Cincinnati startup levels the playing field
They say if you want something done, ask a woman. And at Cincinnati nonprofit Aviatra Accelerators, helping women get things done is their mission. In southwest Ohio, organizations like The Brandery, Queen City Angels and Cintrifuse provide entrepreneurs with a variety of resources, with Aviatra serving to complement and boost chances for underrepresented entrepreneurs. In the swirl of the startup scene, women often have different challenges in finding funding and support they need. That’s where Aviatra comes in.
“We joke that men go out to lunch with their buddies and come back with a check,” said president and CEO Nancy Aichholz. “It’s just so much harder for women. We really believe in the idea that if women are educated, coached and mentored, and encouraged to network appropriately, then they have a better chance of accessing funds.”
The leaders of Aviatra are committed to leveling the playing field as an important step toward providing equal experiences for women. Since the company was founded in 2010, its goal has been to provide equal access to resources for women in business.
“The most unique part of Aviatra’s mission is empowering female entrepreneurs,” said Aichholz. “We support, educate, coach and mentor women at all stages of their business cycle across all industries. We’re one of the very few full-service accelerators that is industry-agnostic and focused on women. There are only a couple of others like us in the country.”
Aviatra’s programs are divided into Explore, Launch and Grow. Women come to Aviatra at various stages of their startup journey and these programs can help them develop a business plan, establish how to monetize their business and make connections. Those who are more established return to prepare for funding, growth and future plans.
“You never really leave our organization; we’re a community,” said Aichholz. “I had a meeting with one of my entrepreneurs who has a revolutionary business. She’s building out her team now, so I met with her to talk about the right track, generating sales and the different resources they need.”
Almost a decade after its creation, Aviatra and its client base have both grown up. Their reach has expanded through connections in Cleveland, Columbus and northern Kentucky. The organization has now worked with hundreds of women and created thousands of jobs and millions in revenue and funding. And as Aviatra has evolved, so have the women they serve.
“We’re seeing many more women at a very high level who have stepped off the career ladder to be home with family. And when they want to get back in, they don’t necessarily want to go back into a corporate environment,” said Aichholz. “I think the type of entrepreneur that we’re seeing has really evolved. Our girls grew up.”
What’s next for Aviatra? The possibilities seem endless to Aichholz. She said the company would like to work more in other Ohio cities and build stronger relationships with Rev1 Ventures and The Ohio State University. They are also working to tap into talent at hospital systems like the Cleveland Clinic. Whatever comes next, Ohio can provide the talent and resources Aviatra needs.
“I think Ohio is an awesome place for what we do, and it’s a great place for other accelerators to focus on the high-growth entrepreneur,” said Aichholz. “It’s an affordable state. Talent can come in, learn, grow their businesses and live here and not break the bank while they’re building their organization.”