2021 By the Numbers: Quantifying a Year of Historic Growth
Ohio startups are thriving, and we have the numbers to prove it
The last two years have been a challenge for all of us. But through it all, Ohio companies are still thriving, setting record numbers, stepping up more than ever before and even offering solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every day, a variety of organizations focused on startup success in Ohio make contributions to their communities and clients, helping businesses blossom and founders excel. This year, those organizations — and the startup climates they help create — hit major milestones that demonstrate the continued growth of the startup and small business scene across the Buckeye State.
Here are just a few tangible measures of that growth, showcasing the numbers behind one of Ohio’s most successful years ever:
Ohio companies received $2 billion in outside investment this year
In 2021, Ohio companies received more outside investment than ever before, reaching the $2 billion mark for the first time in a single year — and they hit that milestone all the way back in October. Investors from all around the country know that Ohio is the home of innovation, and they’re showing it with their wallets, even when companies weren’t planning on going the fundraising route.
“They reached out,” Sean Lane, founder and CEO of Olive AI., told Columbus Business First. Olive raised a massive $400 million round this year, the largest in Ohio history. This year, five different central Ohio startups and two Cincinnati startups have had funding rounds of at least $100 million. Whether they’re brand new companies or established powerhouses, Ohio startups are growing like never before.
JumpStart companies have generated $9.1 billion in economic impact since 2010
A new report from the startup gurus at Cleveland’s JumpStart shows that between 2010 and 2020, startups and small businesses supported by the organization have generated $9.1 billion in economic impact.
During that period, JumpStart has engaged with more than 5,000 tech startups and small businesses, spent more than 360,000 hours advising, sourced and screened more than 625 new technologies and assessed more than 175 research institution technologies for commercial potential.
Startups under the JumpStart umbrella have generated more than $5.3 billion in revenue, including $580 million generated by Black and Latino-led companies and $2 billion from women-led companies. JumpStart companies have paid more than $2.3 billion in wages and $530 million in state and local taxes, contributing to their communities. JumpStart’s focus on tangible impact and creating jobs affects everything the organization does.
“A little investment of $200,000 or $500,000 today can create a company that’s worth over a billion dollars 10 years from now and that can employ thousands of Ohioans,” CEO Ray Leach told 19 News Cleveland.
Rev1 clients have created $3.8 billion in startup impact since 2013
Venture capital funding and startup studio Rev1 knows what a new company needs, from advice and guidance to funding and incubation. And the organization’s numbers prove just how efficient they are at guiding businesses.
Since 2013, the organization’s clients have created $3.8 billion in impact, which includes revenue generated, capital attracted and client exits. Over that period, Rev1 has served 1,119 entrepreneurs and innovators and funded 133 startups. This year, they surpassed $200 million, a new record, in capital attracted to central Ohio. Along the way, more than 160 interns and fellows have been placed with startups since Rev1 launched its Innovation Interns program in 2020. This year, the organization also launched its second corporate-backed fund, Rev1 Fund II, a $20 million fund aimed at supporting high-growth companies in Ohio and beyond.
Lower.com raised a record $100 million in Series A funding
In the midst of rapid growth and plans to change home buying, central Ohio’s Lower.com made a major splash in June when they announced that the company had raised $100 million in its Series A funding round, a record for Ohio companies.
The massive fundraising was part of a whirlwind summer for the company, which preceded the funding with the announcement of its sponsorship of Lower.com Field, the home of the Columbus Crew. For CEO and Co-Founder Dan Snyder, the busy year was a culmination of years of work and a great way to announce the company’s intent.
“We’ve been growing like crazy, and it was frustrating at times to be one of the fastest-growing employers and hear people say, ‘Wait, who’s Lower?’” he told TechOhio. “Now, overnight, we’re a known commodity. For us to be the naming rights partner is just incredible. When it was first presented, I thought, ‘This can’t be real.’ The story behind it, with the whole city standing up and saving the Crew, how can you not love it? So for us to align with that in our home community was a no-brainer. And then the series A funding came just a few days later. It was incredible.”
Companies in the Gener8tor gBeta Cleveland program have raised $6.7 million in funding
Nationwide startup accelerator gener8tor announced that companies participating in its gBeta Cleveland program have raised more than $6.7 million in funding. GBeta is an early-stage startup accelerator program held two times per year that accepts five local companies per cohort. gBETA works with startups from across all industries and business models. The 14 companies who have completed the program thus far have raised a total of $6,772,790 in funding, and 11 of those companies have received additional funding since participating.
In addition to the dollars and cents, the program has also championed diversity. Half of the accelerator’s companies were founded by women and 57 percent were founded by a person of color, along with 29 percent founded by immigrants. Those companies have employed more than 75 people. The program continues to branch out with new partnerships and features, and those getting involved — like Cleveland law firm Thompson Hine — sing its praises.
“The Cleveland startup community is fortunate to have programs like gener8tor’s gBETA program as it builds support for entrepreneurs and helps grow the ecosystem,” said Jonathon Vinocur, Partner at Thompson Hine and chair of the firm’s Early Stage & Emerging Companies group. “The lessons learned by founders are invaluable and help them accelerate to the next level. Thompson Hine is excited to be a part of that process.”
Cincinnati startups raised $650 million in 2021 alone
As part of Ohio’s monumental, record-breaking year, startups in Cincinnati thrived more than ever before. This year alone, startups in the Queen City raised more than $650 million, an increase of three times over 2020 that highlights the resilience of the market and the tremendous growth trajectory of the city’s startup scene. Multiple Cincinnati startups closed rounds of more than $50 million, while a handful of others closed their very first seed round of funding, helping to establish Cincinnati as one of the country’s most exciting startup scenes. The year was capped by Mason-based Vndly’s $510 million exit.
One of the most successful parts of the Cincinnati startup environment has been the collaboration between small startups and large companies. Guy Persaud, Proctor and Gamble’s president of new business and board chair of Cintrifuse, captured the city’s high hopes.
“Our goal is to make the Greater Cincinnati region the No. 1 startup ecosystem in the Midwest,” he told CincyInno. “I would love to make it eventually No. 1 in the country, which I think it can. We have so many opportunities here that other cities don’t. I’ve worked in four continents and 60 countries and the combination of things in Cincinnati — the accessibility, the cost of living, the restaurants, the bigcos, the Fortune 500 companies, what’s happening at the airport and in fintech, that lends itself to being a real hotbed.
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