Appointment Further Boosts Regional Ambition to be #1 Startup Hub in Midwest
CINCINNATI (August 23, 2018) – Cintrifuse today announced the appointment of Pete Blackshaw as its new Chief Executive Officer. Blackshaw served as Global Head of Digital and Social Media, and more recently as Vice President of Digital Innovation & Service Models at Nestlé, S.A. In that capacity, he led Nestlé’s digital transformation including the establishment of the Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost, the Henri@Nestlé Open Innovation platform, and an industry-recognized leadership training program.
In his new capacity as CEO, Pete will further accelerate the Cintrifuse goal of making Greater Cincinnati the #1 startup and entrepreneurial hub in the Midwest. Cintrifuse is backed by major companies such as Kroger, Procter & Gamble, Western & Southern and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital among others, and bolstered by $91 million in assets under management via its strategic “fund of funds.”
Pete is no stranger to Greater Cincinnati. He began his career at P&G in the 1990s distinguishing himself as a digital visionary on Bounty and other brands, then as a founding member of the company’s first digital marketing team. “Pete was among the very early pioneers who created new marketing and advertising models while he was at P&G, allowing our brands to engage consumers and set new industry standards,” said David Taylor, P&G’s Chairman, President, and CEO. “He is the perfect choice to come back to Cincinnati and provide the same kind of leadership for our region that he’s provided for the consumer products industry.”
Pete left P&G to found a venture-backed startup in Cincinnati in the early 2000s (PlanetFeedback) that merged with another Cincinnati tech company (Intelliseek) and was later acquired by Nielsen. Pete and his team laid the foundation of the Cincinnati startup community that has grown over the past two decades, becoming the vital hub that it is today.
“Greater Cincinnati has everything it takes to be the #1 startup hub in the Midwest,” says Blackshaw. “A vibrant and historic tech district, big companies eager to partner with small ones, great universities and a cost structure that keeps burn-rates crazy low. I believed this when I launched my first startup here and am more convinced than ever today. I’m thrilled to come back”
The Right Balance of BigCo + Startup
Pete understands better than most the critical need for large global corporations to demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit and to embrace innovation. Having launched a startup of his own — one of the web’s first consumer feedback portals — Pete also understands the importance of hustle, raising capital and how to succeed within scrappy, agile frameworks. As Cintrifuse CEO, he will bring a startup mindset to BigCo partners and a BigCo mindset to startups, nurturing the relationships that will help both kinds of businesses innovate and grow.
“Pete brings the perfect balance that we need to accelerate momentum toward our vision of making Greater Cincinnati one of the top startup hubs in the nation,” Bob Gilbreath, CEO of Ahalogy, Cintrifuse Board Member and former P&G colleague of Blackshaw. “He has startup AND Fortune 500 experience, local roots AND global perspective, clear vision AND a passion for co-creating. He’s the perfect choice to lead Cintrifuse and this entire region to the next level and I look forward to seeing how he’ll contribute to our ecosystem again.”
Pete’s international experience also fuels his vision for how the region can accelerate its reputation as a global startup hub. Over the years, he’s built strong partnerships with a global network of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. He now brings a compelling vision for integrating that network with our region’s considerable startup assets: entrepreneurs, enterprise customers and the talent pipelines that supply them both.
“The Kroger Company works with Cintrifuse to help scan and shape the Cincinnati tech horizon,” said Alex Tosolini, SVP Strategy and Business Development at Kroger, which has an executive-in-residence embedded in the Cintrifuse team. “Pete will be a great asset to both Cintrifuse and the Cincinnati business community and we look to him to continue to help establish the region as a break-out technology hub.”
Despite being a continent away, Pete has never lost his enthusiasm for the Queen City, maintaining local relationships and returning to town whenever possible to check in on friends and keep tabs on the progress of our burgeoning tech-based economy. His new position as Cintrifuse CEO will turbo-charge his role as an ambassador for the region.
Cintrifuse Fuels Entrepreneurship
Formed in 2012 by the Cincinnati Business Committee as a non-profit organization, Cintrifuse is made up of people, funds and ideas all dedicated to establishing a stronger tech presence that will ultimately improve the economy for the Greater Cincinnati region.
The relationship between BigCos and startups inside of the region is unprecedented and will continue to strengthen under Pete’s leadership. The Cintrifuse team enjoys unique access to the region’s innovation champions, providing them insights into technologies and platforms across industries.
The Cintrifuse Syndicate Fund acts as a strategic financial instrument providing its limited partners not only a return on their investment, but also curated access to innovation from a wide network across the country. Hundreds of venture capital firms have visited Union Hall (the Cintrifuse-owned co-working/office and event space) over the past several years and maintain their relationship with the region’s entrepreneurs, BigCos and other investors.
“Selecting Pete as Cintrifuse CEO strikes just the right chord and I’m pleased our process led him back to Cincinnati,” says Valarie Sheppard, Senior Vice President, Comptroller and Treasurer at P&G and Cintrifuse Board Chair. “This next phase of Cintrifuse growth will be critical for the organization and the region as a whole. It’s important we have someone at the helm of Cintrifuse who can accelerate the momentum that Wendy and her team have built over the past four years.”
The Midwest as a Differentiator
Under the leadership of outgoing CEO Wendy Lea, Cintrifuse has become a prominent voice drawing attention to the center of the country and the startup efforts being fostered across the Midwest. Given the region’s attractive mix of talent, capital and BigCo appetite for innovation, there’s a compelling case for investment outside of traditional tech hotbeds. Groups like Rise of the Rest and Powderkeg – and accelerator networks like Techstars and gener8tor – all routinely include Greater Cincinnati as stops on their tours of influential startup communities.
Pete is looking forward to adding his network and BigCo/startup mentality to the mix. “There’s a critical, largely untapped synergy between startups and large companies,” he says. “I’ve spent the last seven years obsessing about how to ignite value from those relationships – on both ends – and I can imagine no better place to take this to the next level than Cincinnati.”
“Pete will do a fantastic job and not miss a beat,” offers Wendy Lea. “His knowledge of the region and the initiative he’s already displayed in the space will bring a new kind of energy to Cintrifuse and our efforts to make Greater Cincinnati the premier destination for startups and innovation in the Midwest. The leadership transition is going to be seamless. I brought the #Giddyup, Pete brings the #andGO!”
Pete Blackshaw will start as Cintrifuse CEO on November 1.