up for future success. And when it’s over, you emerge leaner, stronger and faster than before. You’re an accelerator graduate.

Accelerators are designed to take promising startups from a practical idea to a full blown investor-ready company in mere months. Ohio is home to some of the best entrepreneurial accelerator programs in the country, including The Brandery, LaunchHouse, Bizdom and Flashstarts. Each of these accelerators have their own specialties and focus areas, and each will be individually profiled over the coming months as part of the Spotlight on Accelerators series.

Ohio accelerator investments are funded by Ohio Third Frontier in an effort to support entrepreneurs and technology initiatives throughout the state. These accelerators are exclusive and highly competitive, accepting only a few startups per term. All the programs have a hard start and end date, and companies must be prepared for demo day by the end of the program.

“Demo day is a chance for these companies to pitch everything they’ve developed in the accelerator to investors,” said Shannon Lyons, chief business development officer at LaunchHouse. “Some of the investors at demo day have been following the companies since day one, while others are hearing about them for the first time. It’s very exciting.”

While in an accelerator program, companies typically work together in a shared space. Mentorships and collaboration with successful area professionals are a key component of all accelerators. Mentors offer guidance on financing, strategy perspective and business negotiations. Accelerators also offer their startups a number of professional services including web development, legal advising and cash management.

Chris Bergman is the CEO of ChoreMonster, a suite of apps designed to make chores fun for kids and parents, and knows exactly how big of an impact an accelerator can have on a startup. His company is a graduate of The Brandery.

“When we first developed the idea for ChoreMonster, it was just supposed to be a side project,” said Bergman. “But then we got involved with The Brandery and they equipped us with all the services we needed to turn it into a full-fledged, successful company.”

So what sets Ohio accelerators apart from their east and west coast counterparts? “Our programs offer the same quality of services, but at a fraction of the cost of living and doing business,” said Daryl Hennessy, chief of the Business Services Division within the Ohio Development Services Agency. “With these stressors removed, entrepreneurs are able to focus 100 percent of their energy on building the best company possible.”

Just a few of the reasons Ohio is the place to be if you’re an entrepreneur looking to start your business.

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