2012 – A Great Year of Enterpreneurship

Posted: December 30, 2012 by Bill Cunningham in Ecosystem, Leadership, Startup, Technology

Bill Cunningham Bio2012 finishes as a fantastic year for startups in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region.  How can I say that when we haven’t launched a Google or two here yet? I can because the region’s entrepreneurial culture shifted into high gear and gains momentum every day. Traditional measurements of how much venture capital investment or startup payrolls or revenue figures do not show our real spirit. These indicators lag the exciting work that happens daily in startups and the support organizations like the Brandery, UpTech, HCBC, QCA, GCVA, VFA, CincyTech and Cintrifuse. The fact that we have so many acronyms compared to a decade ago demonstrates the progress we have made.

In 2001, Bob Herbold, former COO of Microsoft and executive vice president of P&G marketing met with the original Regional Technology  Initiative team (forerunner of CincyTech.) With his intimate knowledge of Cincinnati and Silicon Valley, he relayed to us that Rome and the Valley wasn’t built in a day. Redmond, Washington became the center for all things Microsoft because that’s where Bill Gates was born. Research Triangle Park became a center for technology and pharmaceutical research in the 70’s because of a vision to develop the real estate began in the 50’s. His advice to our team was simple: begin laying the foundation for entrepreneurial development and be patient.

Too many entrepreneurs, angel and venture investors, and the media look for the quick results. The 2012 results benefited from the work than has commenced over the last 25 years by hundreds, if not thousands of participants. CNN Money ranked Cincinnati as one of the top places to start a company, second only to Boulder, Colorado. In the last three years, over 90 companies participated in one of the many incubators or accelerators to help get their businesses launched. On the creative side, over 100 entrepreneurs have graduated from Springboard, a program to help artists, artisans and creative entrepreneurs learn the business side of their craft. Many companies have participated in Xavier University’s X-Labs, NKU’s iNKUbator, UC’s Bearcat fund, Miami University’s startup weekends.

All of these programs raised the level of entrepreneurship awareness, talent and activity. The effect has been cumulative — building upon past successes and failures to raise the EQ – entrepreneurial quotient of the region.

With all these great vibes and good feelings, remember that the region remains in startup mode. UpTech and the Brandery pivot and adjust as they learn what works and doesn’t work. The Cincinnati Business Committee created Cintrifuse to solve many problems that required funding and large incentives to grow the entrepreneurial base.  Cintrifuse doesn’t have all the answers, nor does it know all the questions — but its mission is consistent with the goals of our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Motivational speaker Bob Proctor proclaims, “If you know what to do to reach your goal, it is not a big enough goal.”  Our regional goals must be BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals – another acronym), and we cannot worry about short-term results or how we will reach them.

The region is achieving critical mass in the startup arena — may 2013 be another spectacular year of growth and celebration of entrepreneurial activity.

Bill Cunningham is CEO and founder of OneMorePallet.com and shop foreman at the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association

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