Start Up Pioneers
Photo by Daniel Smyth
Starting a business from scratch and seeing it succeed requires a few vital ingredients: Funding, quality employees, office space, connections to a customer base and some valuable advice from seasoned professionals.
Luckily, The Hamilton Mill is a one-stop shop when it comes to developing innovative startups.
“We are part of the regional Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Antony Seppi, Hamilton Mill’s operations director. “The city of Hamilton is one of America’s original pioneering towns and we have tapped into that spirit of discovery when incubating new and cutting-edge businesses.”
Serving a niche market that focuses on advanced manufacturing, clean technology and digital solutions, The Hamilton Mill helps grow and scale startup businesses to get them off to the right track as well as remain sustainable long-term. One of their unique offerings is their programmatic effort coined “City as a Lab” connecting their startups with potential future customers to beta-test the various innovations.
“When it comes to developing entrepreneurial startups our ‘City as a Lab’ program is a true differentiator,” says Chris Lawson, Hamilton Mill’s executive director. “With ‘City as a Lab’ we assist startups to identify their customer segment then find willing participants to pilot their solution. We take advantage of the very active business community and our partners to be part of the startup development process.”
“Further, we provide ongoing mentoring and advisory services that deal with both general business development and industry specific expertise,” says Lawson. “Our mentors are either working in the field or are retired executives and see this as a way of giving back to the community.”
The Hamilton Mill team takes advantage of their strategic location between Cincinnati and Dayton. Additionally, they leverage their partners from a variety of sectors throughout southwestern Ohio.
The organization was founded in 2002, but in 2014 the organization underwent a significant rebranding and launched their distinct mission. Since then, they have helped 17 businesses get off the ground.
With help from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, The Mill is developing out a program called NextGen. The NextGen program identifies and develops student entrepreneurs. High school student Austin Klei has developed a software program that is already being used at UC Health Primary Care in West Chester.
Klei’s RoundSpark software streamlines the tedious process of “rounding” that occurs on a regular basis in hospitals. Instead of a nurse writing down and then filing a patient’s bedside comments regarding their comfort, the feedback is delivered instantly to the appropriate party as soon as the nurse enters the information into a smartphone or tablet. Issues like temperature or food complaints can be resolved within moments instead of days or weeks when using the traditional system.
“The Hamilton Mill really got us where we are now and is helping us look for other hospitals to expand to,” says Klei. “They provided the mentorship needed to run our business and researched and explained all of the compliances we needed to follow.”
Municipal Brew Works
“It was originally the Hamilton Mill’s idea to use space in the Municipal Building as a craft brewery,” says owner and co-founder Jim Goodman.
Getting ready to open their doors for the first time, Municipal Brew Works will offer a unique combination of a historical location, Hamilton’s award-winning water and variations to traditional beers that they hope will fit right in with the local business landscape.
“The Hamilton Mill understands that starting any business is a huge risk that comes with a lot of anxiety and fear,” says Goodman. “They’ve done everything in their power to address our concerns and have provided lists and lists of resources and contacts necessary to get a business going.”
Made up of a group of engineers, Edge Prototype has developed an ergonomically correct and more efficient weightlifting system.
“If I had to sum up the Hamilton Mill in two words, I would say ‘mentoring and connections,’ ” says Edge Prototype’s Scott Yeager. “What has started off as just an idea from a conversation is now being tested in two departments at
Miami’s College of Engineering has assisted by testing potential materials and bearings using various machines in their labs, while the Department of Kinesiology and Health has done tests on the effects Edge Prototype’s equipment has on different muscle groups and muscle activation techniques compared to standard exercise equipment.
“We are now incredibly close to what we would like to make and hope to take it to market very soon,” says Yeager.
The Hamilton Mill is located at 20 South High Street, Hamilton, OH 45011. For more information, call 513.737.6543 or visit hamiltonmill.org.