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The City Flea is a month urban flea market usually held on the lawn of Washington Park. / Image courtesy of The City Flea // Published: 6.15.17

8 Startup Founders Answer The Question: Why Cincinnati, Why Now?

When people say “startup scene,” one automatically thinks New York, San Fran, Austin… One place that usually doesn’t immediately come to mind is our very own city—and that couldn’t be more remiss.

Take a look around, and it’s clear that the city Mark Twain once famously described as “always 20 years behind the times” has a blossoming and (perhaps more important) viable startup scene. Though that wasn’t always the case.

“I had a love-hate relationship with Cincinnati growing up: I loved the Midwestern kindness and laidback vibe, but I needed an environment with less aversion to change and more excitement than the post-5 p.m., downtown ghost town,” says Cincy native Ar-iaya Haile. So he left his hometown for opportunities in Chicago and New York, but on trips home, took note of Cincinnati’s changing dynamics.

“It felt like seeing distant nephews shockingly grow six inches from one family get-together to the next,” Haile says. “The city was undergoing a rapid renaissance.” And so, in November 2016, he founded PONS here, a bed-in-a-box startup that's making mattress shopping chic.

Which got us wondering: How would other startup founders answer the questions of why Cincinnati, and why now? So we set out to ask a few...


Name: Chris Bergman
Age: 35
Startup: FamilyTech, a suite of mobile apps designed to bring families some sanity
Founded: 2012 (as ChoreMonster), 2016 (rebranded as FamilyTech)

"I've spent enough time in different places to discover a particular truth about Cincinnati: The people here are the kindest, most eager, most open, and most loving people in all of the U.S. We're here because of the people. I want to be surrounded with humans who take care of each other. Cincinnatians do this better than anyone else I've met."

Name: Michael Markesbery
Age: 24
Startup: OROS, a collection of NASA-inspired workout gear
Founded: 2013

"Whether you're a startup or big business, cash flow is important. The cost of living, the cost of a square-foot of office space, and other fixed costs are all dramatically more conducive to growth here in Cincy than some of the major startup hubs, like SF. Put simply, a dollar goes further here. On top of that, Cincinnati has great marketing and branding talent. With more Fortune 500 companies in Ohio than any other state in the U.S., there are some major agencies in our backyard, creating a really solid talent pool."


Names: Jacquie Denny
Age: 62
Startup: Everything But the House, an online estate sale company
Founded: 2007

"Cincinnati's heritage is that of rugged individualism. Our cultural roots come from immigrants who had amazing work ethics and determination. There's nowhere better than Cincinnati to hire these types of individuals to help build a world-class company. I love this city!"


Name: Brian Graves
Age: 44
Startup: Everything But the House, an online estate sale company
Founded: 2007

“Once we expanded our services beyond Cincinnati, it might have seemed to make sense to move to another part of the country more commonly associated with startups. However, we wanted to show that Cincinnati also has the entrepreneurial abilities like the bigger cities across the country. With its reasonable cost of living, cultural attractions, and general quality of life, Cincinnati's also an attractive region for new hires. Generally speaking, the people from the area, whether clients, staff, or professional partners, are very collaborative and transparent, which helps with consistently successful outcomes.”

Names: Lindsay and Nick Dewald
Ages: 27
Startup: The City Flea, an urban flea market
Founded: 2011

“We chose to start our business in Cincinnati upon moving back home after years in other cities such as Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Chicago. In 2011, the city was on the cusp of revitalization and we were excited about tapping into the local creative scene by giving small, local businesses and creative makers a platform to showcase their wares. We are also passionate about bringing shoppers to the city's center every month to experience the amazing offerings of the urban core.”

Name: Wendy Lea
Age: 62
Startup: Cintrifuse, an innovation network that accelerates new businesses
Founded: 2012

“We're building a sustainable, tech-based economy and that takes much more than a low cost of living or professional sports teams. After living in tech hubs in California and Colorado, what I've come to realize about Cincinnati is that you have unparalleled access here. Want coffee with a C-level executive from one of our nine Fortune 500 companies? You can make that happen. Cincinnati has always been fertile ground to build business and right now we're witnessing the rise of the next generation.”

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Here are links to each startup for more information:
PONS
FamilyTech
OROS
Everything But the House
The City Flea
Cintrifuse

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