The podcast highlights Founders who see growing a company in the Midwest as an advantage
We know it, but not everybody does yet: the Midwest is an awesome place to build a business. For decades, Silicon Valley has dominated public perception as the place to start a technology company thanks to big names like Google and Apple—even a hit TV show, aptly named Silicon Valley. But with each passing year, heartland states like Ohio are snatching investments away from the coast, leading to bigger and bigger exits and acquisitions from companies like CoverMyMeds and TOA Technologies. upside.fm knows, like we do, that the Midwest is on the rise, and it’s highlighting the successes of startups in the region through a weekly podcast.
“We’re talking to founders outside of Silicon Valley who are building their businesses in what has historically been thought of as a geographical disadvantage. But that’s less and less the case each year. We see the tide turning firsthand,” said Jay Clouse, co-host of upside.fm. “Places outside of Silicon Valley, like the Midwest, are not just viable—but advantageous places to start a company. We want to get that message out that great things are happening right here.”
upside.fm is hosted by Clouse, the creator of Unreal Collective who can be found buzzing around the Columbus startup community, and Eric Hornung, Vice President of Duff & Phelps who’s landed in Cincinnati after stints in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chicago and New York. The pair became fast friends at Ohio State after a series of impassioned conversations around entrepreneurship and investment opportunity in the region. Years after choosing their paths— Clouse in entrepreneurship and Hornung in finance— the conversations now continue in front of a microphone with the goal of showing off the innovative region.
“I started getting calls from venture capitalists on the West Coast who were interested in the Midwest’s startup community saying, ‘We’re coming to Ohio in the Spring, can you help us set up a meeting?’ It got me thinking about these scout trips being made and the investment side of things, which I don’t have the background in. I reached out to Eric who does, and he said, ‘I have a half-finished PowerPoint on this,’ which of course he did,” joked Clouse. “That’s when we began to think seriously about how we could bring attention to just how investible some of these tech companies really are.”
Hornung and Clouse explore the investment potential of startups in the region — like RapChat, tilr and ScriptDrop. They use a framework adapted from Angel, by Jason Calacanis, a hit book that’s become a gospel of sorts to help angel investors decide how best to invest their money. The result is an interesting perspective not found in most popular startup podcasts, which usually explore a founder’s backstory and history of growing the company.
“We ultimately want this to be rewarding for the listener and really spell out the opportunity each company represents— the potential upsides and downsides of investing,” said Hornung. “So far, listeners have really responded. We’re taking an objective, well-thought-out look at early-stage companies, while at the same time highlighting the great work being done in the region we care so much about. It’s really a win-win.”