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'Father-Daughter Hackday' encourages girls to become makers of technology

If it's up to Rachel Wilkins Patel, fathers and daughters will create something cool together this Father's Day.

Patel is founder HER Ideas in Motion, Northeast Ohio’s first technology and media program for girls. On June 15, the nonprofit will host a Father-Daughter HackDay featuring hands-on activities and career role-modeling for girls ages 11-14 interested in STEM-focused studies. Participants will create their own projects under the tutelage of female technology professionals.

The workshop "is about fathers encouraging daughters to try new things and become makers of technology, not just users," says Patel, a developer at Progressive Insurance.

Being the only woman in the room is not uncommon in high-tech professions, something that HER Ideas in Motion aims to change.

"The number of women in programming is flat and even decreasing in some areas," Patel says. "We're trying to address social and industry issues."

Launched in 2011, the program has graduated 130 students. Interacting with successful women from Rosetta, LeanDog Software, NetApp and Keybank during the Father's Day program will only motivate teen girls to pursue their high-tech aspirations, believes the nonprofit founder.

Gender should not be an obstacle for creative types hoping to program their own video game or dissect the inner workings of a computer, Patel notes. Middle school is the perfect time to introduce girls to the ever-growing digital space.

"We want to reach them before they know what they're capable of," she says. "They should be comfortable taking technical classes later in their school careers."

Source: Rachel Wilkins Patel
Writer: Douglas J. Guth

Oberlin College and FlashStarts partner on entrepreneurship fellowship

Oberlin College and Cleveland-based FlashStarts are partnering on an entrepreneurship fellowship, providing a team of Oberlin graduates from the Oberlin Entrepreneurship Fellowship program with a slot in FlashStarts’ business accelerator program this summer.
“In this partnership, FlashStarts will be acting as a capstone for recent graduates of Oberlin College,” explains Charles Stack, CEO of FlashStarts. One team from Oberlin has already been slotted to join a class of 11 startups in the inaugural class. Startups range from a cloud-based marketplace that matches students with editors to a web application that coordinates clinical trials.
Stack has been involved with Oberlin since 2009 when he invested in the winner of that year’s fellowship program, Skritter – a Chinese and Japanese writing educational application. “The Oberlin Entrepreneur Fellowship Program is one of the best programs around,” boasts Stack. “The school is full of students who think outside of the box and have the drive to create enterprises that can change the world.”
FlashStarts’ business accelerator follows a model of “rapid iterations and continuous market validation,” Stack explains. “Each team in our program is receiving an investment of up to $20,000, access to a network of brilliant and experienced mentors, the assistance of interns, and guidance and resources customized to meet specific needs.”
The first summer program began on June 3 with the 11 teams that were picked from a pool of 85 applicants from across the globe. Though all the companies are software-based, Stack says there’s plenty of diversity in the program. “Two of the companies will revolutionize the healthcare industry, while another is reinventing the online graphic novel,” says Stack. “One of the companies offers a hardware and software solution for processing big data that I only totally understand on a good day with a full night’s sleep.”
Ultimately, Stack is holding FlashStarts and his supported startups to a high standard.
“You can expect nothing less than the creation of 11 successful businesses that will change the world.”
Source: Charles Stack
Writer: Joe Baur

Biz accelerator looks beyond Ohio for promising companies

Bizdom Cleveland has invested in 16 young companies since it set up shop in January 2012, and the organization is targeting 18 more companies this year. While many are local startups, Bizdom also scours the country in search of promising businesses to recruit to Cleveland.

So far Bizdom has brought four companies to Ohio: Queryly from New York, MascotSecret from San Francisco, Firmly Planted from Los Angeles and CourseBuffet from Seattle.
“The bottom line is we’re looking for the best and the brightest wherever we can find them,” says Paul Allen, leader of Bizdom Cleveland. “We find them, and then we do our best to sell them on the benefits of doing business in Cleveland.”
It’s not difficult to recruit companies to the area, given Cleveland’s support of small startups. “There’s a very large and organized infrastructure here,” Allen explains. “Cleveland has a bunch of organizations that provide support, expertise, resources, investment, equity and debt funding. The continuum of organizations that support small business is unlike other parts of the country.”
And the assistance is accessible. “Cleveland has a tight-knit startup community that doesn’t take long to identify the key players,” Allen says. “They exist here and you can access them.” Allen points out that the Dan Gilbert and Quicken Loans name also attracts businesses.
One of Bizdom’s requirements is that its portfolio businesses locate in Cleveland. All four relocated companies have chosen downtown for their headquarters.
Bizdom companies have created 36 full-time and 10 part-time jobs. Allen hopes more out-of-town companies will come to Cleveland for Bizdom’s fall accelerator program in August. “We have lots of applicants from out of state for August,” says Allen.

Source: Paul Allen
Writer: Karin Connelly

Cleveland-based Agrarian Collective goes on the road with mobile cooking school

Kelli Hanley sees the big picture in cooking -- and she wants to teach people the whole concept of it, from sourcing the produce, to understanding what’s in your pantry, to putting a meal on the table. So she started The Agrarian Collective, a mobile cooking school that does just that.

“When I started The Agrarian Collective, I envisioned an Earth-to-table lifestyle school,” she explains. “My approach is around understanding the relationships between your pantry and kitchen table. My classes are not designed to just watch someone cook.”
Hanley recently won a $5,000 loan from a private giving circle after participating in the Bad Girl Ventures spring 2013 business plan competition. She’ll use the loan to build her mobile kitchen, with six two-burner cooking stations. Hanley will take the mobile kitchen to farms and farmers markets and other locations around Northeast Ohio.
Hanley’s first class will teach people how to make strawberry jam. The class will meet at a Hiram farm. “We’ll have scones and coffee in the morning and then we’ll go out and show how to pick the best berries for making jam,” she says. “We’re really focusing on hands-on technique.”
Most of the classes will collaborate with farmers, chefs or tradespeople to teach specific skills. “When you go home you’ll really feel confident that you can put what you learned to use in the kitchen,” says Hanley. She is working with the Cleveland Culinary Launch, chef Karen Small of the Flying Fig and urban farmers to design the classes.
“There has been amazing interest,” says Hanley. “People are telling me they can’t wait for my classes. I feel like it’s something that’s really taking off.”

Source: Kelli Hanley
Writer: Karin Connelly

This North Coast incubator welcomes entrepreneurs of the foodie sort

The Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen and the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) will be hosting a business incubator for food and beverage entrepreneurs this summer. The nine-week program will focus on the specifics of opening a food-related business -- from food safety and nutrition to marketing and product development.

“We’ll really touch on everything to get a business off the ground,” says Emily Sullivan, ECDI Cleveland operations coordinator. “We’re creating a food incubator program. This is a hands-on look at getting a food business started.” Participants also will develop business plans and have opportunities to meet with ECDI managers about securing a loan.
This will be a hands-on program, says Carolyn Priemer, general manager of the Culinary Launch. “It’s not going to be a classroom setting,” she explains. “We’re going to be out in the community and in restaurants.”
Incubator participants do not need to be Culinary Launch tenants to enroll in the program. However, there is a $200 fee once applicants are accepted. Scholarships will be available. Ten companies will be accepted. Applications will be taken through mid-June, with the program beginning in July.
Open for six weeks now, the Culinary Launch has six tenants, ranging from an ice cream maker to caterers to a custard frosting maker. The Launch is a partnership between ECDI, Carolyn and Gordon Priemer of J&M Real Estate, and Tim and Bill Skaryd of Hospitality Marketing and Sales.

Sources: Emily Sullivan and Carolyn Priemer
Writer: Karin Connelly

Explorys lands Trinity Health, expects to up Cleveland staff by 20 percent

Last month Trinity Health, the fourth largest Catholic healthcare system in the country, hired Explorys to manage its healthcare data analytics in its hospitals, outpatient facilities and other facilities. Trinity will implement Explorys’ suite of cloud-based big data analytics solutions to manage the company’s clinical data.

The deal puts industry leader Explorys on top in the clinical data market. Explorys has been rapidly growing since its inception nearly four years ago, and continues to grow. “We’re excited about Trinity,” says Charlie Lougheed, Explorys president and chief strategy officer. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in the past year alone, as well as the last three and a half years. The whole healthcare industry is in the midst of this transformation and big data is in the middle of that.”
Explorys’ big data solutions allow hospitals to better manage their data and therefore improve patient care. Trinity is the latest addition to more than a dozen healthcare companies that use Explorys’ solutions. “Trinity recognized they needed to select a platform that is going to expand into the future rather than solve a problem right now,” explains Lougheed. “They were looking for a platform that would grow and develop within their network, and Explorys met that need for them.”
Explorys continues to grow in its Cleveland offices. The company has close to 100 employees right now and has new-employee orientations every other month. “We plan to continue to hire people over time,” says Lougheed. “By the end of the year I expect, conservatively, to be at 120 people.”

Source: Charlie Lougheed
Writer: Karin Connelly

Cleveland-based non-profit announces plans for world's first passive-built theater

Near West Theatre's new home will be nothing if not active when it opens next year. It will be filled with youth and adults rehearsing for its signature brand of community theatre -- large ensemble productions that bring the arts to Cleveland residents of all ages.

And when its shows are running, it will draw up to 275 patrons per show into a new, state-of-the-art theatre that caps off a string of investments in the Gordon Square Arts District on the city's near-west side.

The building not only will be active -- it will be "passive" when it comes to energy consumption. It will boast a super-insulated, passive design common in Europe but still relatively new in the U.S. The 24,000-square-foot ultra-energy-efficient theatre will be the first of its kind in the U.S., featuring super-thick walls, an energy-efficient heat recovery ventilation system, and a 75,000-watt array of solar panels.

"It will be unlike other buildings in the neighborhood," says Hans Holznagel of the new Near West Theatre. "We hope people will see the sign and say, 'Wow, that metal building looks pretty cool. What's going on in there?'"

Local philanthropists Chuck and Char Fowler earmarked a special gift for the building's passive design, which is expected to save more than 35 percent in energy costs, or about $1.2 million over 50 years. That kind of savings appeals to long-term users.

"In a typical commercial building, 30 to 35 percent of the heat going into the building is just to offset air leakage," says Adam Cohen, a Virginia-based architect and passive house consultant who worked on the project. "There's more interest in passive design now, especially from end users who are going to own the buildings."

The project was far from simple. Most passive commercial buildings have fairly static loads, unlike a theatre whose use varies widely. On any given day there could be people working in offices or large casts rehearsing. Cohen helped NWT to develop a high-efficiency mechanical system that can handle such fluctuation.

Holznagel says the theatre will finally realize its dream of moving into a new home (with air conditioning, he says with glee) that offers the right amount of rehearsal, dressing room and backstage space, not to mention modern administrative offices.

"We'll feel very much at home in this energy-efficient building," he says.

Source: Hans Holznagel, Adam Cohen
Writer: Lee Chilcote

Benjamin Rose set to open 6,000 s/f training center in Cleveland

The Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, a nationally-recognized research organization, service provider and policy advocate that works with older adults and caregivers, is set to open a new 6,000-square-foot administrative headquarters and training center.

"What's new about the facility is that we intend to broaden the scope of our training to a couple of new audiences," says CEO Richard Browdie of the building near downtown Cleveland. "There are many professions that interface with older people and their families on a routine basis but may or may not have any training available to them."

The building also provides Benjamin Rose with the first permanent home for its training programs. Traditionally, such programs had been conducted at off-site locations. Browdie finds it poetic that the organization is building its home in the Shaker-Buckeye neighborhood of Cleveland where they've been for many years.

"The board just really came back to the conclusion that, no matter what they did, they wanted to remain here in the city," he says. "We have replications of our evidence-based practices all over the country, but our home is in Cleveland."

The building cost about $7.5 million and the project cost $11.4 million. Funds came from the sale of another facility to Kindred Hospital, New Markets Tax Credits and other sources. Browdie says the facility will also be available for rent for retreats and other events hosted by nonprofits organizations with compatible missions. The hilltop location offers sweeping views of downtown Cleveland.

Source: Richard Browdie
Writer: Lee Chilcote

Minority entrepreneurs of Northeast Ohio inducted into Charter One Launch100 Leadership Circle

Nine young Northeast Ohio businesses were inducted into the Charter One Launch100 Leadership Circle last month. Inductees included Nicole Zmij, CEO of Amplified Wind Solutions, Lindsay Sims, founder and CEO of Renter’s BOOM, Lissette Rivera, founder of SafeCare, and Shaquita Graham, CEO of King J Transportation.

“The Launch100 Leadership Circle really focuses on minority entrepreneurs and encourages them to take the risk of starting a new venture, particularly those who have the revenue potential of $10 million,” says Ken Marblestone, president of Charter One and RBS Citizens bank. “The Leadership Circle honors leaders within the Launch 100 group and works to inspire them to take risks and network with each other, and make sure they are recognized for their ideas and entrepreneurism.”
Founded in 2012, the Launch100 offers a peer networking opportunity for minority and women business owners with high growth potential.  “We’re focused on how to help these expanding businesses succeed,” says Marblestone. “We recognize them with an award and then offer conversation about the hurdles they’re facing. That whole dialog leaves the entrepreneurs full of motivation and ideas, and ready to tackle another hurdle.”
The induction ceremony was held at JumpStart’s offices. Other regional companies inducted included Body Phyx, Design Flux Technologies, On Demand Interpretation Services, OrthoData and Wahconah Group.

Source: Ken Marblestone
Writer: Karin Connelly

Cleveland's NDI Medical continues to grow rapidly in neuro-stim field

When Geoff Thorpe founded NDI Medical in 2002 with his neurostimulation device for bladder control, he saw a market with a lot of potential. The company sold its MEDSTIM device to Medtronic in 2008, kept the NDI name and branched into developing and commercializing new neurostimulation device companies.
The move has proved successful. NDI has launched two companies and has grown to 32 employees, 21 of whom work in NDI’s Cleveland headquarters. The company also has offices in North Carolina and Minnesota. Most recently, NDI Medical named Marilyn Eisele as president of the company. She has been with NDI about a year, previously serving as vice president of finance and CFO.
“What attracted me to the company was the innovation coming out of the collective enterprise,” Eisele says. “We took a step back after we sold the company in 2008 and decided to reinvent and continue the business as a development company where we develop new therapies.”
Since selling the company and regrouping as a developer of new technologies, NDI Medical has raised $17 million in private equity and another $9 million in grants and loans. In 2010, the company launched Checkpoint Surgical, which makes a device that allows surgeons to locate nerves and muscles before making an incision, and SPR Therapeutics, which develops nerve stimulation devices for pain management. Sales have doubled each year since Checkpoint was launched.
“In some ways we are a development company, and in some ways we’re an incubator company,” says Eisele. “We’re able to develop medical devices so each portfolio company doesn’t need its own team of engineers. It’s a very cost-effective way to use research.”
NDI Medical is in the process of launching a third company in the next few months.

Source: Marilyn Eisele
Writer: Karin Connelly

Bad Girl Ventures congratulates Cleveland finalists in spring biz plan competition

Earlier this  month in Cleveland, Bad Girl Ventures celebrated nine finalists in its business plan competition during its spring 2013 graduation ceremony at The Galleries at CSU, announcing the winner of its $25,000 BGV loan and other awards.

Jewels Johnson, owner of the Sugar Plum Cake Company, earned the $25,000 loan for her custom cake bakery. She plans to use the loan to open and expand her new physical store and offices, as well as develop her Devour! Gourmet Baking Mixes line.
“We were very impressed with her approach and creativity,” says Reka Barabas, director of BGV Cleveland. “Jewels was super-energetic during the entire course. She went the extra mile and followed up.”
The nine women-owned businesses spent nine weeks in BGV’s business course, hashing out their business plans and tweaking their businesses. The class culminated with the participants giving a 60-second pitch to a selection committee.
In addition to the grand prize, Su Nimon of Journey Art Gallery and Kelli Handley of The Agrarian Collective each received $5,000 loans from a private giving circle. It was also announced that Jillian Davis of Toast Wine Bar, a BGV Fall 2012 finalist, received a loan from BGV partner the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI).
“All of the finalists are impressive because of their huge passion in what they do,” says Barabas. BGV will continue to work with its partners in the upcoming weeks to help the other finalists secure business loans.
BGV will be accepting applications for its fall business class from June 1 through Sept. 1.

Source: Reka Barabas
Writer: Karin Connelly

Brain surgeons get a practice run with simulator from Elyria-based Surgery Theater

For a number of years, pilots have used virtual reality simulators to practice critical missions before taking to the skies. Thanks to a revolutionary new virtual reality training tool developed by Elyria’s Surgical Theater, LLC, surgeons now have a way to practice brain surgery before setting foot in the operating room.
The Surgery Rehearsal Platform (SRP) simulator consists of a desk top computer, a portable laptop system, software, controllers and 3D glasses.
“Using standard CT and MRI images from any patient, the SRP generates accurate models in 3D that show the interaction between life-like tissue and surgical instruments,” explains Moty Avisar, Surgical Theater president and CEO. “The tissue responds realistically to actions taken by the surgeon, enabling pre-surgery planning and rehearsal with complete accuracy.”

Beyond practicing on standard CT and MRI images, surgeons can also use unique images taken of the patient who will be undergoing surgery.
“Using the SRP prior to a procedure enables a surgeon to evaluate, experiment and do a ‘dry run’ on his or her approach beforehand, resulting in a better-prepared surgeon,” Avisar states. “Studies will be done to confirm this, but our belief is that SRP training will lead to improved patient outcomes and reduced risk.”
The Surgery Rehearsal Platform received full FDA approval in February. The SRP’s unique patient-specific capability is one of the key innovations that led to FDA approval, he notes. According to Avisar, it’s the only patented and FDA-cleared training platform for cerebral and spine pre-surgery rehearsal in the marketplace.
The SRP, which took approximately three years to develop, supports several cerebral procedures, including aneurysm repair and tumor resection. The team is working to add capabilities to support other brain-related procedures and spine surgeries.
According to Avisar, the first SRP was recently sold to University Hospital Case Medical Center, where it is being used on a regular basis.

The company, which started with one person in 2010, received funding from the Ohio Third Frontier, private investors and angel groups. It plans to expand to 15 employees by the end of the year.
Source:  Moty Avisar, Surgical Theater, LLC
Writer:  Lynne Meyer

TOA Technologies expands global presence with largest customer to date

TOA Technologies announced that Madrid, Spain-based Telefonica has chosen TOA's mobile workforce management software to manage its worldwide field technicians. Telefonica, which is one of the largest telecom companies in the world, chose TOA for its cloud-based ETADirect technology and its ability to ramp up operations quickly in multiple locations.
“It was a fairly long selection process,” says TOA vice president of worldwide marketing John Opdycke. “Telefonica originally thought it would be an on-premise solution, but then they realized the cloud-based solution would allow them to go one country at a time.”
TOA will implement its products first in Brazil, followed by Spain, Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Peru. Eventually, TOA will be in 24 countries with Telefonica. “There’s nothing anyone needs except access to a browser,” explains Opdycke of why TOA was attractive to Telefonica. “They can be non-standard, browser agnostic and platform agnostic. Telefonica needed that flexibility.”
Telefonica is TOA’s largest customer to date in terms of size. More important, Opdycke says, is Cleveland’s increasingly strong presence in the global technology marketplace. “We’re proud to represent the Cleveland technology market and the international market,” he says. “TOA is one of the leading companies in the Cleveland market that is really doing international business.”
TOA employs 56 people in its Cleveland headquarters, and another 454 worldwide. The Telefonica deal will add employees to TOA in Spain and Brazil, and perhaps Cleveland. Telefonica’s CTO and other team members are planning a visit to Cleveland.
In the meantime, TOA is in the midst of expanding its headquarters from 8,200 square feet to 17,000 square feet. The company was also recently named as a finalist as Tech Company of the Year in the 2013 NEOSA Tech Week Best of Tech Awards.

Source: John Opdycke
Writer: Karin Connelly

Blackstone Launchpad opens fourth location on Case Western campus

The fourth Blackstone LaunchPad opened on the CWRU campus on April 23, providing a place for aspiring entrepreneurs to gather, learn and get advice.

“LaunchPad is aimed at students seeing it and saying, ‘I have an idea,’” says Deborah D. Hoover, president and CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. “It’s aimed at students walking in and talking to people and an idea takes off.”
The Burton D. Morgan Foundation in Hudson and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced in November 2011 that they had committed $3.2 million over three years to open LaunchPad locations in Northeast Ohio to train area student entrepreneurs.
The LaunchPad is a venture coach program developed at the University of Miami, Florida in 2008. The program provides participants with advice and mentorship to take business ideas to fruition. Students are matched up with venture coaches to guide them through the development process.
The other Northeast Ohio LaunchPads are on the campuses of Baldwin Wallace University, Lorain County Community College and Kent State University. The goal is to create 150 new sustainable companies in the next five years, which could generate as many as 3,000 jobs. Hoover says they expect to exceed that goal.
More than 40 students already are registered with the CWRU LaunchPad and 16 are exploring their business ideas. “More than 400 student ventures are underway among the four campuses,” says Hoover. “We think that’s pretty great.” Registration is ongoing.
Nearly 200 people turned out for the opening in CWRU’s Thwing Center. “It was great, we were really pleased with the way it went,” Hoover says of the opening. Attendees included Case president Barbara Snyder and Bob Sopko, director of the CWRU LaunchPad, as well as Joan Solotar, chair of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Vinny Gupta, chair of the Ohio Board of Regents.

Source: Deborah D. Hoover
Writer: Karin Connelly

Student-owned distributor business wins prize at Cleveland's Entrovation

Danny Sheridan comes from a family of entrepreneurs -- his father invests in small tech businesses and deals in commercial real estate for medical officers, and his mother is a marketing consultant. So it was only natural that the junior at Beachwood High School would start his own business. After finding he had a knack for selling things on eBay, Sheridan started Woodside Distributors, distributing energy efficient LED lights for Solon-based Mr. Beams.
“Mr. Beams didn’t have a lot of eBay, but I was really good at eBay,” says Sheridan. “When I ran into them I immediately was able to distribute their products online. I was able to add my area of expertise, and now we’re on Amazon and other places.”
Sheridan’s business has quadrupled in the past few months and he expects to reach $100,000 in sales by the end of the year.
Sheridan, who is president of the Beachwood High School Business Club, set up a booth at Entrovation on April 19 to showcase his company and the products he distributes. “There were a ton of people -- 1,000 or so -- who just came by to say hi,” he recalls. “The biggest reaction was, ‘Hey, you’re just a kid.’ Then it was, ‘Wow, he’s actually selling.’ I was fortunate; I made a few hundred bucks that day.”
In fact, Sheridan won the Innovative Entrepreneur of the Year award, sponsored by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. He received the top prize of $3,000. “I’m excited to buy more inventory and expand even faster,” he says.
Sheridan’s business is growing so fast, he’s looking for new fulfillment options. “I’ve been using Amazon to do more fulfillment,” he explains. “But it’s getting to the point I can’t ship from my house any more. The mailman can’t keep up.”

Source: Danny Sheridan
Writer: Karin Connelly
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