CINCINNATI -- Conversations around diverse tech startups naturally begin with minority entrepreneurs and their opportunities for success.
For Paolo Dominguez, founder and CEO of Juble it!, a social-media button that aims to transform the "like" on digital sites, the diversity statistics he prioritizes focus on the companies themselves.
"Where startup investment goes tends to follow each other," Dominguez said, speaking soon after his public demo via local tech agency Zoozler. "I think there are a lot of great companies and great ideas that sit outside the mainstream tech categories. A startup like Juble it! may not be in the sweet spot locally, but I think it's important to have a diverse portfolio of companies in StartupCincy."
Dominguez is building Juble It! after successful career chapters in customer experience, product and sales enablement at Vantiv, a leading financial services and tech company, with eCommerce and integrated-payments expertise.
For Dominguez, it's one thing to be a minority entrepreneur. What's every bit as important is launching a minority company in a Midwest business landscape leaning towards IT, life sciences, manufacturing, robotics and automation companies.
Juble it! is a digital-media and fin-tech company and Dominguez wants Southwest Ohio funders to look beyond "safer" med-tech startups and see his company as an investable entry to a profitable market.
The 2017 Venture Report data analysis of Ohio's entrepreneurial activity by the statewide startup support network VentureOhio confirms that Ohio's startup hubs including Cincinnati lean towards health-tech and med-tech companies. For the funders and legislators providing investment opportunities, it's a matter of prioritizing industries and software as service companies with strong return-on-investment (ROI) history.
"As an agency, we are looking for opportunities everywhere we go across the state," said Jeffrey Johnson, Minority Business Development Division Chief at the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA). "As a leader in the technology diversity and inclusion effort, we need to continue making connections, working together as a state and coordinating efforts to improve results."
Basically, it's not enough to scale Ohio's strengths in key tech industries like biotech, consumer tech and fin tech. Startup leaders also need to dive deeper into new-wave tech like big data and virtual reality, as well as frontier tech like drones.
Here in the Queen City, we continue to hear the breaking business news on Internet of Things (IoT) startup Losant, the smart-tones technology startup LISNR and Astronomer, a data-engineering platform company.
These are Cincinnati-baked tech startups that would sync at the Silicon Beach hub in Los Angeles as much as loft workspaces Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.
These are also companies with products and services that can transform other businesses into tech companies.
"We're big subscribers to the Amazon mentality that every company -- even a grocery store -- needs to be a tech company," said Ry Walker, CEO of Astronomer. "But that's easier said than done, especially without the help of a major player like Amazon. Astronomer is a collaborative, scalable data-engineering platform that anyone can use to centralize data and route it for analytics faster than ever before. We believe with the right tools and intel, everybody can play to win."
Now, meet Cincinnati-based tech entrepreneurs like Dominguez, local technologists designing and building what's next, the X in disruptive technology and changing the internet of data, food media and manufacturing. The results are an increasingly diverse portfolio of startups around artificial intelligence, fin tech and blockchain and other frontier innovations that can move Ohio's entrepreneurial ecosystem a little closer toward Silicon Alley and Silicon Valley.
Cincinnati's Next X Startup: Juble it!
Juble It! ignites social media, branding and ad-tech platforms via a frictionless customer experience and an emotional bridge between digital consumer and content creator. Of course, there are future challenges around selecting the best media partnerships and transforming consumer habits.
Dominguez wouldn't be launching a tech startup without future disruptions in mind and a goal to reach the international stage. Luckily, he's been selected to present his startup at the February 2018 Startup
Grind Global Conference
"Juble it! is our way of being able to give back to the individual, the artist in a real way," said Dominguez. "It's not just a like or a click. It will help these amazing photographers, videographers and writers produce new content to inspire and motivate people and save them time and money."
Leaders of the Pack
Top teams at these startups are building great products and services and experiencing rapid success. Look for greater innovations in the near future from these leaders of Cincinnati's Tech X Class.
Astronomer's multidisciplinary team continues to break new ground in the arena of enterprise data. There are plenty of big data tools available to customers, but Astronomer's platforms are reducing the time spent on data prep and providing insights faster.
Everything But The House (EBTH)
Online estate sales company Everything But The House continues to amaze funders and pundits by transforming a classic service via front-end benefits and back-end support. Rocketing growth in capacity and scale will continue to make EBTH one of Cincinnati's leading job creators.
A finalist for the SXSW Music & Audio Innovation Award, LISNR is using smart-tones technology to transform the way people purchase event tickets and start their cars.
Losant is transforming Internet of Things (IoT) platforms and staking a leadership position in a fast-growing tech market. After leading the profitable acquisition of their previous tech startup, Modulus, Losant co-founders Charlie Key and Brandon Cannaday are powerful reminders of the importance of successful, startup experience.
Growing in the Wings
These startups may not be generating a lot of press (yet), but look for them to be future players in Cincinnati's Tech X Class.
Simplify3D is a 3D print software company that works with multiple desktop 3D printers. The all-in-one software converts 3D models into physical parts for a growing network of industry partners.
Pro Football Focus
Former NFL player Cris Collinsworth leads the team at Pro Football Focus, a tech startup that provides NFL and college football teams with data, insights and analysis in support of opponent scouting, game planning and draft prep.
Raw material procurement is a costly expense for manufacturers with quality-control challenges. Using intelligent-data visualization tools to monitor the entire value chain, Supply Dynamics provides high-quality raw materials and competitive pricing to their original equipment manufacturer customers.