Ohio innovation is hitting its stride—and the rest of the country is beginning to take notice. In the past few months alone, we’ve seen this reflected by Inc., Entrepreneur, The Kaufmann Foundation—and, as of November 3, Pitchbook.
As Pitchbook mentioned in its “Top Investor Tuesday,” four of the Great Lakes region’s top ten most active investors* call Ohio home:
- Rev1 Ventures (Columbus)
- CincyTech (Cincinnati)
- Shaker LaunchHouse (Shaker Heights)
- Jumpstart, Inc. (Cleveland)
This is great news for Ohio, and a testament to the groundwork laid by the Ohio Third Frontier program. It tells us that Ohio is creating promising new companies with high-potential opportunities for investors across the state. VentureOhio President and NCT Ventures Managing partner Rich Langdale said, “The efforts to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem are clearly working and effective, as there are more and better investable companies in the region than ever before.”
As these young companies grow, they will require $633 million in early-stage capital to reach their full potential for institutional ROI and job creation. Currently, Ohio institutional investors have $241 million on hand, creating an early-stage capital gap of $392 million and a significant opportunity for investors who want to take part in Ohio’s growing success.
According to Pitchbook, the need for capital is not exclusive to the Buckeye State. The “Top Investor Tuesday” article also noted that investment activity in the Great Lakes region is the lowest it’s been since 2009, with very few early-stage funds (only 142, about 22% of the total) closing new deals in the past 6 months.
VentureOhio director and Rev1 Ventures CEO Tom Walker said, “Ohio’s young companies…need and deserve more capital because they are sustainable and growing. But it won’t be there for them, not unless we continue to create more regional investment funds.”
VentureOhio Chairman and Drive Capital Co-Founder Mark Kvamme placed a bet on Ohio’s nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem when he closed a $250 million fund in 2013. Since then, Drive Capital has relocated four high-potential companies to Ohio including rapidly growing healthcare technology company, Aver Informatics. Aver Co-Founder Kurt Brenkus said “The choice for us was a narrowed down list of Chicago / Denver / Columbus. We chose Columbus because of the characteristics of the city, access to direct flights, location to customer base, cost of living, talent pool, cultural mix of state capital / academic mashup, and choice of living arrangements for those we were trying to relocate.
Ohio has the resources to foster great ideas and turn them into winning companies. Accessible mentors, a talented and loyal workforce, and innovative entrepreneurs creating lean startups make Ohio an ideal place to start and grow a company.
2016 will be a big year for Ohio and the Midwest. Will you be a part of it?
*data includes investments in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin since 2012.