Written by Kevin Volz.
On the surface, Cleveland, Ohio’s JumpStart may appear to be just one organization in northeast Ohio. When you delve deeper, however, you uncover the many layers of what is one of the state’s largest entrepreneurial networks, with the goal of turning ideas with high growth potential into thriving businesses.
JumpStart serves as head of the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network, including 15 organizations that provide resources to help new technology companies across 21 counties. The network includes accelerators, incubators, pre-seed funds and advisors, and is supported by Ohio Third Frontier. Services offered by network partners include community loan funds, incubator spaces, accelerator programs and business assistance. Since 2007, the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network has worked with more than 600 clients that have gone on to raise $754 million in risk capital.
“To date, JumpStart has made investments in 79 different companies in northeast Ohio,” said Amy Martin, principal of marketing at JumpStart. “Thirteen of these companies have exited JumpStart, meaning they have paid back their investment capital. It’s exciting to see the companies we’ve supported thrive.”
If an entrepreneur contacts JumpStart and could benefit from another partner’s services and expertise, JumpStart helps make that connection. Partner organizations include Bizdom, BioEnterprise and the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE).
“Together, the 15 organizations in our network can do much more than any one of us could do alone. If one of us can’t help a particular entrepreneur, it’s very likely that one of our collaborators can,” said Martin. “That’s the true benefit of having a strong entrepreneurial community.”
JumpStart is known nationally for its work with a diverse group of entrepreneurs, and is committed to economic inclusion with a focus on minority and women-owned businesses. It provides hands-on strategic planning to help these entrepreneurs move their businesses through key growth milestones with access to investment funds.
“JumpStart’s funding process helped me validate my company’s story. Now we are impacting patients’ lives,” said Maria E. Bennett, president and CEO of SPR Therapeutics, which develops technologies that offer alternatives to traditional pain therapies.
In order to introduce more entrepreneurs to the startup network in northeast Ohio, JumpStart will host Startup Scaleup 2015 on June 17. The event will feature pitch competitions, networking sessions and other resources from the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network. There will be more than 25 different events in venues around Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District.
“Startup Scaleup 2015 is our attempt to show the full scope of our region’s support network. The idea is to bring everything to one place for one day and allow entrepreneurs to pick the resources that can best help them based on where they are in their entrepreneurial journey,” said Martin.
Martin says Jumpstart’s Cleveland location is a big benefit to entrepreneurs looking to start businesses in the region. The cost of rent is low, the quality of potential employees is high and the universities in the city are strong. She says the real “magic” is the way the entire region comes together to help entrepreneurs.
“People visit northeast Ohio and within an hour understand why people choose to start their businesses here,” said Martin. “No matter where you are in our 21 county region, you can feel the energy. It’s taken time and hard work, but people are starting to sit up and take notice of what we are building in northeast Ohio.”