Northeast Ohio’s Start Up Community Has A PR Problem And That’s Everyone’s Responsibility

Tuesday was a great day! I attended Startup Scaleup in Gordon Square, a conference put on by JumpStart to help connect all the pieces of our startup ecosystem for future growth. Seeing that many people in Gordon Square is pretty cool, the street was buzzing and not just a little, it was buzzing a lot. Every bar, every restaurant, every coffee shop was overflowing with entrepreneurs, founders, investors and mentors. Nice work, JumpStart Inc. I found myself calling people who have nothing to do with the start up community telling them to drive down during their lunch break to see what was going on in the neighborhood. To quote a colleague and friend – “Gordon Square only looks like that on Dyngus Day”. This is great, but I find myself continuing to grapple with the fact that NO ONE KNOWS THAT THIS STARTUP MOMENTUM IS HAPPENING! Outside of a few articles today, the social posts at the event and a couple of follow up articles, it will continue to fall on deaf ears, because We/Northeast Ohio/the Start Up Community have a massive PR problem and an even bigger problem getting excited about startups because they aren’t yet tangible. We Mid Westerners like tangible.

We have every reason to get excited though. The Midwest breeds logical, rationale entrepreneurs. One’s that see problems and then build things to solve those problems. Entrepreneurs who’s companies try to make money immediately. The kind your mom would want you to date. We don’t breed fast talking, shoot from the hip, big money raising entrepreneurs that don’t worry about revenue, but only about monthly active users. This is a great thing! THIS IS OUR BRAND!! Solid, tactical, practical, solution creators is our brand, and that is a hell of a brand. A brand we can celebrate. More importantly those are the kind of brands that enterprise organizations can get behind. Now it’s time that we get behind and believe in that brand. Now it’s time to start turning as many people as possible into evangelists.

Ultimately we are conservative and are uncomfortable touting our successes because we aren’t comfortable looking cocky or over-confident. With that being said we need to more readily talk about our successes so that the rest of the region/country knows how much momentum there is right here. In that vein I’ve decided to do some of the work for you. Here are a collection of companies that could be huge bets to keep an eye on that are all homegrown:

These are the types of companies that everyone should know about, not just the handful of loyalists to the community. These are the types of innovators that whether they succeed or fail should be applauded. People so readily romanticize entrepreneurship, but it’s the least glamorous profession out there. The majority of the time they fail and yet these brave souls still march forward because they love to create.

I’ve been encouraged over the last few weeks by coverage of several stories. The launch of Mezu, Bernie Moreno’s BLOCKLAND efforts (and legislative progress) and @Progressive’s entrance into the @PlugandPlay partnership with the Cleveland Clinic at the Global Health Center. These are not minor things.

It’s now everyone in our region’s responsibility to carry out the PR campaign to turn this momentum into a groundswell. After all it’s OK to be enthusiastic about what could be.