TechOhio Roundup: What Entrepreneurs Say They Love About Ohio

Reasons why these CEOs and founders think Ohio is at the center of innovation

2022 has been a year of innovation, growth and dominating performance for Ohio startups. Innovators continue to look at Ohio as the place to build their business and foster new ideas. As we approach the end of 2022, we’re taking a look back at some of the amazing reasons entrepreneurs flourished in the Ohio startup scene this year. The companies and founders TechOhio spoke with say it best, so we’re highlighting some of the reasons why they think Ohio is at the height of innovation.

The Resources

Lazurite – President Leah Brownlee

“Ohio is full of resources for startups. Beside the fact that we’re all from Cleveland and thrilled to not have to move to another city to have our dream jobs, Ohio is known for its world-class health systems and medical facilities. We have physicians locally that we can engage with and who are available to work with tech companies. And we have investors from across Ohio, from The Ohio State University to venture firms. So we’re able to engage with world-class surgery centers, hospitals and investors all within a drive of a couple of hours.”

Cognovi Labs – Co-Founder and CEO Beni Gradwohl

“Ohio is a great place to start a business. There are phenomenal resources and talent in Dayton, especially being located next to Wright-Patterson, one of the largest air force bases in the country. You do not have to be in Boston next to MIT or next to Stanford in Silicon Valley to create a powerful and leading-edge technology company. The team I’m working with is the best team I have ever worked with and we are very proud to work to benefit Ohio, as well as support the local economy.”

The Networking

The Hub in Dayton – The Entrepreneurs’ Center President Scott Koorndyk

“Ohio has this fusion of small-business support, academic support and arts, brought together to really create some new capabilities and possibilities. We all know that, for small businesses, it takes a village. You can’t just build a small business by yourself. So we’re trying to support those businesses with potential talent, bringing students in as interns, first employees, graphic designers or whatever that may be.”

Bailout Systems – Founder and CEO Michael Ragsdale

“Watching how the state has evolved and grown with all the companies and networking opportunities, Ohio is the best kept secret in the country for startups and developing products. You have huge industries here, from Fortune 500 companies to tech companies. Any chance I get to show what Ohio has to offer, I take it. Hopefully people see our story and think, ‘If I have an idea, I can follow what he did.’ There’s all this help out there, and some people have no idea.”

The Funding

HDO Health – CEO Bryan Stewart

“We’re a great example of how the things that Ohio has built are working and the great ecosystem that has been set up. Funds made available through the Ohio Third Frontier funded our early development and we’ve been able to find all of our non-dilutive funding through Ohio sources. Ohio has literally put their money where their mouth is to help us get here.”

Clarus R+D – CEO Chris Winslow

“What’s really exciting is that we’re founding companies and keeping companies here, and a big part of that is being able to get funding here. I’ve run funds and incubators before, and it’s always a challenge to find B- and C-round funding for companies. But right now, thanks to the Third Frontier and other investments, there’s an opportunity for companies to grow organically here in Columbus. Then they keep growing, build more teams and eventually create wealth. We’re seeing the infrastructure in place to grow that wealth.”

The Mentorship

Clean Earth Rovers – Founder and CEO Michael Arens

“We were able to find multiple levels of support and mentorship through the entrepreneurial program at Xavier University and having that professional presence in Cincinnati is amazing. And we would not be in the position we’re in right now if we hadn’t received both monetary and business acumen support from the University of Cincinnati. I-Corps@Ohio is also one of the best accelerator programs we could have participated in because it was so crucial for us to figure out where our technology could fit into the market. We’ve had so many people backing us and being in our corner throughout the past couple years and they’ve been tremendously helpful with getting us to where we’re at.”

Zoptiks – Founder Hari Kunduru

“My alma mater is Ohio State and there were a lot of connections that I could leverage and a great alumni network,” he said. “It’s also very business-friendly and good for young startups. The state is good for the longevity of a startup or small business and there’s a growing community here that’s open to new ideas.”

The Manufacturing

TinyCircuits – President and Founder Ken Burns

“From a startup standpoint, we really wouldn’t be able to do what we do on the coast. Things are affordable here in Ohio. We can have a large office space where we do manufacturing. We have great access to talented people. So when you have that, we can actually do manufacturing and be competitive without outsourcing to China, which is a huge, huge thing for us to be able to manufacture affordably and compete.”

The Ohio State University Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence 3D Printing – Director of Additive Manufacturing Edward Herderick

“Across Ohio, there are a ton of advanced additive manufacturers, especially in the biomed space. Just looking at universities, we have a huge program here and there are incredible programs at the University of Toledo, Youngstown State, Case Western, the University of Dayton, the University of Cincinnati and more. That incredible work is reflective of the broad base of manufacturers in Ohio. And the Ohio State stakeholders that are out there hiring our students want to see access to this kind of technology.”

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