Yesterday, we hosted the 2018 Cintrifuse Annual Meeting at Union Hall. We had a packed room full of venture capital investors, BigCo innovation sponsors, entrepreneurs, and members of the highly-engaged Cintrifuse Board of Directors. More than a third of the nearly 200 people on hand came from out of town, which is a great signal of the growing interest in Cincinnati’s startup community and the magnetic appeal of our BigCo partners.
It was an exhilarating day that began over breakfast with our friends and kindred spirits at CincyTech and continued with a range of investor and entrepreneur meetings that stretched through the afternoon. Take a look at this video snapshot to get a sense of the energy we generated — and shared.
We took time to celebrate all that our ecosystem has achieved over the past few months and years. Tremendous momentum is building within Cintrifuse and beyond across the region. A few highlights:
- More than 200 VC visits to the region and more than 1,500 VC intros for startups
- A network of more than 700 funds to help our BigCo partners find innovations and innovators
- Four unicorn exits from the funds we have invested in
- 40 BigCo partnerships with more than 120 pilots closed so far (nearly 30 in just the last 12 months!)
- 40 Spry Labs venture build projects, five data jams and the tremendously inspiring Kroger Zero Hunger | Zero Waste OPEN innovation project we’re leading right now
- More than 650 startups supported so far and more than 300 active members in our pipeline right now
- Union Hall — our amazing space that combines three 150-year-old buildings … 38,000 square feet of co-working space … and a sub-basement beer cellar 50 feet below grade that you just have to see to believe!
- The Hamilton County Development Center – Business Center – at capacity for the first time, with co-working space, dedicated offices, and scaling companies
- Ocean and Brandery/Gener8tor continuing to make tremendous progress incubating and accelerating high-potential startup ventures
- University of Cincinnati’s jaw-dropping 1819 accelerator and inaugural class
- Co-Made and First Batch joining the Innovation Corridor in Clifton
- Ahalogy’s purchase by Quotient — and their decision to stay in Cincinnati
- And StartupCincy’s recognition as one of the top ten rising startup hubs in the U.S.
I could keep going! But what I hope you take away from this list is that we truly are building Greater Cincinnati into the #1 startup hub in the Midwest and one of the most important innovation hubs in the nation.
We had several great conversations during the meeting between members of the Cintrifuse team, a few of our key partners, and people in the room. We talked about:
- The importance of quickly aligning on a few strategic pillars where our region has a credible right to win — areas such as health care and connected health, multi-sensory experiences (including Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Voice), and trust.
- The need to appreciate the intensity of competition among cities and regions to build burgeoning tech economies, which has been accentuated in the U.S. by the Amazon HQ competition
- Opportunities to leverage our Fund of Funds to create capital pools for our startups, connect BigCos and innovative entrepreneurs, and deliver superior financial returns at the same time
- Ways we can continue to help BigCo partners find the innovation and innovators they need to lead their industries — while also serving established and under-served entrepreneurs, including women- and minority-owned startups
These were provocative and action-focused conversations that steeled my conviction about the potential we have to invigorate Cincinnati’s communities and economy for at least a generation and likely more.
As we wrapped up the meeting, I had several great conversations with investors, BigCos and entrepreneurs alike — and they were pretty much all saying the same thing: “We want to be more involved” and “We’re eager to tell people about what’s happening in Cincinnati!”
This is exactly the response we were hoping for. We’re on a journey to the future. We invite you to join us and to spread the word!