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Ohio companies garner coveted listings on the 2013 Inc. 5,000

Among other Ohio companies, two Buckeye State startups have garnered coveted national recognition.

CoverMyMeds, a Twinsburg firm that makes it easier for patients to get their prescribed medications, and Plug Smart, a Columbus energy solution company, both placed in the top 300 of Inc. Magazine's 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the United States.
 
Inc. Magazine's rankings take into consideration factors such as annual growth, revenue increases and staff expansions over a three-year period. Coming in at 96, CoverMyMeds grew 3,567 percent over the designated time frame using the magazine's criteria, garnering $5.3 million in revenue as of 2012.
 
The company, which previously received funding from Cleveland entrepreneur accelerator JumpStart, is an online service for physicians and pharmacists that provides prior authorization services and other insurance coverage for a variety of drug plans.
 
Web- and phone-based tools developed by CoverMyMeds automate the submission of authorization requests, a process that when done manually can be both expensive and frustrating, says principal/CEO Alan Scantland. The company does not charge pharmacies or doctors for using the service, instead putting the onus on  drug manufacturers that need to expedite the sluggish authorization process if they want to increase sales.
 
Being ranked by Inc. in the top 100 - and eighth overall in the healthcare sector - "brings us immediate attention, and gives us a third-party voice of credibility while adding to our brand and positioning," says Scantland. "The distinction is also great for employees, who are getting some well-deserved recognition for their efforts."
 
Lightning-fast growth has also opened the door for additional business ventures, notes the company head. "It's wonderful," he says. "We’re very excited about making such an impact in healthcare."
 
Plug Smart made the list during its first year of eligibility thanks to over 1,500 percent in growth and $6.4 million in revenue from 2009 to 2012. The energy services company helps commercial, industrial, nonprofit and utility companies implement a broad range of energy solutions, from HVAC to lighting systems. Among its goals, the TechColumbus-incubated firm seeks to aid clients in building energy efficiency projects and leveraging renewable power resources.
 
Getting your company's name out there when competing with industry stalwarts like Siemens, Honeywell and Trane is no mean feat, says Plug Smart president David Zehala. In addition to its overall ranking, the company finished number 17 on the list of Top 100 energy companies, and number eight in the list's top 100 Ohio companies.
 
"This establishes Plug Smart as a major force within the energy services sector," Zehala says. "Our teams represent the best and brightest energy engineering minds in the industry, and our success is a testament to their ability to help our clients find creative ways to implement energy projects."

CincyTech portfolio company BioRx, which enjoyed 181 percent growth over the past three years, was also listed as one of Ohio's top 100.

More than 180 Ohio companies were included on the 2013 Inc. 5000 list, including Vertex Body Science and US Logistics, which clocked in at numbers 19 and 34, respectively.

By Douglas J. Guth

Gay Games eyes $50m in economic impact for northeast Ohio

When the Gay Games come to northeast Ohio next August, 30,000 athletes and spectators are expected to descend upon the region, visiting the city’s attractions, patronizing area hotels and restaurants and using other services.
 
Organizers are making sure small businesses know the impact the games could have on them, as well as how they can get their names out there. A local staff of 10 organizers has hosted two events targeted at small business sponsorship. A third event will be held in Cleveland on Tuesday, August 27 at Stonetown Restaurant at 5:30 p.m.
 
"Gay Games 9 will have a $50 million economic impact on the region,” says Mary Zaller, director of development for the Gay Games. “I want as many small businesses as possible to get a piece of that pie.”
 
Small business sponsorships range from $500 to $14,000, making it affordable for companies of almost any size to get involved. “For just $500, a small business can be a sponsor of the Gay Games and get our logo on their website and their logo on our website, program and social media,” notes Zaller. “It gives small businesses the power to put themselves out there and show their support of the LGBT community and of equality and equal rights.”
 
Seventy-five percent of the events planned will take place in downtown Cleveland, with the remaining being held in Akron. “You don’t have to be gay, you don’t have to be good, you just have to be 18 to participate,” says Zaller. “We’re all about inclusion, participation and your personal best.”
 
Cleveland is the smallest city to ever host the Gay Games, which started in 1980 and takes place every four years. Previous host cities include San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Sydney, Amsterdam and Vancouver.

 
Source: Mary Zaller
Writer: Karin Connelly

Study: northeast Ohio's tech startups generated $270m in economic impact in 2012

An annual study conducted by Cleveland State University’s Center for Economic Development at the Levin College of Urban Affairs shows that startup companies in Northeast Ohio contribute significantly to the economy. The study surveyed tech-based companies that received assistance, either financially or in services, through JumpStart or the North Coast Angel Fund.
 
The 127 companies who participated in the study generated $211 million in economic benefits in Northeast Ohio in 2012, $270 million statewide. These companies helped create and retain 1,100 in-state direct jobs, with a total Ohio employment impact of 2,140. The companies and their suppliers also increased total Ohio household earnings by $125 million and contributed nearly $12 million in state and local tax impact.
 
As the early-stage companies grow, their impact increases, according to the study. Among those surveyed, 44 companies participated over three years -- from 2010 to 2012, showing 53 percent job growth and a 36 percent increase in economic impact over those three years.
 
“These numbers quantify the impact small companies made,” says Cathy Belk, JumpStart COO. “Small companies make a big difference.  It’s exciting to see the impact the companies we see every day are having. We see how hard these companies are working.”
 
With all of the organizations in Cleveland that support startups, in addition to support from Ohio Third Frontier, which provides funding to organizations like JumpStart, the region is ideal for new businesses.

“We continue to believe that Northeast Ohio is the best place in the country to have a small business or a new business,” says Belk. “We have such a robust ecosystem for startups and small business.”

 
Source: Cathy Belk
Writer: Karin Connelly


Software Craftsman Guild launches boot camp in Akron

The Akron-based Software Craftsman Guild (SWC) has opened the first regional software development boot camp featuring intensive training for seven apprentices over 12 weeks.
 
“There is a severe shortage of qualified software development talent nationally,” says Eric Wise, President at SWC. “Our hiring network partners struggle with finding enough talent for their staffing goals and are reaching out to organizations like ours to identify intelligent and motivated people to fast track into the skill sets that are in demand.”
 
Wise walks through what participants will experience in the boot camp, saying the program is broken down into various technical aspects. “This program is very intense and besides the full-time work in the lab with the mentors, apprentices typically put in another 20 to 30 hours per week doing project work.”
 
Ultimately, Wise believes participants will benefit most by being surrounded by fellow apprentices who are in the same situation. “The best thing for the apprentices is that they are with up to a dozen other people who are going through the same learning curve that they are,” he explains. “They have a relatively consequence-free environment to experiment and really dive down into the material that they can't get from other sources.”
 
Various experts in the field are involved in the program, including Eric Ward who has a strong Java background. “He will be launching a parallel cohort this fall in the Java and open source stacks,” Wise says. Rounding out the team are Sarah Dutkiewicz and David Basarab who have both found success in consulting. If others would like to drop by, Wise says they are welcome. “We have an open door policy for IT professionals in our region to come in, visit and do presentations for the apprentices so that they can hear other voices besides ours and learn as much as they can about the field they are getting into.”
 
Wise and his team are excited to be part of the growing entrepreneurial scene throughout the state, especially in Akron. “Our region has been doing a great job through incubators and other initiatives to move the economy more towards knowledge work,” he says, noting their special place in meeting the technical talent gap. “We are proud to be retooling existing talent to place where needed as we bring brains into the region from other states.”
 
 
Source: Eric Wise
Writer: Joe Baur

Burton D. Morgan Foundation releases latest round of grants

Last month, the northeast Ohio-based Burton D. Morgan Foundation announced grants totaling $982,500 that will support a wide array of youth, collegiate and adult entrepreneurship endeavors.
 
“The Board meets three times each year to consider grants to support strategically positioned entrepreneurship initiatives in the northeast Ohio region,” explains Deborah Hoover, President and CEO of the Foundation. “These grants reflect our best thinking on how we can foster entrepreneurship in our region and help to create a pipeline of entrepreneurially-minded individuals who will help reinvent the economy through new ventures and fresh approaches to solving problems.”
 
Recipients include the Fund for Our Economic Future, BioEnterprise and Akron Public Schools. A complete list of awardees is available at the fund’s official website, bdmorganfdn.org.
 
Regarding how the funds will be used, Hoover says all recipients will be subject to the detailed agreements that govern each grant. “The grant purposes reflect a variety of strategies aimed at advancing entrepreneurship in the region.” These strategies will ultimately help grow and support Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
 
The response from the entrepreneurial community throughout the state, Hoover says, has been overwhelmingly positive and upbeat, with notable excitement about the future. “As I have traveled to other regions of the nation in recent months sharing our story, people are fascinated to hear about the entrepreneurial spirit that is growing in our region and excited to learn how Northeast Ohio has come together to rekindle its entrepreneurial base,” notes Hoover. “The Burton D. Morgan Foundation is proud to be part of this unfolding and vibrant story of determination and resurgence.”
 
 
Source: Deborah Hoover
Writer: Joe Baur

Ohio Third Frontier targets tech-based economy with new programs

Ohio Third Frontier is enhancing its commitment to innovation, adding three new programs that identify methods to move technology products to the marketplace more quickly, resulting in more jobs and a stronger tech-based economy in Ohio.
 
“Each one of the new programs introduced by Ohio Third Frontier has a specific focus on advancing technologies to a place where they can be profitable in the market, creating companies and job opportunities in the process,” explains Katie Sabatino, Senior Media Strategist at the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Communications. “By designing results-driven programs, Ohio’s economy will benefit and improve our foothold as a leader in innovation and advanced technology industries, which are key to our long-term success."
 
Requests for proposals were released in May for the following:

The Commercial Acceleration Loan Fund offers Ohio tech companies loans to assist in developing products and services where they may otherwise have difficulty securing funding due to the risks associated with developing technologies. Loans range from $500,000 to $2.5 million.

The Technology Commercialization Center program invests in new technologies with the goal of creating companies and jobs while helping businesses attract capital. Centers will commercialize research from universities, medical centers or nonprofit institutions and advance the technology into the marketplace. The program offers up to $25 million to create a center with the expectation that after four years it will be self-sustaining.

The Technology Asset Grant supports shared infrastructure projects needed to develop new technologies. Program funding can go towards facilities and/or equipment when a federal procurement agency or at least two Ohio companies believe it is critical to commercialize technology. The grant program offers up to $5 million per project for up to three years.
 
These programs, the state agency believes, will better streamline the flow of new technology products to the market.
 
“When developing and commercializing new products, roadblocks can slow the process, creating a gap where generating funding can be difficult,” Sabatino explains, adding that the new programs will help bridge the gap between funding and commercialization with the goal of impacting the Ohio economy.
 
Never one to rest, Sabatino says Ohio Third Frontier is always looking for new opportunities. “We are focused on continually evaluating Ohio’s strengths and growth opportunities and creating programs that benefit the state’s tech-based economy and create jobs.”
 
 
Source: Katie Sabatino
Writer: Joe Baur

Akron-based marketing firm keeps customers' digital info confidential

Life events, such as getting married, having a baby, buying a house or retiring, can impact the financial decisions individuals make. 
 
Akron-based Segmint offers software that confidentially analyzes and interprets consumer spending information. Using this information, financial institutions can build digital relationships with their clients, offering them specific products and services customized to meet their needs. These opportunities can lead to a competitive advantage.
 
“Instead of overwhelming customers with a constant stream of advertising messages, this enables financial institutions to satisfy consumer demand for personalized service and simplicity through highly-targeted offers exactly at the time their customers are ready to act,” explains Rob Heiser, Segmint President and CEO. “Financial institutions can optimize their marketing budget by delivering individualized online advertising campaigns to their customers quickly and efficiently.”
 
Segmint uses its patented marketing technologies to precisely target bank customers and assign Key Lifestyle Indicators ™ (KLIs) to them, he states. “These identifiers, coupled with our auto analytics platform, campaign management tool and ad delivery capabilities, enable financial institutions to effectively reach customers with timely and relevant offers on the bank’s website or online.”
 
What about maintaining customer confidentiality? “We respect the anonymity of personal information and rigorously adhere to privacy and security regulations,” Heiser notes. “All personally identifiable information remains secure with the financial institution through anonymous numeric codes assigned to each customer.”
 
Segmint’s current client base includes more than 60 credit unions, financial institutions and financial tech companies throughout the U.S.  Established in 2008, Segmint has 28 employees and has received Ohio Third Frontier funding.


Writer: Lynne Meyer

Intern in Ohio program launches this week, connects students with internships

This week, Detroit-based Digerati launched its Intern in Ohio program to the public, which is sponsored by the University of Toledo. Like eHarmony, the program uses an advanced matching algorithm to match students with internship opportunities.
 
Intern in Ohio is free to both students who are looking for internships and businesses who want to post internships. To register, students and employers visit Intern in Ohio’s website to sign up and create a profile or post internship opportunities. Students fill out a short questionnaire about their preferences, and employers share information about the position. The system then identifies the top seven matches for each student, as well as for each position. When the match is made, both the student and employer are notified, and they must show interest before any contact information is shared.
 
“We encourage diverse companies—large and small, for-profit and nonprofit, government and corporate,” says Wendy Pittman, director of Digerati’s Classroom to Career. “It’s a great chance for employers to broadcast their company and internship program across the state and reach a larger pool of applicants.”
 
Only companies in Ohio can post opportunities to the Intern in Ohio website, but all types of internships are welcome. There are posts for marketing, engineering and social media, among others, says Pittman.
 
The program is open to all students who live in Ohio, whether they’re in-state or out-of-state students. Research shows that not only do internships often lead employment offers after graduation, but that students are more likely to remain in an area where they held and internship.
 
“This is the first replication of the Classroom to Career technology from Michigan to Ohio,” says Pittman. “Experiential learning is a game-changer; and we’re looking forward to working with smaller communities to make a difference.”
 
In 2011, Digerati launched its Intern in Michigan program, which has resulted in more than 127,000 matches and introductions between students and employers. Over 1,000 Michigan businesses have posted 4,824 internship opportunities, and 1,049 colleges and universities in the state use the site.
 
Full disclosure: hiVelocity's parent company, IMG, supplies content to Intern in Ohio on a contractual basis.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter

Ringside shopper app helps customers download instant coupons

Akron-based Insight Market Data (IMD) has partnered with a family-run grocery store in Lorain County to create a more convenient, efficient and sustainable method of distributing coupons through a new smartphone app, Ringside Shopper.
 
Jim Wilson, formerly the B2B technical architect of Avon Lake-based PolyOne and senior application developer for Schwab and Key Corp., says the idea was borne out of his wife’s frustration with not being able to find diaper coupons on the internet following the birth of their daughter. The frustration led to serendipity.
 
“All of my varied programming experiences allowed me to see the whole system in a moment of inspiration,” Wilson says, recalling the moment from 1999 when pagers were common and smartphones weren’t on the radar yet. “Having played with early handheld computers, it was obvious to me what was coming and how it would make this system possible.” The long-brewing idea became a patent a decade later and is now a reality.
 
“The Ringside Shopper app itself is incredibly simple,” Wilson explains, adding user information is protected. “While in the store aisle, a shopper just scans the UPC barcode of a product they’re interested in, and the app will display a discount coupon for that product and a few others from competing brands.” The entire process takes no more than a few seconds, allowing the shopper to continue as normal until checkout. “Then at the checkout register, the shopper simply scans the ‘Point of Sale ID’ barcode stuck to the register [Ringside’s logo is on it], and like magic, their coupons will be applied and deducted from their bill as the items are scanned in,” says Wilson. A demo of the process is available at their website.
 
Wilson is proud to note that development has been an “all-Ohio” effort. “In addition to friends and family, the Lorain County Community Innovation Fund supported IMD early on with grant money and helped conduct a successful trial of the prototype system on the Lorain County Community College campus,” he says. Now Wilson is looking for more partners and investors as he continues developing relationships with Kent State UniversityLean Dog in Cleveland, and LaGrange IGA to complete a variety of company tasks, including data mining, analytics support and programming.
 
Meantime, curious shoppers are invited by Wilson to download the free app and try it themselves at the LaGrange IGA. “With a little luck, the money saving system you see there will soon be coming to every store near you.”
 
 
Source: Jim Wilson
Writer: Joe Baur

university of akron invests in additional solar arrays

The University of Akron is investing in more solar panels as part of the school’s commitment to comply with a pending energy bill to cut 20-percent of all consumed energy by 2014.
 
The project comes at the end of Akron’s search for a project with high visibility that required little to no infrastructure changes while making a noticeable impact the school’s sustainability habits. “This new array will offset one percent of all energy consumed and nearly five percent of our demand profile during peak grid congestion,” explains Ralph Morrone, Manager of University Sustainability.
 
Akron’s investment is a marked improvement on the campus’ lone 28KW array. Morrone says the new array is 650KW – more than 23 times the installed capacity. “The existing array is barely enough to light one floor of the building that it currently resides atop,” quips Morrone, adding the initial project was created simply to promote the technology.
 
The project is also a win for nearby Carbon Vision, a Shaker Heights-based renewable energy analysis and project development firm that won the bid to produce Akron’s solar arrays. Carbon Vision offered the “turnkey solution” for the university’s needs, including a plan to design, fund, install, and maintain the solar array at their cost for the duration of the contract and Power Purchase Agreement. “The only cost to the university during the contract is the cost of power generated from the array, which will be entirely consumed by the university’s electrical demand on its internal electrical grid,” says Morrone, who will be working with Carbon Vision to ensure their contract is met and that the project is properly coordinated.
 
For Morrone, the solar arrays project is also an investment in education, illustrating to current and future students that the university is “committed to thinking outside of the box to employ new strategies to lessen our burden on the environment and its carbon footprint.” He concludes, “In allowing students to see, touch, and measure the capabilities of green and energy producing technologies, the University of Akron is directly influencing students’ experiences and further enriching skillsets needed to compete in a global and technologically advanced labor market.”
 
 
Source: Ralph Morrone
Writer: Joe Baur

nortech secures sba contract to grow its flexible electronics cluster

NorTech received one of seven Regional Innovation Cluster contracts from the Small Business Administration to grow its flexible electronics cluster FlexMatters. The four-year, $385,000 contract will allow NorTech to train and assist small companies in the FlexMatters cluster in attracting larger market leaders as customers through its Anchor Customer Engagement (ACE) Academy.
 
“One of the really important things about this contract is it gives us recognition on a federal basis,” says NorTech vice president Byron Clayton. “Being nationally recognized as an emerging cluster helps us bring more federal funding to the region.”
 
This is the fourth time the FlexMatters cluster has been recognized on a national level. The ACE Academy will help give the region an upper hand in terms of both jobs and securing the first customers for new technologies.
 
“It’s designed to help small, emerging businesses capture the first significant customers,” says Clayton of the academy. “It helps them be prepared so if they do get that opportunity to present themselves, they put their best foot forward. The goal is to go away with something concrete.”
 
Success of these businesses translates into more jobs in the region. “It really helps small businesses grow and create high paying jobs in growth industries,” says Clayton. “We’re already seeing success, and we’re just getting started.”

The SBA award is for one year, with a four year renewal option.

 
Source: Byron Clayton
Writer: Karin Connelly

wooster opportunities loan fund now extends throughout Wayne County

Thanks to an influx of new capital, the Wooster Opportunities Loan Fund (WOLF) is expanding to offer business loans to technology startups throughout Wayne County.

Established in late 2010 to provide capital to small and emerging tech companies with high growth potential, WOLF started out as a $220,000 hyper-local fund. “The city of Wooster, Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce and Wooster Community Hospital put up the dollars for the fund, so loans were available only to those businesses willing to locate within the corporation limits of the city of Wooster,” says Justin Starlin, Development Manager for the City of Wooster.
 
That has changed thanks to a $100,000 investment from Cascade Capital of Akron that will be used to help startups grow and create jobs. “We now have $100,000 in direct loan money available for businesses throughout Wayne County and $150,000 remaining for businesses within the city of Wooster,” Starlin notes, explaining that the hyper-local fund awarded two $35,000 loans in 2011.
 
The recipients of those loans were ManuscriptTracker and the JNP Group. ManuScript Tracker’s software organizes and automates the peer review process for academics. The JNP Group engineers and manufactures acoustic products for the construction and building industry.
 
Applications for the next round of funding from WOLF are due December 17th. JumpStart will perform the initial vetting. Applicants who make it through the process will be considered for funding by a local committee administered by the nonprofit Wooster Growth Corporation. Loans of up to $35,000 are available.
 
 
Source:   Justin Starlin
Writer:  Lynne Meyer

jumpstart's entrepreneur expo showcases 'what's next in neo'

Developing Cleveland area businesses showed off their ideas, technologies and talents at the 2012 Northeast Ohio Entrepreneurial Expo and JumpStart Community Meeting on Tuesday, November 13 from 1 to 5:40 p.m. at CSU’s Wolstein Center.
 
“The theme is, ‘What’s next Northeast Ohio,’” says Samantha Fryberger, JumpStart director of communications. “The idea being, a lot of companies are really early in their development.”
 
The expo featured 96 area tech startups as well as 32 support organizations, such as Bizdom, Youngstown Business Incubator, Shaker LaunchHouse, Akron ARCHAngels and Ohio Aerospace Institute. Nine student companies were also featured, one of which will be presented with an award at the event’s close.
 
The showcase was followed by a panel discussion featuring success stories of area companies that have grown into multi-million dollar businesses. “[These are] some of the biggest success stories who have merged, sold, been bought out or exited,” explains Fryberger.
 
Goldman Sachs representatives talked about its 10,000 Small Businesses program, followed by an announcement of JumpStart’s newest portfolio companies.
 
And of course, investors were also on hand to see what the next great thing is in the region. Fryberger says 25 investors attended the event last year, and she expected the same this year.
 
“It’s a little bit of everything,” says Fryberger. “It’s an opportunity to network. There are some of these companies who could help each other quite a bit. And if you’re very early in development, this is your first opportunity for exposure.”

 
Source: Samantha Fryberger
Writer: Karin Connelly

RES Polyflow welcomes capital influx to ramp up commercialization of energy-recovery systems

Mixed polymer and rubber waste represent the most robust source of energy available in our waste stream today. Yet, astonishingly, we landfill more than 90 percent of these materials annually.
 
Akron’s Polyflow, LLC, has an environmentally responsible solution. “We design and manufacture energy-recovery systems that convert mixed-polymer waste to fuels and petrochemicals before the waste reaches landfills,” explains CEO Jay Schabel.

The company, which was just established in June of 2012, recently struck a deal with private equity firm Ambassador Enterprises of Fort Wayne, Indiana, to form a new business to commercialize Polyflow’s systems. The new company – RES Polyflow, LLC -- will remain in Akron. The “RES” stands for renewable energy solutions.
 
“The influx of capital will help us scale up efforts to commercialize our technology and create new jobs in the renewable-energy industry in Ohio,” Schabel states.
 
He explains that Polyflow will be producing renewable energy locally and profitably. “Our fuel-conversion equipment doesn’t require excessive sorting, handling or cleaning of mixed-polymer waste and will significantly reduce the need to landfill or incinerate millions of tons of plastic waste annually.”
 
Polyflow’s pilot unit is in Akron, and the company used it over the past four years to prove its process, validate the chemistry involved and provide end-product liquid samples for testing and verification. “We conducted 80 test runs and successfully converted eight tons of mixed-plastic waste into crude oil,” Schabel says.
 
The company is completing fabrication of its first full-scale, continuous-feed processor. The facility is in Perry, Ohio, in Lake County, and will be able to convert polymer feed into the same fuels as the pilot-scale processor but in large volumes.  A grant from Ohio’s Third Frontier Advanced Energy Program in 2011 made this project possible, Schabel notes.
 
“Our goal is to provide licensors of our technology, such as landfill operators, recyclers,  organizations managing large polymer-waste streams and energy-park developers, with the most profitable, efficient and scalable solution for plastic-to-oil conversion. “Energy-park developers put together funding, find a location and jump through the approval hoops to get permits to vet technology for investors in the park,” Schabel explains. “They then build the entire energy park.”
 
The company plans to add technical support staff in 2013.

Source:  Jay Schabel, RES Polyflow, LLC

shaker launchhouse accelerator aimed at helping tech startups go from idea to validation

The LaunchHouse Accelerator kicked off its inaugural program on September 4 with 10 technology startup companies eager to move to the next level. The program is funded through a $200,000 ONEFund grant and a $50,000 grant from Clarion Direct Investment. Each company will receive a $25,000 investment from LaunchHouse to grow their business.
 
“We’re quite excited,” says LaunchHouse CEO Todd Goldstein. “It’s changing the way investments are made in Northeast Ohio. With a little bit of capital we work with them to go from idea to validation.”
 
Goldstein describes the accelerator program as “customer-centric,” emphasizing the identification and needs of potential customers to grow the business. The 12-week program will provide mentors and instruction to the startup owners, guiding them through set goals.

“We’re hitting the ground running,” says Goldstein. “We’re not starting from scratch. We’re looking at the best innovators and how the company has grown.”
 
More than 60 companies from around the world applied for the accelerator. Twenty were selected to make their pitches to a panel of experts. From there, 10 companies were chosen, nine of which are from Northeast Ohio. The hope is that these 10 businesses will remain in Northeast Ohio once they are better established.

“The goal is to keep these companies in the region,” says Goldstein. “We believe Northeast Ohio is prime for an explosion of entrepreneurs.”

 
Source: Todd Goldstein
Writer: Karin Connelly
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