startup week

Techstars Startup Week: A Week to Remember

Nothing as big as a Startup Week has ever been pulled off in StartupCincy.

Our region has flexed its muscles for several big events in the past. Startup Weekends. Techstars FounderCon. NewCo. All major milestones, but nothing quite like what we saw last week.

4,500 attendees. 7,000 livestreams. 4.2 million social impressions.

It was a confluence of conductors that highlighted every strength that makes StartupCincy the number one city for startup activity in the state of Ohio. This is why the structure of the Startup Week was deliberate. Each day of the week had a “track theme” to help to bucket the dozens of speakers into five days. But these themes also were the checks on the list of ‘what makes StartupCincy the Hustle capital of the Midwest.’

Monday — Funding

Cincinnati is drawing the attention of VCs from around the country — and you can earn a piece of that pie.

That was the theme of Monday at Startup Week.

More than 130 attendees packed the Union Hall Beer Hall to hear the first session of the day, David Willbrand’s “Raising Money in StartupCincy,” (video) and things didn’t slow down from there. Attendees saw outside-the-region speakers — like Chris Calder, from Salt Lake City’s EPIC Ventures (video) and Brian Slawin, from Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Partners (video) — led sessions on capital and venture funds.

The day concluded with Cintrifuse’s Annual Meeting, which became the largest Cintrifuse event held in Union Hall at over 200 attendees. During the meeting, Cintrifuse reviewed its 2017 year and featured highlights of the Syndicate Fund’s Fund I investments.

The Annual Meeting (and Monday) concluded with a keynote address from Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar — a visionary brand strategist and marketer as well as a Cintrifuse board member.

It was also no coincidence last week that WCPO ran an extensive report on global investment into StartupCincy over the past several years. You can read that full report here.

Tuesday — Acceleration

Another differentiator in StartupCincy, is the robust access entrepreneurs have to a wide (and diverse) network of accelerators and incubators — 16 of them!

This is why Tuesday was spread far across Cincinnati’s accelerator network. The day began with a morning full of sessions (videos) at HCDC that also ran alongside The Brandery’s Cohort 8 Demo Day. Just this summer, The Brandery was ranked as a silver-level accelerator in Seed Ranking’s annual report. (Covington-based UpTech was also ranked as a bronze-level accelerator and help sessions Wednesday afternoon — more on that below.)

Tuesday morning only got things started. In the afternoon attendees got the chance to hear from global names like former P&G CMO, Jim Stengel, and Techstars mentor John Hill. Then, at 4PM the community jumped south a few blocks to take in Hillman’s first ever Demo Day. First announced in May, Hillman became the Midwest’s first full-time accelerator created to work with tech companies that are founded by women and ethnic minorities.

Still not content with more than a two demo days, a dozen events and three venues, StartupCincy wrapped up the evening with the community’s first ever $10K Pitch Night and GCVA award show — ‘GCVA Presents.’

Preceded by a fireside chat from Arlan Hamilton, founder of Backstage Capital, and Thomas Stovall, CEO of Candid Cup & ImBlackInTech Chicago, the night featured five startup and small business pitches for a chance at $10,000. This ran alongside ‘GCVA Presents’ — an event that showcased the best in Cincinnati entrepreneurs.

Winners from the night included:

Wednesday — Leadership & Talent

Cincinnati takes pride in its ability to attract talent. From 10 Fortune 500 companies to the thriving startup ecosystem, Cincinnati is continually moving up the ranks in one of the best Midwest cities for talent. This was all on show Wednesday.

Wednesday was led with incredible sessions that featured Leslie Miley, former Director of Engineering at Slack and West Coast President of Venture For America, and Natalie Cofield, Founder and CEO of Walker’s Legacy.

In the afternoon, the events shifted south, to the Northern Kentucky home of StartupCincy — Innovation Alley in Covington. Here, events were held at UpTech, NKY Innovation Network and UPSTART and collected another 300 attendees.

Thursday — Choose Cincinnati

With so many reasons that make Cincinnati Ohio’s best town for entrepreneurs, Startup Week needed a full day to put a bow on all things Cincinnati.

Morning sessions featured Smart Cincy panels — Cincinnati’s effort to make the region a leading smart city — and local entrepreneurs’ tricks to make the most of our fertile startup soil. The rest of the day opened up to more of the week’s most popular events, including a panel of StartupCincy CTOs from ActionStreamer, CompleteSet, TrekMarker and Astronomer.

Cincinnati Reds COO and Cincinnati USA Chamber Board Chair Phil Castellini also paid Union Hall a visit Thursday afternoon with a session that taught attendees how he sells his Cincinnati products from the ballfield to the boardroom. Also just as big as Phil’s presence was Paycor CEO Bob Coughlin’s fireside chat with Wendy Lea, Cintrifuse’s CEO.

Phil and Wendy dove into Bob’s entrepreneurial background that led him to the forefront of one of StartupCincy’s best success stories, along with why he continues to pick Cincy as a home for Paycor.

As if Thursday’s schedule wasn’t full enough, the day wrapped up with a EW Scripps Happy Hour in Union Hall — which featured a live podcast that wrapped up coverage on Startup Week, Brandemonium and a week chock full of activity in the Queen City.

Friday — Build

Friday’s docket at Union Hall encouraged Startup Week’s attendees to take their newfound knowledge over the course of the week and put it all to work. With technical sessions, workshops and “building focused” sessions, Friday was all about action on that “next step.”

Friday’s top-attended session welcomed a brand new voice to the Cincinnati ecosystem — Cincy Inno, a digital publication dedicated to focusing on one thing, innovation in Cincinnati. To introduce themselves to the region’s entrepreneurs, the Inno team help a session on how to plan up a perfect PR pitch.

Other popular sessions on Friday featured a brand building workshop from Concretize, a session on building the perfect pitch deck from serial StartupCincy entrepreneur Charlie Key, a design workshop from Stefon Towler and an inside look into tilr’s rise to success from their co-founder, Summer Crenshaw.

Startup Week Library:

Media coverage:

  • First Cincinnati Startup Week to draw thousands for celebration of local entrepreneurship (WCPO)
  • Cincinnati’s first Startup Week will flex the region’s muscle (Cincinnati Business Courier)
  • Startupalooza: Local entrepreneurs show their stuff this week at Techstars Startup Week (WCPO)
  • Hear Cincinnati Podcast: P&G proxy vote and Max Alter live at Startup Week (WCPO)
  • Cincy hosts nationally recognized TechStars Startup Week Oct. 9-13 (Soapbox Cincinnati)
  • 12 Black Startup and Tech Conferences you must attend this Fall (Huffington Post)
  • The name of the game: Defining what makes up a ‘startup’ unfolds into an entire cultural lexicon (WCPO)

Livestream library:

Video library:

  • Share a full playlist of all our recap videos with your network

By the numbers…

  • 4,500 attendees
  • 7,000+ livestreams
  • 4.2 million social media impressions
  • 114 speakers
  • 118 sessions
  • $10,000 given away (Pitch Night)
  • 1,300 tweets (that’s one every two minutes of the week’s events)

For the sponsors

Techstars Startup Week Cincinnati powered by CincyTech was an effort made possible entirely through the effort of the community and the event sponsors.

To read about all the sponsors involved with the event, head to the sponsorship blog post.

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