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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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Courtney: Happy Tuesday, Beat readers! Looking for the perfect employee (or a place to find the perfect job)? Check out our Careers Directory, where you can post and hunt for local startup and tech jobs.

The Big One

A breakdown on the week’s biggest Inno story.

This week’s Big One is brought to you by Victor Gutwein, founder and managing director of M25, a Midwest-focused VC firm targeting early-stage tech companies. Today, he’s examining a trend he’s noticed in the Midwest: The growth of VC activity.

Victor: Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of Midwest-focused funds. Everybody probably knows about Drive Capital and Rise of the Rest. But there are a host of others demonstrating recent fundraising success, like 4490 Ventures and Origin Ventures.

And, we’re seeing a host of smaller funds take off all over the region, from Cultivation Capital’s Spirit of St. Louis Fund, to Dundee Ventures in Omaha, to Birchmere Ventures in Pittsburgh to Serra Ventures in Champaign. While most are still technically “micro-VCs” (funds under $100M), many have doubled in size from fund to fund. So why is Midwest VC activity healthy while the rest of the country shows signs of stopping?

I think it’s a combination of three trends.

More Liquidity/Exits Recently 

There were 37 Midwest exits creating $5.1B in exit value in 2017 (more than three times 2016’s total) and it doesn’t look like it’ll let up. This matters because liquidity allows a virtuous cycle, with the few investors who took the risk on Midwest deals reaping rewards and reinvesting, and validating the opportunity for great startups occurring “off-coast” for a second wave of capital. Additionally, the quality of the average Midwest startup is increasing now that there is experienced talent being recycled into the market to build new startups.

Courtney: Read the rest of Victor’s takes on the Midwest VC boom in the full piece here. Want more Cincy Inno? Catch up on all our stories here.

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations shaking things up this week.

QC Industries 

Local conveyor systems manufacturer QC Industries has been acquired by Warbug Pincus portfolio company Duravant, Fortune’s Term Sheet newsletter reports. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.


There’s lots of Kroger headlines this week. First, the retail giant’s rumored $400M bid to acquire bulk goods retailer Boxed was tossed, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The startup instead will pursue an additional funding round in an effort to stay a private entity.

Then, Kroger announced it will expand its partnership with grocery delivery service Instacart (which, in turn, announced it was coming to Greater Cincy on March 15) in an effort to serve 500 more locations by the end of 2018.

Finally, the Cincinnati-brewed low-calorie sports drink Thirty has disclosed that it will be among Kroger’s offerings, Thirty has announced that it will be among Kroger’s offerings and available at select 7-Eleven and Sheetz locations.

Guide Alert

A look at this week’s Inno Guide.

Four Cincinnati companies have been named B Corporations by nonprofit organization B Lab.

The quartet represent companies that “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems,” the B Lab website states.

There are only 2,249 companies with this certification throughout the world, and interested companies participate in a rigorous application process. There are 21 B Corp-certified companies in the state.

We cover all four in the guide, so make sure to check it out! In the meantime, meet one of the companies that received certification last year.

  • Thrive Impact Sourcing, LLC
    • Certified Since: 2017
    • Company Mission: “Thrive Impact Sourcing is an IT talent incubator delivering locally sourced IT solutions in the areas of software quality assurance, test automation and data quality consulting services, in addition to business analyst and software developer apprenticeship opportunities,” its website states. “Through smarter sourcing and a proven talent incubation model for new IT professionals, Thrive identifies, trains, mentors and launches a promising talent pipeline while delivering IT solutions today.”

Read the whole (mini) guide here.

In The Know

The Inno stories (and more) you need to read today.

Young Serial Entrepreneurs Debut Second Startup — Cincy Inno

The Computer Commuter — UC Magazine

Why Tech Companies Are Worried about the Ohio v. Amex Case — Knowledge@Wharton

Silicon Valley VCs Will Not be Riding to the Rescue of the Midwest’s Startups Anytime Soon — Quartz

New Money

Your weekly funding roundup.

Cincinnati Chamber Minority Business Accelerator 

The JumpStart-powered KeyBank Business Boost & Build program has awarded $100K to the Cincinnati Chamber Minority Business Accelerator. The capital, which was via the KeyBank Center for Technology, Innovation and Inclusive Growth, will go toward producing a business development platform with other CMBC members and Northern Kentucky University.


More funding news, roundups and other Queen City $$$-related pieces are all right here.

In The Community

The events and happenings to know this week and beyond.

How to be a Fierce Lady of Finance 

This Aviatra Accelerators GROW workshop will feature Focus on Success partner Elizabeth Corbett. She’ll discuss how to “Take Action, Take Control, Be a Fierce Lady of Finance!” The event will occur on March 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at Aviatra Accelerators. RSVP here.

Innovation & Technology Awards 

Tickets are now on sale for the Cincinnati Business Courier’s eighth-annual Innovation & Technology awards, which will occur on April 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event will be a celebration of local startups, with an opportunity for networking, eating and drinking, as well as an awards ceremony spotlighting particular companies. RSVP here. Interested in learning about the finalists (think startups like Abre, Losant, Cloverleaf and more)? Check out the full story here.

That Isn’t All 

We recently launched the Cincy Inno Event Directory! Post your community events and reach top young professionals here.

Elsewhere in Inno

Stories from around the Inno network we think you’ll dig.

Chewsi Wants to Bring Dentist Office Savings to Uninsured and Insured Alike — Rhode Island Inno

A Blockchain Enthusiast’s Guide to SXSW  — Austin Inno

How Deepgreen Uses Artificial Intelligence to Save Crops — Minne Inno


It speaks for itself.

Going for Number Four  

What is perhaps my Kryptonite are stories that have anything to do with Mount Everest. Enter this piece on Cincinnatian Matt Brennan who is angling to be the first person from the city to scale the Nepalese mountain. He’s working on the “Seven Summits” challenge, a journey to climb the highest peak on every continent. So far, he’s finished three, and his journey to Everest begins on March 25. That’s amazing!

I’m not the only one who’s excited. Founder and CEO of Horter Investment Management (and friend of Brennan), Drew Horter, has contributed an undisclosed (yet “significant”) amount to help cover the cost of the trip. 

Go Matt! 

Featured Jobs

Featured startup and tech jobs on Cincy Inno’s new Careers Directory.

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Meet The Authors

Courtney Gabrielson

Will Flanagan

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