CINCINNATI - Think of it as tourism for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Cincinnati will host a new kind of startup event in July that allows visitors to learn about local companies by touring their headquarters and chatting with founders. The event is called NewCo. Its founder is John Battelle, a digital media expert from San Francisco who produces Procter & Gamble Co.’s annual Signal event showcasing trends digital marketing.
Cincinnati is one of at least 15 cities that will host a NewCo event in 2015. Others include New York, London, Amsterdam, Barcelona and San Francisco.
“Our mission is to identify, celebrate and connect the engines of positive change in our society,” Battelle said. “It is a very big movement where people are looking to understand the underpinnings of how change happens in business.”
During the July 23 Cincinnati event, about 1,000 visitors are expected to make site visits to more than 50 companies, including seven breweries and celebrated local startups Ahalogy, ChoreMonster, Frameri, Lisnr and Petbrosia.
More than 20,000 people have attended NewCo events since Battelle started the venture in 2012. Earlier this year, he raised $1.7 million in seed capital to expand the startup festival to more cities.
In Cincinnati, he found allies in Cintrifuse, an Over-the-Rhine based nonprofit that promotes the local startup community, and P&G, which will bring dozens of digital marketing experts to town for its annual Signal event on July 22, the day before NewCo.
“I will certainly use the opportunity to ask them to come for Signal and stay for Newco,” said Stan Joosten, innovation manager in P&G’s global eBusiness unit. “We’ll hopefully get some star caliber people to stay a little bit and join us for the NewCo opening as well.”
Battelle said companies found new business partnerships and new employees at other NewCo events. Organizers are hoping the same thing will happen in Cincinnati this year.
Cintrifuse’s “key objective for this year is to attract top talent to the region,” Joosten said. “Well, there’s nothing better than rolling out a red carpet and showing what you’re about.”
ChoreMonster co-founder Chris Bergman said Cincinnati "is quickly becoming a destination for startup talent. We, as a team, want to welcome that talent and let them know there are a mulitude of incredible options in the city today."
The Cincinnati NewCo event was organized by an advisory council of local executives from 18 companies, including P&G, the Kroger Co., Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and E.W. Scripps Co., parent of WCPO. Organizers are still looking for companies to host NewCo visitors, but the deadline is May 14. More than 170 people have requested information about attending NewCo in July.
“It’s a good way to understand the ecosystem,” Battelle said. “The experience is quite compelling. In one day you can go to six different companies. That’s just not something most people can do. You get inside and meet the founder of all these companies, pick your own schedule. Everybody who goes has a different experience and it’s tailored to them as to who they’re going to go see.”