1: Cincy Innovator Spotlight
A space for an exceptional mover and shaker to shine.
Cole Ciambro and Chris Stefanou may be 24 and 23 years old, respectively, but they’re already preparing to soft launch their second startup, Chapter Threads.
The story begins when the duo was coaching lacrosse at Talawanda High School. There, they worked with a Nike rep who introduced the pair to an online apparel fundraiser, which they then used with their fraternity chapter (Phi Kappa Tau — Alpha Chapter).
The event was so successful that they decided to quit their internships and create an apparel company of their own.
Enter Pro Logo Shop, which allows users to create a custom store where clients can buy personalized clothing from brands like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas, at no cost to the manager. Pro Logo Shop, which launched in 2014, handles production, packaging and distribution, and has customers in every state as well as the U.K., Mexico and Canada.
Pro Logo Shop “moved very quickly; it had $100K in revenue within months,” Ciambro said. It also garnered clients like the Cincinnati Athletic Club, as well as fitness centers and schools throughout the country — think Cal Poly, University of North Texas, and more.
While the company found success, Ciambro and Stefanou could still identify an opportunity for another venture within their industry: the Greek life community.
“We saw ourselves not struggling with the Greek market bulk orders,” Ciambro said. There was an untapped and potentially lucrative market there; it just needed specialized attention.
That’s what catalyzed the idea for Chapter Thread in November of 2017. It’s a startup that aims to provide “top quality, authentic brand name gear branded with your logo at a fraction of retail prices,” its LinkedIn states.
It works like this: Customers go to the Chapter Thread site, purchase its licenses and request a proof. The site walks the user through a simple design process, alerting them via email when the work is complete and when to expect the next set of communications from a Chapter Thread rep. Orders are fulfilled through a third party.
In the full piece, Ciambro explains what sets Chapter Threads apart, plans he and Stefanou have for the future and the advice they wish younger entrepreneurs would heed. Read the whole thing here.
Want more Cincy Inno? Catch up on all our stories here.
2. Making Moves
Inside the people, companies and organizations shaking things up this week.
Software company Cloverleaf, which uses personality assessment tools to help increase productivity and hire employees, has raised its first round of seed funding, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The funding will go towards expanding Cloverleaf’s headcount and reaching its customer base, as well as improving “customer usability.” Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
Valerie Hardcastle and NKU
Northern Kentucky University announced that it would create an Institute for Health Innovation led by Valerie Hardcastle, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. While Hardcastle – a former dean of the University of Cincinnati’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences – will be an NKU employee, St. Elizabeth Healthcare invested $2M to assist with the cost of creating her position.
3: Mark Your Calendar
The events and happenings to know about this week and beyond
Cultivating a Culture of Innovation in Cincinnati
Tonight, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Union Hall, Robyn Novak, vice president and creative managing director at FRCH Design Worldwide and Jessica Hemmer, founder and creative director of Hemmer Design, will lead a panel discussion on open source design and how it “ignites empathy and innovation in consumer products and retail.” Get more information here.
Flying High with IoT
Tonight, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., head to Union Hall for a conversation about all things IoT, brought to you by Losant. Stephen Saunders will speak. RSVP here.
The Value of Customer Journey Mapping
Cintrifuse will host Start Something Bold at its Beer Hall on March 9 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. for a workshop that examines the “journey” a customer takes when interacting with businesses and how said businesses can use this information to grow and innovate. RSVP here.