New Sources of Funding Propel the Cincinnati Startup Scene

July 1, 2013

9:00 am

Recently, the news out of the Cincinnati startup scene has had less to do with startups and more to do with money. Three big announcements in the region are demonstrating that Cincinnati is a legitimate and vibrant startup city – one with deepening wells of money and resources.

More money is flowing into the region from two early-stage investment groups: Queen City Angels, one of the pioneers in the local early-stage funding community; and Drive Capital, a new entrant in the region’s investment community.

Queen City Angels is on the cusp of closing its largest investment fund to date at $10 million.  This will be the fourth fund of the angel group and represents significant growth from the prior three funds that had a combined value of $5.5 million. This means that the group will be in a position to begin funding by the end of 2013 and has already begun identifying potential investments.

Drive Capital, based in Columbus but focused regionally, is in the process of raising its first fund of $300 million. A Sequoia Capital alum and former JobsOhio chief, Mark Kvamme, founded Drive with the focus on finding deals in the Midwest and making the majority of investments in the state of Ohio. In fact, just recently Kvamme disclosed that he had invested in a Cincinnati startup, a graduate of the accelerator The Brandery, making his commitment to the region and to the city quite evident.

On top of that, Cintrifuse reported last week that Ernst & Young has made a five-year commitment to support the organization with a combination of professional services, cash, and other operating support. Cintrifuse is the Cincinnati-based non-profit that is focused on driving startup growth, serving as an innovation network, and empowering the local region with investment funds (closing the Cintrifuse Early Stage Capital Fund I of $51 million in May). It seeks to strengthen the region’s ecosystem by working with accelerators, incubators, investment sources, and local companies (P&G, Kroger, and Western & Southern Financial Group, to name a few) to create access to key resources, coworking space, and investment funds.

This partnership brings to Cintrifuse and its members the vast reach and global platform of Ernst & Young’s professional community that includes private equity investors and venture capitalists, investment bankers, board members, and corporate development officers.  It also brings a strong personal commitment of actual Ernst & Young professionals.

Julia Poston, a managing partner in the Cincinnati office of Ernst & Young, states, “Ernst & Young has made this commitment because it is consistent with our mission of being a community business leader and supporting important initiatives for Greater Cincinnati.”

It also demonstrates why Cincinnati continues to strengthen its own brand within the national startup culture.

Now it is up to the local startup community to launch and position startups for investment and support from these groups. With new batches starting at The Brandery and UpTech soon, as well as the increasing number of startups in general, Cincinnati is a city to watch in the startup world.

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Joshua Kubicki is a business designer for the legal markets and a seasoned entrepreneur and intrapreneur. He helps startups and companies focused on the legal markets create new business models and revenue streams. Follow him at @jkubicki.

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