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Innovation Summit will draw more than 1,000 to Cleveland

The Cleveland Clinic’s annual Medical Innovation Summit will be the first event held at Cleveland’s brand new Global Center for Health Innovation. The event will be held October 14 through 16, and organizers expect it to draw more than 1,200 people.
"We’ll have CEOs from major companies, investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs,” says Gary Fingerhut, acting executive director and general manager of information technology commercialization at the Clinic. “Deals come out of this summit. Past innovation deals have been made on the buy-side and in research.”
More than 1,000 jobs and $700 million in investments have been created from the regional spinoff companies.
On the first day, 12 startup healthcare companies will have a chance to pitch their companies to a panel of executives. “The winner gets a year engagement with StartUp Health Academy."

The theme this year is "Finding Balance through Innovation: Obesity, Diabetes and the Metabolic Crisis." Fingerhut says the topic was chosen because of the growing international concern about diabetes. "Clearly, it's an economic problem in the world," he says. Demonstration and panel discussions will focus on the impacts of type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Mike Roizen and a panel of experts will discuss the Clinic's top 10 medical innovations for 2014. hiVelocity readers can receive a discount to the summit. Go to the registration page and use promo code FRE2013 for a special $500 rate on registration.

Source: Gary Fingerhut
Writer: Karin Connelly

Biomotiv announces $46m raised in effort to speed medicines to market

BioMotiv, a pharmaceutical accelerator formed last year to speed early-stage medical developments to market, announced last week that the company has now raised $46 million in total capital, adding Nationwide Mutual Insurance and several individual investors to original investors University Hospitals and the Harrington Family Foundation.

Additionally, BioMotiv announced Monday that the company has formed a multi-million dollar, seven-year partnership with San Diego-based Torrey Pines Investment, a specialty life sciences investor. “We have now raised $46 million in total funding,” says BioMotiv CEO Baiju Shah. “This further investment partnership will expand capital available for projects by up to $20 million through co-investment by Torrey Pines.”
Shah says BioMotiv has just started to identify and develop projects of interest. The partnership with Torrey Pines expands the scope of BioMotiv’s work. “We’re pleased with the prospective partnership,” says Shah. “It’s been in the works for about nine months now. In the partnership we will jointly invest in projects -- one in the cancer area and two projects in neuroscience.”
Shah says BioMotiv is also working on developments on several other fronts, including anti-inflammatory and blindness. “Our mission is to accelerate breakthrough discoveries in medications that actually benefit patients,” says Shah. “These are medications that are in the early stages of clinical validation -- phase one or two patient studies. Once we prove it works in patients, then we’re in a place to partner with agencies to get it to market.”
Cleveland is the hot spot for companies like BioMotiv, Shah says, making it attractive to companies like Torrey Pines. “Cleveland is an incredible medical innovation environment,” he says. “We are on the global radar for medical innovations, so it’s easy for us to find partners. In many ways, healthcare is our defining industry as a community.”
BioMotiv currently has eight employees, but Shah says they will be adding staff as the company continues to grow.

Source: Baiju Shah
Writer: Karin Connelly

Northeast Ohio angel investors help Knowta exceed funding goal

Knowta recently raised more than $300,000 in angel investments, exceeding its goal of $250,000 to roll out the next phase of its software solution. The LaunchHouse company offers free or discounted printing at libraries in exchange for accepting advertising on the bottom of the printed pages. A percentage of the revenue generated from the full-color ads is then returned to the libraries to offset their costs.
Initially, founder Ryan Clark and his four partners tested Knowta’s usability at CWRU’s Kelvin Smith Library during the 2012-2013 school year. They looked at three factors: Would library patrons use the service; would it work well in the university environment and provide value to the university; and would it deliver desirable results to advertisers. “We got an affirmative response on all three,” says Clark.
The next step is to improve upon the software. Clark says the investments, 90 percent of which came from individual Northeast Ohio investors, will be used to roll out the next phase. “There are a number of features we want to add to make it more attractive to our advertisers and make it more robust,” he says. “We’re excited about it. We’ve received tremendous feedback from users at Case.”
Knowta currently is in talks with five other universities in Northeast Ohio, and Clark says they are open to talking to any school that is interested in their product. Their goal is to secure five to six new schools this year.
Knowta currently has 25 advertisers in a range of industries, most of them local. Clark’s goal is to tap into the national market. The most popular ads are for the food and beverage industry.
Knowta has two full time employees, one paid intern and uses four to five contractors to build out the second phase of software development. The company plans to hire a lead developer/solution architect by the end of the year.

Source: Ryan Clark
Writer: Karin Connelly

OU Senior aims to take the legwork out of equity crowdfunding compliance with Crowdentials

As an entrepreneurship/business management senior at Ohio University, and the president of the school’s Entrepreneurship Club, Richard Rodman has started two successful companies during his studies. Most recently, he noticed the need for some guidance in the crowdfunding trend.

So Rodman first started 530Funds in November 2012, a search engine and news site for the crowdfunding industry. “It was really hard to sift through Google to find the right platform,” he says.

But Rodman quickly realized the real need was in helping users navigate the forthcoming SEC regulations on equity crowdfunding and make sure they are compliant while raising money for their cause. Individuals, investors and crowdfunding platforms must comply with these regulations.
That’s when Rodman came up with Crowdentials. “Crowdentials is regulatory software for the rules SEC has created,” he explains. “It’s a simple web form -- kind of like TurboTax -- where you can cross-reference to see if you comply.”
Crowdentials helps take the legwork out of fundraising. Through the site and one form, investors, businesses and crowdfunding platforms ensure they are in compliance while raising money or investing in a new company. “We take care of compliance; you take care of business,” says Rodman says. “Businesses shouldn’t have to waste their time researching all the regulations.”
Crowdentials was accepted into the inaugural FlashStarts program, run by Charles Stack and Jennifer Neundorfer, this summer. Rodman says there was an “instant connection” in the interview process. “I think it’s going to do a lot,” he says of the program, adding that he enjoys working with the mentors and interns on hand and bouncing ideas off the other entrepreneurial teams.
Rodman has two partners.

Source: Richard Rodman
Writer: Karin Connelly

Northeast Ohio venture and angel investments up 34% in 2012

In 2012, Northeast Ohio was a popular place for venture capitalists and angel investors to back startup companies. Investments nationally decreased by 10 percent last year, and decreased in the rest of Ohio by 33 percent, according to a study in The MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.
But in Northeast Ohio, according to the Northeast Ohio Venture Capital Advisory Task Force, 105 tech-based companies in Greater Cleveland raised $201 million from venture capitalists and angel investors -- a 34-percent increase over the amount raised by companies in 2011.
“We’ve been on an upward trajectory of the number of companies that have been able to raise money,” says Samantha Fryberger, vice president of marketing for JumpStart. “There’s a strong angel community here and our angels are well organized and well educated.”
In fact, Northeast Ohio has the first and fifth largest angel funds in the country. Fryberger says the diversity of businesses and the number of support organizations attract investors to Northeast Ohio. 
“We have a very robust early-stage investment ecosystem right here in Northeast Ohio,” says Clay Rankin, managing member of the North Coast Angel Fund, which invests in life sciences companies and is the country’s fifth largest angel group. “We’ve been building a lot of momentum in the last six to eight years. We’ve been very fortunate in supporting early stage ventures.”
Citing successful companies like Juventas Therapeutics, Cleveland HeartLab and Neuros Medical, Rankin says it’s no wonder Cleveland is growing in investments. “There really are world class companies being developed right here in our backyard,” he says. “When you have world class companies, you attract support from angel groups.”

Source: Samantha Fryberger and Clay Rankin
Writer: Karin Connelly

big river improves online giving, gets boost from jumpstart to expand

Big River helps organizations get the most out of their online giving campaigns with a simple theory: Appeal to what the potential donors react to and they will donate. The theory apparently proves correct. The 18-month-old cloud-based online fundraising platform has won accolades from clients such as the Cleveland Museum of Art and Lorain County Metro Parks in Big River’s ability to increase online giving.
“It’s almost like the last 17 years of e-commerce hasn’t made itself accessible to nonprofits,” says Big River founder and CEO Ron Cass. “Nonprofits haven’t done more than PayPal. The Big River product puts the most effective appeal in front of the donor at the right time to maximize that donation.”
The key is telling donors what the impact of their donations will be. “They want to know what their money does,” explains Cass. “They want to know what impact their gift is going to have. We allow organizations to create donation products, and then target those asks based on the donor’s history with the organization.”
Big River has eight customers of varying sizes and is already generating revenue. The Cleveland Museum of Art is one fan of Big River, reporting that membership has doubled since they hired Big River.
One of the first companies to be a part of Bizdom’s Cleveland operation, Big River is expanding within the Bizdom offices. JumpStart announced on Tuesday, November 13th a $250,000 investment in Big River to further expand.
“Any time you get an investment it changes the slope of the company,” says Cass. “We are going to focus on sales, marketing and product development.”
In addition to adding some new tools and bringing some ideas to reality, Cass also hopes to expand his staff. “A big part of the investment is hiring -- rapidly,” he says. “Around the order of four people in marketing and development.”
In the meantime, Cass was impressed with the connections he made at JumpStart’s Entrepreneur Expo this week. “I spoke to a lot of people who said, ‘I know someone with this organization,’” he says. “I got about 20 leads. I was very impressed.”

Source: Ron Cass
Writer: Karin Connelly

jumpstart's entrepreneur expo showcases 'what's next in neo'

Developing Cleveland area businesses showed off their ideas, technologies and talents at the 2012 Northeast Ohio Entrepreneurial Expo and JumpStart Community Meeting on Tuesday, November 13 from 1 to 5:40 p.m. at CSU’s Wolstein Center.
“The theme is, ‘What’s next Northeast Ohio,’” says Samantha Fryberger, JumpStart director of communications. “The idea being, a lot of companies are really early in their development.”
The expo featured 96 area tech startups as well as 32 support organizations, such as Bizdom, Youngstown Business Incubator, Shaker LaunchHouse, Akron ARCHAngels and Ohio Aerospace Institute. Nine student companies were also featured, one of which will be presented with an award at the event’s close.
The showcase was followed by a panel discussion featuring success stories of area companies that have grown into multi-million dollar businesses. “[These are] some of the biggest success stories who have merged, sold, been bought out or exited,” explains Fryberger.
Goldman Sachs representatives talked about its 10,000 Small Businesses program, followed by an announcement of JumpStart’s newest portfolio companies.
And of course, investors were also on hand to see what the next great thing is in the region. Fryberger says 25 investors attended the event last year, and she expected the same this year.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” says Fryberger. “It’s an opportunity to network. There are some of these companies who could help each other quite a bit. And if you’re very early in development, this is your first opportunity for exposure.”

Source: Samantha Fryberger
Writer: Karin Connelly

shaker launchhouse accelerator aimed at helping tech startups go from idea to validation

The LaunchHouse Accelerator kicked off its inaugural program on September 4 with 10 technology startup companies eager to move to the next level. The program is funded through a $200,000 ONEFund grant and a $50,000 grant from Clarion Direct Investment. Each company will receive a $25,000 investment from LaunchHouse to grow their business.
“We’re quite excited,” says LaunchHouse CEO Todd Goldstein. “It’s changing the way investments are made in Northeast Ohio. With a little bit of capital we work with them to go from idea to validation.”
Goldstein describes the accelerator program as “customer-centric,” emphasizing the identification and needs of potential customers to grow the business. The 12-week program will provide mentors and instruction to the startup owners, guiding them through set goals.

“We’re hitting the ground running,” says Goldstein. “We’re not starting from scratch. We’re looking at the best innovators and how the company has grown.”
More than 60 companies from around the world applied for the accelerator. Twenty were selected to make their pitches to a panel of experts. From there, 10 companies were chosen, nine of which are from Northeast Ohio. The hope is that these 10 businesses will remain in Northeast Ohio once they are better established.

“The goal is to keep these companies in the region,” says Goldstein. “We believe Northeast Ohio is prime for an explosion of entrepreneurs.”

Source: Todd Goldstein
Writer: Karin Connelly

great lakes venture fair unites investors and bioscience/IT startups

The inaugural Great Lakes Venture Fair will take place at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown October 17-18, on the heels of the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds annual conference. The fair is a collaborative effort  between  JumpStart, Ohio Capital Fund, Ohio Venture Association, TiE Ohio, CincyTech and TechColumbus and will bring together investors and startups from across the Midwest.
“It’s a chance for the venture capital community to come together and see some of the most promising startups,” explains Carolyn Pione Micheli, director of communications for CincyTech. “According to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, in 2007 all net news job growth came from companies that are less than five years old.” The event is the successor to the Ohio Capital Fund’s Early Stage Summit, which was held in Columbus for seven years.
The GLVF will only accept 18 startup companies in bioscience and IT to pitch their companies to investors. Other activities at the event include presentations on regional investment activity, and conversations about building future growth in startups and investing.
“In terms of growing fresh new jobs, small companies are the key, “ says Micheli. “The startup community is really important to our economic future.”
Keynote speaker will be Jeff Weedman, vice president of global business development for Proctor & Gamble. The application deadline for companies looking for funding is Aug. 12. Registration to attend is $200 before Sep. 15, $250 after that.

Source: Carolyn Pione Micheli
Writer: Karin Connelly

entrepreneurs pitch their ideas for a chance to be a part of shaker launchhouse accelerator

Twenty teams came to LaunchHouse on July 18 to pitch their business ideas for a chance to be accepted into the inaugural LaunchHouse Accelerator program and a $25,000 investment in their businesses at the Tech UnConference.
LaunchHouse received a $200,000 grant from the Ohio Third Frontier ONEFund to invest in startups. During the Tech UnConference companies presented three-minute pitches to a panel of Cleveland-area experts. Following the pitch session, companies then had the opportunity to demo their internet, technology or mobile app startup company.
The judges will select 10 companies for the accelerator. More than 50 companies applied for the chance to pitch. The chosen companies will then participate in a 12-week program, in which they will have experience-based lab sessions with one on one mentorship, and opportunities to network with successful entrepreneurs.
The program curriculum is very customer focused, says LaunchHouse CEO and founder Todd Goldstein. “The companies we select have to be very customer-centric,” he explains. “The entrepreneurs will develop their companies with their clients, so at the end of the 12 weeks they’ve identified who is going to pay for their product and accelerate their business.”
Goldstein describes the accelerator as a formalized approach to helping companies. “Up to this point, admission have been on a rolling basis and very informal,” he says. “This is a formalization of the years we’ve spent helping companies.”
The 12-week program will conclude with a showcase day, when the businesses will present to investors and venture capitalists. The 10 companies will be announced on Aug.8, with classes beginning Sept. 4.

Source: Todd Goldstein
Writer: Karin Connelly

new crowdfunding website fundable dot com helps startups raise capital

Thanks to crowdfunding, entrepreneurs have a new tool in their arsenal for raising startup capital. Columbus-based Fundable.com is a crowdfunding platform that focuses exclusively on startup companies.

“We’re the first crowdfunding platform to support rewards and equity-based funding [specifically for startups],” explains founder and CEO Wil Schroter. “We help startups raise capital by connecting them to a large network of potential backers who pledge money toward their project.”

Startups must complete rigorous requirements to be selected for the site. “They have to create a profile, including a pitch video, explain their goals and state the target amount they’re seeking. Fundraisers run from 30-60 days, and they must meet or exceed the stated goal or no funds are collected from the backers."

Schroter explains that, “As of right now, you can’t actually publicly offer equity to non-accredited investors.” The reason is because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has yet to provide guidelines for the new JOBS act.

Instead, backers receive gifts. “We’re focused on value for value.  If you’re asking people for money, you have to provide something in return that’s of value, which could be a product. Many backers appreciate the rewards but are also motivated by their connection to the start-up concept or to the entrepreneurs themselves."

Shroter points to a recent success story. “Training Mask, LLC, had a small, fast goal of $10,000 that it needed to ramp up production for its second-generation of a training mask that simulates working out at high altitudes. The money was raised in 72 hours, and backers will get a discounted new mask and a special t-shirt. The company now has the money it needs to move forward."

"There’s really no way to raise that kind of money in 30 days,” says Shroter. “We have a huge, interested audience.”

Fundable.com began operations on May 22, has 22 employees and 20 startups posted.

Source:  Wil Shroter, Fundable.com
Writer:  Lynne Meyer

one exchange street appears set to reshape bankruptcy marketplace

Two budding Central Ohio entrepreneurs have identified a problem in the bankruptcy marketplace and  developed a streamlined solution -- a new company called One Exchange Street.

One Exchange Street is an online bankruptcy claims trading engine that Todd Zoha and Sean O’Riordan established in January of this year. The startup company is designed to be a one-stop shop for both buyers and sellers of bankruptcy claims.

While working together in the turnaround and restructuring advisory unit of a global business consulting firm, Zoha and O’Riordan noticed something critical.

“We were working on the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and saw how the marketing for unsecured bond positions was very transparent and liquid,” explains Zoha, President and CEO of the company. “We wondered why there wasn’t that same kind of transparency and liquidity for other types of bankruptcy claims, specifically general unsecured claims and administrative claims.”

Buyers of bankruptcy claims are generally sophisticated about the process, he notes. “If you’re a claims seller, however, you’re getting all these calls and contacts from buyers, and you have no way to evaluate whether the price you’re being offered is fair and reasonable,” Zoha says. “This is a big problem for sellers.”

With One Exchange Street, Zoha and O’Riordan have opened up and streamlined the process for bankruptcy market participants. “Claims sellers can list their claims and see recent transaction amounts for similar claims,” Zoha explains. They can also see prices at which bidders are willing to buy. “An important advantage we offer is that all members on our exchange agree to transact using a standardized claim transfer agreement. This enables real-time execution of transactions. These two things differentiate us from our competitors."

There are advantages for buyers of bankruptcy claims as well. “First, we’re a source of information for them about claims sellers,” Zoha says. “Buyers can also aggregate and buy multiple claims at once. Finally, buyers can turn around and sell a claim to other institutional buyers.”

Zoha and O’Riordan raised approximately $600,000 from friends and family for their startup and received a $300,000 investment from TechColumbus in April.

Source:  Todd Zoha, One Exchange Street
Writer:  Lynne Meyer

ecolibrium solar pioneers first 100 percent recycled mounting display

Brian Wildes, founder and CEO of Ecolibrium Solar, is a big believer in sustainable business practices, and the name of his Athens-based company reflects that.

“I named it Ecolibrium because we have to realize that our economics have to be in line with our ecology in order for sustainability to be reached,” he explains.

The company’s product, EcoFoot, is the first 100 percent recycled plastic mounting system for flat-roof solar arrays. It provides a systematic arrangement of solar panels in rows and columns.
Wildes got the idea for EcoFoot while working as an engineer for a solar panel installation company. “We were always in search of new and better products and not satisfied with what existed in the marketplace,” he recalls.
There are three types of applications for solar panels – a flat roof, a pitched roof and ground mounting. EcoFoot is designed for flat roof mounting only.
According to Wildes, his product represents a big step toward enabling grid parity. “That will occur when the solar industry will match the cost of grid-delivered electricity without price subsidy,” he explains. “EcoFoot saves both time and money for solar panel installations.”
Wildes established Ecolibrium Solar by himself in April 2010. Since then, he has added six employees and is ready to roll out EcoFoot 2 in a couple of months. “This will be significantly different from the first version,” he says. “It will have a lower ballast weight, integrated grounding and wire management and will be more durable.” The materials in both products are recyclable, he adds.
“We stack up well against our competitors,” Wildes notes. “We’re leading the trends of material changes in the industry.” He plans to increase his sales force for more penetration of national and international markets.
Ecolibrium has received funding from TechGROWTH Ohio.

Source:  Brian Wildes
Writer:    Lynne Meyer

innovation fund disperses $375,000 to entrepreneurs in quarterly awards

Dennis Cocco has a good problem: he and other leaders of Lorain County Community College's Innovation Fund have a hard time choosing winners each year because applications are so strong.

“We’ve been doing this for four-plus years,” says the director of the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE), a partner of the Innovation Fund. "The quality of the business idea, the entrepreneur and the presentation are better today than what we saw back in those early days. It’s because of the ecosystem we’ve created here in Northeast Ohio to mentor, lead and help young businesses understand the process to be an entrepreneur. We now have one of the better ecosystems in the country.”

Cocco says that those companies who don’t get funded (this year there were over 40 applications with 6 winners) can come back next quarter. In the meantime, “We offer a debriefing, explain what we saw as their strengths and weaknesses, how to make their businesses better.” Cocco says that because of this support system, there are more people starting businesses than four or five years ago.

Innovation Fund awards go to startups in the fields of alternative and advanced energy, advanced materials, instruments, electronics and controls, biomedical innovations, and advanced propulsion – categories determined by partner/funder Ohio Third Frontier.

This year’s awards went to startups in Elyria, Massilon, Hiram, Shaker Heights, Parma Heights, and Concord. They include alternative financing for retailers (IGW Finance Alternative); products to improve the energy efficiency of heating, cooling, and lighting systems (Paragon Robotics); a faster method of testing biological samples (QURA Scientific); a coating material to control corrosion (Tesla Nanocoastings); a sensor-based system to transmit patients’ clinical data to nurses’s stations (Future Path Medical); and a marketing platform for musical events (In2une).

Source: Dennis Cocco
Writer: Catherine Podojil

startup event highlights investment in cincinnati region

Cincinnati startups raised nearly $67 million in seed and venture capital funding in 2011 -- a 26 percent increase over 2010. 
David Willbrand, a partner at Thompson Hine and chair of the firm’s Early Stage and Emerging Companies practice, will speak about the increase in startup activity and investment in the region at the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association’s State of Startup Investment luncheon, Wednesday, April 25.  
The luncheon also will feature three short startup pitches, a keynote talk and a panel discussion by local investors on the state of startup investing in Greater Cincinnati. The event is being held from 11 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. at Mainstay Rock Bar, 301 W. Fifth St. More information and a link to register can be found here.
A total of 29 startups received venture investments in Cincinnati last year. The majority – 41 percent – of deals made in Southwest Ohio last year were in information technology companies, including batterii, Blackbook HR, Define My Style, Ilesfay Technology Group and ThinkVine.
The other leading category was health care/bioscience. One new health-care startup was Airway Therapeutics, a company based on 10 years of research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center that is developing proteins that significantly improve lung development in premature infants. Another was eMerge Health Solutions, which automates documentation during treatments at ambulatory surgery centers. 
eMerge is a software-as-a-service provider. Other startup companies in this sector that received initial investments last year include SoMoLend, a social and mobile peer-to-peer lending technology. Balanced Insight, which provides business intelligence software to help other companies improve collaboration and productivity through intelligent data-driven decisions, received a follow-on round. 
A trend that seems to be growing is investment in social-sharing startups – companies that provide content based on a user’s interests and location that the user in turn shares via his or her social networks. The three companies in this sector that received investment in 2011 were Girls Guide To, VenturePax and VenueAgent. 

Source: Greater Cincinnati Venture Association
Writer: Sarah Blazak
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