The inaugural report explains data behind the region’s startup success
Ohio: synonymous with football, buckeye desserts, and more than ever, startups. As the community of companies and entrepreneurs continues to grow, Indianapolis-based Powderkeg, a platform that connects tech entrepreneurs, investors and professionals, released their inaugural technology census. The report, made in association with Cincinnati-based Ohio Third Frontier partners Cintrifuse and CincyTech, detailed the trends powering Cincinnati’s tech boom. With data collected from more than 150 founders, employees and investors, the results were categorized into several areas ranging from startup performance to tech community and culture. Here’s a breakdown of the most important findings.
One of the key pieces of data that cemented Ohio as a top place for startups was the census’ statement on how those in Cincinnati are performing. Early-stage startups were reported to be growing 56 percent faster than national benchmarks, which is good news for the fledgling members of the community. More good news? Cincy startups are some of the leanest operating in the country, meaning they’re spending less to operate their businesses. For the community, this means Cincinnati’s long-established benefits like a low cost of living and affordable office space make it a go-to location for starting a company.
Michael Markesbury, CEO and co-founder of Oros agreed with the report’s findings, stating, “It’s really affordable to start a company and validate a business model in Cincinnati. That affordability allows your dollar to stretch further, making your runway a little longer – especially in the earliest stages of a business – which makes Cincy is a great place to set up shop.”
Tech Community and Culture
For those familiar with the Ohio startup scene, the words “collaboration,” “community” and “hustle” will come as no surprise. Survey results in this section indicated that these buzzwords are the foundation of the Cincinnati tech community’s core values. In correspondence with local innovation source Cincy Inno, Cintrifuse vice president of communications Eric Weissmann noted that while the census results provide a good baseline about the startup community as they look to improve, these descriptors also speak to the existing ecosystem in Ohio. In fact, when asked why they wanted to locate their company in Cincinnati, 32 percent of survey responses indicated that the region was home to their social network — speaking to the wealth of important tech connections in the state.
Another important area of note is Cincinnati’s commitment to improving diversity and inclusion within the tech community. Around 30 percent of survey participants noted they wanted to impact the inclusivity of their community, a fact that Myra Ballentine of VECTRE noted was a strong suit of Cincinnati.
“We admire organizations like the Hillman Accelerator, that want to support inclusion,” said Ballentine. “When I first started out, I wasn’t aware of all the different kinds of support, but there’s a lot in Cincinnati — everyone wants to help one another here.”
Tech Startup Talent
There are many reasons talent comes to Ohio: lower annual household expenses, great colleges and universities and numerous growth opportunities. These are just some of the ways that the area attracts and retains talent. While 75 percent of respondents agreed that there is adequate access to junior startup talent in Cincinnati, some found that access to senior talent could be improved. Charlie Key, co-founder and CEO of Losant said in the survey,
“We still lack a little bit of that experience in Cincinnati, but we’re starting to see some executive boomerangs. These people are going out to the coasts, getting experience, and then coming back to work here.”
Even those who aren’t Ohio born and bred are interested in moving to the state. 65 percent said they grew up in areas outside of Cincinnati before deciding to make it home — talk about an attractive startup scene.
Tech Startup Fundraising
For startups big and small, funding is always a top priority. Powderkeg’s census reveals that Cincinnati straddles the line in terms of its great offerings: the unprecedented working relationship between enterprises and startups, and its areas that could use some improvement: later series funding. Mike Venerable, president of CincyTech noted that their $51,000,000 investments have imported around $850,000,000 of venture capital to the region, and they’re looking to expand. As Cincinnati looks to bolster their resources, investors are looking to industries like biomedical and information technology and infrastructure where they see the most potential for growth.
After releasing the results, Powderkeg and Cincinnati hope to use the information to continue building upon the flourishing startup community. With 92 percent of respondents expecting the community to grow materially over the next five years, the potential for Ohio to shape the future will only mean more prosperity and growth for the region. As for the area’s startups? They seem ready to contribute to the cause.