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PublicSchoolWORKS offers software solution for meeting public school mandates

Public schooling is multi-faceted, and each state legislature has a particular way of governing its districts.

Public schools are a large part of state budgets and efforts, and most years, there are new regulations for administrators and teachers to comply with. Many new rules—implementing an anti-bullying program, for instance—comprise of educational and professional development and reporting and tracking.

Taken together, each mandate can take up a lot of time, which leaves teachers struggling to do what they to best: educate children.

One Cincinnati company is growing by making it easier for K-12 schools to manage those mandates. PublicSchoolWORKS offers schools a suite of web-based software and ongoing support in the areas of staff and student health, safety compliance and behavior programs.

Founded in 1999, the O'Bryonville-based company has two software suites: EmployeeSafe and StudentWatch. PublicSchoolWORKS has clients in the Cincinnati area, but it also serves schools across North America. Its resources include written plans, forms, training courses and other content that school districts need in order to succeed.

PublicSchoolWORKS was developed by a team of actively employed school administrators. It's CEO, Steve Temming, has more than 22 years of experience working in public schools, including administration.

"We create complete programs that address the needs of a district, not from a strategy standpoint but from an implementation standpoint," says PublicSchoolWORKS' Vice President Tom Strasburger.

The company is constantly monitoring state legislatures to assure its custom-content software continues to meet school districts' needs. PublicSchoolWORKS also offers ongoing service support to help districts get the most out of the software, Strasburger says.

"We provide a signature product that completely addresses school issues," Strasburger says. "By knowing legislation and meeting that legislation, the system is built to manage what is expected of the school. It's virtually hands off, so (teachers and administrators) can do their jobs."

It's because of the system's automation and completeness that the company rarely loses a customer. Public School Works is growing with its own sales, support and research groups, in addition to IT. Not only are its services growing, but PublicSchoolWORKS is also physically outgrowing its current office space, and could soon move into a new, larger facility.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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CNCY MADE aims to give local artisans and small-batch manufacturers a boost

More and more, Cincinnati is recognized as an ideal city for startups, filled with resources for those interested in establishing their new ideas in the professional world. But what about independent artists intent on making and distributing their wares? For them, there’s CNCY MADE.

“The core idea is that we want to be able to start making connections in the local community to assist people who might be making their own physical products, but need help in figuring out what is needed to step up in scale,” says Matt Anthony, who is spearheading CNCY MADE. Anthony is one of the founders of Losantiville, an Over-the-Rhine based design collective filled with UC DAAP graduates.

Right now, CNCY MADE is only collecting information. Interested to see what the turnout will be, CNCY MADE is gauging the community’s interest and compiling intelligence on what supplies are widely available within the I-275 loop.

Whether you’re a creative designer with an idea for a product line, a manufacturer or have access to bulk raw materials, CNCY MADE wants to hear from you—if the project picks up momentum, it could be an invaluable resource for the city.

“We have great support for people who understand branding and consumer packaged goods,” Anthony says. He adds there is “a steady stream of creatives and students coming up with solid product line ideas and even prototypes who just can’t figure out the next step to scaling production to make a functioning business.”

CNCY MADE will not only connect makers with necessary contacts, it will provide a heads-up on what expenses to expect.
“The website could be a tool for actually connecting or just getting the details necessary to attain capital,” Anthony says.

“What we find in these early stages will determine some of the outputs for CNCY MADE.”
To get involved with CNCY MADE, visit their website and fill in the details.

By Sean Peters

After launching on iTunes, Impulcity of Cincinnati is growing -- and hiring

The discovery of a great local act or a hot new bar should be shared, says Impulcity founder Hunter Hammonds. Immediately.

And it is. Thousands of smartphone users have downloaded the mobile application of the Brandery-trained startup since it launched on iTunes early last week.

An update to the app could drop as early as Wednesday, which would bring significant improvements to the mobile aggregator of entertainment venues. And the new company is hiring, too. They're looking for an Android app developer and an "artist content intern"—someone to write content about venues and events.

Hammond’s team, which includes co-founder Austin Cameron and iOS developer Eric Ziegler, is fine-tuning a VIP program, which will Impulcity users to check-in at a venue and avoid cover charges or receive other VIP benefits. They’re working on more robust context for events, including the ability to play the music released by a new band and produce background on an entertainer or a venue. The app will offer rankings and suggestions based on users’ past choices and an interactive calendar for entertainment-seekers who plan ahead.

Hammonds and his team maintain strong partnerships with venues—they're always asking how they can make the app more useful. “People are tired of the traditional ways of finding stuff to do,” he says. Impulcity will evolve until it captures each city’s unique culture.

Impulcity's short history is one of long-into-the-night planning. Hammond’s team scrapped the first version of the app in September, and rewrote it in a four-day marathon coding session. Their retooled version received Brandery approval in October, and they continued to tweak it until their Feb. 12 launch in the iTunes App Store.

They've raised a reported $400,000 and are seeking new office space. “Our goal is to build, and to last,” Hammonds says. “We have no plans to be absorbed into anything else.” He’s still not sharing his revenue model, but said Impulcity will approach profit-making differently than other social media products.

“We’d love to hire fresh college kids, but universities are teaching them outdated stuff,” Hammonds says. Advice from Hammonds: Learn to make use of Objective-CJava and jQuery. And hurry. He really wants to find an Android developer to help them expand their reach.

By Gayle Brown

Miami University student wants to create The Ultimate Lip Balm

Miami University junior Samuel Frith was on vacation three years ago, and spent a little too much time in the sun. Today, when the rays get a little too intense, he relives a painful part of that vacation.

"My lips are very sensitive when I'm out in the sun," he says. "I get really bad sun poisoning and blisters when I go out in the sun."

Frith went through all of the cosmetically available lip balms around, especially those with high SPF levels, but they just didn't work.

"I wasn't getting any relief," he says. "I even tried the brands that were SPF 30 or 40."

Last summer, he decided to take things into his own hands, and create The Ultimate Lip Balm. It's a balm that would help sun-sensitive people like Frith. Active outdoor types could also use it, and it even has medical applications—chemotherapy patients often get severely dry lips during cancer treatment, and they could benefit from Frith's balm as well.

Frith, a finance and entrepreneurship student, was one of the top winners during this month's Innov8 for Health business pitch event. He was one of four $1,000 prize winners in the student track.

Frith's past experience includes working on a cosmetic lotion project for GA Communications in Chicago, which helped him learn about the process of getting a facial care product to market.

"I did a lot of reading and research about the FDA and regulation of product claims," he says. "While I was there, I learned about SPF, sun care products and the facial care industry."

After doing further Internet research, Frith decided to work with a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, company—Raining Rose—to develop the lip balm. Raining Rose is a small, custom lip balm manufacturer known for using organic and natural ingredients. The company and Frith are working to develop a formula aimed at making the lip balm last longer, and therefore, be more effective, Frith says.

"After SPF 30, [sun protection quality] plateaus," Frith says. "You have to come up with other ingredients that will stick better on lips, or attributes other than SPF to make a higher quality lip balm."

Currently, he's working to raise $15,000 for product testing. He hopes to get The Ultimate Lip Balm onto lips by late fall.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Ignite Cincinnati celebrates fast-pitch creativity

Ignite Cincinnati, which celebrated its eighth edition Jan. 30, is a fun, enlightening way to interact with creative locals.

Composed of presenters who share their ideas, accompanied only by slides and audio, Ignite Cincinnati takes its format from the larger event that is mirrored in cities across the nation. There’s simply not enough time in a creative informational seminar for everyone to have 15 minutes of fame these days, so Ignite Cincinnati trimmed it down to five. From business pitches to comedic farce, presenters’ subjects are not restricted to any specific themes.

“There have been so many memorable moments,” says Ignite Cincinnati’s organizer and producer, Joe Pantuso. “The most daring 'talk' of the evening was probably Daniel J. Lewis who stood on stage for five minutes and didn't talk.”

The title of Lewis’ presentation? "Five Minutes of Awkward Silence."
Of course, there are many (more enlightening) topics to enjoy. Pantuso says that, after eight events, Ignite Cincinnati has featured more than 100 talks.
“I first discovered the concept when I was doing research into what makes startup ecosystems effective in other towns,” says Pantuso, who heard about the Ignite series from a friend who’d experienced it in another town. “This was in 2009, before the new activity we have around startups in Cincinnati was catalyzed by Cintrifuse and the Brandery.”
Encouraged enough to scout for locations, he found success at the Know Theatre, in Over-the-Rhine.
“I never really know what is going to happen,” Pantuso says. “I have the presentation titles in hand…but I never know exactly what the speakers are going to say, or how the crowd is going to respond. This is probably my favorite aspect of the event, the thing that makes it magic for me.”

Anyone interested in participating in the next Ignite Cincinnati, visit the website at ignitecincinnati.com, where you’ll find all the information you’ll need to give your own presentation. Volunteers are also always welcome to help manage future events.

By Sean Peters

Social media entrepreneur, Xavier grad develops MBA marketing course for university

Xavier University grad and entrepreneur Matt Dooley is giving back to the university. This time, he's not a student but an instructor.

Dooley, who in 2011 launched a social media agency called dooley media, now teaches a social media marketing course he developed for Xavier's MBA program. This fall will mark his third year teaching the course, which was recently accepted into the lineup of Xavier's MBA electives after an experimental period.

The course centers on the changing and emerging social media marketing space. It's a real-time, real-world course that teaches students to create, analyze and and adapt social media campaigns across platforms. Dooley approached the university about the class, hoping to contribute to an existing course. Instead, he was asked to develop one himself.

"I think the underlying motive was simply that so many people were talking about social media and trying to figure it out," Dooley says. "That prompted me to send that email, to see if there was an opportunity to build dialogue around social media's best (and worst) practices." He graduated from Xavier with a BSBA in finance and an MBA in marketing.

Throughout his course, Dooley shares his own experiences in the working world, managing and developing social media campaigns for small- and medium-size businesses. Dooley also writes about social media marketing for the online publication Cincinnati Profile.

The course has featured numerous experienced speakers, including social media marketing experts from companies and organizations like Caterpillar, Waste Management, Yelp!, Microsoft and Obama for America.

The course emphasises on meeting real-life challenges, and in one project, help solve a marketing challenge 3M presented to the class. The challenge related to helping the company better sell a new suite of computer privacy and protection products.

"It's a real-world course," Dooley says. "I think it's going against the nature of social media to be any other way. It's as interactive and fun and lively as possible."

By Feoshia H. Davis
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Venture for America plants fellows to halt brain drain

Venture for America, a non-profit group that places new college grads in startup companies, is coming to Cleveland. The New York-based organization focuses on placing new college grads in jobs at startups in cities with a low cost of living and in the process of revitalization.

“The goal is to create young entrepreneurs,” explains VFA vice president of corporate development Mike Tarullo. “Too many of our best and brightest are going into big firms and too few are going into growth businesses and startups.” Ultimately, the hope is that the fellows will become successful entrepreneurs themselves in the cities where they are assigned.
The VFA team scours college campuses for recruits. The grads then spend two years in startup or growing companies, getting hands-on experience in developing a company. The employers pay the fellows $36,000 a year.
VFA launched 18 months ago with 40 fellows in five cities: Cincinnati, Detroit, New Orleans, Providence and Las Vegas. This year the organization expanded to Cleveland and Baltimore. The concept is modeled after the Teach for America program, which places new teachers in underserved schools.
“We identify cities that are kind of reinventing themselves through entrepreneurship industries,” says Tarullo. “A lot of it is about preventing brain drain.” The VFA wants to create 100,000 new jobs by 2025 by helping young companies expand and train new college graduates to become business builders and job creators.
The organization has identified 25 possible Cleveland companies, and Tarullo has already talked to more than 10 companies that are interested in hiring a fellow. “They are all different sizes in all industries,” he says. “The common thread is great leadership and exciting growth opportunities. The fellows can cut their teeth and spend a couple of years learning and growing.”
VFA plans to send eight to 10 fellows to Cleveland each year. Tarullo has relied on area support organizations to identify companies. “JumpStart and Bizdom have played a huge role,” he says. “They have welcomed us to the community and introduced us to the right people.”

Source: Mike Tarullo
Writer: Karin Connelly

Bipo provides music to cyclists' ears, safely

Riding a bicycle can be dangerous, especially when people increase their likelihood of injury with two habits:
• Not wearing a helmet
• Listening to music with earbuds
Bipo solves both of those problems.
By locking earbuds into the vents of a helmet, the music that plays through the tiny speakers creates non-distracting background noise. As a result, the tunes are not blasted directly into your eardrums, making you much more perceptive of potential peril on the road.
The device does not require you to alter your helmet in any way, and the earbuds are easily removed once your ride is through. Bipo is a simple, ingenious way to safely enjoy music while cycling.
Developed by Noel Gauthier of The Launch Werks, a member of the Losantiville Design Collective, Bipo was first developed as a personal life-hack.

“The prototype was something I used for myself,” Gauthier says. “ But people kept asking me about it.”

After mulling it over, Gauthier decided to capitalize on his creation and began to seriously design Bipo with his business partner, Matt Anthony. This resulted in a six-month creation phase, where the duo worked on the schematics and conceptualization in between other projects.

Gauthier found the best way to convince cyclists of Bipo’s merits was to simply let them try it. Every response seemed to be positive. Not loud enough to be a distraction, the Bipo enables earbuds to produce abundant audio for ideal biking enjoyment.  

Gauthier later realized he had unintentionally made a device that not only enables cyclists a safe means of hearing music, but also encourages more consistent helmet use. Guilty, like many cyclists, of not wearing his helmet every ride, there was an audible difference without his Bipo. Gauthier says, on the occasions he’d forget his helmet, “I’d be halfway down the road and think to myself, ‘Why is it so quiet?’”
By Sean Peters

Cincinnati entrepreneur grows through app creation, develops partner group

While Cincinnati is known for its larger, highly experienced branding and marketing companies, there is a talented force of creative entrepreneurs who work with well-known brands across the county.

One of these marketing entrepreneurs, Mike Zitt, is working with other local creatives to form a group that can offer a wider range of services. This emerging group, called Complete is a way to be more competitive and act as a one-stop shop for brand development and support across platforms.

In addition to Zitt's, companies included now are:

Centogram - Technology Company, Jerod Fritz
Barkan Agency - Media Buying, Michelle Barkan
Wise Productions -  Project Services, Tara Ackerman

"We benefit from a shared short-hand way of doing business together which is more efficient and enjoyable. Different then working with a team of employees, as small business owners, we are more passionate and committed and don't waste time jockeying for the corner office or get bogged down with internal company politics. We know how to run our own businesses well since we have done it successfully for a combined 35 years on our own," Zitt says.

Mike Zitt Inc., specializes in digital marketing with an emphasis on mobile app development. Zitt, originally from Cincinnati, worked in Chicago for eight years. He started out in printing and eventually worked for a company as a production artist and art director.

He eventually started his own company, and in the end, decided to bring it to Cincinnati. His hometown had the right mix of talent and affordability, he says.

"It was easier to start a business here because expenses and labor rates are lower," says Zitt, who is also president of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Advertising Federation. "I maintained most of my clients when I moved here." 

Zitt has worked fo clients covering a wide range of businesses, including TimeWarnerAetnaDiscoverUnited WayCar-XRE/MAX and Wrigley.

He was an early adopter of mobile app development—in 2007, he entered an early partnership with Jumptap, the leading mobile advertisement network. Since then, his company has designed more than 200 rich media mobile ads, including more than 30 mobile ads for major companies like Dunkin' DonutsLexusHonda and P&G. He created and delivered to the public one of first rich mobile ads with Dunkin' Donuts' “Frost” campaign with Jumptap.

His company is also moving into educational innovation. He's working with some area colleges to create educational support apps.

"Those will be completed very soon—we're working on creating training tools for teachers and classroom work," Zitt says.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

Olivetree Research helps large companies grow their brands

Big, established brands can get stale, so in the fast-changing and hyper-competitive consumer products market, rapid, results-oriented market research is a real asset for large brands.

Olivetree Research in Hyde Park builds on founder Carol Shea's decades of experience in consumer marketing research to help brands shake things up a little. Olivetree helps find new answers to the perennial question: What do consumers REALLY want?

Shea started Olivetree Research about 11 years ago, not long after Sept. 11, 2001.

"It was the right time for me to make a split from my former company," she says. "I'd been in marketing research for 25 years, and had been thinking about starting my own business for a long time. Sept. 11 was a wake-up call for living every day the way you want."

Additionally, Shea served as adjunct faculty of the Williams College of Business at Xavier University as a former member of the Advisory Council to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Olivetree works with large and mid-size local firms that are looking to solve marketing and sales challenges that stunt growth.

"We're working with companies that are committed to positioning new product development that meets the needs of their consumers," Shea says. "We work with companies who want to spend time up-front on research, understand what positioning is and are willing to engage in that process."

Through her work, Shea has helped brand everything from pickles to neighborhoods, all by finding what customers want and what the company needs to do to market and meet those needs.

Companies often come to her when their marketing efforts are flagging, they have a decline in sales or a new competitor enters the market. With Olivetree, companies look to strengthen their brand, reinforce customer loyalty, expand into new markets or develop new products and services.

The market research process takes about three to six months, and can continue over years as a company evolves. In addition to consumer products, Shea often works with healthcare and financial services agencies.

This year, Shea is growing her own business by starting an online training company that will offer courses for new market researchers.

"It will help them understand what techniques work best in certain situations," she says. "The training will help them have confidence in their position. It can be very difficult for someone new in market research to speak with authority on how you should proceed based on the (research) results."

Shea plans to launch the new company sometime later this year.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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This story was originally published in Soapbox, hiVelocity's sister publication in Cincinnati.

Collaboration aims to 'Grow the IT economy in Cincinnati, USA'

Major regional job-creating organizations have come together to focus efforts on competing for one of the nation's fastest-growing job segments: information technology.

This collaboration includes the Cincinnati CIO Roundtable, a forum of IT leaders who are focused on improving the region’s overall IT ecosystem, along with the Cincinnati USA Partnership and the Partners for a Competitive Workforce.

The CIO Roundtable is led by co-chairs Piyush Singh, SVP & CIO of Great American Insurance, and Geoff Smith, former IT leader at P&G.

"Business leaders in the region are coming together with the common goal of talking about the importance of IT, and its role in the growth of their companies," says Tammy Riddle, IT economic development director for Cincinnati USA Partnership.

Just last week, the organizations came together for a half-day, invitation-only event —“Grow the IT economy in Cincinnati USA.” The event featured presentations from a variety of stakeholders, including the organizers, JobsOhio and CincyTech.

The group is working to meet a wide range of challenges, including creating high-paying jobs through public and private partnerships, creating a strategic plan to grow IT jobs in the region, attracting and training talent, and determining the role of startups.

"One of the key things we're going to focus on are trends that companies are seeing across the board, and how we can match those with Cincinnati strengths and build the street cred of the IT sector in Cincinnati," Riddle says.

Regional universities also play a role in talent creation. Northern Kentucky University's College of Informatics is a leader, as is the University of Cincinnati with its top-rated analytics graduate program, and the University of Miami's innovative digital media program.

Cincinnati has an emerging IT industry. There are about 30,000 Cincinnati residents who are employed in the IT sector, which has an estimated $2.5 billion impact on the country’s GDP. According to the 2020 jobs outlook, it’s also one of the four fastest-growing and best-paying employment sectors in Cincinnati, with an anticipated 10-year growth rate of 26.5 percent.

"We want to take a more proactive approach to growing jobs in this sector," Riddle says. "We want to make sure that our region has what we need to fill that demand, to be able to accomplish growth."

Next, participants will start working on what it takes to grow the IT sector, including conducting a comprehensive assessment of the current IT economy and developing strategies for talent attraction, greater awareness investment and startup activity.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

This story was originally published in Soapbox, hiVelocity's sister publication in Cincinnati.

$15.5 million hangar facility to be built in wilmington, creating 259 new jobs

The Clinton County Port Authority (CCPA) and Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services (AMES) have announced plans to move forward on financing and construction of a new $15.4 million hangar facility at the Wilmington Air Park.
“As designed, the hangar will be capable of housing up to 767 and 777 class aircraft,” explains Kevin Carver, Executive Director of the CCPA, adding the hangar will be approximately 100,000 square feet once completed.
Carver points to JobsOhio and the Ohio Development Services Agency as vital partners in financing the project. “The total financing package from Ohio for this project was approximately $14.6 million,” he says. “In addition, the state’s willingness to be flexible with the terms of the Ohio Enterprise Bond and the 166 Low Interest Loan were essential in being able to complete this deal.”
The new project gives the small southwest Ohio town of 12,000 hope of economic recovery. On November 10, 2008, DHL announced that their Wilmington hub would be closed as they discontinued shipping operations in the United States. 8,000 employees lost their job, including 3,000 residents of Wilmington or Clinton County.
“The loss of DHL affected not only Wilmington, but a significant portion of southwest Ohio,” notes Carver. “At its peak, DHL was the single largest single site employer in a five county area of southwest Ohio.” The new hangar facility will create 259 new jobs.
“While the 259 jobs that will be created with this new hangar do not make up for the 8,000 or so jobs that were lost in the DHL closure, it is a very welcome addition to the community,” reflects Carver. “And it is a healthy start in the continuing effort to rebuild after the departure of DHL.”

Source: Kevin Carver
Writer: Joe Baur

Rocket Science moves downtown to join Cincinnati's growing branding culture

The branding firm Rocket Science now occupies a third-floor space in downtown Cincinnati’s Eighth Street Design District. The branding and design firm relocated from Mason at the beginning of December to be closer to major companies like P&G, Kroger and Macy’s, as well as other design firms.
“We really felt that being in the suburbs precluded us from being part of the local advertising and branding community,” says Chuck Tabri, director of business development and client strategy for Rocket Science, and one of the company’s three partners.
Greg Fehrenbach and Joel Warneke founded Rocket Science in 1999 under a different name. The company merged with one in Dayton, then de-merged, and in 2005, became Rocket Science in its current form. At the time of the merge, the firm was based in Mason; it then moved to a space in Deerfield Towne Center.
Rocket Science employs about 15 people, and it recently added in-house digital capabilities to its traditional print offerings to assist its clients' shift from print to digital. It made more sense for the company to develop its own digital branch rather than farm it out to another company, Tabri says.
Rocket Science had begun to outgrow its space in Mason, and after talks with 3CDC in the fall, the right space opened up. 

And from a talent standpoint, moving downtown gives Rocket Science greater access to young, fresh designers.
“Young designers want to be in a more urban environment,” says Tabri. “They get more inspiration from the creativity in a downtown environment than from a strip center in the suburbs.”
Because of Rocket Science's size, it can offer new thinking and capabilities that larger firms might not have, says Tabri. He adds that the move will help Rocket Science expand its consumer, business-to-business and healthcare verticals.
Originally published in Soapbox, our sister publication in Cincinnati.

By Caitlin Koenig
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Tixers hopes to score points with Cincy's season ticket holders

It’s a familiar struggle for those who lay down cash for season tickets to the Bengals or the Reds: trying to sell, donate or give away the extras when you can’t make a game.

Alex Burkhart grew up in Mansfield, Ohio, rooting for Cleveland sports teams. And while falling in love with Cincinnati as a student at Xavier may mean his love of Cincinnati sports is growing, he’s mostly impressed by the city’s budding startup culture.

A Macy’s employee by day, Burkhart won the Cincinnati Startup Weekend competition last November. During the event, individuals pitch startup ideas and form makeshift teams to develop them during a single weekend. Burkhart, who longingly noted that he missed a great Xavier game to do so, grabbed attention and a few helpful connections after he pitched his idea, which is now called Tixers.

Burkhart says the company will provide a new way to buy and sell tickets on an online platform. “Hypothetically, if you can’t go to a Reds game, you can sell the tickets on StubHub at a significantly reduced price, give them away or let them go to waste,” he says.

Tixers aims to even that exchange. Still in its early stages, the platform (likely to be web and mobile) will allow people who have tickets for sporting or other entertainment events to exchange them for points, which can later be redeemed for other tickets. In other words, no more last-minute emails or tickets gone to waste.

But before all this can happen, Burkhart hopes to connect with a partner who can complement his business acumen with technical know-how. He won the competition just weeks ago, attracting attention from startup accelerators and investors, but cautions, “It’s not a working business yet.”

Still, Burkhart is optimistic that Cincinnati’s sustainable startup culture combined with his education, enthusiasm and upbringing—he’s from a family of entrepreneurs—will soon mean a successful launch for Tixers.

Originally published in Soapbox, our sister publication in Cincinnati.

By Robin Donovan

openfield creative focuses on web design in increasingly mobile world

Brian Keenan can describe a lot of projects he’s willing to take on as co-founder of Openfield Creative, but traditional advertising isn’t one of them. With the various skill sets in the air at Openfield, it’s probably not because the team couldn’t tackle that type of project, but with a growing demand for mobile-friendly websites, he and his team focus on web and mobile design with an eye to brand identity.

Like so many Cincinnati creative firms, Openfield was founded by DAAP grads; co-founders include Josh Barnes, Brandon Blangger and Keenan. The firm typically steps in once an overarching brand strategy has been defined, helping to roll out brand concepts across websites, mobile apps and more. That may mean crafting large graphics, video or digital design for landing pages or app interfaces, those so-called touchpoints consumers use to interact with a given company or brand.

The Openfield team also creates logos and other brand-based design elements and design standards and that define, for example, how photography is used with a particular brand, or specify unique design elements that set a company apart for a cohesive, branded look on company materials.

“We’re not an ad agency,” Keenan says. “We’re a design partner who gets in with our clients at a high level, understands the nuances.”
The company also offers staff-to-client interaction with anyone from their firm working on a project, rather than farming out interfacing to an account manager or other key staffer.

Keenan says the company name draws on a core value: Anyone (and everyone) is a creative, no matter what their background. Whether it be working with a new client or casting an eye toward the future, each member of the staff is expected to be ready to brainstorm.

“Immediately in front of us, we see a lot more mobile work as clients understand that their audiences are adopting global usage at an incredible rate,” Keenan says, noting that Openfield is creating more mobile apps than ever before. 

But he’s more proud of his company’s ability to learn and change than its current skill set. “For all we know, we may not design websites in the future, but we’re confident that there’ll always be a digital experience component. We’ll always have a place using design and smart technology to put together what our clients need.”

By Robin Donovan
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