Startups Seeing Ohio as Great Place to do Business

Written by Jerred Ziegler.

It’s 9 a.m. with hundreds of people arriving to work at 60 different startup companies in the same building. Brainstorming, developing and fostering their new and growing businesses. The entrepreneurs working together to solve problems and create partnerships, while experienced mentors are helping to guide them through the process of creating and scaling their business. This is a typical morning at one of several business incubators throughout Ohio — and an example of the many resources that are establishing Ohio as a hub for innovative new technology companies.

Ohio’s entrepreneurs are disrupting industries daily with new and innovative ideas. Startups here are embraced by the communities they are growing in, and have the resources available across the state to help transform their ideas into successful businesses. From the world-class medical facilities of Cleveland, to the research institutes and major universities of Columbus, to the out-of-the-box tech talent of Cincinnati, startups have access to top-notch assets with a much lower cost of doing business than most major cities.

Entrepreneurs shared some of their top reasons for choosing Ohio as the home for their businesses, and explain how the state helped launch them toward success:

SUPPORT

With Ohio Third Frontier’s support, entrepreneurs here have access to a wealth of resources — from funding opportunities to business coaching and legal support. Entrepreneurs can apply for support directly from the state or work with a number of Ohio Third Frontier partners. They also have access to some of nation’s top ranked accelerator and incubator programs.

“We owe a great deal to Ohio Third Frontier. Many of our technological innovations have been funded by the state, everything from prototyping to research studies. Their assistance has made our product possible.”
– Dr. Anand Agarwal, president and CEO of Spinal Balance, Inc.

“Our company exists thanks to the financial support the state offers to startups and their efforts to attract entrepreneurs to the region. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
– Damon Ragusa, CEO of ThinkVine

“I don’t think we would have made it to where we are today without the support. We’ve been able to create 35 jobs here because of the structures put together by the state. Entrepreneurs face some very steep hills when starting a business, but the resources in Ohio made them a lot easier to climb.”
– Dr. Wayne Poll, founder and CEO of Minimally Invasive Devices (MID)

“We’re fortunate that we are in an exciting space and that we have a product that is growing rapidly. But those things are not possible unless you have investors early on who are willing to provide capital to help your company get off the ground. It was really that early support in Toledo that allowed us to get to this point. We recognize that and we’re very thankful.”
– Tim Varner, co-founder of Roost

COLLABORATION/TALENT

Ohio is home to some of the country’s top universities and hospitals. This creates rich opportunities for entrepreneurs to work with the best medical professionals, engineers, and professors to develop technology. It also means access to large talent pools of graduates from these institutions.

“Ohio is full of universities with strongholds in research and technology that are building a core hub of development. We’re staying here with it. We want to be as close as possible to where the innovation is.”
– Anthony Ignagni, president, CEO and co-founder of Synapse Biomedical

“It’s gratifying to be building a technology hub in the Ohio Valley. Shawnee State University is home to one of the top simulation engineering programs in the country, meaning we have access to hiring the best and brightest students right in our backyard. I feel like we have an opportunity to turn the area into the next Silicon Valley.”
– Greg Merril, CEO of YOST Labs

“We’re surrounded by powerhouse medical institutions like the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and Summa Health System, plus the Cleveland area is home to universities with some of the top biomedical engineering programs in the country.”
– Dr. Andreas Inmann, CEO of O2 RegenTech

“Ohio is an excellent place for finding the necessary funding for starting a business. When you combine that with our proximity to one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals and our access to talent here in southwest Ohio, we are in a great location for continued growth.” – Marc Salzberg, president and CEO of Airway Therapeutics

COST OF LIVING

It’s much more affordable to live in Ohio rather than Silicon Valley or New York City, and because of that you can find low-rent office space in major city centers. This helps our entrepreneurs stretch their dollar, hire bigger teams and work in state-of-the-art facilities.

“Your money takes you so much further in Ohio than it would on either of the coasts. You’re able to do more and see more gains, all while using less capital. This allows companies like ours to really accelerate faster than we would if we were in New York or California.”
– Alex Purtell, head of growth and marketing for Rekovo

“If this company was located on the west coast or in New York, we’d be a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond. We’d have to fight with huge companies for resources and investment dollars. Plus, there’s more competition to find and retain good talent. At the end of the day, from Columbus I can hop on a plane to meet with clients in New York or California at any time. My team has a lower cost of living, and we can stand out and get more exposure. I credit a lot of this company’s success to having our home base in Ohio.”
– Patrick Murphy, CEO and founder of Brand Thunder

“Cleveland is the best place to start a business. Since it’s a very family-friendly area, it’s easy to attract talent. Plus, rent is cheap and we’re close to a major airport, so travel is
easy. All of this factors into the boom this area has seen in entrepreneurship. There are great companies here in northeast Ohio and I think it’s great what the state of Ohio is doing to encourage continued growth.”
– Laura Bennett, CEO and co-founder of Embrace Pet Insurance

“As someone who is not from Ohio, I have to admit that it was not on my radar as a tech hub. But there is a great support system here. Our money goes a lot further and we have just as strong of a network here as we would on the coasts.”
– Steve Caldwell, founder and CEO of Strap

OPEN TO NEW IDEAS

Ohio’s entrepreneurs are always willing to share their knowledge and experiences to help the next generation of businesses have the greatest chance of success. It is this collaborative spirit that generates great ideas and companies that are creating jobs and growing the economy. Ohio Third Frontier partners give entrepreneurs access to many of the best mentorship opportunities in the country.

“I moved back to Ohio from Silicon Valley in 2001. Since that time, the entrepreneurial community here has changed dramatically. There are networks available and the opportunity to get help from those who know what it takes to start a company. It’s really the quality of the workforce that sets Ohio apart. We could not have accomplished everything we have so far without the high quality of people we’ve been able to hire.”
– Ebie Holst, founder and CEO of SplashLink.com

“Ohio and the Midwest mentality have been key to my company’s success. The people here are very genuine and there’s a lot of energy in the startup community. Ohio’s also home to a lot of Fortune 500 companies, many of which support capital services for entrepreneurs. This leads to a lot of great opportunities for startups to connect with large corporations early in the process.”
– Rod Robinson, founder and CEO of ConnXus

“The technical team who helped me build this technology is in Ohio, and we build all of our 3-D printers here. There are a lot of people in this state who are experts at designing and implementing 3-D prints. That wouldn’t be possible in other places without the strong history of manufacturing in Ohio.”
– Mark Norfolk, president and CEO of Fabrisonic

“The Dayton Police Department allowed us to test our new technologies right here in our own backyard, which is truly a unique opportunity. We’ve got the right technology and, most importantly, the right people.”
– Tom Lachey, co-founder of Footprint

Entrepreneurs exude passion for what they do and are driven to make ideas a reality. They are wise when choosing a place to plant their company’s roots — where their time, money and efforts can go the furthest, and where they can benefit from the existing momentum and entrepreneurial spirit. That’s what you’ll find in Ohio, and why startups are choosing to grow their companies here.

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