Written by Jerred Ziegler.
More than 600 entrepreneurs from across the country converged in Cincinnati for the sixth annual FounderCon, put on by the nationally renowned Techstars business accelerator. The founders who attend share a unique bond as graduates of the accelerator, and FounderCon allows them to share best practices, renew the excitement and momentum, connect with investors and meet new potential customers.
The event was brought to Ohio for the first time by Cintrifuse, a southwest partner of Ohio Third Frontier. It provided an opportunity to show off vibrant Cincinnati and how the city is creating a strong hub for startup innovation.
Techstars is a 90-day accelerator that is built around the mantra of giving back without expecting anything in return. Leaders from corporations like Target, Best Buy and General Mills give their time as mentors, sharing their expertise on everything from marketing to technology advancements to finding investors. As one of the newest Techstars graduates and a central Ohio company, Nexosis co-founder and CEO Ryan Sevey said the insight he gained from both the mentors and other startups helped move his business forward.
“Techstars chooses its companies based on the founding team,” said Sevey. “Everyone there is fully-engaged and open to new ideas, feedback and constructive criticism, and that led to many insightful conversations and new ideas.”
Sevey and other Nexosis leaders traveled from Westerville, Ohio to attend the 90-day Techstars Retail program in Minneapolis. Other Techstars accelerator programs are specific to a region or industry, such as Techstars Music in Los Angeles and Techstars New York City. Company leaders spend the first three weeks meeting with different mentors to find the right match, and Sevey chose a mentor he felt could help him with leadership and company culture issues. Nexosis’ marketing director, sales manager and CTO chose different mentors to fit their individual goals.
Nexosis offers software to retailers that uses machine learning to help companies make decisions and increase profits. One use for the software is using predictive analytics to avoid over- or under-stocking shelves. The company got its start in 2015 with help from Rev1 Ventures, a central Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier. Nexosis was one of just 10 companies chosen to participate in Techstars Retail from a pool of about 600 applicants. Sevey says the experience has helped him see that collaboration among corporations and entrepreneurs builds stronger companies and communities.
“Mentors spent hours with us every week expecting nothing in return, and that’s what the entire program is based on,” said Sevey. “Imagine if companies embraced this concept on a global scale. Entrepreneurs drive economic development, and when they step up to the plate and give back, it creates a cycle of successful startups.”
The Nexosis team returned home to Columbus with renewed strength, and plans to continue their growth in Central Ohio. Sevey says organizations like The Ohio State University and Battelle give them unparalleled access to technical talent, while the cost to do business in Ohio helps their money go further.
“We will always have connections with Techstars and the companies that we collaborated with, and it’s great to see them gather in Ohio from all over the country,” said Sevey. “I truly feel that being in Columbus gives us a huge advantage, which is why we have chosen the city as the home for Nexosis as we continue to move forward.”