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Blackbook EMG

250 E. 5th St., 15th Floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Chris Ostoich, founder of Blackbook EMG

When and why did you start your business?

Blackbook was founded in 2007 as a result of my own struggle to survive being relocated from one market to another. I was convinced that a significant number of employees were leaving this place because they struggled to find their way. I thought that we could help being new suck a little less -- employees will be more likely to stay in their jobs -- thus solving the expensive and pervasive business problem of turnover. The good news is -- it worked.
Did you consider yourself an entrepreneur before that?

I'd like to think so. Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia once said that "entrepreneurs are like juvenile delinquents who say -- this sucks, I'll do it my own way."  I've had this mindset most of my life, and have found ways to channel that disruptive, yet productive, energy into my ventures.

Where did you find your first employee?

Like most entrepreneurs, I started with people close to me: friends and friends of friends. However, over time I've learned that assembling a team is one of the most critical components of building a successful enterprise. And if you pick the wrong people, you need to cut them loose quickly. Wasted time is not your friend.
What state or local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?

Fortunately, Blackbook is one of the CincyTech portfolio companies. While CincyTech invests capital to get companies off the ground, we've seen enormous benefit from the leadership and mentoring that the organization offers through its Executives in Residence. The Ohio Technology Investment Tax Credit also played an instrumental role in getting our seed-round closed.

What’s the most difficult thing about running your own business?

There are so many things that make starting and running a business difficult. At any stage in the lifecycle of a business you run into different challenges. When you're early -- capitalization is key. When you're getting momentum -- building the right team is at the top of the list. When you're scaling -- you've got a new set of issues. And through all of this you must understand that you're going to constantly fall on your face.
What’s the best thing?

I don't think I have that answer yet. We haven't experienced enough yet to understand what the best thing is. I have huge, far-reaching and likely improbable dreams for myself and this business. I fully believe that the best is yet to come. I'll let you know when we get there.

What has contributed most to your growth?

I have dealt with failure so many times that I couldn't count them out. Every once in a while, you get something truly right. That dauntless task of repeatedly going to battle and winning and losing gives me life. I feel alive.

What companies or founders do you admire and why?

I could give you a hundred -- but I'll start with one. That guy from Tom's Shoes is really doing it right. He's doing something socially responsible and doing it so well that you can't help but cheer for them to succeed. AssureRx for pulling California VCs into Ohio. I love the guys from Thrillist. Some other faves -- Flipboard, Apple, Quora, David Yurman, Google and TechCrunch.

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