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Who's Hiring in CLE: Cleveland Zoological Society, MAGNET, American Greetings...

Welcome to the latest edition of Fresh Water Cleveland's “who’s hiring” series, where we feature growing companies with open positions, what they’re looking for and how to apply. Please send your freshest job tips and postings to innovationnews@freshwatercleveland.com.
 
 
Cleveland Zoological Society
The Cleveland Zoological Society is seeking candidates for two full-time positions: The campaign coordinator will play a primary role in organizing and coordinating a multi-year, multi-project fundraising campaign. The hire will monitor all campaign progress and work closely with the director of development and campaign co-chairs. Requirements include a bachelor's degree, two years of related experience and prior work on the Raiser's Edge database. Submit electronic cover letter and resume by March 17.
 
The major gifts officer will solicit philanthropic gifts through a portfolio of donors and prospects to support the zoo society and its nonprofit partner, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Reporting to the director of development, the successful candidate will work with both the society and zoo colleagues. A bachelor's degree and five years of development experience required. Submit electronic cover letter and resume by March 17.
 
Care Alliance Health Center
Care Alliance is looking for a family nurse practitioner for one of its patient-centered medical home teams. The position is responsible for delivering comprehensive and preventative healthcare services to Care Alliance patients who are homeless, living in public housing, or generally underserved. Candidates must be a registered nurse in Ohio and a graduate of an accredited nurse practitioner program. A master's of science in nursing and two years of formal practice as an FNP is preferred. Apply by email at careers@carealliance.org or by fax at 216-298-5020.
 
MAGNET
Manufacturing advocacy group MAGNET is seeking a full-time administrative assistant to run daily operations of its workforce and talent development office. Reporting to the vice president of workforce and talent development, the hire will also support the work of management and other staff. One to three years experience providing administrative support in a professional environment is required. Candidates are also expected to have working knowledge of Microsoft Office products including Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Bachelor's degree preferred. Candidates may apply by submitting a resume to hr@magnetwork.org. 
 
FrontLine Service
FrontLine Service, a Cleveland organization that works with in-crisis Northeast Ohio adults and children, is hiring a program manager for its child mobile crisis team. Candidates are expected to develop, implement and monitor a team of professionals and support staff. Applicants should have a master's degree in social work or counseling and at least two years of supervisory experience. Candidates can email their resume to careers@frontlineservice.org.
 
American Greetings
American Greetings is searching for an assistant product development manager tasked with conducting product analysis and supporting the company's product development strategy. The position will coordinate development teams and interact with clients to obtain and share product knowledge. Three to five years of retail/consumer product analysis, marketing, communications, or other creative experience a necessity. Apply through the company's website.
 

From garage startup to multi-million dollar maker, Beachwood company is a 3D success

Desktop 3D printing is new enough that there's still room for exciting yet practical uses of the technology, says Rick Pollack, founder of MakerGear, a Beachwood designer and manufacturer of affordable desktop 3D printers.
 
The innovation is currently used to print human teeth and organs for study, while businesses are making prototype tools and other parts. Pollack has tapped into the nascent industry's energy to develop the company, which he started in his garage, into an award-winning, multi-million dollar enterprise with 25 employees.
 
MakerGear engineers and builds machines by hand from its Beachwood headquarters, with components manufactured at the company's 6,000-square-foot facility in Newbury. Growth has been in the double digits over the last few years, while revenue is steadily in the millions.
 
"We're self-funded with no outside help or sales and marketing department," says Pollack. "Our growth has been organic and done completely through word-of-mouth or positive press."
 
Local businesses, entrepreneurs and educators use MakerGear printers to innovate in their respective fields, Pollack notes. Clients range from companies producing multiple iterations of a part to makers and hobbyists interested in what the machines can do. Printers come in two configurations: the MakerGearM2 ($1,825) and a kit version ($1,500) that allows consumers to build the device themselves.
 
Pollack entered the 3D printing industry in 2009 wanting to manufacture goods on a desktop. While product creation requires sometimes exorbitant expenditure of time and money, the former software developer learned that 3D printing allows for low-volume, low-cost production without any special tooling.
 
With this knowledge in mind, Pollack bought a desktop lathe for $250 and started making printer parts for hobbyists out of his garage. Today, he produces thousands of parts that are shipped all over the world.  
 
"Starting this, I had no commercial experience, and had to learn to how to be a manufacturer post-recession," says Pollack. "I treated this industry like I'm a customer, in that I'm making a quality product at a reasonable price and with great customer support."
 
MakerGear has received its share of accolades since launch. In November, the MakerGear M2 was ranked No. 1 worldwide by 3D Hubs, an independent 3D printer review site. Pollack is proud of the distinction as well as contributing to the rapid expansion of high-tech manufacturing in the Cleveland area.
 
"This technology has lowered the barrier of entry for manufacturing," he says. "We stand out because we're focused on making a great product for our customers that's manufactured in the U.S." 

Cleveland's growing 'maker movement' the focus of TV host's visit

In recent years, Cleveland has demonstrated itself as an early adopter of the "maker movement," an umbrella term for the convergence of independent inventors and designers who relish the creation of new high-tech devices as well as tinkering with existing ones.
 
An April 27 visit by movement advocate and former Mythbusters host Adam Savage put a national spotlight on the North Coast's growing DIY fervor, with Savage meeting area stakeholders and community leaders to help foster support for the next generation of innovators. The day-long event was designed as a lead-up to the 2016 National Week of Making (June 17-23), announced earlier this year by the White House.
 
“This visit was intended to highlight the growing ecosystem of making and fabricating in Cleveland," says Lisa Camp, associate dean for strategic initiatives at the Case Western Reserve University school of engineering, who prepared the day's activates along with Sonya Pryor-Jones, chief implementation officer for the MIT Fab Foundation. "There's lots of excitement from people who want to work together because of the potential of these spaces."
 
Savage's first stop was Case's think[box], tabbed by the school as an open-access center for innovation and entrepreneurship. The 50,000-square-foot space in the Richey Mixon Building invites would-be creators to realize their ideas through digital prototyping or traditional fabricating. A $35 million renovation of the seven-story building began in 2014. The upper three floors are scheduled for completion this fall.
 
Each floor represents the order of the product design process, with new entrepreneurs receiving the necessary technology and guidance as they work their way up.
 
"The concept is to begin with a product idea, then come out with a company," says Camp.

Other stops on Savage's Cleveland makers tour included Design Lab High School, Cleveland Public Library's TechCentral maker space, the MC2 STEM high school at Great Lakes Science Center, and several fabrication locals in Cleveland's Slavic Village and Central neighborhoods.
 
"It was a robust visit," says Pryor-Jones. "From our perspective, the best opportunities for education, entrepreneurship and  development exist when we figure out how to engage all communities."
 
During an outing to the City Club of Cleveland, regional higher-education students showcased potential products they fabricated themselves with 3D printers and laser cutters. This kind of collaborative ingenuity will be needed to drive Cleveland's economic engine, spinning out companies that build everything from heart-rate monitors to fuel-cell powered bicycles.
 
"Keeping up that collaboration is the challenge," says Camp. "Cleveland is a manufacturing city and working together can bring innovation to that space." 

Cleveland motorcycle entrepreneur rides into CIA to inspire, guide students

Though it's been a decade since Cleveland CycleWerks owner Scott Colosimo graduated from Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), he has stayed connected to the school as both a teacher and professor.
 
This spring, Colosimo has returned to his formative digs once more as sponsor of CIA's transportation design class, which "exposes students to the basic knowledge, skills and qualities that are important for a career in transportation design." The semester-long role is part-time, as the Parma native spends most days running his small-volume motorcycle manufacturing facility in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, where he builds custom bikes and restorations of British, Japanese and Italian motorcycles.
 
At CIA, Colosimo serves as a motivator and critic in helping students solve real-world transportation design questions. The role is more instructional than professorial, and is meant to reflect a designer/client relationship in the professional world.  
 
"My work is to push students further than they would be by the traditional OEM (original equipment manufacturer)," says Colosimo, who graduated from CIA in 2004. "Companies tend to pull students back in to make concepts more contemporary. I'm pushing them out and making sure they're looking well off into the future."
 
That conceptual outlook includes designing vehicles for racing along the surface of distant planetary bodies. Colosimo, who wrote the class curriculum with Professor Haishan Deng, oversees teams tackling the challenge of building vehicles for transportation on Mars.
 
"The vehicles take on a more unique design, proportion and function than cars of today," says Colosimo, 35. "This kind of problem-solving is key to developing a young designer's ability to step beyond the surface and become a competent, well-rounded designer."
 
Colosimo's partnership with CIA emerged as part of a long-standing CIA tradition of bringing in automotive officials to offer students professional-level feedback. The self-proclaimed "motorcycle geek" is proud to present his particular brand of two-wheeled insight to a creative, energetic classroom.
 
"These students are already thinking and sketching on a professional level, so I like to think of them as professionals," Colosimo says. "I'm there at a design director level to push them in the right direction when they get off track."
 
Though the entrepreneur has been in the motorcycle-building game since 2009, returning to school has illuminated new innovations unburdened by the limits of running a bottom-line manufacturing business.
 
"Students are working on unique propulsion, suspension and wheel solutions that I never would have thought of," says Colosimo. "They're so quick to adapt and think of ways to use that technology. It's amazing how natural it comes to them."

The Cleveland Institute of Art is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support community.
 

ProtoTech: Invest showed investors the region's top startups are worth a look

Seventeen companies in various stages of development pitched their causes to about 30 local investors last Thursday, June 4 at MAGNET’s ProtoTech: Invest at the Metropolitan at The 9. All of the companies are in significant fundraising mode.

“It was a good event, it was a lot of fun,” says Dave Crain, executive director of the Incubator at MAGNET and ProtoTech organizer. “I don’t think people realized how many great startups are in the region. There were 17 presenters and not a dud in the group.”
 
Crain traveled to other entrepreneurial hubs around the country to research “investment summits,” or pitch events geared toward attracting investors. ProtoTech: Invest was the first event of its kind in the state, Crain says. “No one is really doing it in Ohio, statewide,” he says. “Great entrepreneurial regions do these all the time.”
 
In fact, Crain says he will consider hosting ProtoTech: Invest a couple of times a year, based on feedback he heard from investors in attendance. “There are lots of great opportunities, lot of great companies, but we need more money in the region,” he says. “I would tell the investors, when we do this next time, call all your friends on the coasts.”
 
Investors on the east and west coasts have started to take notice of Cleveland’s entrepreneurial scene. “I do think it’s changing,” Crain says. “The coasts have a much more developed ecosystem out there.”
 
Crain enjoyed hearing about the progress of many of the startups presenting on Thursday, such as Rick Pollack’s 3-D printer manufacturer MakerGear. “I know Rick, but I never realized they are the number-one rated company on Amazon,” Crain says. “They’re asking for money to fund their growth. It’s fun to hear how much they’ve grown. There’s a breadth of opportunity here, from life sciences to products.”

beaumont school's new stem addition brings modern-day science education to girls

Beaumont School, a Catholic school for girls in Cleveland Heights, unveiled its new STEM addition with a ribbon cutting on Monday, January 5th, re-emphasizing its commitment to science, technology, engineering and math and education with the $9.5 million building. “Our science facilities were over 50 years old,” says Beaumont president Sister Gretchen Rodenfels. “I graduated in 1965 and we were using the same science equipment today.”

The movement to improve STEM education for girls has been growing, and Rodenfels says Beaumont has proven in recent years that girls do excel in science and math. “Really, in the United States, students are not as prepared in science, technology, engineering and math as other developed countries,” says Rodenfels. "Now we have eight science rooms, four prep rooms and all new equipment. Each room is dedicated to a different area of the curriculum.”
 
In fact, Rodenfels says a STEM education provides well-rounded preparation for any field the students choose. “If you are strong in STEM skills, that can be transferred to any career – deductive reasoning, collaboration, problem solving.”
 
For the past two years, Beaumont students have participated in the Alliance for Working Together's (AWT) annual RoboBot Competition. “The first year we had the only all-girls team and the guys were making wisecracks,” says Rodenfels. “The following year we came in third at nationals.”

Additionally, the new wing has administration and guidance offices, a clinic, a two-story student common area with outdoor patio and a new front entrance. Construction began on the 25,000 square-foot building in September 2013.

everykey the winner of magnet's product-focused pitch competition


EveryKey, creator of a high-tech wristband that wirelessly syncs with various electronic devices, emerged as the winner of the Incubator at MAGNET's first product-focused pitch contest.

EveryKey was pitted against five other hardware-creating entrepreneurs during the ProtoTech competition held Oct. 21 at the Ariel International Center in Cleveland. The nascent Case Western Reserve University-based company took home $12,000, funds that will be sunk into an invention that holds all of the wearer's online passwords and is designed to lock and unlock everything from doors to phones to computers.

Chris Wentz, CEO of EveryKey, was thankful for the opportunity to put his product before a panel of investors, development specialists and peers interested in supporting physical technology. Now that the contest is over, the startup will focus on its Kickstarter campaign, set to launch Oct. 29.

"This competition meant so much to us," says Wentz, 23. "There were a lot of great companies here with some great ideas."

The ProtoTech pitch contest, co-sponsored by NASA Glenn Research Center, concentrated on tech-driven wares and the startups aiming to bring those products to market. The competition was introduced in July by MAGNET executive director Dave Crain with the intention of highlighting manufactured creations rather than IT or service-based ventures.

ProtoTech's second-place winner was RoboNail, designer of an app-operated robotic roofing installation machine.

The other ProtoTech finalists were:

* Advanced BioSensors-Ohio, creator of a "Continuous Glucose Monitor" for diabetic patients.

* Axenic, maker of non-toxic liquid-based solutions that clean organic waste.

* FGC Plasma Solutions, creator of a fuel nozzle designed to save money and reduce emissions.

* Real Time Imaging Technologies, designer of a low-dose dental x-ray imaging system.
 

cwru's think[box] breaks ground on new $30m innovation center

With fireworks, smoke machines and science experiments galore, Case Western Reserve University officials broke ground this week on the new home for think[box], an innovation center that will move to former Lincoln Storage Building, now known as the Richey-Mixon Building.
 
CWRU's board of trustees voted unanimously last Sunday, October 12th to approve the renovations, having raised $25 million of the $30 million goal. Phase I is due to be completed in August 2015.
 
Phase I will include renovations to the first four floors. A glass skyway will connect the athletic center to the new think[box] entrance. The first floor will be a community space with a bike station that will offer everything from bike parking to small bike repairs to a shower facility.

“It will be a younger-feeling creative space that suits our students’ lifestyles,” explains think[box] manager Ian Charnas, a Case grad who also leads the Tesla Orchestra. "The second floor will be the ideation floor with amenities such as whiteboards and meeting rooms modeled after Stanford d. School in California.”
 
Floors three and four are dedicated to some real hands-on innovation. The third floor will house a prototyping space and small metal shop that will offer tools for nearly every project conceivable. “We’re sending an email out, saying 'come enjoy several thousand square feet to do your projects and get messy.'”
 
Charnas expects think[box], which will be one of the top university-based innovation centers in the world, to attract innovative thinkers to Cleveland. “This is helping to build industry in the region,” he says. “Most of our students are recruited from outside of Cleveland, and even Ohio. This is a big golden carrot to keep these folks in the area.”

Think[box] is a unique facility not only because it offers high-tech equipment like 3D printers, but because it is free and open to the public. In many universities, you have to be a student to gain access to specialized equipment. Since its founding, think[box] has helped many entrepreneurs to create prototypes for their products.
 
The announcement was made during Case’s homecoming celebration. Case president Barbara Snyder was accompanied by the major donors to make the announcement amid smoke machines and fireworks displays on monitors. Instead of a ribbon-cutting, the group flipped a giant old-fashioned power switch.
 
Students wearing white think[box] lab coats and blue hard hats made commemorative chocolate coins using liquid nitrogen with the help of Sweet Designs Chocolatier and Piccadilly Creamery. A laminar flow fountain – the kind where the liquid leaps about – dispensed punch that shot from a white display case into guests’ glasses.
 
Charnas says they hope to raise the remaining funds in the next year and shoot straight into Phase II renovations, which will include the remaining top three floors.
 

northeast ohio automotive sector expected to outpace U.S., report says

A report released Sunday by Team NEO indicates that the growth of the automotive industry in Northeast Ohio will outpace the U.S. in the coming decade. According to the report, the area has the second-largest Tier I auto production markets in the country, meaning that the suppliers here make the parts that go directly on the vehicles. In fact, Northeast Ohio is second only to Detroit.

Team NEO predicts the Gross Regional Product (GRP) in automotive will grow by 79 percent to become a $4.5 billion industry by 2024. Employment is also expected to grow by 19 percent. Jacob Duritsky, managing director of research for Team NEO, attributes the predicted growth to the area’s diverse mix of auto manufacturing.
 
“No one has a crystal ball, but based on our industry mix, the trend is pretty steady,” Duritsky says. Positive indicators include the jobs brought back to the Avon Lake Ford plant and the scheduled manufacture of Ford’s medium trucks, the F650 and F750, as well as tremendous investment in Ford’s Brookpark and Lordstown plants and Honda’s presence in the state. Automotive is growing here even as it is expected to decline elsewhere in the country, the report says.

Automotive is one of only two manufacturing industries in Northeast Ohio that are expected to grow in the next 10 years. The other is food manufacturing. “We’re expecting manufacturing employment, essentially, to remain flat,” says Jenny Febbo, Team NEO vice president of marketing and communications.

wire-net survey shows manufacturers in cleveland are doing well, optimistic

In its third quarter manufacturing outlook survey, WIRE-Net, a non-profit economic development organization for the manufacturing industry in Northeast Ohio, found that Cleveland area manufacturers are having a good year and are optimistic that business will continue to be good.
 
Of the 89 WIRE-Net members who participated in the survey, half of the companies reported they anticipated increased profits in the upcoming year and 31 percent expected profits to equal last year. The majority of the companies were small manufacturers, with fewer than 50 employees and sales under $10 million annually.
 
In previous years, the top two concerns of WIRE-Net members were around attracting qualified workers and sales and new customers. This year, while respondents still reported that talent attraction was a top concern, other priorities shifted to costs.
 
“They are now talking materials, the Affordable Care Act and electricity costs,” explains Julie King, WIRE-Net’s vice president of resource development and communications. “Sales and customers must be flowing because it wasn’t a barrier. So that’s how we know companies are doing well.”
 
Tom Schullman, general manager of E.C. Kitzel and Sons, a tool manufacturer for the automotive, aerospace, small appliance and mining industries, participated in the survey and agrees with the results.
 
The 30-person company has started to see an increase in business this year. “Toward the end of the second quarter we saw kind of an uptick in business and it’s carried over into the third quarter,” he says.
 
Schullman describes sales as “brisk,” which bodes well for the overall manufacturing ecosystem. “We sell tooling and that’s considered a commodity -- our customers don’t purchase unless they have a need for it,” he explains. “We’ve added new customers in the last six months. The primary thing is our customers are getting busier and it’s causing them to increase orders to us.”
 
Among WIRE-Net members, manufacturing accounts for 21,000 jobs and $1 billion in wages in Northeast Ohio, which in turn is the engine behind 13,000 additional non-manufacturing jobs.
 

more than 2k participants expected to attend neosa tech week

More than 2,000 participants are expected to celebrate the Cleveland tech industry during 2014 NEOSA Tech Week April 11-18.

“Tech Week is really becoming part of the vernacular in the region,” says NEOSA director Brad Nellis. “If we hit the 2,200 mark, we will have quadrupled the number in attendance from our first year in 2011.”
 
Some Tech Week favorites, like NEOSA’s Best of Tech Awards and the NASA Space Apps Challenge, will be on hand once again this year, while some newcomers, like TechPint, will be rounding out the activities.
 
Global Cleveland’s virtual IT job fair will take place throughout the week. Tom Bennett, Global Cleveland’s director of employer relations and talent attraction, says several hundred job openings will be listed. “This is a great opportunity through Tech Week,” says Bennett. “Not only are there jobs to be had, it’s a great life in Cleveland.”
 
Kent State University will host its annual Career Expo on Friday, April 17, for students who want to learn more about specific tech careers. “It’s a great way for students to talk to people about what they do for a living,” says Nellis. “It’s a chance for students to understand the different jobs they can get in Northeast Ohio.”
 
NASA will again host its Space Apps Challenge April 11-13. The challenge is designed to inspire and challenge software developers with actual NASA projects. Last year, more than 9,000 people from around the world participated. This year by popular demand, teams are allowed to work around the clock if they so choose. “Last year we kicked them out at 10 p.m. and they were pissed off,” recalls Nellis. “It’s really intense, it is very cool, and it’s hard-core geek.”
 
New on the scene this year is TechPint, which will host its fourth meeting on April 16th at the Agora Theater. Kyle Stalzer, CEO of Tackk, and Alex Yakubovich, co-founder of ONOSYS, will speak. And of course, there will be beer. ”We’ve been supporting them and spreading the word,” says Nellis. “It brings a cool, dynamic group together that’s focused on early stage stuff.”
 
“It's a common misconception that everything in the tech world can be branded simply as 'information technology,’ but in reality you have many different categories and groups of people,” says TechPint founder Paul McAvinchey. “So people coming to TechPint may be different from people going to other tech events in Northeast Ohio. Tech Week does a great job in bringing all these disparate groups together once a year to check in and share ideas, so it makes complete sense for TechPint to participate in this great event.”
 
The highlight of the week is NEOSA’s Best of Tech Awards on Thursday, April 17. Categories range from "Most Promising Startup" to "Technology Company of the Year." There are plenty of other activities during Tech Week, including Startup Weekend, networking and pitch events.
 
Go to the Tech Week calendar for more details.

 
Sources: Brad Nellis, Tom Bennett, Paul McAvinchey
Writer: Karin Connelly

team neo attracted a record number of businesses to the region in 2013

Team NEO, the entity charged with marketing Northeast Ohio to the rest of the country and the world, brought a record 16 new businesses to the region in 2013, seven of which are in Cuyahoga County. The new companies add to the region almost 1,400 new jobs and more than $85 million in new annual payroll. The average salary in these companies is $62,000, which also is a record high. The majority of the companies are in manufacturing, healthcare and biomedical.  
 
“Obviously, we’re really happy about this,” says Tom Waltermire, Team NEO CEO. “The reasons the companies are here vary significantly, but they’re here because we have a whole bunch of resources available.” Three criteria attracted companies to Northeast Ohio, says Waltermire: close proximity to customers; low cost of doing business; and the ability to find and train the talent they need.
 
Team NEO has been promoting the 18-county Northeast Ohio region since 2007. In seven years, the organization has attracted 83 companies and 6,200 jobs to the area. The organization averaged nine to 12 new companies in each of its first five years. Last year, Team NEO brought 15 new companies to the area.
 
Waltermire attributes the rising interest in Northeast Ohio to increased awareness. “All of us as a community and a region are just getting better at this,” he says, adding that as consultants become more familiar with the region, they're more apt to promote it. “As we’ve been marketing the region for seven years, we’re becoming progressively better known.”
 
He also says both newcomers and lifelong residents have helped improve the region’s reputation. “Whether it’s a cocktail party or in a coffee shop, when you get that buzz going and get that informed ambassador effect going, then you’re really rolling.”
 
Of course, Team NEO alone does not take the credit for attracting the 16 companies. JobsOhio, the state and local communities all were involved in wooing new business to the region.

 
Source: Tom Waltermire
Writer: Karin Connelly

local organizations come together to secure $1.8 million jobs grant

Team NEO, MAGNET, Wire-Net and Medina County Workforce Development came together as a group to secure a $1.8 million federal Make it in America grant, one of only 10 groups nationwide to receive such funding.
 
The money will be used to help local companies that show the potential to bring manufacturing jobs to the region.
 
“We will use the money to boost the growth of 25 medium-sized companies in Northeast Ohio in many areas, from product development to workforce development,” says Jay Foran, senior vice president of Team NEO. “We’re also hoping to attract new business to the region in support of those companies in biomedical, automotive and advanced engineering.”
 
The groups have been working together since March to apply for the grant. “So many partners saw opportunities for themselves that aligned with this grant,” says Laura Hudak, Team NEO’s vice president of finance and administration. “The opportunity to collaborate is equally important as the financial implications.”
 
Each group will have a different role in distributing the grant money. Team NEO will serve as administrator and work on attracting international business. WIRE-Net will work directly with the companies receiving the funds, building on its manufacturing experience. MAGNET will provide resources for job and business growth, while Medina County Workforce Development will coordinate services with area colleges and universities.
 
The Make it in America program is a $20.5 million Obama administration initiative designed around job creation and investment in U.S. businesses.

 
Source: Jay Foran, Laura Hudak
Writer: Karin Connelly

launchhouse driving force behind upcoming cleveland entrepreneur week

Cleveland's economic leaders have worked hard to parade the city as a hub for innovation. A chance to further show off Northeast Ohio's entrepreneurial acumen is a driving force behind Shaker Heights accelerator LaunchHouse's sponsorship of Cleveland Entrepreneurship Week (Cleveland EW), an upcoming four­-day celebration of business success.

The event, scheduled for November 4-­8, was created to give entrepreneurs and investors the knowledge and resources to grow the Northeast Ohio business community, says LaunchHouse co-founder Todd Goldstein.

LaunchHouse will kick off Cleveland EW at its Shaker Heights headquarters by presenting the 11 technology startups participating in its Accelerator Program. The rest of the week will feature speakers and other events that give entrepreneurs from all over the country an opportunity to connect with potential financial backers as well as fellow businesspeople.

"We're giving them exposure to people they normally wouldn't meet," says Goldstein. "Meeting the right person can help turn a small business into a large business."

LaunchHouse pushing for the entrepreneurship event aligns with its mission of local job creation through seed capital, education and innovation, notes Goldstein. With Cleveland striving to be on the forefront of the new economy, an event like Cleveland EW can put the area in a positive national spotlight.

"We've worked to change how Northeast Ohio is viewed in terms of entrepreneurship," Goldstein says. "This [event] is about showcasing the region as a place of innovation and capital formation."

 
SOURCE: Todd Goldstein
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
 

fast-growing flack steel a maverick among peers

When Jeremy Flack and his former business partner ran a steel company in 2004, a difference in style caused the business to close six years later, with the partners going their separate ways. When Flack founded Flack Steel in 2010, he knew he would do things his own way.

“I had a lot of ideas, and I saw a lot of opportunities with the last business I was with,” says Flack. “In this business I’ve been able to free up ideas and capital to pursue our own model.”
 
Flack Steel distributes various steel products across North America. The steel is used to build anything from shelving to rail cars. As an added service Flack, who has a financial background, provides market analysis and steel purchasing counsel to his customers, holding space on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
 
“Offering derivatives-based pricing strategies for customers allows us to more closely mirror how they buy their raw materials to how they go to market with their products,” explains Flack. “Most steel companies do not engage in this yet because they have a general lack of knowledge of the commodities futures industry and seem to be reluctant to educate themselves.” Furthermore, Flack Steel doesn’t own equipment, allowing the company to develop unbiased supply chains.
 
Flack’s model works. The Warehouse District-based company has grown from one employee to 28, and sells 180,000 tons of steel a year to OEM customers.
 
While many people in Northeast Ohio would argue that the steel industry is a thing of the past, Flack is quick to say that's not so. “As long as there is society, there is going to be a steel business,” he says. “There’s as much steel made in the United States today as there has ever been.”
 
The difference is steel is made a lot faster with fewer people. That’s why Flack goes above and beyond in his company. “By dealing in futures and options for steel, we’re rather cutting-edge,” he says. “We’re kind of shaking it up, kind of maverick. We’ve got a new take on building a business.”

Flack attributes his rapid growth to having the right relationships, hiring the right people and staying ahead of the curve.

“We have consistent earnings and a flexible cost model, which has helped us to attract banking capital,” he explains. “We are progressive thinkers, use open architecture software, and encourage risk taking and innovation in our workforce. We are progressive in an industry that is rooted in tradition. Unless you do something differently you have a long road ahead.”

Flack moved here 18 years ago and has no intention of going any place else. “This is a good place to be,” he says. “I’m a Cleveland native now. My business relationships are here, this is where I know people. This is the Silicon Valley of the steel industry.”

 
Source: Jeremy Flack
Writer: Karin Connelly
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