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Women entrepreneurs shaking things up in Cincinnati

Women entrepreneurs have been really shaking things up in the Greater Cincinnati area. Twice during the past three years--both in 2009 and again in 2011--women have won  all of the prestigious SCORE-Greater Cincinnati annual Client of the Year Awards.

SCORE is the volunteer counseling arm of the Small Business Administration, offering free workshops and mentoring to its clients.

“Over the past few years, about 40 to 50 percent of our clients and workshop participants have been women,” explains Rick Johnston, chairman of SCORE-Greater Cincinnati. “We’re definitely seeing a trend of more local women becoming entrepreneurs and also SCORE clients, which we think is great.”

Landing a coveted Client of the Year Award isn’t easy, according to Bob Wiwi, marketing chair. “Candidates must complete an extensive application process on all aspects of their business, including the challenges they faced, how they overcame them, and how their SCORE counselor helped them.” Candidates’ counselors then provide a letter of recommendation describing their client’s work and progress. “The judges have a lot to consider when deciding on the winners,” Wiwi notes.

The Cincinnati chapter named four winners in November 2011: Connie Abirached, InkyDinkTs; Lisa Gear, Lunatic Fringe Salon; Candace Klein, Bad Girl Ventures; and Shannon Adams, My Flower Service.

“These women are creating jobs, and that’s terrific for our region,” notes Johnston.

Winner Connie Abirached says, “I learned long ago that, as a woman, success is achievable but also is harder to achieve unless you work hard, are deeply dedicated, and have ambition and guts.” Winner Lisa Gear remarks, “I feel so blessed and honored to be part of this amazing group of women. SCORE was so helpful to me on my journey, and I highly recommend them to anyone.”   

By Lynne Meyer

Sources:  Rick Johnston & Bob Wiwi, SCORE
                 Lisa Gear, Lunatic Fringe
               Connie Abirached, InkyDink Ts

Entrepreneurship programs at three Ohio universities ranked among top 25 in the nation

The next generation of Ohio entrepreneurs is in good hands, according to a prestigious ranking of college and university entrepreneurship programs.

The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine surveyed more than 2,000 entrepreneurship programs, and ranked three Ohio universities among the top 25 undergraduate programs in the U.S. The University of Dayton's Entrepreneurial Leadership Program is ranked no. 12, followed by Miami University's Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership at no. 15, and Xavier University's Sedler Family Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at 25.

The survey covered the 2010-2011 academic year, and ranked schools based on features inside and outside of the classroom. That included academics and requirements, percentage of students enrolled in entrepreneurship programs, and percentage of graduates and faculty had run, started or bought a successful business. The survey also looked at schools' partnerships with other institutions to allow access to the entrepreneurship program, and budgets for clubs and organizations that support entrepreneurship.

The results put the universities in the company of number one-ranked University of Houston, as well as Baylor University, Syracuse University and Brigham Young University.

At the three universities, there are a total of 865 students enrolled in entrepreneurship programs, who have access to 21 entrepreneurship organizations and clubs and 14 mentor programs.

Sources: Debora Del Valle, Director for Public Relations Xavier University; and University of Dayton communications
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

Cincinnati Innovates highlights 12 southwest Ohio innovators

While chores may never make it to your child's bucket list, two Cincinnati entrepreneurs are developing a web-based and mobile application that can make them more enjoyable.

The idea was enough to garner Chris Bergman and Paul Armstrong's ChoreMonster a $25,000 CincyTech Commercialization award at this year's Cincinnati Innovates competition.

ChoreMonster, now under development, connects chores and rewards through a point system. The application, which can be accessed by parents and their children, awards kids points based on the type of chore they complete. The points can then be cashed in for real rewards like a gaming system or a night out at the movies.

ChoreMonster was among a dozen local entrepreneurs recently shared $115,000 in grants awarded by Cincinnati Innovates, a nonprofit in search of the "next big thing. Cincinnati startup Acceptd, which is developing web-based software designed to make it easier for university professionals to manage video applications for creative and sports programs, also won a $25,000 commercialization award.

"For the most part we're looking for entrepreneurs with a 'disruptive' innovation, with the potential to grow into great companies," says Elizabeth Edwards, founder of Metro Innovation and organizer of the competition. "These disruptive innovations have the potential to completely transform a marketplace."

In the past three years, more than 1,000 local entrepreneurs have participated in the annual competition, and winners have divvied up a total of $250,000 in grants provided by 23 sponsors. Past winners have raised over $3.5 million in follow-on capital, have been featured in national media, and are changing the world with their ideas.

This year's dozen innovators will save stroke victims, help travelers avoid missing flights, protect firefighters, stimulate kids to do their chores, and help to draft better fantasy sports teams.

"Cincinnati Innovates was a joint effort between CincyTech, the Taft law firm, Soapbox  and myself," says Edwards. "The awards are important in helping to identify aspiring entrepreneurs. Typically, aspiring entrepreneurs don't wear tee shirts that say, 'I'm thinking about starting a company.'"

She adds: "We are looking at things at the concept stage, before a business plan is even written . . . entrepreneurs must have a nearly transformational innovation and be serious about commercializing it. CincyTech, for example, has three awards . . . they're typically looking for healthcare and IT companies, something that offers a potential market exceeding 250 million dollars," says Edwards.

Other awards are outside the healthcare and IT markets.
Sources: Elizabeth A. Edwards, Metro Innovation; Soapbox
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney

Canton's Entrepreneur Launch says job number one is jobs

Despite the name, the City of Canton's Entrepreneur Launch has no intention of landing a homegrown version of Bill Gates on the Moon. It's all about jobs.

Derek Gordon, project manager for the city, would love to discover the next Diebold or Timken, but he will be satisfied giving seed money to a startup that is likely to create new jobs. The program, which is part of the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network, has $100,000 in grants for a company or companies with the most promising business plans. The funding mechanism for the program is Community Development Block Grants provided by the state.

Canton's mayor, William J. Healy II, had the initial idea for the program, which he hopes will stimulate jobs. While no one has claimed any of the money yet, the application process only opened last month. The project's website is administered by ystark!, which Gordon describes as "the premiere young professional organization in Stark County."

Joe Schauer, the outgoing chairperson of ystark!, serves as chairman of the Launch Commission, which was established in June. The commission, comprised of community members, local entrepreneurs, the Chamber of Commerce, Canton's department of development and others, is responsible for selecting the winning application/s.

The city plans to replenish the fund every year. "We'd like to pair the public money with private funds and have a nice chunk of change available for those interested parties," says Gordon. "We've been very pleased with the coverage we've received, but it's now up to the applicants to determine the interest level."

Applications, which are first reviewed by JumpStart, can be found at www.cantonlaunch.org.

Source: Derek Gordon, City of Canton
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney

New startups reflect The Brandery's growth, reputation

Cincinnati startup accelerator The Brandery, named a Top 10 startup accelerator in the nation and a member of the TechStars Network, reported a 40 percent increase in applications for its second class of hopeful startups, versus its inaugural class in 2010. This year's applications came from 22 states and seven countries, including India, Germany, China, Italy, Croatia, Canada and Spain.

The 2011 program begins Aug. 1. Over the course of 12 weeks, it will cover a range of startup-related topics such as Why Design Matters for Startups, Social Media Boot Camp and 10 Legal Mistakes that Startups Make. And the nine startups selected to participate in this year's class -- Bitcasa, ChoreMonster, Keepio, Meruni, Receept, RentShare, Roadtrippers and Wellthy -- benefit from not only the programming, but the location of the Cincinnati-based program.

"Cincinnati is not only home to 10 Fortune 500 headquarters, but it's a hotbed for marketing, branding, design and advertising service companies," says The Brandery co-founder J.B. Kropp. "I can't think of a better place for creative, ambitious, young professionals to launch their ideas."

CincyTech is The Brandery's investment partner, providing $20,000 grants for each of the companies going through the program. CincyTech President Bob Coy says The Brandery is helping CincyTech meet its goal of growing jobs in the region.

"The Brandery has demonstrated its ability to attract talented entrepreneurs from around the country and the world to Cincinnati to capitalize on the region's consumer marketing strengths," says Coy. "Our hope is that they will become embedded in the community and enrich the region's entrepreneurial talent base. And of course that means they will help to invigorate our economy by creating jobs and wealth and bringing new perspectives from other regions of the U.S. and the world."

Sources: J.B. Kropp, The Brandery; Bob Coy, CincyTech
Writer: Sarah Blazak for CincyTech

This story originally appeared in sister publication Soapbox.

RGP, University of Toledo, form joint partnership on Third Frontier

A joint venture between the Regional Growth Partnership and the University of Toledo is expected to streamline administration of incubation services and support for technology startups in northwest Ohio.

Two programs administered by the RGP -- the Rocket Ventures program, which invests Ohio Third Frontier funds in technology companies, and Launch, a tech-based business incubation program -- will now be run from University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises.

Four technology-focused staff members from the RGP moved to the university earlier this month.

"The scope of work, the program itself, what your'e trying to accomplish, none of those things will change at all -- you simply are taking both organizations that should be very closely aligned and taking the best of both worlds," says Dean Monske, president and CEO of the RGP. "Each one had great resources but they each lacked something and the other one had exactly what the other one lacked. And we're going to do it with less dollars."

Some type of consolidation of business assistance programs has been discussed in northwest Ohio for some time, says Dan Slifko, chief operating officer of the partnership (which will operate under the Rocket Ventures name), and director of the Rocket Ventures Fund.

"Under one roof, RGP was doing the traditional economic development activities of attraction and retention, while also helping technology based businesses and early stage companies," he explains. "As time went on, many counties and a multitude of economic development agencies were doing the same things and competing for money."

While the RGP was able to provide only "virtual" incubation services through the Launch program, physical incubation space is provided at the University of Toledo. Additionally, the new arrangement will allow young technology companies working with Rocket Ventures to more easily tap the research and academic strengths of the University, which has been instrumental in spinning off companies within the solar industry and other technology sectors, Slifko says.

Sources: Dan Slifko, Rocket Ventures, and Dean Monske, the Regional Growth Partnership
Writer: Gene Monteith

Make millions. Change the World. Wear Jeans.

Who wouldn't want to: Make Millions. Change the World. Wear Jeans? 

That's the motto of The Ohio State University's Business Builders Club, or BBC, a 10-year-old student-run group that promotes the entrepreneurial mindset to all interested students -- not just business majors. And 150 student members (many of whom already operate their own businesses or plan to) from varied backgrounds are proving the theory.

So, what can you do at a weekly BBC meeting?

- Take the floor for 60 seconds to pitch an idea or opportunity for collaboration on a new business venture.
- Embrace your inner nerd in an E-Ship Ed teaching moment to learn a basic business skill.
- Steal great ideas and laugh at the early failures of the weekly guest speaker.
- Critique each meeting component with your peers over pizza and cold beverages at a local tavern.

All of which will prepare you to enter one of the annual IdeaPitch Competitions and pursuade a panel of judges that you deserve their money and guidance.

As for the "Changing the World," part, incoming BBC President, Carol Walden says," the club's Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship Summit had over 1,000 people in attendance. The summit works every year to bring entrepreneurs from all around the country and globe to one place to talk about the social issues they are looking to resolve through innovative initiatives."

Ben Gilbert, a 21-year-old OSU senior and co-founder of Functional Delights, maker of Seize the Day (an app that has been downloaded by nearly 300,000 iPhone users) says he was heavily influenced by the Business Builders Club.

"We raised about 50 grand this year from the community. While most of those funds supported the summit, Gilbert notes, "We (also) funded a whole bunch of student businesses and gave away nine grand to businesses like mine. It's a pretty neat thing to be a part of."

Source: Carol Walden and Ben Gilbert, OSU Business Builder's Club
Writer: Dana Griffith

Case Western grads' award-winning software to help online sellers

Recent Case Western Reserve University mechanical engineering graduates Austin Schmidt and Solomon Alkhasov won the 2011 Idea Competition, sponsored by LaunchHouse and CSU's Accelerated MBA program at Nance College of Business. They created a company called Affinity Algorithms, which develops proprietary computer arbitrage software to facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers in various online marketplaces. The software provides greater liquidity and price transparency in the marketplaces.

"We are developing a suite of online software that helps the seller in fragmented marketplaces better manage inventory," explains Schmidt. Although Schmidt and Alkhasov came up with the idea from their experiences buying and selling textbooks in college, they say it can be applied to many online marketplaces.

The idea for Affinity Algorithms came about in January, they set up shop in March, and landed at LaunchHouse this month. They plan to roll out a full build of the software in September.

Students from all Northeast Ohio colleges and universities were invited to pitch a business concept to a panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, CSU faculty and LaunchHouse staff. The contest primarily focused on students who had innovative ideas in the fields of software and internet technology, low-tech medical devices and clean energy.

The second winner is Ronny Shalev, also a student at Case. Shalev created a product known as an autonomous intravenous (IV) insertion tool that will be the most effective replacement for the current procedure of manual vein localization and needle insertion. Shalev's tool will completely replace the need for trained medical staff.

Contest winners were each awarded a $2,500 scholarship to the Global AMBA program along with a prize basket of support services from LaunchHouse, "Additionally, we received a $500 check from LaunchHouse, along with a bunch of services that include legal services, accounting, and free space for three months," says Schmidt. "All in all, a very comprehensive package with everything needed to get a business off the ground."

The winners will also have the opportunity to compete for up to $5000 in follow on funding.

Source: Austin Schmidt, Affinity Algorithms
Writer: Karin Connelly

This story originally appeared in hiVelocity's sister publication Fresh Water Cleveland.

Bizdom U: “Wantrepreneurs” need not apply

Dan Gilbert is a Detroit native, but he believes in Cleveland big time. And he has put his money where his mouth is.

The chairman and founder of Quicken Loans, headquartered in Detroit, is majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, operates Quicken Loans Arena, where the team plays, and is building a casino in downtown Cleveland.

Now he's bringing an opportunity to Cleveland entrepreneurs to help them succeed.

The opportunity is Bizdom U, which Gilbert launched in Detroit in 2007. "Bizdom U. is a non-profit program Gilbert created to provide entrepreneurs with the necessary training and funding to launch a business in exchange for a share of ownership in that business," explains Ross Sanders, Bizdom U CEO. The program has helped create 14 businesses in Detroit, and plans call for launching three more by the end of 2011.

Bizdom U is rigorous and extremely demanding, according to Sanders.

"We want people with strong drive and dedication," he states. "We make a definite distinction between entrepreneurs and those I call 'wantrepreneurs'. 'Wantrepreneurs' want to be their own boss and set their own hours but aren't willing to go through everything necessary to make it happen. We're looking for people with a successful track record and a good business idea."

Bizdom U Cleveland officially begins this fall. The full-time program is free, lasts four to six months and will accommodate 20 entrepreneurs. Participants receive training, books, laptops, personal data devices and a living stipend.

Participants who complete the program must develop and present a detailed business plan. If their plan is accepted, participants can receive start-up funding of up to $100,000 from the nonprofit Bizdom Fund, a share of their own business, an opportunity to earn a greater share of ownership over time and eight months of post-launch coaching, as well as ongoing mentoring. Proceeds from businesses developed through Bizdom U go back into the Bizdom Fund to invest in future companies.

Bizdom U Cleveland has already hired a Clevelander to recruit Cleveland entrepreneurs to the program and will also hire a Clevelander as training leader. They're currently seeking office space in downtown Cleveland.

Source: Ross Sanders, Bizdom U
Writer: Lynne Meyer

Dublin Entrepreneurial Center to open new international business assistance program

The Dublin Entrepreneurial Center (DEC) wants to help local entrepreneurs with their international goals and to attract businesses from around the world. That's why it's opening new incubator space called The Dublin International Business Assistance Center.

The new center, which opens next week, will provide office space, conference rooms, and access to technology and other resources. The new center will be a kind of "incubator" for local entrepreneurs seeking international markets or partners, as well as a local resource for international business leaders looking for a foothold in the huge American market.

DEC, a partnership between the city of Dublin and TechColumbus established in April of 2009, is now "home" to 50 tenants. Monthly meetings facilitate networking, shared technology, funding and education. Specialized events also help to stimulate local and international interest in the center's offerings.

Dublin was recently named a "Top Seven Intelligent Community" by the Intelligent Community Forum for the second year in a row, and many area companies boast significant international operations.

"We are the first TiE [The International Entrepreneur] chapter outside of Cleveland, and we're developing relationships with a number of organizations, like the Asian Indian-American Business Association," says Dana McDaniel, Dublin's deputy city manager and director of economic development.

"We introduced what we call a 'Green Integrator' to focus on green companies, and we now have 11 green startups in the entrepreneurial center, doing collaborative-type projects. We have companies that focus on 'clean' diesel; we have companies doing LED lighting, solar panels, and a couple of companies that do energy audits and architectural work."

Source: Dana McDaniel, City of Dublin
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney

New Blue Ash Vora Innovation Center to develop tech talent

After more than 25 years of entrepreneurism and talent development efforts across Cincinnati, Indian-born tech entrepreneur Mahendra Vora is making yet another investment in the region.

Vora has just launched the new Vora Innovation Center in Blue Ash that houses several Vora companies, with additional incubator space and high tech meeting and demonstration areas.

It's the new HQ for The Vora Group and Vora's flagship Ascendum, a global information technology (IT) solutions company. Also housed in the Innovation Center are three of his Vora Group holding companies Bluespring Software, Vinimaya, a cloud-based advanced procurement optimization company and a social search engine company Zakta.com.

Vora has helped co-found and sell many successful tech companies over the last two decades. He also co-founded the Vora Technology Park in Hamilton, one the largest technology parks in the country. Among his most successful and well-known companies was Intelliseek which he founded in the late 1990s. Intelliseek was a search company that measured word of mouth marketing. It was acquired by Buzzmetrics, now known as Nielsen.

The Innovation Center employs more than 250. Its companies count a number of Fortune 100 businesses as clients, including Kroger and Great American Financial. About half of the 43,000-square-foot building is occupied with plans for expansion that include 250 new employees in the areas of software design, development, testing and quality assurance.

In addition to housing Vora Group companies, part of the Innovation Center space is being developed as a solutions center where companies can try out and share the latest technologies. First of its kind in the region, the solutions center is designed to be open, modern and collaborative.

Vora's vision for the center is as a place that will retain and develop local tech talent.

"We have the raw talent here," Vora said. "But what is lacking (compared to the East and West coasts) is opportunity and exposure. We can create an environment here in Cincinnati where the next hot social media or mobile company can be built."

Source: Mahendra Vora, Vora Innovation Center
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

You can follow Feoshia on Twitter @feoshiawrites

This story originally appeared in hiVelocity's sister publication Soapbox.

New Third Frontier-OSU partnership to give young entrepreneurs a head start

A pilot program launched by the Ohio Third Frontier and the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University represents a new way to help young technology entrepreneurs get their feet on the ground in Ohio.

Modeled after nationally renowned accelerators like Y Combinator and TechStars, Ohio's New Entrepreneur Fund (ONE Fund) will award $20,000 each to 10 entrepreneurial teams as part of the pilot's first round. The funds will support business and living expenses during an 11-week period in which participants receive guidance from mentors, industry experts, seasoned entrepreneurs and investors.

Teams will compete for selection to the program, which begins June 13 and ends Sept. 1. During that time, participants will prepare concepts and business models, which they will ultimately present to investors. ONE Fund participants must reside in Ohio for the duration of the program and any resulting company must be formed in Ohio.

"We're industry agnostic," says Ben Lagemann, risk capital program manager for the Ohio Department of Development. "Information technology is likely to have a strong presence, but this is not specific to any industry or technology base. Really, we're focusing on entrepreneurship, which is a transferrable skill set between technologies, between industries."

The pilot will be coordinated through Fisher's new 10x technology accelerator, an arm of the college's Center for Entrepreneurship. Lagemann says OSU was chosen as a partner because of its proximity to government offices in Columbus, the capabilities of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the expertise of center director Michael Camp.

"Dr. Camp was able to provide a turnkey solution for us in a very, very short period of time. No one else had those resources, capabilities or stature in the state," Lagemann says.

Camp describes the partnership as "a rare connect between a state funding the teams and the university training the teams." He says the ONE Fund pilot represents the kickoff of the 10x accelerator.

Norman Chagnon, executive director of the Third Frontier Commission, says $425,000 has been made available for startup costs and two pilot rounds representing up to 20 teams. Meanwhile, Columbus venture capital firm NCT Ventures has guaranteed that one team graduating from the first round will receive $200,000 in follow-on funding.

Applications for the first round are due April 24. Those interested can apply here.

Sources: Ben Lagemann, ODOD; Norman Chagnon, Third Frontier Commission; Michael Camp, OSU
Writer: Gene Monteith

LaunchHouse accelerator raises $250,000 in pre-seed funds, prepares move to new digs

A Shaker Heights accelerator has raised $250,000 in pre-seed funds that it will make available this year to 15 startups focused on software and "disruptive technologies."

Shaker LaunchHouse, formed as Goldstein Caldwell & Associates in 2008 to help technology entrepreneurs at the earliest stages move quickly from concept to first client, has made funds available to 12 companies to date, says Todd Goldstein, managing partner. Previous investments were raised by Goldstein and his partners; the most current funds were invested by a variety of private angels, he says.

The accelerator, which takes an equity stake in companies it assists, provides mentors, collaborative office space, educational programs and connections with investors during a process designed to validate an idea in 90 days and land a first client within 180. Investments typically range between $5,000 and $20,000 and average about $10,000, Goldstein says.

"We really formed because my partner (Dar Caldwell) and I, in our 20s, were starting our own business and felt there really were not good resources for entrepreneurs at the earliest stage to help them go from idea to validation, and to provide a community around them," Goldstein says.

While there is no requirement that portfolio companies remain in state, the long-term goal is to strengthen the entrepreneurial environment in Ohio, Goldstein says.

On April 7, LaunchHouse announced an investment in BestHomeHealthCare.com, a provider of web-based services to the extended care and home care industries. Previous portfolio companies include Sunflower Solutions, a Cleveland -based company that now provides low-tech solar power solutions in five developing countries.

Goldstein says his firm changed its name in late 2010 when it formed a partnership with Shaker Heights. Next month LaunchHouse will move into a building renovated by the city. Under a five-year lease agreement, the accelerator will have use of the 23,000-square foot facility rent- and tax-free for the first four years. In return, the city's community investment corporation will take equity in LaunchHouse.

Non-portfolio companies can pay a membership fee to take advantage of LaunchHouse office space, events and educational programs.

Source: Todd Goldstein, Shaker LaunchHouse
Writer: Gene Monteith

Cincinnati Innovates competition grows with nearly $90,000 in prizes

The third annual Cincinnati Innovates competition has just started, growing to offer nearly $90,000 in prizes designed to push forward groundbreaking products and services.

"The goal of Cincinnati Innovates is to connect aspiring entrepreneurs -- people with ideas -- to all the great resources our region has to offer: incubators, angel investors, banks, mentors, and experts. The grant awards are just the first step," says Elizabeth Edwards, venture capital investor and founder of Cincinnati Innovates.

The competition opened April 15 and continues through July 15. As in the past two years, it's open to anyone now or originally from a 15-county area of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. The contest is looking for a broad range of innovative products, devices, business processes and more to highlight, fund and support.

This year 12 awards will be given with a $25,000 top cash prize sponsored by CincyTech. For many winners, Cincinnati Innovates is an early step in their path to development, investment and growth. In total, more than $135,000 has been awarded, with winners attracting more than $3 million in additional financing, said competition founder Elizabeth Edwards.

"There have been lots of new patents filed, a lot of new funding. There has been some really great progress for these startups and that was exactly wanted we wanted to see happen," said Edwards.

To enter the contest or get more info, go to the contest website. There you'll enter a short description of your idea and upload pictures, video, or sketches to help explain and showcase it. You can also take a look at past entries and winners. Last year more than 300 people entered and more than 100 attended supporting innovation workshops offered during the competition timeline.

This year those workshops will expand and include: Patents and Trademarks, Startup Financing, Individual Health Insurance, Branding, Concept Development, and Licensing.

There are 25 Cincinnati Innovates sponsors; many are offering cash or in-kind service awards including the $25,000 CincyTech award; $10,000 and $5,000 in-kind Taft Patent Awards applied toward the patent process. There are two $10,000 in-kind branding and marketing awards: the Round Pixel Studio Web Development Award and the LPK Design and Branding Award.

Source: Elizabeth Edwards, founder Cincinnati Innovates
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

You can follow Feoshia on Twitter @feoshiawrites

This story originally appeared in Soapbox.

Startup Lakewood nurtures entrepreneurial newbies

Could Lakewood become a hotbed for entrepreneurial talent? If the new effort Startup Lakewood fulfills its mission, the city will in the near future be home to a fresh new crop of entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas.

Startup Lakewood is a new program formed collaboratively between the City of Lakewood, Lakewood's Chamber of Commerce, LakewoodAlive, and Pillars of Lakewood. The program consists of biweekly brainstorming meetings held in various cafes around Lakewood and led by Mike Belsito, a startup business developer. Startup Lakewood also invites entrepreneurial experts to share insights with would-be entrepreneurs.

The two-hour brainstorming sessions are free and open to all residents of Lakewood.

Startup Lakewood has initiated Startup U, a monthly program at Virginia Marti College of Art and Design to further enlighten Lakewood residents about the ins and outs of startups. The first session takes place April 5, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and looks at resources in Lakewood and Cleveland that are available to newbie entrepreneurs.

Source: Startup Lakewood
Writer: Diane DiPiero

This story originally appeared in Fresh Water Cleveland.
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