Eight Cincinnati startups pitch for $100K investment in "Rise of the Rest" Road Trip

Thursday event showcased local entrepreneurs

CINCINNATI - A company that makes glasses with a single lens shape that fits multiple boutique frames is the winner of the “Rise of the Rest” Road Tour, and received a $100,000 investment prize from America Online Founder Steve Case.

Frameri, founded by Konrad Billetz, was chosen out of eight Cincinnati startups that competed for the money and the attention of Case Thursday, when Case’s tour made its third stop in Over-the-Rhine.

Frameri's interchangeable system gives people who wear eyeglasses more choices for frames, without spending money on extra lenses.

The four-city bus tour is designed to “celebrate the progress” of the startup communities now developing in Midwestern cities. The tour started Tuesday in Detroit and is to be followed by one-day stops in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Nashville. In each town, startups will make pitches to a panel of experts.

Along with the $100,000 investment from Case, Frameri will present to his Washington, D.C. –based investment firm, Revolution.

"Most companies aren’t looking at it for the dollars," said Keith Johnson, founder of Petbrosia, a specialty pet food company that is among those invited to pitch. He said the value of the event its ability to "drive awareness of the brand. It's a company that has the ability to go national ... What we’re doing with Petbrosia, the more people who know about us the better."

Case will also participate in a chat with U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, an event that will be moderated by E.W. Scripps Co. CEO Rich Boehne. Scripps is the owner of WCPO.

“This is a real startup town,” Boehne said. “We have a real startup ecosystem here that you don’t have in many, many places. But it’s still very valuable to have the outside view of somebody like Steve or the secretary who can look at what we have here compared to others and offer comments, suggestions and leverage if need be to help us a little bit.”

The chat took place at 1 p.m. at the Brandery startup accelerator in Over-the-Rhine. The talk was followed by the pitch competition at Know Theatre. According to a "Rise of the Rest" press release, the eight Cincinnati startups that went head to head were:

  • Petbrosia (petbrosia.com ) A service that customizes pet nutrition and ships appropriate diet supplies to pet owners by mail. 
  • Beam Technologies (www.beamstech.com ) A worldwide medical product distribution warehouse.
  • Frameri (frameri.com ) An eyeglasses manufacturer with a swappable lens system.
  • Fusian (fusian.com ) A casual sushi restaurant that encourages customers to try something new and eat well.
  • Keego (keego.co ) An online platform for anyone to get paid to translate, proofread and interpret documents in their native language.
  • Ahalogy (ahalogy.com ) A Pinterest marketing optimization company that guarantees content marketing performance.
  • 3DLT (3dlt.com) A 3D printing template marketplace that sources content, provides technology, and manages fulfillment of 3D printed goods at retail.
  • REPP (myrepp.com ) Verified online profiles, owned by the users who want to share third-party ID verification and background checks with people they meet through commerce, dating or networking sites.

Petbrosia, Frameri, Ahalogy, 3DLT and REPP are five of the 247 companies that are part of WCPO's Exclusive Startup Registry .

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