Ice Cream Collisions and Ecosystem Musings
HCDC Business Center
Winter, Spring, and Summer have flown by at the HCDC Business Center. I am not new to the #StartupCincy ecosystem, but my first nine months at HCDC have been a whirlwind; it is amazing to see the clustering and organic partnering that takes place when you get a lot of really smart people (i.e. actual rocket scientists) working together in close confines. In my mind, the Business Center is a mini-microcosm of the overall Greater Cincinnati/Dayton economic ecosystem – we’ve got aerospace, medtech, biotech, military, and digital – but the one thing that sets HCDC and Cincinnati apart from other ecosystems (the valleys and the alleys) is the tremendous amount of innovation, clustering, and manufacturing specific startups that resonate up and down the supply chain.
I wrote about this clustering back in 2010 in an opaque, overly number reliant, mind-numbing thesis that was part of my University of Cincinnati DAAP graduation requirements. That exercise provided me with the quantitative fundamentals to truly understand how cluster economies work and offer up some recommendations. I appreciate that exercise now, but I really appreciate the practical side – to be part of this innovation and startup growth first hand.
Here are some of my initial observations:
- Encore Entrepreneurs – seems to be in high density at HCDC. These individuals are typically highly successful, retired executives moving into the second or third phase of their careers. They want to make an impact and are highly motivated. Additionally, they prove to be very effective mentors and advisors to some of the younger entrepreneurs at the Business Center. Uday Parshionikar of Perceptive Devices is one example of an encore entrepreneur. He built his career at SDRC and other local firms in the IT space and is now building a company that will impact computer users that don’t have the use of their limbs. There are a lot more Uday’s scattered throughout our program’s history – see Intrexon, Maverick, Thinkronize, etc..
- Collisions – the density and the nature of the programs at HCDC lead to a number of natural collisions. For example, Nimble IOT (founders Ryan and Kevin Kast – Kevin is also an encore entrepreneur) has developed “IOT – internet of things” technology that is allowing one of our most successful manufacturing graduates to glean valuable efficiencies. Nimble is providing real-time sensors to their manufacturing process thus saving them significant time, money, and resources. There are numerous examples scattered throughout the HCDC program history. We’ve got drone companies working with design/think firms, valve companies working with nanoslic companies, and so on. We have topical roundtables, coaching sessions, pop-up happy hours, and ice cream socials that bring our members together to create magic.
- Where We Fit – we are a business incubator. Incubators are a long play in the land of short plays. In this day and age of instant gratification we provide the fundamentals to grow, scale, and evolve into sustainable businesses. This takes time and whether that growth is through revenue or capital infusion we provide programming through coaching, customer connections, community connections, and access into other StartupCincy ecosystem resources. We come together with the local universities, BigCos, ecosystem partners, and other providers to make Cincinnati a better place to launch an innovative venture. It is a pretty successful model and we’ve been doing it for 30 years.
That’s it for now, but the HCDC Business Center team will continue to share musings from the HCDC Business Center on a regular basis featuring stories on our startups, partners, or just plain insightful banter.
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