ConnXus: Mason company works to connect corporations with women- and minority-owned companies

Big clients include McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Caesars

For ConnXus founder and CEO Rod Robinson, the numbers tell the story.

The roughly 14 million U.S. companies owned by women and minorities represent about half of all the nation’s businesses.

But those same firms account for only 6 percent of the total revenue generated by businesses in the U.S.

“That tells the tale right there,” Robinson said.

ConnXus aims to change that. The Mason-based company’s website connects corporations with women- and minority-owned companies that can do work for them.

The idea is a system that helps both sides get what they need: The corporations find new, qualified vendors, and the women- and minority-owned businesses get the kind of contracts they need to grow.

It’s kind of like eBay and Match.com with a sprinkling of Amazon-style ratings thrown into the mix.

And local investors think ConnXus could one day become as well known as those other technology companies.

 “I see no reason why this can’t be an extremely big business,” said former Procter & Gamble Co. chairman and CEO John Pepper, a ConnXus investor and advisory board member. “Certainly the need is huge.”

Robinson started ConnXus in late 2010 at the same time he was running Accel Advisors, a downtown-based consulting firm he had co-founded. He didn’t have ConnXus.com completely up and running until 2012.

Since then, the company has attracted investments from such local business titans as Pepper, Cincinnati Reds majority owner Bob Castellini and former Cincinnati Bell Chief Operating Officer Brian Ross.

 

 
   

 

 

 

Cincinnati-based CincyTech, a seed-stage investment fund that works to grow local IT and bioscience companies, first invested in the company in 2012 and also led a $1.7 million seed round that ConnXus closed earlier this year. Other investors in that round included New York-based Serious Change LP and STAR Angel Network.

ConnXus now has 15 employees and big-name customers including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola Co., Harley-Davidson Motor Company and Caesars Entertainment Corp. Locally, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati were among the firm’s early clients.

Robinson wouldn’t give details about his company’s revenue but said ConnXus is close to making more than $1 million per year. Between 2012 and 2013, he said, revenue grew 1,200 percent.

“We’re starting from a small base,” he said. “But as one of my investors said, growth is growth.”

Insiders can read more about ConnXus, how Robinson is growing the company, how a Columbus-based business won a contract through the website and a June 16 Wealth Summit that ConnXus has organized at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.


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