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YBI portfolio company snags international client

OAREX Capital Markets has closed on their first transaction by providing capital to Toronto-based Nintendo Enthusiast, a video game review website that has an informal relationship with Nintendo.
 
A Youngstown Business Incubator portfolio company, OAREX provides capital to digital entrepreneurs with future value. It’s billed as a risk-free alternative to incurring debt or selling equity.
 
“In exchange for the cash we gave him, he will pay us the money he receives from advertisers for the next three months,” OAREX Founder Hanna Kassis explains. “After that, he remains 100 percent owner of his company and debt free.”
 
Kassis says the deal came after pouring over market research that included reaching out to various blogs and websites.
 
“I emailed about 450 blogs and was getting mixed feedback,” Kassis recalls before Nintendo Enthusiast asked for a quote. “We Skyped three times, and I got to understand his needs, got access to his website data and quoted him. We negotiated a bit and struck a deal.”
 
In addition to providing capital, OAREX will be offering search engine optimization (SEO) consultation to the Canadian company. Kassis anticipates their SEO work will bring in even more advertising revenue to Nintendo Enthusiast.
 
Though OAREX is excited for their first client, Kassis is busy developing additional relationships.
 
“We are in talks with a few other potential clients,” he says, noting an increased demand for futures capital. “I’ve been emailing 50 to 80 websites a day.”
 
 
Source: Hanna Kassis
Writer: Joe Baur


YBI portfolio company is first futures-driven capital market for digital entrepreneurs

Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) portfolio company, OAREX (Online Advertising Revenue Exchange), has become the world’s first futures-driven capital market for digital entrepreneurs.
 
OAREX provides capital to digital business owners – smart phone app developers, website and YouTube channel owners – that have sold advertising space on their digital property. “The market is futures-driven because the amount of capital provided to them is based on their expected future advertising revenues over the course of the next three, six, nine or 12-month period,” explains owner Hanna Kassis.
 
This makes funds more readily available to people and businesses who are scared away from banks because of the risk and cost associated with raising capital. “OAREX is neither a lender nor an investor,” says Kassis, who has personally financed his company. “[We] merely pay and guarantee digital business owners their future ad revenues today by providing them with lump sum cash up front.” Interested entrepreneurs can learn more from a video presentation at the company’s website.
 
Though OAREX is now in Delaware, the company remains a portfolio company of YBI and Kassis hopes to one day return to the Steel Valley where he taught economics at his alma matter, Youngstown State University.
 
In the meantime, Kassis is happy to heap praise onto YBI, saying the incubator has played a “pivotal role” in the company’s success so far.
 
“They’ve been available as a resource for connecting OAREX with potential investors and clients, and providing tech support,” he explains. “Members of the YBI team have also helped in the development of the business model and tackling the complex issues of bringing the company to market.” Kassis continues, noting a YBI board member also serves as an advisory board member with OAREX. “The connection between the two entities is very strong and successful.”
 
 
Source: Hanna Kassis
Writer: Joe Baur

Marietta-based OffWhite launches cloud-based marketing platform

Marietta-based Offenberger & White, Inc., or "OffWhite" for short, is making waves in the small- and medium-sized business community with the expansion of its cloud-based platform, Ed.it2, which offers users without programming skills an integrated dashboard to manage communications functions, email marketing and social media.
 
“Our expanded platform is an outgrowth of our original website content management system,” explains OffWhite co-founder Bill White. “It’s an affordable, cloud-based solution, easy to use, scalable and very broad in what utilities you choose to switch on.”
 
Users frustrated with complicated, expensive marketing platforms that require programming will be delighted with OffWhite's simplified experience. “The user can access all digital media pathways via a single dashboard,” says White. “This includes website content, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and many other functions.” White insists users will not need an IT staff to manage the Ed.it2 cloud.
 
The cloud-based expansion is the latest evolution of Ed.it2, which OffWhite has continually optimized since the platform's launch 10 years ago per the request of a Japanese client. “Since then, it has evolved with new features and utilities as the industry evolves,” notes White.
 
Now, small- to medium-sized businesses that lack the budget for expensive content management systems can opt for OffWhite's services. “We have an affinity for emerging growth and small to medium businesses, especially technology companies,” says White. “They need common sense solutions for tapping into their own websites and social media without lots of infrastructure. That’s just a fraction of what Ed.it2 offers.”
 
 
Source: Bill White
Writer: Joe Baur

Cincy entrepreneurs set to launch multimedia digital portfolio platform

Today the web is a crucial link between employer and employee. Your first contact with a potential employer is almost always online, and it can be hard to stand out.

That's why two Cincinnati entrepreneurs are set to launch a platform that allows job seekers and college students to more completely, creatively and simply show what they're made of.

Kevin Mackey and Stephanie Hughes, founders of GlueWorks LLC, are launching their first product, Talent Showcase. The online platform is a multimedia portfolio that allows users to display and share their important workplace skills and attributes.

Talent Showcase, set to go live July 31, allows users to customize their profiles from a number of available features. With Talent Showcase, job seekers can use video, PDFs, audio, pictures and more to show and sell themselves. Talent Showcase has a workplace assessment feature that will list your top five workplace competencies (out of 84 assessed).

"You can upload your resume, a first impression video or elevator pitch, songs, letters of recommendation, class projects," says Mackey, who has a background in marketing and finance. "It's like an interview before the interview."

GlueWorks will allow users to share their profile from the site.

The platform is a modified idea of Hughes', an NKU professor. Originally, she envisioned the site as a way to connect college students to former professors and businesses. Students can be hard to find once they graduate, and GlueWorks was formed to increase the "stickiness" between them, she says.

Like many startups, the idea evolved, though the core concept remains the same: high-quality connection. Talent Showcase stands out from sites like LinkedIn because of its focus on displaying individuals' talents, Hughes says.

"Glue offers a much more digestible tool," she says. "If I'm an employer, I don't want to navigate my way around a (social media) profile. Glue presents information in a much more standardized, digestible way for employers. It doesn't make the job of the employer difficult."

And what's good for employers, is good for employees.

Those interested in Talent Showcase can sign up on the GlueWorks website. It's free for individual users. Organizations like colleges and universities or chambers of commerce can also purchase a white-label version of the system, which includes a search portal and an administrative portal for providing advice and feedback on their members' Talent Showcases.

Eventually, as Glue builds its user base, employers will be able to purchase regional or national recruiting memberships for a monthly or annual fee.


By Feoshia H. Davis

Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber hosts design competition

In partnership with tech entrepreneur Tarek Kamil, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s
C-Change program is requesting proposals from designers from across the region to help craft an unforgettable brand experience for users of the newly launched website, Cerkl.

“This is an ideal opportunity to participate in a high-profile project for one of the largest non-profit organizations in the Greater Cincinnati region,” says Kamil, Cerkl’s creator. 

Launched in February, the website expedites serendipitous connections between talented individuals and local organizations that are working to improve Greater Cincinnati and the surrounding area. Its online platform serves as a catalyst for offline community engagement by empowering organizations and individuals to cut through the "noise" from existing networks to easily find organizations and opportunities to give back using time and talent.

Intuitive tools and search functions allow organizations to find the right people with specific skills - and help individuals leverage their unique talents and engage meaningfully with organizations they care about. Best of all, the site’s tools and platform are completely free. Cerkl is a gift to Cincinnati from Kamil, who while serving in his own community of Madeira saw the need for an online intervention to help non-profits make meaningful connections with their supporters.

But still in its infancy, the website is ready for its brand to be polished.

In step with Cerkl’s mission, Kamil and C-Change are looking to tap engaged design professionals who want to share their talents with their community in a meaningful way. 

“No other city has a higher caliber or concentration of branding and design talent than ours,” Kamil says. “We want to leverage those assets to bring Cerkl to its full potential. When we’re successful, Cincinnati will be home to the go-to tool created to empower non-profits, inspire individuals and improve communities.”

Designers participating in the request for proposals are asked to develop a refreshed visual look for the nonprofit, specifically a new brandmark and homepage redesign. Responses are due by June 21, and finalists will be notified in the beginning of July. 

The chosen designer or team will have the opportunity to establish a working relationship with one of the region’s most successful startup entrepreneurs. The involved parties will actively promote the contracting designer or firm through the website, social media, at events, marketing campaigns, etc. 

The winner of the competition will receive special recognition from C-Change and Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce, as well as a year’s subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud service or a $600 DCI (Downtown Cincinnati Inc.) Gift Card.

The digital version of the RFP and brand guidelines can be found here. To receive a copy of request for proposal, email your submissions or for questions, email virtual.submission@gmail.com by June 21.


Writer: Jenny Kessler
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