How the Columbus investor startup studio made a massive impact last year
For startups in central Ohio and beyond, Columbus investor startup studio Rev1 Ventures has been a key leader in nurturing, growing and guiding companies at a variety of stages. And in spite of an unpredictable and tumultuous two years for most businesses, the company announced last month in their 2021 Startup Impact Report that their clients made $1 billion in impact last year, which Chief Operations Officer Kristy Campbell said was a testament to “the resiliency and growth of our clients.”
“Last year they contributed more than $1 billion in impact to the region through their revenue generated and capital attracted,” she said. “Rev1 also provided nearly $11 million in funding to 27 companies. Thirty of our clients raised more than $1 million and 51 raised more than $250,000 last year. We’re also starting to see significant client exits that are creating wealth for our community and positioning experienced entrepreneurs to build their next business and give back.”
The massive success in 2021 comes on the heels of a push for added equity and diversity, matching with a nationwide trend. Last year, Rev1 launched a new $3 million fund dedicated to expanding their entrepreneurial diversity and achieved 58% client diversity and
67% diversity of funded companies. Campbell said the push to diversify isn’t just a principled stance, it’s good business as well.
“To achieve our goals, we must represent and support the diverse community that we serve,” she said. “We continue to break down barriers and access to our programs and funding. Last year we secured a grant from the Economic Development Administration to expand our Innovation Internship program and to launch a new Grow to Scale mentor program, which pairs women and entrepreneurs of color with experienced and culturally competent mentors. We just kicked off the first cohort of this program and look forward to expanding it this year. In addition, we continue to diversify our team, which is now 61% women and 22% people of color.”
Last year alone, Rev1’s Innovation Internship program placed 109 interns into 27 startups, with 64% of those interns women or people of color. Campbell called the program “an important talent pipeline for our growing companies.” It’s easy to take for granted that the organization’s clients are also still dealing with the effects of the pandemic. And while companies are beginning to get back to something like what we once knew, Campbell said everyone is still navigating the new environment, even amid a record-breaking year.
“It is a new normal,” she said. “More of our clients are back to networking and meeting in person. Our IT/software companies are finding it easier to work remotely, while still seeking ways to connect with their teams for collaboration and innovation. Our life sciences companies, however, need access to important resources – like lab space – to do their work. We see this dichotomy at our Innovation Center. Occupancy pre-pandemic was 90% with a waiting list. Now residency is around 75%, yet there is still a wait list for critical wet lab space.”
As Rev1 continues to increase its impact, Campbell said the organization is perfectly positioned in Columbus. She said the community “has never been more connected to support entrepreneurship and innovation,” and called Columbus “the Midwest’s hub for startup growth.” But Rev1 still has lofty goals, and wants to improve access to seed capital, strategic advisory services and talent, all while continuing to make a major impact.
“We continue to be flexible, yet focused,” she said. “Our environment will change. Our teams will change. We need to be focused on our goals and be creative in how we achieve them. The future: the economy is at an inflection point. We advise our clients to focus on the fundamentals: build a business that solves a real problem for your customers. Build products people want and are willing to pay for. Plan for multiple scenarios. Build relationships with investors early and show them progress along the way. We’re here to support our clients through the ups and downs of building their business.”