Cincinnati Launches Tech Accelerator Focused on Women and Ethnic Minorities

Hillman Accelerator Opens Applications for Inaugural Cohort

Cincinnati, Ohio (April 19, 2017)Hillman Accelerator, the first and only full-time accelerator in the Midwest built specifically to attract and accelerate venture-backable tech companies founded by women and ethnic minorities launched at Union Hall on Wednesday morning.

The Hillman Accelerator was founded in direct response to the far-reaching call for more minorities in technology from the State of Ohio. “

Backed by the investment of the State through the OTF and Qey Capital, Cintrifuse, Cincinnati’s public/private startup catalyst, and seed stage investor CincyTech led the grassroots efforts with participation from The Brandery and University of Cincinnati, to launch the new accelerator.

“We have been fortunate to invest in great minority founders in our community, including Rod Robinson of Connxus and Rodney Williams of LISNR,” said Mike Venerable, CEO of CincyTech. “Those founders prove that Ohio is a great place to found and build a tech business for all entrepreneurs. But we need to do more and Ohio’s Third Frontier has allowed StartupCincy’s partners to help launch Hillman Accelerator. We in the tech and venture community must do more to support diverse founders, and this is an important first step in our region.”

The Ohio Third Frontier (OTF) challenged startup ecosystems throughout the state to dedicate portions of their operating budgets specifically for diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts. “Hillman Accelerator moves the needle on both of these initiatives,” said Wendy Lea, CEO of Cintrifuse. “By specifically focusing on minorities and women in tech, we’re listening to a need voiced by the community and welcoming NEW faces to the region thanks to support from the OTF. “The ecosystem’s ability to see a need and immediately respond to it – as in this case – is a regional asset that is unique to StartupCincy”

Hillman will recruit five teams to move to Cincinnati and build their businesses during the four month program (Jun – Oct). The efforts are being led by former Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Dhani Jones along with Ebow Vroom of Qey Capital and Candice Matthews, Up-Tech Graduate and former CEO of Hello Parent.

“I’m so excited that Qey Capital is partnering with the State of Ohio to create the Hillman Accelerator. Our world is changing, our communities are becoming more diverse and companies need to follow,” said Dhani Jones, Chairman of Qey Capital. “Hillman Accelerator will add to that dynamic by partnering and creating ways to bring those women and minority-led companies to light. And we’re proud to do it all right here in Greater Cincinnati.”

Applications for Hillman Accelerator’s 2017 cohort are now open. Please visit for additional information.

Ohio is a leader in technology and innovation,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency and chair of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission. “We are strongest when as many Ohioans as possible share in the companies and jobs of tomorrow.”

About CincyTech

One of the Midwest’s most active seed funds, CincyTech transforms innovation into high performing life science and digital companies in Southwest Ohio. Our team provides advice and capital to entrepreneurs, helps research institutions commercialize technology through startups, and catalyzes investment from individuals and institutions into regional companies. Our companies create jobs, economic vitality and wealth in Southwest Ohio.

About Cintrifuse

Created by Cincinnati’s business community, Cintrifuse is a startup catalyst, a public/private partnership that exists to build a sustainable tech-based economy for the Greater Cincinnati region. Our purpose is to advocate for entrepreneurs leading high-growth tech startups– attracting, inspiring, and supporting them on their journey. Through the construction and maintenance of an Active Network of BigCos, universities, investors and startups, we are turning Cincinnati into the premier destination for startups and innovation in the Midwest.

About Qey Capital

Qey Capital is a Cincinnati based investment firm that focuses on minority business enterprise creation in underrepresented areas by placing capital into startups and supporting existing business models.

About Ohio Third Frontier

Ohio Third Frontier is committed to transforming the state’s economy through the accelerated growth of diverse startup and early stage technology companies. Businesses and entrepreneurs have access to a statewide network of resources through this nationally-recognized initiative. The network provides access to business expertise, mentorship, capital and talent to help turn great ideas into thriving companies and well-paying jobs.

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